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Herford Branch
The story of the poppy


During a lull in the second battle of Ypres in 1915, Colonel John McCrae, a well known Professor of Medicine at the Canadian University, wrote in pencil on a page torn from his notebook, these verses:-
In Flanders' Fields the poppies blow,
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing fly
Scarcely heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders' Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from flailing hands we throw the torch
Be yours to hold high:
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders' Fields
In May 1918, Col. McCrae was brought as a stretcher case to one of the big hospitals on the coast of France. On the third evening he was wheeled to the balcony of his room to look over the sea towards Dover. The verses were obviously in his mind, for he said to the doctor who was in charge of his case, "Tell them, if ye break faith with us who die we shall not sleep." That same night Col McCrae died. Each Remembrance Day the RBL lay a wreath on his grave - a tribute to a great man whose thoughts were always for others.
Colonel John McCrae
The wearing of the Poppy to keep faith began when an American, Miss Nolna Michael read the poem "In Flanders' Fields" and was so greatly impressed that she decided to always wear a Poppy to keep faith. In England in 1921, the British Legion was formed, and the first President, the late Field Marshall Earl Haig sought an emblem which would honour the dead. He chose the Poppy which we wear to this day at Rememberancetide.


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