In Flanders Fields
BY JOHN MCCRAE
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
Scarce 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 failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
The First World War ended at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. In the desolation of Flanders Fields, where much of the fighting had taken place, the only thing that still grew by the end of the war was poppies. In 1919, King George V of England inaugurated a tradition of remembering all those who fell on 11th November. The poppy was first worn as the symbol for this remembrance in 1921, and that tradition has expanded extensively since then. In many British and Commonwealth countries, church services are held on ‘Remembrance Sunday’ – the one closest to 11th November, to commemorate those fallen in battles in any wars. The US Veterans Day is similarly close.
As the Friends, we support all those South African service men and women who have gone before us, be they Navy, Army or Air Force, in The First and Second World Wars, the Border War, or any other conflict. This includes the historic SADF, the current SANDF and all servicemen and their families that we have touched in our lives, not just in the wars but also in casualties caused in training situations. There were over a thousand fatalities in the Joint Air Training Scheme of World War Two in southern Africa alone. Much of the heroism comes from the wives, partners, families and friends.
On 4th November 2017, we had a wonderful chance to catch up with some of our past heroes with The Spitfire Restoration pilots’ reunion, which included pilots who had fought in World War Two. One touching item was a tray of over seventy poppy-decorated cupcakes adorning the table.
“We will remember them…”