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Essex Farm Cemetery

Essex Farm Cemetery

The place where John McCrae wrote 'In Flanders Fields'

In early May 1915, Canadian doctor and poet John McCrae wrote the world-famous poem 'In Flanders Fields' from a medical aid station a stone's throw from Ypres.

Just then, the Second Battle of Ypres had erupted. British and French troops attacked Hill 60, a hill held by the German army. Germans met their capture with a poison gas attack. More than a hundred thousand British, French and German soldiers were killed in the battle. 

With his famous poem, 'In Flanders fields the poppies blow,' McCrae made the poppy the quintessential symbol of soldiers' sacrifice in the First World War. Consequently, the 'Advanced Dressing Station,' the medical aid station where McCrae worked and wrote the poem, became one of the most famous war sites around Ypres.

Name stone

The concrete shelters were preserved and were marked in the 1980s by one of the 25 'Name Stones 1914-1918'.

McCrae did not survive World War I itself. He succumbed to pneumonia in France in January 1918 and was buried in the Wimereux Communal Cemetery near Boulogne.

Essex Farm

Near where he wrote his poem, you will find 'Essex Farm Cemetery,' named after a nearby farmstead. The cemetery is mainly filled with soldiers from the Second Battle of Ypres. Today, Essex Farm is one of 139 World War I cemeteries and monuments declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Emergency shelters

Against the canal embankment, you can still find concrete remains of a British shelter. This was reused as temporary housing after the end of World War I. 

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