The story of John McCrae is part of the shared history of Britain and Canada and his 150th anniversary is being marked this year by young people in Canada and the UK.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Canadian army doctor John McCrae was one of more than six hundred thousand Canadians who volunteered to fight in support of Britain and the allies. 

In May of 1915, working in a medical outpost near the Belgian town of Ypres, John McCrae wrote a poem about the death of a friend, ‘In Flander Fields’. It is from this poem the poppy became the flower of remembrance.

Sadly, McCrae died during the war. On 28 January 1918 he died of pneumonia while working at an army hospital in France.  He is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery at Wimereux in northern France. You can read more here.

150 years after his birth more than 13,000 young people in the UK and Canada took part in online workshops to discover and respond to his story. Their poems and drawings are the basis of a social media day – with some poems being read by John McCrae’s great great nephew and others by the British High Commissioner to Canada and Canada to the UK. 

Creative and social action projects undertaken by young footballers taking part in the Spirit of the Poppy challenge from the Premier League are also included in the John McCrae 150 celebration.