The Poppies glow in Flanders Fields (and on Canadian coins, too)
- Published: May 8, 2015, 9 AM
A poignant poem written as a eulogy for a fallen friend became a symbol of World War I.
Lt. Col. John McCrae, brigade doctor and artillery commander, penned “In Flanders Fields” as an ode to a young Canadian artillery officer, Lt. Alexis Helmer, who was killed May 2, 1915, early during the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium.
The Royal Canadian Mint on May 5 honored the verse with two Proof 2015 .9999 fine silver coins.
The RCM has issued a 1-ounce $20 coin and a 5-ounce $50 coin for the poem’s centennial.
During the battle, Canadian Expeditionary Force successfully pushed back the advance of German forces after French troops were dispersed by the first gas attack in military history.
One in three Canadian soldiers were killed or wounded in this costly counterattack.
Laurie McGaw designed the reverse of the $20 coin, dated 1915–2015, showing the iconic poppy, a Canadian soldier with his head bowed before row on row of crosses marking the graves of fallen comrades, as well as the horizon of one of the fields in the Flanders region that gave the poem its name.
The Sir Bertram MacKennal effigy of King George appears on the obverse.
The $50 coin (designed by Tony Bianco) shows the opening words of “In Flanders Fields,” in English and French, as two soldiers pay respects to a fallen comrade. The soldiers are in color and are surrounded by colorful red poppies, the iconic symbol identified in McCrae’s poem.
The $20 coin has a mintage limit of 10,000 pieces and retails for $89.95 Canadian.
The $50 coin has a mintage limit of 1,500 pieces and retails for $519.95 Canadian.
To order, visit the RCM website.
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