Summary, May, 1915: “We Shall Not Sleep, Though Poppies Grow/In Flanders Fields

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

As we celebrate Memorial Day, here is a summary of events for May of 1915. The Spring of 1915 saw three significant events that changed the nature of the war, and of warfare for the next century. The first was the large-scale use of chlorine gas in what we can see was the first use of weapons of mass destruction. The second was the use of Zeppelins to attack both military and civilian targets, especially in England as a tool of psychological warfare. The third was the sinking of the Lusitania. These pivotal events are discussed in an interview with Diana Preston, author of “A Higher Form of Killing: Six Weeks in World War I that Forever Changed the Nature of Warfare.”

In May of 1915, Major John McCrae penned the iconic poem, “In Flanders Fields:”

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.

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About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
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