M972.5.5.2 | John McCrae's Funeral Procession to Wimereux

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John McCrae's Funeral Procession to Wimereux
29 January 1918, 20th century
Silver salts on paper - Gelatin silver process
7.6 x 16.7 cm
This artefact belongs to : © Guelph Museums
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Keys to History

By 1917 many factors were contributing to McCrae's declining health. The asthma that had plagued him since boyhood seemed to be getting worse, possibly as a result of the chlorine gas attacks. McCrae also insisted on sleeping in tent accommodations much like those on the front lines, instead of bunking in the huts erected for the doctors.

On December 13, 1917 he learned that he had been offered a promotion to commander of the 1st Canadian General Hospital. January 5, 1918 brought news of another appointment, as Consultant Physician to the British Armies in the Field. This was quite an honour, as no Canadian had ever held such a prestigious position. Unfortunately, McCrae was never to take up his new posting.

McCrae developed pneumonia on the 24th of January and was moved to Number 14 British General Hospital for Officers where, after rallying briefly, he quickly declined after meningitis set in. He died at 1:30 a.m. on January 28, 1918.

  • What

    The funeral procession was led by McCrae's horse Bonfire with his master's boots backward in the stirrups, a tradition for mounted officers.

  • Where

    John McCrae died in Number 14 British General Hospital for Officers in Boulogne, and was buried with full military honours in the cemetery at Wimereux, France (plot 4, row H, grave 3).

  • When

    John McCrae died at 1:30 a.m. on January 28, 1918. This photo was taken during his funeral on January 29, 1918.

  • Who

    Those in attendance at the funeral included many friends, military dignitaries, nursing sisters and colleagues.