Much has been written about Dr. John McCrae - he graduated from the University of Toronto and joined the faculty of McGill University in 1900. He had been a doctor for years (and had served in the South African War) when the Great War broke out. McCrae is the author of the most famous poem penned during the Great War, In Flanders Fields. As a surgeon attached to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, McCrae had treated injured men for days after the Second Battle of Ypres, in May of 1915. One death particularly affected McCrae. A young friend and former student, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, had been killed by a shell burst on May 2, 1915. Lieutenant Helmer was buried later that day in the small cemetery outside McCrae's dressing station, and McCrae had performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain. The next day, sitting on the back of an ambulance parked near the dressing station, McCrae vented his anguish by composing In Flanders Fields. He had by this time authored only medical texts, just dabbling in poetry. The poem was an instant hit after appearing in the December 8th issue of Punch. LTC John McCrae continued to serve until he died of pneumonia on January 28, 1918, at age 45.