Bonfire – The Chestnut Gentleman

Lt. McCrae stands with Bonfire and ....

John McCrae stands with Bonfire and the French Spaniel, Bonneau.


Drafted in the trenches of Ypres, in the dark hours of May 2, 1915, the compelling elegy In Flanders Fields, was written by John McCrae and inspired by the death of a friend.

Most commonwealth citizens know of the WWI poem – and every November the recitation is honoured and re-dedicated to those who lost their lives in fighting for our freedom. But how did a poem, drafted on the tattered pages of a notebook and penned amidst the guns of war, become such an indelible tribute and an inspiration for our freedom?

Tracing the footsteps of John McCrae and researched from the back of a motorcycle, Bonfire – The Chestnut Gentleman is the true story of John McCrae’s journey through WWI, as told by his war horse, Bonfire, written by Susan Raby-Dunne.


This book chronicles the true story of John McCrae’s journey through WWI and includes historic archival pictures of places, beloved animals and special moments along the way. Meet the mascot bear Winnie from Winnipeg, the inspiration behind “Winnie the Pooh”, the fearless Labrador Windy, and faithful Bonneau.

Based on real events, this is the story of a bond between a soldier and a horse that could not be broken. It’s also a story of the war that shaped Canada, and the powerful true events behind the writing of the poem, In Flanders Fields.

Author, Susan Raby-Dunne lives in the foothills of southwestern Alberta and belongs to the Monday Morning Writers Group. For more information, please visit:



  1. I had two uncles in ww 1, a great uncle Gr Fathers brother who got killed in Belgium and a uncle my mother’s

    brother who survived and fought at vimy ridge. I knew of the horses’s name Bonfire but that’s about it..I

    did see a old film of Macrae’s burial with Bonfire and Macrae’s boots turned backward with nurses following

    at the proession……..will try to get your book well as soon as possible should be interesting

    William J Noble

  2. Vineca Gray says

    I look forward to reading this! The raw courage of Allied soldiers and their equine partners in the arena of war, must never be forgotten.

    An aside, I attended the magnificent live performance of War Horse in Toronto, performed in large part by South Africa’s stunning Handspring Puppet Company.

    We re just a few days away from Remembrance Day 2020…lest we forget.

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