Sep
13

The Menin Gate and the Last Post

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The Menin Gate in an impressive memorial to the military personnel who died during World War I in the Belgium town of Ypres (Iepers). During the war, the Ypres Salient was the arena of horrendous fighting and was nicknamed “Wipers” by the British Tommies who were stationed there. More than a quarter of a million men from UK and the Commonwealth perished in the fighting around this historic town. Of those men, around 100,000 have no recognized grave and around fifty percent of those are commemorated on the Menin Gate. This memorial to the missing contains the names of 54,000 soldiers from all around the earth.

All over the Western Front battlefields of Belgium and France, there are a good number of memorials but the Menin Gate is compelling for more than just its over all size. The gate stands at the Eastern exit of the town and the road leads straight to the old front line. The memorial was constructed by the British government and was presented in 1927. Its setting seems most appropriate and many of the men whose names are commemorated on the Menin Gate, will have travelled along this actual road to the front line, never to come back.

The residents of Ypres were all to conscious of the debt of gratitude they owed the fallen that they came up with an plan to honour them. Since 1928, each night at 8pm, traffic is prevented from passing by the Menin Gate and a short ceremony takes place. Buglers from the Last Post Association and town’s fire brigade congregate to play the “Last Post”. The ceremony should not be regarded as entertainment, it is a sombre affair and although the public are free to be present at the ceremony, they should keep in mind the reasons that it takes place.

The ceremony has taken place every single evening from 2nd July 1928, only interrupted due to World War II as the town was occupied by Germany. During the occupation of Ypres, the ceremony was held at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey, Britain. The precise day that Ypres was liberated from the Germans in World War II, was again conducted at the Menin Gate.

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