Archive for Ypres

During World War I, the ancient Belgium market town of Ypres had been in a very tactically significant place near to the British front lines and is also one of the most notorious areas along the Western Front as a consequence of the bloody fighting that took place here.

The city had been in the middle of the Ypres Salient, a part of the lines protruding towards the German lines. Historically, Ypres could possibly be traced back to the 12th century. In spite of years of fighting and occupation, Ypres grew but with the start of The First World War, the town under German control.

The 1st Battle of Ypres for the duration of October and November 1914 saw the Allies capture Ypres from the Germans and despite serious fighting around Ypres until the First World War ended in 1918, the Germans never recaptured the town.

Yet, during the four years of World War I, the city suffered a fearful toll because 4 big battles were fought about here. In the 2nd Battle of Ypres in April and May 1915, the Germans retook the high ridge off to the east of Ypres. The area covered the village of Passchendaele.

In 1917, among the most deadly struggles of the First World War occurred. The 3rd Battle of Ypres or Passchendaele saw Allied Forces recapture the ridge though at a terrible cost. Between July and November 1917, there was more than 500 thousand casualties on both sides and Ypres was virtually wiped off the map by German heavy guns.

The well-known Cloth Hall and quite a few other structures were reduced to rubble and ages of heritage were gone. In 1933, reconstruction began on the Cloth Hall and this was at long last finished in 1967 having been painstakingly rebuilt to restore its historical past. Nowadays, the Cloth Hall in Ypres is home to the In Flanders Fields Museum.

All through The First World War, the Menin Gate was simply an exit cut from the eastern ramparts of Ypres. A great many troops would have marched via this exit en route towards the front . In 1927, the Menin Gate Memorial was unveiled. It commemorates the names of around 54,000 soldiers who sadly are even now missing about the battlefields all across the Ypres Salient and each and every night, the Last Post ceremony takes place here at 8pm by the grateful citizens of Ypres.

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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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