THE MENIN GATE MEMORIAL
|The Menin Gate Memorial, with the Cloth Hall visible through the arch.
|Ypres was an ancient fortified town with defensive walls and a moat surrounding it. There were a number of gateways in the walls, including one for the road to the nearby town of Menin. The "Menin Gate" was one of those which faced the front line to the east, and one through which hundreds of thousands of allied troops passed on their way to their destiny. Little wonder then, that after the War, this was deemed to be a fitting place to record the names of those who passed into oblivion and whose bodies were never identified.
The Menin Gate records the names of 56,000 men from Great Britain and its Empire who were killed in the Ypres Salient between October 1914 and the night of 15th/16th August 1917 and who have no known grave. Even this vast memorial isn't big enough to record the names of all the "missing" of the Salient. Another 35,000 are recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial near Passchendaele.
The people of Ypres still remember the debt they owe these men. At 8 O'Clock every evening, the road which passes under the Memorial is closed and three buglers from the local fire brigade play the last post. This ceremony has continued since the Memorial was unveiled in 1927, the only exception being during the German occupation of the Second World War. During the occupation the bugles were kept hidden, and the ceremony was reintroduced on the very first evening after the Germans left the Town. It is ironic, to say the least, that the memorial which prompted Siegfried Sassoon to write the words quoted on my homepage should also have prompted what is probably the most moving and enduring act of remembrance in the World.