Visited by BMW Club Oxford Section during Ypres Trip
Author David Shanks
The Menin Gate is one of the many memorials to the fallen that have no graves, situated in the Belgium town of Ieper (Ypres). The memorial was unveiled on the 24th July 1927 to a design by Sir Reginald Blomfield and is maintained by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission along with other dedicated cemeteries and memorials pertaining to WW 1.
Dedicated on the walls of the memorial are 54,000 plus names of UK and Commonwealth officers and men. Only officers and men who lost their lives up until August 1917 are remembered on the Menin Gate.
300,000 soldiers lost their lives in Ypres, of which 90,000 have no graves. Even now remains are still being found. If they can be identified then the name is removed from the memorial and the remains are given a proper burial in a CWG site.
The Menin Gate site was chosen as it was the old exit through the original fortifications from Ypres to the small village of Menin, which was the front line. Later in the campaign, due to heavy shelling of the area, troops left via other gates in the wall. The original name for the bridge over the moat was “Hangoartpoort”, poort being the Dutch word for gate.
In the old fortification walls the troops made dugouts in the old ramparts for various uses. One such dugout, now a local brewery, was where “The Wipers Times”, a paper produced for the troops, was printed. The printing machine can be viewed in a tour of the brewery with a taste of the local brew for a small entry sum.
The last post was first played on the 1st July 1928 for a while, then played again during 1929. The remembrance service became a regular feature from 11th November 1929 at 20:00 hrs, played by the local fire brigade except during WW II when it was played at Brooklands Military Cemetery in the UK. When liberated by Polish troops on the 6thSeptember 1944 the last post was played that evening even though the town was not fully liberated, a tradition that has been continued to this day.
On a personal note my father served in Ypres for four months during 1916. Why, I will never know as his military records were destroyed during the blitz in WW II. He was in the Machine Gun Corps in the 29th division who fought in the Somme area after coming back from the Dardanelles disaster; so why he served away from his division for a while who knows.
Originally posted 2017-07-08 20:47:37.