WW1 Photos Centenary Website: 2014-2018 By Paul Reed

WW1 Landmarks: The Menin Gate, Ypres

Made rich on the proceeds of the Cloth Trade, the city of Ypres fortified itself in the seventeenth century by engaging the military architect Vauban to build a huge star-shaped defensive wall around the city. The exits from the city were all so-called ‘gates’; gaps in the wall on roads leading to particular towns elsewhere in Flanders.

On the eastern side of Ypres was the Menin Gate, which lead to the town of Menin. Guarded by two lions, symbols of Flanders, by 1914 there was a pub built into the walls here much frequented by the locals. There was no physical gate or barrier, just a bridge across the moat.

In 1914 British troops came to Ypres and marched through the gate and up to the Menin Road to take part in the First Battle of Ypres. It became a main thoroughfare throughout much of the next four years and like the Cloth Hall, for men who served in Flanders it was one of their landmarks.

Menin Gate Memorial, 1930 (author)

The Menin Gate’s landmark status continues to this day as post-war it was selected as the site for the Menin Gate Memorial, which originally commemorated nearly 55,000 soldiers who have no known grave. Unveiled in 1927 the memorial became a focus of remembrance as each night from the summer of 1928 the Last Post was played here; and it is still played here today at 8pm each night by the Last Post Association.

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6 responses

  1. Stuart

    I wonder – was the last post sounded here during World War Two. Im guessing not…

    09/10/2012 at 11:30

    • sommecourt

      It finished just before the Blitzkrieg in May 1940 and was not permitted during the occupation. When Ypres was liberated on 6 September 1944 the Last Post was played then and has been played every night ever since. They are just coming up to the 29,000 occasion in which it has been played.

      09/10/2012 at 12:59

  2. Reblogged this on Yashpal Dhadhal.

    09/10/2012 at 15:14

  3. Stuart

    Knew you’d know the answer to that! Thanks.

    10/10/2012 at 09:47

  4. I have been told that a Belgian bugler p,ayed every night in exile somewhere to maintain the link.

    12/10/2012 at 09:40

    • sommecourt

      Indeed, it was played in exile at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey.

      12/10/2012 at 09:45

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