The Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium is a required stop for any battlefield tour of the Salient; but what is happening during the current Coronavirus crisis? The Guardian reported on 13 April that the Last Post is still being played evenings at 8:00pm, but only by one lone bugler and with NO AUDIENCE ALLOWED TO ATTEND. According to the paper, “delicate negotiations” involving local authorities and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission allowed for this compromise. Readers should look for updates and details on the Last Post Association’s website: www.lastpost.be.
The Menin Gate memorial to the missing was constructed between 1923 and 1927. It was inaugurated on 24 July 1927; with buglers of the Somerset Light Infantry sounding the Last Post at the inauguration. According to the Guardian, “A year later five locals, including the local chief of police, commander of the fire brigade and a store owner, Aime Gruwez — Mottrie’s grandfather — formed the Last Post Association.” Since then, the Last Post has been played at the Menin Gate at 8:00pm every night by volunteer buglers of the local fire brigade, except for the 4+ years when Belgium was under German occupation during WW2. This amounts to almost 32,000 commemorations!
The Menin Gate is one of four Commonwealth memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders. It is situated in the medieval, walled city of Ypres, Belgium at the eastern gate of the city, where the road leads to Menin, Belgium. Thousands of Commonwealth troops passed through this gate on their way to the trenches east of the city.
We are glad to see that this meaningful commemoration ceremony has been allowed to continue during the current health crisis, even if in very diminished form.
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