Every evening at 8 p.m.

Last Post ceremony has been taking place since 1928

The first thing Reijer started talking about when the plan was made to go to the belfry of Ypres was to attend the Last Post ceremony under the Menin Gate. In fact, you cannot visit Ypres without having visited this ceremony. To be on time we leave Cafe Les Halles because “it will be crowded” we have been told.

A fine tradition

Since 1928, with an interruption during World War II, a memorial ceremony has been taking place every evening at 8 p.m. This is in memory of the British troops killed in World War I in the Ypres Salient. This was a 25-by-15-kilometer stretch of Allied territory that jutted forward into the German lines. During the ceremony, the “Last Post” is blown by clarioners from the Last Post Association. It was established after World War I by grateful citizens of Ypres.

Ludo Geloen

About the Menin Gate

The Menin Gate itself was built by the British on the site where a gate had stood for centuries. It was inaugurated on July 24, 1927. On the Menin Gate are the names of 54,896 missing soldiers and officers. These are not all the British missing from World War I,; the gate proved too small to include all the names. The names listed are of all the missing up to Aug. 15, 1917. The names of British servicemen who went missing after that date are on another monument. There are another 34,957 and they are on panels attached to the Tyne Cot Cemetery at Passchendaele.

Ludo Geloen and the rejected clocks

A Johan Cruijff Arena full of spectators

As we walk up the steps in the middle of the gate after the ceremony and read the names, we try to get an idea of the number. Nearly 55,000 people! That is as many as the number of spectators in a full Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam. At the sight of those packed bleachers, you only realize the magnitude of what took place and is remembered here.

Poppy Field on the gate

It was getting dark by the time we arrived at the top of the gate but just the same, we were immediately captured by the thousands of “Poppies” or poppies stuck in the grass there. Each poppy is a tribute to the fallen of the First World War. The poppy is from the famous poem “In Flander Fields. It makes a big impression.

After a good hour, we set our sights back toward the city and, after touring several restaurants, returned to Café Les Halles for dinner. A good tip for those reading this: be sure to make restaurant reservations before you go to the Menin Gate. In fact, after the ceremony, the city is buzzing with activity.

Eric Cornelissen

Eric Cornelissen

Wanneer het was is niet meer bekend maar tijdens een editie van de Gentse Feesten ontstond de interesse in de geschiedenis en de betekenis van Belforts. Met een vette knipoog naar Reinhold Messner die als eerste de veertien hoogste toppen van de wereld beklom moest iemand maar eens de eerste zijn die alle belforten van de Lage Landen gaat beklimmen! Pas later werd duidelijk dat het er geen 14 maar 56 zijn. Die Messner had het maar makkelijk.