The Menin Gate Memorial at the eastern exit of the town of Ieper in Flanders, Belgium, marks the starting point for one of the main roads out of the town that led Allied soldiers to the front line during World War 1.
Designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield and built by the British government, the Menin Gate Memorial opened on July 24, 1927 as a monument dedicated to the missing British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the fierce battles around the Ypres Salient area who have no known grave.
The mausoleum, with its large “Hall of Memory,” contains the names of 54,896 soldiers who died before August 15, 1917. Menin Gate Memorial does not list the names of the missing of New Zealand and Newfoundland soldiers who are honoured on separate memorials.
The names of another 34,984 of those who died without graves in the area between August 16, 1917 and the end of the war, are recorded on plaques at the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing located just outside the village of Passchendaele which had been liberated by Canadian troops at great human cost. Nearby is the Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in the world with nearly 12,000 graves.
Following the Menin Gate Memorial opening, the citizens of Ypres wanted to express their gratitude towards those who had given their lives for Belgium’s freedom. As such, every evening at 8.00, buglers from the local fire brigade close the road which passes under the Memorial and play the Last Post.
Except for the occupation by the Germans in World War II when the daily ceremony was conducted at Brookwood Military Cemetery, in Surrey, England, this ceremony has been carried on uninterrupted since Armistice Day, November 11, 1929. On the very evening that Polish forces liberated Ypres in the Second War, the ceremony was resumed at the Menin Gate despite the fact that heavy fighting was still taking place in other parts of the town.