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Remembered Today:

Menin Gate Memorial Last Post Ceremony


chrislock

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The evening before last, I attended the Last Post Ceremony in Ypres.

The Burgemeesters Office and the Koninglijk Entente had organised the commemoration ceremony to remember the allied soldiers who fell liberating the town and it's surrounding villages throughout that period. The Entente President and a LPA official revealed the Division instructed by General Montgomery to liberate Ypres was the Independent Polish Armoured Division commanded by General Maczek. His Division was infused with Officers from the Czechoslovak Independent Armored Brigade under General Liska whose Brigade was soon to set siege to Dunkirk. The Poles were equipped with Sherman and Cromwell tanks along with a multitude of supporting armour and soft skin vehicles to back up their Jager infantry units. Fierce fighting broke out with an SS unit in the harbour area. By 6pm the town was liberated with the the first Last Post Ceremony in four years taking place very soon after. LPA officials informed all at the ceremony via their PA system the story. An aging local eye witness also informed all at the ceremony reception, that a Polish Sherman engaged a German anti tank gun immediately alongside the traffic lights location today just up the road from the Menin Gate Memorial. He said he was 10 years old and was peering out of his cellar window and the Sherman was right up against his house with it's turret gun pointed around the corner at the road junction. He said the Sherman fired several shots bringing down much masonry and dust just in front of the Memorial but when all had cleared, the anti tank gun and it's crew were gone. He remembers all of this as if it was only yesterday. Today he is an Entente member.

It does indeed reveal that the LPA commemorate the fallen from both wars today at the Great War Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing. I totally support this!

Lest We Forget.

Chris

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Nobody would dispute the bravery of those soldiers who liberated Ypres in WW2, but why was this a subject for the Menin Gate which is Great War Memorial to the Missing?. Would it not have been more appropriate to hold such a remembrance event in the main square outside of the Cloth Hall on which I believe there is a plaque commemorating the Polish liberators?. With no disrespect intended or implied to anyone involved with the WW2 commemoration this to me is yet another example of how the the Last Post ceremony has been allowed to drift from its original format over the years.

Regards

Norman

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Thanks Chris, that's very interesting.

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Norman,

I think there are degrees of purity! The Menin Gate 8 O'clock ceremony has been held to commemorate the fallen of WW1 every day since 1928 except during WW2 when Ypres was occupied. The fact that as soon as it was liberated the ceremony resumed is surely something that should be marked - and where else but at the Gate?

Various members had pondered the criteria that they (if they were members of the LPA responsible) would impose for "enhanced ceremonies". In terms of dates 11/11 would clearly be one, but I would also have thought the WW2 liberation day enabling the resumption of the ceremony would be another.

David

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I agree to disagree David and reiterate that there is a plaque to the WW2 event in the main square so why not hold a short ceremony there?.

Regards

Norman

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Norman; they do!

The town hall and the "Koninglijk Entente" hold ceremonies every year at the Belgian, French, Polish and British Menin Gate Memorials. David's post is excellent and should offer you an answer.

I certainly have no problem of the LPA offering the LP to WW2 events which affected their town whatsoever. They offer a superb and respectful ceremony and long may they continue.

If there is a problem, it is the attending public that can be a problem, not the committed buglers or their officials.

Chris

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My understanding is that on the night of liberation the buglers appeared at the Menin Gate but no-one knew they were back so they went down to the square and did it again. I have spoken to an eye-witness who saw the event in the square - then an 18 year old trainee teacher.

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