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Stephen Nulty

Last Post Ceremony in a quieter time

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Stephen Nulty

From "The Great War - I Was There " magazine in 1938, this image shows the service as it was back then

 

Snap 2019-05-29 at 15.26.28.png

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Steven Broomfield

First time I went (about 1984) it was much like that. I was in Ypres with a chum last week and we passed by the Gate at about 1900 hours and the queues were already forming. On the plus side, every eatery in the square was pretty sparsely-populated so no problem finding a table.

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temptage

I wonder if it's an error where it says the Last Post was sounded at 9pm every day. 

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kenf48
Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, temptage said:

I wonder if it's an error where it says the Last Post was sounded at 9pm every day. 

 

No, it was not an error in the summer of 1938 .

 

The first Last Post Ceremony was held on Monday 2 July 1928 (there had been previous sporadic ceremonies on notable anniversaries in the previous year).  There were 70 spectators.

The buglers were dressed in their work clothes as in the above picture.  The high point of that year was the British Legion pilgrimage in August when the ceremony attracted some, inevitable, controversy, ie. 'Where are the British buglers' (plus ca change...).  The buglers did not play during the winter, however when the ceremony resumed on the the 1st May 1929 and since that date the Last Post has been played every evening except during the German Occupation.

 

A pre-war poster/flyer was published in three languages, it stated "Visitors are reminded that the Last Post is sounded every evening at the Menin Gate Memorial, at 9 o'clock during the summer and 8 o'clock during the winter months.  They are cordially invited to attend the ceremony". 

 

Summer was defined as 15 May to 15 October, very few spectators attended the ceremony during the winter months prior to the war, and if my experience at Easter in the 80s is anything to go by very few post war either.

 

The time of 8 p.m.was fixed from 1st September 1970.

 

Ken

 

 

Edited by kenf48

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temptage

Thanks Ken. I wasnt aware of those details.

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nigelcave

I have fond memories of the days when it was 9 pm in the summer. Until about thirty years or so ago there used ti be two policeman, one at either end, to deal with the traffic and, assuming that everything was under control, they would face in towards the gate and salute [in pre baseball cap headwater, I hasten to add] during the playing of the Last Post.

 

And, of course, it could be very quiet at the time of the Ceremony - I can recall that my father and I were the only ones there on at least one  occasion in the summer; and I had several solo occasions when there in the winter months. The substantial growth in numbers date from about 1980 if my untrustworthy memory serves me right and seems to have been rising ever since. This is a good thing, I am sure; but I do remember the quieter old days with pleasure.

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caulkheader
On 29/05/2019 at 16:58, Steven Broomfield said:

First time I went (about 1984) it was much like that. I was in Ypres with a chum last week and we passed by the Gate at about 1900 hours and the queues were already forming. On the plus side, every eatery in the square was pretty sparsely-populated so no problem finding a table.

On wednesday of last week, there were 8 coaches lined up along the ramparts road, mostly schools so it was very cosey under the arch.

 

On a positive note, all the schoolchildren behaved impeccably during the ceremony.

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johntanner

My first visit in 1978; two of us in the rain. 

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tbirduk

My parents and I with my mother's French Pen friend, who we were visiting in the Somme area, attended June 1966. I remember about a dozen people, very exciting for a 12year old as I was staying up way past my bedtime!

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Marilyne

My first Last Post was in 2002 ... I just had caught the WWI-study-fever (never got rid of it...) and decided to go down on a friday evening. I don't remember it being so crowded... And then 2006, on the evening before the 100km of Ypres that year, me and my two marching sidekicks went down. there was a bit more people, but nothing compared to the frenzy it is today. 

 

 

M.

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