Menin Gate Memorial

Article and photos by Doug Slowski

The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing is a war memorial in Ypres, Belgium, dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres Salient of World War I and whose graves are unknown.

The Menin Gate Memorial is situated at the eastern side of the town of Ypres (now Ieper) in the Province of West Flanders, on the road to Menin and Courtrai. It bears the names of 55,000 men who were lost without trace during the Defense of the Ypres Salient in the First World War.

In the center are broad staircases leading to the ramparts which overlook the moat, and to pillared loggias which run the whole length of the structure. On the inner walls of the Hall, on the side of the staircases and on the walls of the loggias, panels of Portland stone bear the names of the dead, inscribed by regiment and corps. Carved in stone above the central arch are the words:

TO THE ARMIES OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE WHO STOOD HERE FROM 1914 TO 1918 AND TO THOSE OF THEIR DEAD WHO HAVE NO KNOWN GRAVE.

Over the two staircases leading from the main Hall is the inscription:

HERE ARE RECORDED NAMES OF OFFICERS AND MEN WHO FELL IN YPRES SALIENT BUT TO WHOM THE FORTUNE OF WAR DENIED THE KNOWN AND HONOURED BURIAL GIVEN TO THEIR COMRADES IN DEATH.

The dead are remembered to this day in a simple ceremony that takes place every evening at 8:00 p.m. All traffic through the gateway in either direction is halted, and two buglers (on special occasions four) move to the center of the Hall and sound the Last Post. Two silver trumpets for use in the ceremony are a gift to the Ypres Last Post Committee by an officer of the Royal Canadian Artillery, who served with the 10th Battery, of St. Catherine, Ontario, in Ypres in April 1915."