On all of our First World War tours (Ypres One Hundred Years On, Chapters from the Western Front, Ypres Remembered, Treading in Tommy’s Footsteps and the Battles of 1917-18) where we visit Flanders, Belgium, we attend the very moving Last Post ceremony in Ypres.
This poignant ceremony first took place on 1 July 1928 at the Menin Gate and a daily ceremony was held for four months. Reinstated in the Spring of 1929 when the Last Post Committee (now called the Last Post Association) was established, the commemoration has been held every day since 11 November 1929, with the exception of the years between 20 May 1940 and 6 September 1944 when the ceremony was held in Brookfield Military Cemetery, Surrey. The format has remained unchanged, with the road closing and traffic stopping, the buglers arriving at 7.55pm and the sounding of the Last Post at 8.00pm, followed by a minute’s silence.
The Last Post is a highlight of our First World War tours for many of our guests, and the sense of loss and sadness for the past and hope for the future is palpable in the atmosphere within the confines of the Menin Gate. The ceremony is kept alive by participation from young and old; people who have connections in one way or another to the dead or those who served in the 1914–18 conflict and people who have no links to the war, just a great sense of pride and respect.
We are privileged that we have been able to arrange the centenary tour “Ypres One Hundred Years On” between 9 and 12 November this year and will be attending the Armistice Day commemoration during the Centenary year. Especially moving will be remembering the number of casualties suffered by the original BEF between October and November 1914 during the First Battle of Ypres. The tour will include sites where many of the most dramatic events from this period took place.
After the wreath-laying and what will no doubt be a moving and historic occasion, once more will be read the lines from Laurence Binyon’s poem “For the Fallen”, read by a visiting dignitary or a visitor. Standing in the centre of the road under the arch of the hall of memory will echo the words: