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Daily Last Post Ceremony returns Under the Menin Gate – Ypres

Battlefield historian, Mat McLachlan 3 mins read

The daily Last Post Ceremony in Ypres, Flanders (Belgium) has returned under the Menin Gate as the restoration of this moving memorial continues ahead of its centenary anniversary.

This daily commemorative service has been held each evening at 8pm since 1928 – except for two years during Nazi occupation of Ypres (Ieper) during WW2 - and has continued since the restoration works commenced in April 2023, with the Last Post ceremony taking place adjacent the Menin Gate for a period while the engraved panels under the Gate in the eternal 'Hall of Memories’ were restored.

Australian travellers have continued to attend the Last Post service at the Menin Gate throughout its restoration.

Battlefield historian and founder of Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours, Mat McLachlan, recently led a tour of the Western Front, and welcomed the opportunity to again stand under the Menin Gate.

“The Last Post service at the Menin Gate is an incredibly moving and a must-do experience for anyone planning a trip to Europe. Standing adjacent the Menin Gate and looking up at this great arch - which spans the Menin Road on the eastern side of Ypres as a gate in the old walls of the city - is a humbling experience. But walking through the Hall of Memories, seeing and reading the thousands of engraved panels is just so emotive,” said Mat McLachlan.

“The CWGC have done an excellent job with the restoration and the experience for travellers attending the Last Post service has continued to be a moving and poignant experience. It was wonderful to see the carefully restored panels under the gate and the know that this important memorial is being preserved to stand the test of time.”

Unveiled on 24 July 1927, the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres (Ieper), Flanders records the names of more than 54,000 Commonwealth soldiers – including 6000 Australians – who lie in unknown graves across the WWI battlefields of the Western Front. The moving Last Post ceremony at Menin Gate has been held every night since 2 July 1928 by the Last Post Association.

The restoration works commenced in April 2024 and will take approximately two years, with a view to be completed ahead of the Menin Gate centenary anniversary in July 2027.

A special Menin Gate Moments exhibition showcasing eight moments in the story of this memorial created by artist Tom Cole is currently on display in Ypres (Ieper), free to visit located on the ramparts (old city walls) next to the Menin Gate.

Each year, thousands of Australians visit the Western Front, with a visit to Ieper (Ypres) and attendance at the Last Post ceremony considered a must-do by most travellers – with the Menin Gate and its Last Post ceremony voted the number one and two attractions and activities in the region.

Mat McLachlan believes it is an essential Europe travel experience for anyone planning a trip to France and Belgium. “Even if you don’t have time in your travel plans to properly experience the Western Front, I would place attending the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate as an experience that would enrich any Europe trip,” Mat McLachlan said.

All Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours’ Western Front tours include the Last Post at Menin Gate, with two travellers from each of the company’s tour groups taking part in the ceremony to lay a wreath on behalf of the group.

The restoration works are being funded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission with support from the Flemish Government. Works will include:

  • Repairs and complete repointing of the facades, with the natural stone elements restored and cleaned and repairs to the cellars, stair towers and ceilings.
  • The removal of the asbestos-containing layer on the inner vault, replacing of the roof waterproofing and installation of a new eco-roof.
  • Name panels throughout the memorial will be assessed and restoration carried out by stonemasons as required.

For more information on the Menin Gate Moments exhibition visit https://www.cwgc.org/our-work/menin-gate-memorial/menin-gate-moments/

For more information on the Menin Gate restoration, visit https://www.cwgc.org/our-work/menin-gate-memorial/

Flanders is the Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium, bordering the northernmost part of France. During WWI, Australian battalions served on the frontlines throughout Flanders and this region was the site of the bloodiest battle in our nation’s history – the Battle of Passchendaele. Today, Flanders is a rich, vibrant place to visit inviting guests to explore battlefield history, the region’s medieval beginnings, culture, nature, culinary experiences and more. www.visitflanders.com

Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours is a partner of VISITFLANDERS, collaborating with this significant Australian battlefield region to highlight what travellers can see and do today when visiting Flanders. www.battlefields.com.au

 

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