We’ve attended the 11th November Armistice Day commemorations in Ypres for many years.
We’ve been amongst huge crowds some years and slightly less attendance on others. It has rained, snowed, and blown gales on that day over those years but it has never dampened peoples dedication to attend the occasion.
As well as the Belgians , we’ve met Canadians, Americans , Australians, and people from all over other parts of the world in Ypres on that day. The Sikh community is always prevalent in the crowds.
In the years leading up to the Centenary of the Great War, security at the Menin Gate became very tight due to attending VIP’s– so from very early morning there is no access through the gate into the town. So for those on foot its a long trek around the outskirts to get in.
Anyone can join the parade which begins to line up outside
St Georges Memorial Church after the morning service there. There are generally a number of bands in the line up of many nationalities. As well as representatives for all kinds of
organisations and associations.
The parade sets off around 10.15 am and makes its way through the streets , passed the Cloth Hall towards the Menin Gate. Crowds line the pavements and are generally packed tight all the way down Menenstraat to the Menin Gate itself. So in recent years huge projection screens have been set up in the Grote Markt so everyone can see the ceremony live.
The Service of Remembrance
The service is of course solemn and emotional, Scottish Bagpipers are regular contributors and
there is nothing quite like the lament of the pipes to bring a lump to the throat. There are prayers and hymns and speeches – in both English and Flemish. And official wreaths are
And at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, there is a minute’s silence as thousands of poppy petals are released from the roof of the Menin Gate. It is an occasion which everyone should experience if only for this one incredible moment.
The Last Post is played by the buglers of the ‘Last Post Association’ and the ceremony comes to end.
Evening Parade and Last Post
Every evening since 1928 * the Last Post had been played under the Menin Gate at 8 o’clock and Armistice Day is no exception – although the crowd and the parade is usually much larger.
A few years ago the Grote Markt area would be full of visitors and locals alike, taking advantage of the splendid array of restaurants and bars around the square whilst they waited for the Last Post ceremony. The Scots were always there in force, entertaining the crowds with bagpipes and highland flings.
The evening has toned down a little recently, but it none the less an incredible occasion to witness and to be a part of.
(*9th July 2015 marked the 30,000 performance of this remarkable ritual. )
Last Post Plaque at the Menin Gate
Not Forgotten Brimington Not Forgotten Brimington