The Menin Gate never fails to affect skeptical people

Last week I mentioned the Menin Gate. Readers who have visited and attended the communal act of remembrance that most people refer to as the Last Post ceremony know it can be a moving experience. Since its unveiling by Field Marshal Lord Plumer on July 24, 1927, the gate has gained an almost iconic status. For many battlefield visitors it is their most abiding memory of a visit to the Western Front.

It is of course a beautiful design, but the reason the memory of a visit remains with people is the fact it bears the names of more than 54,406 officers and men of the British and Commonwealth Armies. Every man listed has no known grave. It is this inscription over the steps leading to the north and south halls of memory that encapsulates the purpose of the memorial:

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam – 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

Before the war, Ypres was a long-standing trading centre, so prosperous that it had been fortified. For generations, its citizens had been protected by walls and gates. One of the four gates to the town was the Menenpoort, or Menin Gate, on the road leading to the nearby town of Menin.



Siegphyl is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE