The Buglers of the Last Post Association at the Menin Gate (Photo: © Margaux Capoen - Stad Ieper/Visitflanders)

Global tributes mark 30,000th Last Post in Ypres

Posted on on 11 July 2015
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Worldwide tributes have accompanied the 30,000th sounding of the Last Post at the Menin Gate in Ypres.

The ceremony on July 9th 2015 was streamed live on the internet, with televised contributions from the countries whose soldiers fought on the battlefields of Flanders a century ago.

Firefighters around the world held simultaneous events to honour their counterparts from Ypres whose buglers have performed the homage to the dead of the First World War since 1928.

Among the international tributes:

*Ben Roberts-Smith, an Australian soldier who won the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan, recited the Exhortation to remember the fallen from the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. 

*The German President, Joachim Gauck, laid a wreath at the Neue Wache in Berlin. There was a also a wreath laying at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris by France's minister for veterans, Jean-Marc Todeschini.

*Canada's Justice Minister, Peter MacKay, read John McCrae's poem 'In Flanders Fields' in Halifax Nova Scotia, the port from which many Canadians sailed to war.

*The Kohima Epitaph 'When you go home, tell them of us and say, for their tomorrow we gave our today' was broadcast from the India Gate in Delhi.

*Buglers sounded the Last Post at Westminster Abbey in London; Cardiff Castle in Wales; Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland; and at Pukaehu National War Memorial Park in the New Zealand capital, Wellington.

*A bagpiper performed a highland lament on the battlements of Edinburgh Castle.

Firefighters at Dogsthorpe Fire Station in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, were among those in the UK joining the tribute (Photo courtesy of Stanley Kaye)

The Last Post Association aims to maintain Ypres' daily act of remembrance in perpetuity.

Now that the last Great War veterans have gone, Chairman Benoit Mottrie stressed the importance of keeping their memory alive.

"It is only at places like the Menin Gate, it is only during ceremonies such as the Last Post that future generations will be able to truly understand the cost of man's inhumanity to man," Mr Mottrie told guests gathered in the presence of Queen Mathilde of Belgium.

The names of almost 55,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who have no known grave are commemorated on the walls of the Menin Gate, among them Sidney Barrow.

Ninety seven years to the day after Private Barrow's death in action, a tribute was read by armed forces veteran Stanley Pepper during a ceremony in London at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, home of the Chelsea Pensioners.

Sidney Barrow, a career soldier, was among the dwindling survivors of the original British Expeditionary Force sent to France in August 1914 when he died in the defence of Ypres on July 9th 1915.

The Last Post Association's buglers were applauded through the streets of Ypres (Photo © Margaux Capoen - Stad Ieper)

The Duke of Kent, President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and a cousin of Queen Elizabeth, broadcast a personal message thanking the people of Ypres and the Last Post Association.

"Families whose loved ones were lost in the terrible battles in the fields of Flanders have derived great comfort from the ongoing commitment of the Belgian people to continue commemorating the fallen.

"On behalf of us all, I offer warm thanks and hope that this nightly act of remembrance will continue to inspire and resonate with visitors to the battlefields, in perpetuity."

The Last Post Association has launched an app to assist those visiting the Menin Gate. Developed in collaboration with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the app includes information about the Last Post ceremony and how to search the names of soldiers remembered on the walls of the Menin Gate.

Sources: Visitflanders; the Last Post Association; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Stad Ieper; Royal Hospital Chelsea

Images courtesy of © Margaux Capoen - Stad Ieper /Visitflanders (Buglers of the Last Post Association); Stanley Kaye/Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue Service (Peterborough firefighters)

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News