The Menin Gate, Ypres

European leaders to mark First World War Centenary with summit in Ypres

Posted on on 12 March 2014
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European Union leaders will open their June summit in the Belgian city of Ypres to commemorate the Centenary of the start of the First World War.

The heads of government will gather on June 26th 2014, two days before the 100th anniversary of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination in Sarajevo.

Ypres was on the front line for most of the ensuing war which engulfed Europe. It marked a bulge, or salient, in the Western Front, held by British, Commonwealth and Belgian forces against the German Army.

Some of the bloodiest battles of the conflict resulted in about a million casualties overall.

The historic centre of Ypres, including the medieval Cloth Hall, was destroyed by heavy bombardment and later rebuilt.


EU leaders will start their summit with a ceremony at the Menin Gate, the memorial bearing the names of more than 54,000 soldiers from Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the UK who have no known grave.

Traffic through the Gate is still halted every night at 8pm while the Last Post is sounded.

Winston Churchill said of Ypres: "A more sacred place for the British race does not exist."

The announcement of the summit in Ypres came from the European Council President, Herman Van Rompuy.

European Union leaders usually hold their regular twice-yearly meetings at the headquarters of the EU in Brussels. They will return to the Belgian capital for the second day of the summit.

Source: European Union press release

Date of press release publication: 11th March 2014

Images: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News