The Menin Gate Memorial is where my great uncle Victor’s name is inscribed as one of the 54,389 men who are commemorated here. When I use the words ‘great uncle’ about someone who died nearly a hundred years ago your mind will probably conjure up an image of an elderly gentleman with Edwardian sideburns. Victor had just turned twenty when he was killed in July 1917, his birthday was in June so he was just out of his teens and only a few years older than my older child.
The Menin Gate is in the town of Ieper, known to the French speakers as Ypres and I expect that Victor will have called it Wipers like the rest of the troops. During the day the road is a busy thoroughfare with cars, buses and pedestrians passing through, going about their daily lives. In the evening it is closed to motor traffic for an hour for the sounding of the Last Post. This began in July 1928 as a gesture of gratitude from the Belgian people and the buglers came from the local fire brigade. These days it attracts crowds and people arrive in coachloads which is as it should be given how many men are remembered on all the walls.
For Victor at the Menin Gate