24 July 2017

"He is not missing: he is here!"

The Commission will mark the 90th anniversary of the CWGC Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial’s unveiling and dedication with a special ceremony at 11am (CET) today, mirroring the service from 90 years ago.

 

Field Marshal Lord Plumer unveiled the memorial on Sunday 24 July 1927, in the presence of thousands of veterans and family members. Here is his full speech from the unveiling:

“Our hearts are stirred by feelings of deep emotion as we stand here to pay a Nation’s tribute to the memory of the great army of men whose names are inscribed on this beautiful Memorial, who have no known graves.

One of the most tragic features of the Great War was the number of casualties reported as ‘Missing, believed killed’.

To their relatives there must have been added to their grief a tinge of bitterness and a feeling that everything possible had not been done to recover their loved ones’ bodies and give them reverent burial. That feeling no longer exists; it ceased to exist when the conditions under which the fighting was being carried out was realised.

But when peace came and the last ray of hope had been extinguished, the void seemed deeper and the outlook more forlorn for those who had no graves to visit, no place where they could lay tokens of loving remembrance.

The hearts of the people throughout the Empire went out to them and it was resolved that here at Ypres, where so many of the missing are known to have fallen, there should be erected a Memorial worthy of them which should give expression to the Nation’s gratitude for their sacrifice and their sympathy with those who mourned them.

A Memorial has been erected which, in its simple grandeur, fulfils this object, and now it can be said of each one in whose honour we are assembled here today:

“He is not missing: he is here!”

But this monument which is now to be unveiled does not express only the Nation’s gratitude and sympathy, it expresses also their pride in the fullness of the sacrifice. It is an acknowledgment that it was only by their sacrifice and the sacrifice of all who laid down their lives that we who fought and survived were able to carry out the task entrusted to us.

Indeed this Archway standing as it does in splendid grandeur at the Gate of the town is like the main body of a protecting Army, the lines of defence being represented by the numerous cemeteries grouped around it. Together they are a testimony, more eloquent than any words, of how the troops defended successfully for four years the Ypres Salient.

Moreover this ground which for all time will be known as the Ypres Salient is a historical record of the friendship and comradeship which existed and will always exist between the two Armies, British and Belgian, who fought there side by side; and the town of Ypres which was shattered beyond all recognition during the war and has now been rebuilt illustrates fitly the unconquerable spirit of the Belgian Nation.

The British Army is honoured today by the presence here of His Majesty the King of the Belgians. He is here not only as the Sovereign representative of his countrymen but also as the Commander-in-Chief under whom many of those we are honouring today served and under whose immediate command the 2nd British Army carried out their final advance to victory.

We are very grateful to him.

This ceremony conjures up in the minds of every one of us memories which are sad but very beautiful.

No words can express our feelings adequately but they will be expressed for us by the familiar bugle calls which we shall hear at the conclusion of the service.

The ‘Last Post’ and the Pipers ‘Lament’ are our tribute of mourning to our loved and honoured dead – the ‘Reveille’ is the triumphant proclamation of our sure and certain hope of their resurrection to Eternal Life.”

Read more about the Menin Gate

Menin Gate: the history, design and unveiling

On 24 July, the CWGC will mark the 90th anniversary of the unveiling of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial with a commemorative service and exhibition.

Rare material from the CWGC archive on the Menin Gate

Tomorrow, the Commission will mark the 90th anniversary of the unveiling of the CWGC Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial with a ceremony mirroring the event from 90 years ago, and the launch of a photographic exhibition.

CWGC marks the 90th anniversary of the Menin Gate Memorial

Today, the CWGC is marking the 90th anniversary of the unveiling of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial with a commemorative service and opening of a photographic exhibition. We will be reporting on the commemorations as they happen.