30 July 2017

CWGC marks the Centenary of Passchendaele - Day 1

The commemorations began at the CWGC Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial on Sunday 30 July with the traditional Last Post ceremony.

Earlier today, CWGC staff including Archivist Andrew Fetherston, Historical Research Coordinator Nick Bristow and Assistant Historian Max Dutton joined the commemorations at the Memorial Park at Zonnebeke, where they delivered talks on the Commission and Third Battle of Ypres, and helped visitors trace their family history using the Commission’s database.


Pipes and Drums of the 1st Royal Irish lead descendants of those named on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial into ceremony.


Descendants of those who fought at the Third Battle of Ypres arrive at the Gate in procession ahead of the service.


The Commission’s Vice Chairman Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley, Mayor of Ieper and Chairman of the Last Post Association Benoit Mottrie, welcome guests including the Belgian Minister of Defence, TRH the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, TM the King and Queen of the Belgians, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.


HRH the Duke of Cambridge speaks at the Menin Gate. During his address, Prince William said: “Winston Churchill said of Ypres, a more sacred place for the British race does not exist in all the world. It was from here, along the Menin Road, that so many marched towards the frontline. After the war, when a location was being sought for a lasting memorial to these men it seemed fitting for it to be built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in this place.”


Wreaths were laid by the royal family and dignitaries including the Duke of Cambridge, Theresa May, Sir Tim Laurence, and representatives of the Commonwealth nations.


More than 54,000 poppies fall from the roof of the Menin Gate in honour of those named on the memorial, during the hymn 'O Valiant Heart' .


The Last Post is sounded, an act which has taken place at the memorial every evening since 1928.


Prime Minister Theresa May, Sir Tim Laurence and the Belgian Defence Minister meet the CWGC’s Centenary Interns.


The commemorations have moved to Ieper’s rebuilt Market Square where a series of live performances that tell the story of the war on this part of the Western Front are taking place, including a new short story by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo, as well as extracts from The Wipers Times, the play by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman based on the satirical trench newspaper by British soldiers fighting on the Ypres Salient.