Monday 29 July 2019 – Tuesday 30 July 2019 Ypres (Belgium) – Dortmund (Germany)
We arrived at the Aire Kampeerautoterrein Zillebekevijver just outside the small village of Ypres. Every time we go through Belgium, we stop here to attend the ceremony at the Menin Gates Memorial. The citizens of Ypres decided to express the gratitude of the Belgian nation towards those who had died for its freedom and independence by introducing the daily sounding of the Last Post – the traditional salute to the fallen warrior. It has occurred at the Menin Gates Memorial since 1929 with the only exception being during the four years of German occupation of Ypres (1940-1944). This will be our third visit.
We walked into town (about 25 minutes) and arrived at the Menin Gates which were very crowded, found a spot and waited.
Every night at 8pm in Ypres a very moving ceremony occurs under the gates as a tribute to the courage and self-sacrifice of those who fell in defence of their town. It begins as always with the Buglers of the local volunteer Fire Brigade arriving and standing ready at the east entrance to the gates and facing into town.
At 8pm precisely, they begin playing the Last Post on their bugles. This is followed by a guest saying the words of the Exhortation, taken from the poem ‘For the Fallen’ with the crowd repeating the last line of the fourth verse, (We will remember them). Then a minute silence follows where there is absolute silence. Tonight, there was a New Zealand choir in attendance, who sang a song which was related to war. It was a beautiful rendition. This was followed by the buglers sounding Reveille. This part of the ceremony always brings tears to my eyes. Then the choir sang God Save the Queen, which was very unexpected. Tonight, there was no wreath laying and as a result the ceremony was concluded after 10 minutes. No matter how long the ceremony is, it is always a very sombre event which we look forward to.
We left Ypres the next day and continued through Belgium and the Netherlands to Dortmund in Germany on our way to our final destination, Sweden.