From October 1914 until October 1918 the battlefi eld was barely a few kilometres away from the centre. The trenches had been dug from North to South to form an arc around Ypres. In that famous Ypres Salient no fewer than fi ve bloody battles were fought. In the nineteen twenties more than 150 military cemeteries were built in and around the city and monuments were erected, Menin Gate being the most important. These monuments and cemeteries as well as the rebuilt houses, some of which were faithfully restored, still remind us today of the senselessness of war and of this most tragic period in the history of Ypres.
The Last Post – Menin Gate
Every evening at 8 pm precisely the ‘Last Post’ has been sounded since 1928 under the imposing arches of Menin Gate. This memorial shaped like a Roman triumphal arch displays the names of 54,896 soldiers of the then British empire who went missing in action. This memorial lists the names from the beginning of the war until 15 August 1917. The soldiers, who went missing after 16 August 1917 until the end of the war, are mentioned on panels at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Passchendaele. There are 34,984 of them. The Menin Gate was built in the location of the old mediaeval gate. During the First World War the British troops marched through this ‘gate’ to defend the ‘Ypres Salient’. After the First World War grateful citizens set up the Last Post Association. The former enemies fell in almost as great numbers and are also commemorated in this solemn ceremony. From 1 January through 31 December and in all weather conditions the buglers of the Last Post Association sound the ‘Last Post’. On 11 November at 11 am a special Last Post ceremony takes place to commemorate the Armistice.
Knowledge centre In Flanders Fields
The In Flanders Fields Museum houses a fully renovated WWI knowledge centre. Every Ypres visitor can immerse themselves in that dramatic period in the history of the world here. You can individually research the big, global background story here, but also very personal stories or local history.
Yorkshire Trench & Dug-out
In 1997 the construction of a new industrial estate along the Ypres -Yser canal was started. During the works many remnants of the Great War surfaced. This is where the In Flanders Fields Museum (together with The Diggers) restored Yorkshire Trench to the original route of the British trench. The entrance and exit of the ‘deep dug-out’ of 1917 can also be seen.
Canal Dyke – John McCrae Site
Along the Ypres-Yser canal lies the well known site ‘Essex Farm Cemetery’ where John McCrae wrote his world famous poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ near this advanced dressing station on 2 and 3 May 1915. Today next to the military cemetery you can visit the fortifi ed shelters in the canal banks as well as the actual canal dyke. Information panels and a footpath guide you through this valuable site. Fifteen year old Joe Strudwick was also buried in this place, he was one of the youngest British casualties.
There are no Belgianor Germancemeteries on the territory of Ypres. The largest Belgian cemetery in the area is located in Houthulst. Other Belgian cemeteries are located in Oeren, Hoogstade, Keiem, Ramskapelle, Steenkerke, West-Vleteren and Adinkerke. The German cemeteries can be found in Langemark (including students), Vladslo (sculpture group Käthe Kollwitz), Hooglede and Menin-Wevelgem. St.-Charles de Potyze is a French military cemetery along the Zonnebeekseweg where more than 4000 French soldiers were laid to rest. There are some 75 Commonwealth war cemeteries on Ypres territory. Two can be reached on foot from the Grote Markt namely Ypres Reservoir Cemetery (19) and Ramparts Cemetery (20). In the immediate vicinity of the centre there is Bedford House Cemetery (Rijselseweg) or Menin Road South Military Cemetery (Meenseweg).
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission was founded by Royal Charter in 1917 and is responsible for the marking and the maintenance of the Commonwealth war dead who fell during the First and Second World War. The Commission cares for a total of 1,7 million casualties in 149 countries. The funding of its work comes from the 6 Commonwealth countries of which the United Kingdom funds around 78% of the whole budget. The offi ce based in Ieper, is responsible for the care of the Commonwealth war cemeteries and memorials in 11 countries in Northern Europe (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Sweden) and employs over 200 staff to carry out its operations. There are some 75 Commonwealth war cemeteries on Ypres territory. Four of them can be reached on foot from the Market Square, i.e. Ypres Reservoir Cemetery, Ramparts Cemetery, Ypres Town Cemetery and Ypres Town Cemetery Extension.
Centenary Great War 2014 – 2018
Various events and exhibitions will be organized to fi ttingly commemorate the Great War, almost 100 years ago, in Ypres, but also in the Westhoek/West Flanders and throughout Belgium