The Last Post Association was formed in 1928. The Last Post had been played at the inauguration of the Menin Gate in 1927 – ten years after the Battle of Passchedaele (Third Battle of Ypres) – to commemorate those who had died in battle but who had no known grave.
Over 250,000 British and Commonwealth troops died in the Ypres Salient between 1914 and 1918. The Last Post has been played at 20.00 each night since 1928 by the Last Post Association to honour them. During World War Two, the Nazis occupied Ypres and they banned the ceremony. However, it continued at the Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey, until the German occupiers were forced out of Ypres by Polish troops on September 6th 1944 when it restarted at the Menin Gate despite fighting taking place on the town’s outskirts.
The Menin Gate was built where the old gate on the Menin Road had existed during World War One. Tens of thousands of soldiers marched through what was effectively a gap in the town’s ramparts to the battlegrounds.
On July 24th 1927, the inauguration ceremony of the Menin Gate took place where buglers of the Somerset Light Infantry sounded the ‘Last Post’. The chief of police in Ypres wanted the memorial to be a place of living remembrance where the lives of the dead would be saluted each day. In 1928 a committee was set up to bring about the chief of police’s vision. The chief of the local fire brigade promised that they would provide the buglers for the ceremony (something they still do to this day).
Each night buglers from the Last Post Association gather at the Menin Gate. Usually two buglers take part out of the association’s eight – though three or four have taken part in one ceremony.
On November 11th 2008, the Last Post was played for the 27,568th time. The playing commemorates all soldiers who have no known grave in the Ypres Salient. It has been estimated by the Last Post Association that if one playing each night represented one soldier who died at the Ypres Salient, it would take until 2610 for every one of those who died to be commemorated.
“A more sacred place for the British race does not exist." Winston Churchill on Ypres.