Building of the memorial began in 1923. It was opened by Field Marshal Lord Plumer on 24 July 1927. Veterans, relatives of those commemorated and local people attended. Dignitaries included King Albert I of Belgium and Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Commander of French forces during the war.
Every evening since 1928 the ceremony of The Last Post has been observed under the archway of The Menin Gate. It was only interrupted by occupation by the Germans 1940-44.
The first call of The Last Post in 1944 took place even as the Germans still occupied the town but were preparing to pull out.
Apart from regimental and local buglers of, for example Ieper Fire Service or police, visiting buglers from schools, clubs and associations from all the countries associated with The Great War sound The Last Post. It is always very well attended.
The names are listed by country, by regiment, by battalion and by rank. It is poignant to see two or three names of a unit such as the Police Service of Trinidad and Tobago as well as names from elite British regiments such as The Coldstream Guards
It was in the 2nd Battle of Ypres in 1915 that gas was first used in warfare, by the Germans,
The Salient became notorious for fighting in the most appalling conditions. The terrain in this part of Belgium is marshy, dotted with rivers, streams and ponds. The continuous shelling by both sides destroyed the drainage systems and broke through the water table.
The image of 'the mud of Flanders' is epitomised by the 3rd Battle of Ypres in 1917, the British offensive to take the Passchendaele Ridge and Passchedaele village. Shelling and unrelenting rain turned the ground into deep, soft mud. Soldiers and horses drowned in it simply trying to move into postions or advance in the attacks.
'Passchendaele' cost the Allies 270,000 casualties and the Germans over 217,000. The ridge and village, reduced to rubble, were taken. However, all the ground won at such cost was retaken by the Gemans in later offensives.