Flanders Fields

The construction of the Menin Gate in Ypres

The construction of the Menin Gate took place between 1922 and 1927. This well-known war memorial commemorates Commonwealth soldiers who died during World War One.

The Menin Gate in Ypres is one of the most famous war memorials in the world. It bears the names of 54,896 Commonwealth soldiers who were reported missing in the Ypres Salient between the outbreak of war and 15 August 1917. It’s also the location of the Last Post, a deeply moving ceremony that takes place at 8 pm every evening under its arches.

In a recent post I covered the reconstruction of Ypres after its total destruction during the First World War. I mentioned that I would be describing the building of the Menin Gate separately. This was because Katrien and Steven who run B&B La Porte Cochère in Ypres recently sent me some fascinating photos of the construction of the Menin Gate. They were particularly interesting as Steven’s grandfather was closely involved in the building’s construction. They kindly allowed me to share them here. If you are viewing on a mobile phone, you can click on the photos to enlarge them to see the details.

Thank you Katrien and Steven for sharing these photos of your family and the construction of the Menin Gate. And thank you Stefaan for the contemporary photos.

If you are interested to learn more about Flanders Fields you might like to check out some of my other posts:

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Categories: Flanders Fields, History

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18 replies »

  1. oh what extraordinary photographs, and how fascinating to see the construction. It is a wonderful memorial. I’m never going to look at those lions the same though – I presume the ones that didn’t make it were destroyed or are there sections hiding somewhere?!

  2. Thanks for sharing these amazing photos and the fascinating story Denzil. We’ve been to the Menin Gate twice and both times found it to be a very moving experience. So many names – it’s almost beyond comprehension. We found a Canadian soldier with our surname on the gate – sure to be a distant relative as they all left Ireland during the potato famine and either travelled to Canada or Australia.

  3. Fascinating and so interesting to see all the photos and background to this. We used to take school trips and our A Level Literature students there. It is a very moving place. I am sorry to hear that the stone caused lung damage though. So little was known to protect people then and now we have this virus and some won’t wear masks.

    • Thanks Georgina. I wonder when hard hats came into use; they certainly didn’t seem to be in use then. Mind you, as you point out, some today don’t wear the necessary protection!

  4. Denzil, I loved this review and thank you for sharing these rare and incredibly interesting photos. I am not sure if you are aware that the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in Canberra has the two lions from the original Menim Gate (gifted to Australia post WWI). They were loaned back to Ypres for centenary commemorations in 1918/19. Also at the AWM is a haunting painting of the Memin Gate Memorial which is one of my favourite exhibits at the AWM. I have written short reviews on the lions and the painting which you can find here : https://ramblingwombat.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/menin-gate-lions/ and https://ramblingwombat.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/menin-gate-at-midnight/

    • Thanks for the positive comment Mr Wombat and yes, I was aware of the lions and the connection with Australia. I wrote about them for a local newspaper here when they were loaned to Ypres for the centenary celebrations. However I was not aware of that beautiful painting of the Menin Gate. Thanks for bringing my attention to it.

  5. I have been to the Menin Gate many times so was fascinated to read about its construction and to see the marvelous photos. Thank you for your interesting and informative posts

  6. I live on the Isle of Portland, where the Stone came from for the Menin Gate, and for all the gravestones and memorials in Flanders. The gravestones were all carved here on the Island then shipped over to Flanders – my next door neighbour carved hundreds of names on a memorial destined for Australia.

    • That’s a really interesting snippet of information to add to the story Stella, thanks for sharing. Do you happen to have any photographs of the quarry or the stones from Portland in that era?

  7. There are some photos and a lot of interesting information about the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the development of the cemeteries and memorials, including the Menin Gate in a book entitled ‘Out of the Rock’ by Norman Bezzant, first published 1980, ISBN 434 06900 0

  8. Menin Gate many times so was fascinated to read about its construction and to see the marvelous photos. Thank you for your interesting and informative posts

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