MENIN GATE MEMORIAL
Menin Gate Roll of Honour - Images of some of those commemorated on the Menin Gate
Sir Reginald Blomfield's
triumphal arch, designed in 1921, is the entry to the barrel-vaulted passage
for traffic through the mausoleum that honours the Missing, who have no
known graves. The patient lion on the top is the lion of Britain but also
the lion of Flanders. It was chosen to be a memorial as it was the closest
gate of the town to the fighting, and so Allied Troops would have marched
past it on their way to fight. Actually, most troops passed out of the other
gates of Ypres, as the Menin Gate was to dangerous due to shellfire. Its
large Hall of Memory contains names on stone panels of 54,896 Commonwealth
soldiers who died in the Salient but whose bodies have never been identified
or found. On completion of the memorial, it was discovered to be too small
to contain all the names as originally planned. An arbitrary cut-off point
of 15 August 1917 was chosen and the names of 34,984 UK missing after this
date were inscribed on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing instead. The
Menin Gate Memorial does not list the names of the missing of New Zealand
and Newfoundland soldiers, who are instead honoured on separate memorials.
The inscription inside the archway is similar to the one at Tyne Cot, with
the addition of a prefatory Latin phrase: "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam - Here are
recorded names of officers and men who fell in Ypres Salient, but to whom
the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their
comrades in death". The Latin phrase means 'To the greater glory of God'.
Both this inscription, and the main overhead inscription on both the east-
and west-facing facades of the arch, were composed by Rudyard Kipling. On
the opposite side of the archway to that inscription is the shorter
dedication: "They shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away".
There are also Latin inscriptions set in circular panels either side of the
archway, on both the east and west sides: "Pro Patria" and "Pro Rege" ('For
Country' and 'For King'). A French inscription mentions the citizens of
Ypres: "Erigé par les nations de l'Empire Britannique en l'honneur de leurs
morts ce monument est offert aux citoyens d'Ypres pour l'ornement de leur
cité et en commémoration des jours où l'Armée Britannique l'a défendue
contre l'envahisseur", which translated into English means: "Erected by the
nations of the British Empire in honour of their dead this monument is
offered to the citizens of Ypres for the ornament of their city and in
commemoration of the days where the British Army defended it against the
invader." Reaction to the Menin Gate, the first of the Imperial War Graves
Commission's Memorials to the Missing, ranged from its condemnation by the
war poet Siegfried Sassoon, to praise by the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig.
Sassoon described the Menin Gate in his poem 'On Passing the New Menin
Gate', saying that the dead of the Ypres Salient would "deride this
sepulchre of crime". Zweig, in contrast, praised the simplicity of the
memorial, and lack of overt triumphalism, and said that it was "more
impressive than any triumphal arch or monument to victory that I have ever
seen". Blomfield himself said that this work of his was one of three that he
wanted to be remembered by. To this day, the remains of missing soldiers are
still found in the countryside around the town of Ypres. Typically, such
finds are made during building work or road-mending activities. Any human
remains discovered receive a proper burial in one of the war cemeteries in
the region. If the remains can be identified, the relevant name is removed
from the Menin Gate when the next renovation takes place.
An excerpt from Lord Plumer's speech at the unveiling of the memorial, 24th July, 1927:
“..... One of the most tragic features of the Great War was the number of casualties reported as ‘Missing, believed killed’. To their relatives there must have been added to their grief a tinge of bitterness and a feeling that everything possible had not been done to recover their loved ones’ bodies and give them reverent burial… when peace came and the last ray of hope had been extinguished the void seemed deeper and the outlook more forlorn for those who had no grave to visit, no place where they could lay tokens of loving remembrance. … It was resolved that here at Ypres, where so many of the ‘Missing’ are known to have fallen, there should be erected a memorial worthy of them which should give expression to the nation’s gratitude for their sacrifice and its sympathy with those who mourned them. A memorial has been erected which, in its simple grandeur, fulfils this object, and now it can be said of each one in whose honour we are assembled here today: ‘He is not missing; he is here’.”
First World War period British Army location sign: this was the original British Army sign erected at the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium. It was replaced in 1917 after being damaged. 'At the time of the Great War, there was no actual gate on the site. It was indicated by the presence of two lions, one on each side of the roadway which cut through the walls...Through the cutting, many thousands of men wended their way to the Salient beyond. A tag line at the time was 'Tell the last man through to bolt the Menin Gate.''
© IWM (FEQ 65)
A view towards the Menin Gate. Two waggons are drawn up on the right, a few horses tethered and drinking. Another waggon stands in the left of the composition.
© IWM (Art.IWM ART 3378) By David Baxter
The Menin Gate in Ypres - Circa 1930
© IWM (Q 45870)
The Menin Gate and Road after snow. Empty limbers on the road and a group of soldiers around a brazier by the roadside.
© IWM (Q 8356)
Images of the Memorial circa 1927.
Ypres (now Ieper) is a town in the Province of West Flanders. The Memorial is situated at the eastern side of the town on the road to Menin (Menen) and Courtrai (Kortrijk). Each night at 8 pm the traffic is stopped at the Menin Gate while members of the local Fire Brigade sound the Last Post in the roadway under the Memorial's arches.
Panel Numbers quoted at the end of each entry relate to the panels dedicated to the Regiment with which the casualty served. In some instances, where a casualty is recorded as attached to another Regiment, his name may appear within their Regimental Panels. Please refer to the on-site Memorial Register Introduction. The Addenda Panel lists those service personnel whose details are awaiting addition to the Regimental Panels. All odd panel numbers are on the North side of the road and even numbers are located on the South side of the road.
The Menin Gate is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Broadly speaking, the Salient stretched from Langemarck in the north to the northern edge in Ploegsteert Wood in the south, but it varied in area and shape throughout the war. The Salient was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914, when a small British Expeditionary Force succeeded in securing the town before the onset of winter, pushing the German forces back to the Passchendaele Ridge. The Second Battle of Ypres began in April 1915 when the Germans released poison gas into the Allied lines north of Ypres. This was the first time gas had been used by either side and the violence of the attack forced an Allied withdrawal and a shortening of the line of defence. There was little more significant activity on this front until 1917, when in the Third Battle of Ypres an offensive was mounted by Commonwealth forces to divert German attention from a weakened French front further south. The initial attempt in June to dislodge the Germans from the Messines Ridge was a complete success, but the main assault north-eastward, which began at the end of July, quickly became a dogged struggle against determined opposition and the rapidly deteriorating weather. The campaign finally came to a close in November with the capture of Passchendaele.
The German offensive of March 1918 met with some initial success, but was eventually checked and repulsed in a combined effort by the Allies in September. The battles of the Ypres Salient claimed many lives on both sides and it quickly became clear that the commemoration of members of the Commonwealth forces with no known grave would have to be divided between several different sites. The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields. It commemorates those of all Commonwealth nations (except New Zealand) who died in the Salient, in the case of United Kingdom casualties before 16 August 1917. Those United Kingdom and New Zealand servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot, a site which marks the furthest point reached by Commonwealth forces in Belgium until nearly the end of the war. Other New Zealand casualties are commemorated on memorials at Buttes New British Cemetery and Messines Ridge British Cemetery. The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial now bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. The memorial, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield with sculpture by Sir William Reid-Dick, was unveiled by Lord Plumer in July 1927.
Number of Identified Casualties: 54338
Rank: Lance Corporal, Service No: 24066, Date of Death: 24/04/1915, Age: 22, Regiment/Service: Canadian Infantry 13th Bn. , Awards: VC, Panel Reference Panel 24 - 26 - 28 - 30., Son of Mr. W. H. Fisher, of 100, Fort St., Montreal.
Citation: An extract from "The London Gazette," No. 29202, dated 22nd June, 1915, records the following:-"On 23rd April, 1915, in the neighbourhood of St. Julien, he went forward with the machine gun, of which he was in charge, under heavy fire, and most gallantly assisted in covering the retreat of a battery, losing four men of his gun team. Later, after obtaining four more men, he went forward again to the firing line and was himself killed while bringing his machine gun into action under very heavy fire, in order to cover the advance of supports."
Rank: Brigadier General, Date of Death: 12/11/1914, Age: 49, Regiment/Service: General Staff Cdg. 1st Guards Brigade and Irish Guards, Awards: VC, Mentioned in Despatches, Panel Reference Panel 3.
Husband of Mrs. V. FitzClarence, of 12, Lowndes St., Belgrave Square, London. At "the most critical moment" of the Battles of Ypres, 1914 (on the 31st October), he directed the counter-attack of the 2nd Worcesters which recaptured Gheluvelt.
Citation: An extract taken from "The London Gazette," dated 6th July, 1900, records the following:- "On the 14th October 1899, Captain Fitzclarence went with his squadron of the Protectorate Regiment, consisting of only partially trained men, who had never been in action, to the assistance of an armoured train which had gone out from Mafeking. The enemy were in greatly superior numbers, and the squadron was for a time surrounded, and it looked as if nothing could save them from being shot down. Captain Fitzclarence, however, by his personal coolness and courage inspired the greatest confidence in his men, and, by his bold and efficient handling of them, not only succeeded in relieving the armoured train, but inflicted a heavy defeat on the Boers, who lost 50 killed and a large number wounded. The moral effect of this blow had a very important bearing on subsequent encounters with the Boers." "On the 27th October 1899, Captain Fitzclarence led his squadron from Mafeking across the open, and made a night attack with the bayonet on one of the enemy's trenches. A hand-to-hand fight took place in the trench, while heavy fire was concentrated on it from the rear. The enemy was driven out with heavy loss. Captain Fitzclarence was the first man into the position and accounted for four of the enemy with his sword. The British lost 6 killed and 9 wounded. Captain Fitzclarence was himself slightly wounded. With reference to these two actions, Major-General Baden-Powell states that had his Officer not shown an extraordinary spirit and fearlessness the attacks would have been failures, and we should have suffered heavy loss both in men and prestige. On the 26th December 1899, during the action at Game Tree, near Mafeking, Captain Fitzclarence again distinguished himself by his coolness and courage, and was again wounded (severely through both legs)."
FREDERICK WILLIAM HALL
Rank: Company Sergeant Major, Service No: 1539, Date of Death: 25/04/1915, Age: 28, Regiment/Service: Canadian Infantry 8th Bn. , Awards: VC, Panel Reference Panel 24 - 26 - 28 - 30., Son of Mary Hall, of 43, Union Rd., Leytonstone, London, and the late Bmdr. F. Hall.
Citation: An extract from "The London Gazette," No. 29202, dated 23rd June, 1915, records the following:- "On 24th April, 1915, in the neighbourhood of Ypres, when a wounded man who was lying some 15 yards from the trench called for help, Company Serjeant-Major Hall endeavoured to reach him in the face of a very heavy enfilade fire which was being poured in by the enemy. The first attempt failed, and a non-commissioned officer and private soldier who were attempting to give assistance were both wounded. Company Serjeant-Major Hall then made a second most gallant attempt, and was in the act of lifting up the wounded man to bring him in when he fell mortally wounded in the head."
DENIS GEORGE WYLDBORE HEWITT
Rank: Second Lieutenant, Date of Death: 31/07/1917, Age: 19, Regiment/Service: Hampshire Regiment 2nd Bn. , Awards: VC, Panel Reference Panel 35., Son of the late Hon. George Hewitt and the Hon. Mrs. G. Hewitt, of Field House, Hursley, Winchester.
Citation: An extract from The London Gazette, No. 30284, dated 14th Sept., 1917, records the following:-"For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty when in command of a company in attack. When his first objective had been captured he reorganized the company and moved forward towards his objective. While waiting for the barrage to lift, he was hit by a piece of shell, which exploded the signal lights in his haversack and set fire to his equipment and clothes. Having extinguished the flames, in spite of his wound and the severe pain he was suffering, he led forward the remains of the company under very heavy machine gun fire, and captured and consolidated his objective. He was subsequently killed by a sniper while inspecting the consolidation and encouraging his men. This gallant officer set a magnificent example of coolness and contempt of danger to the whole battalion, and it was due to his splendid leading that the final objective of his battalion was gained."
HUGH McDONALD McKENZIE
Rank: Lieutenant, Date of Death: 30/10/1917, Age: 30, Regiment/Service: Canadian Machine Gun Corps, Awards: V C, D C M, Panel Reference Panel 32., Croix de Guerre (France). Son of the late Mrs. Jane McDonald McKenzie, of 23, James St., Dundee, Scotland.
Citation: An extract from "The London Gazette," No. 30523, dated 12th Feb., 1918, records the following:-"For most conspicuous bravery and leading when in charge of a section of four machine guns accompanying the infantry in an attack. Seeing that all the officers and most of the non-commissioned officers of an infantry company had become casualties, and that the men were hesitating before a nest of enemy machine guns, which were on commanding ground and causing them severe casualties, he handed over command of his guns to an N.C.O., rallied the infantry, organised an attack, and captured the strong point. Finding that the position was swept by machine-gun fire from a ' pill-box ' which dominated all the ground over which the troops were advancing, Lt. McKenzie made a reconnaissance and detailed flanking and frontal attacking parties which captured the 'pill-box', he himself being killed while leading the frontal attack. By his valour and leadership this gallant officer ensured the capture of these strong points and so saved the lives of many men and enabled the objectives to be attained."
JOHN FRANKS VALLENTIN
Rank: Captain, Date of Death: 07/11/1914, Age: 32, Regiment/Service: South Staffordshire Regiment 1st Bn. , Awards: VC, Mentioned in Despatches, Panel Reference Panel 35 and 37., Son of Lucy Vallentin, of 116, Albert Place Mansions, Battersea Park, London, and the late Grimble Vallentin.
Citation: An extract from "The London Gazette," No. 29073, dated 16th Feb., 1915, records the following:- "For conspicuous bravery on 7th Nov., at Zillebeke. When leading the attack against the Germans under a very heavy fire he was struck down, and on rising to continue the attack was immediately killed. The capture of the enemy's trenches which followed was in a great measure due to the confidence which the men had in their Captain, arising from his many previous acts of great bravery and ability."
Rank: Private, Service No: 7602, Date of Death: 02/05/1915, Age: 32, Regiment/Service: Bedfordshire Regiment 1st Bn. , Awards: VC, Panel Reference Panel 31 and 33., Son of the late Mark and Charlotte M. Warner.
Citation: An extract from the London Gazette, No. 29210, dated 29th June, 1915, records the following:- "For most conspicuous bravery near ' Hill 60 ' on 1st May, 1915. After Trench 46 had been vacated by our troops, consequent on a gas attack, Private Warner entered it single-handed in order to prevent the enemy taking possession. Reinforcements were sent to Private Warner, but could not reach him owing to the gas. He then came back and brought up more men, by which time he was completely exhausted, but the trench was held until the enemy's attack ceased. This very gallant soldier died shortly afterwards from the effects of gas poisoning."
SIDNEY CLAYTON WOODROFFE
Rank: Second Lieutenant, Date of Death: 30/07/1915, Age: 19, Regiment/Service: Rifle Brigade 8th Bn. , Awards: V C, Panel ReferencePanel 46 - 48 and 50., Educated at Marlborough. Son of Henry L. and Clara Woodroffe, of Thorpewood, Branksome Av., Bournemouth. His brothers Kenneth and Leslie also fell.
Citation: An extract from "The London Gazette," No. 29286, dated 3rd Sept., 1915, records the following :- "For most conspicuous bravery on 30th July, 1915, at Hooge. The enemy having broken through the centre of our front trenches, consequent on the use of burning liquids, this Officer''s position was heavily attacked with bombs from the flank and subsequently from the rear, but he managed to defend his post until all his bombs were exhausted, and then skilfully withdrew his remaining men. This very gallant Officer immediately led his party forward in a counter-attack under an intense rifle and machine gun fire, and was killed whilst in the act of cutting the wire obstacles in the open."
Shot at Dawn: 6922 Private William Scotton, 4th Bn. Middlesex Regiment, executed for desertion 03/02/1915, aged 19. Panel 49 and 51. Son of Mrs. Catherine Scotton, of 52, Gladstone Road, Walton, Liverpool. His brother, Albert also fell.
Shot at Dawn: 10459 Corporal George Povey, 1st Bn. Cheshire Regiment, executed for leaving his post 11/02/1915, aged 23. Panel 19 - 22. Son of Mrs. Dinah Povey, of 51, Primrose Street, Connah Quay.
Shot at Dawn: 3832 Private Herbert Francis Burden, 1st Bn. Northumberland Fusiliers, executed for desertion 21/07/1915, aged 17. Addenda Panel 60.
Shot at Dawn: TH/040862 Driver Thomas Moore, 4th Coy. 24th Divisional Train, Army Service Corps. executed for murder 26/02/1916, aged 26. Panel 56.
The mass pardon of 306 British Empire soldiers executed for certain offences during the Great War was enacted in section 359 of the Armed Forces Act 2006, which came into effect on royal assent on 8 November 2006.
Menin Gate Roll of Honour - Images of some of those commemorated on the Menin Gate
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