The small town of Ypres sits amid peaceful farmlands in Belgium. It is also know as Ieper in Flemish. During WWI, Ypres suffered from its location, always within a few miles from the front as the fighting stagnated. Much of the town was destroyed. Later, in the 1960s, the buildings were reconstructed in the original style. The Cloth Hall, centerpiece of commerce and community, stands tall today.
The entrance to Ypres is the Menin Gate, which is a war memorial to the British troops who died near here in WWI. The names lining the walls are those soldiers who remain lost in the fields. Bodies are still being found when the fields are plowed or construction begins. If a body is identified, the soldier is given a proper burial in a cemetery, and the name is then removed from this wall of the missing.
If you visit Ypres, be sure to attend the Last Post. This ceremony takes place every evening at 8:00 p.m. The tradition started in 1928 and has continued every evening except when the Germans occupied Ypres in WWII. Buglers from the Fire Brigade play and families carry flags to honor the dead. We lined up with many others to await the Last Post. The ceremony is short but moving. This large crowd remained in total, respectful silence.
We visited Ypres during a day of touring the battlefields and cemeteries. Dinner at Le Trompet, on the sidewalk outside of Cloth Hall, was a treat. We strolled the main street and stopped for gelato. When I asked the proprietor for a taste of a flavor, he responded, “We do not give out tastes; every flavor is good!” Yes, indeed.