On 30 July, the eve of the Centenary of Passchendaele – The Third Battle of Ypres, a number of events took place in Ypres (Ieper):
On the eve of the Centenary, the nightly Last Post ceremony took place under the Menin Gate, in the presence of the descendants of some of those named on the Menin Gate, Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the Prime Minister.
Members of the public were also able to watch event live on a large screen in Ypres Market Square, just a few hundred yards from the Menin Gate, or at home on the BBC.
Following the Menin Gate ceremony there was then a ground-breaking multi-media commemorative event in the Market Square. The event, the first of its kind, told the story of the First World War on the Ypres Salient, with a particular focus on Passchendaele – The Third Battle of Ypres, through projections of visual archival material alongside live theatrical and musical performance.
The event aimed to show a contemporary audience all that was unique and significant about this particular theatre of the First World War, and how fighting on the Ypres Salient came to define the wartime experience of so many men from across Britain and the Commonwealth. In the words of one soldier who fought:
“Perhaps no normal infantryman who had been through a 1917 Passchendaele attack would ever be quite the same again. This was the battlefield of all battlefields which exposed the ultimate degradation of fighting.”