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Published on : Sunday, November 24, 2013
On Saturday 9 November, 60 British school children travelled from London to Brussels with Eurostar to take part in a special ‘Last Post Ceremony’ under the Menin Gate in Ypres, on Monday 11 November in tribute to the courage and self-sacrifice of those who fell in the First World War.
The children aged between 9 and 18 from 60 schools across the UK travelled to Belgium to collect sacred soil from the battlefields of Flanders to be brought back to the UK as part of the Flanders Fields Memorial Garden project. The Garden at the Guards Museum at the Wellington Barracks, near Buckingham Palace will open in November 2014. The London Memorial Garden will be the first of several memorial gardens to open around the world to commemorate the centenary of WW1 1914 – 1918.
The British schools have been twinned with Belgian schools who are hosting them in Belgium, before all the school children from the UK and Belgium travel to Ypres for the ‘Last Post’ Ceremony. The special ceremony will take place on Armistice Day, Monday 11 November at 14h00 (CET) under the Menin Gate, in collaboration with Ypres City Council, the ‘Last Post’ Association, and the Belgian and British armies. The Menin Gate is a war memorial in Ypres dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the city.
In the presence of HRH Duke of Edinburgh and HRH Prince Laurent from Belgium and other dignitaries from the UK and Belgium, the British and Belgian school children alongside British and Belgian soldiers will carry sandbags full of sacred soil to the Menin Gate. The Band of the Coldstream Guards, as well as soldiers and officers of the seven regiments of the British Guards and an entire gun crew of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery will all take part in the ceremony.
Mr Geert De Proost, Representative of the Government of Flanders to the UK commented; “We are proud to have Eurostar as one of the partners to the Flanders Field Memorial Garden project. The importance of these WW1 memorial projects and their role in reminding people around the world of the destruction and loss of life that result from wars is invaluable. We hope that by Eurostar carrying these British school children to Belgium to be part of the special remembrance ceremony, we will help more young people to understand the consequences of war.”
At the end of November, the Belgian Navy will take the sacred soil to London on the frigate F931 Louise-Marie. On 29 November, Tower Bridge will be opened with full honours and the Louise-Marie will dock alongside at the HMS Belfast. On 30 November, the soil of Flanders Fields will be handed over to The Royal Navy and subsequently to the British Army who will transport the soil to Wellington Barracks. The soil will be incorporated in to the Flanders Fields Memorial Garden before the official inauguration in the autumn of 2014.