30,000 not out! No, it's not some kind of superhuman effort from the England Cricket team, but an incredible act of honouring the Great Wars dead, every single night since 1928.
Each evening at 8p.m at the Menin Gate, Ypres, firemen form up with their bugles and sound the last post. This sound bounces around the walls of the Menin Gate and hits everyone in the heart. Many a time I have had a lump in my throat as I think back on the graves I have visited that day. At the end of the ceremony, you often see many red eyes and crumpled tissues in hands.
The same, simple reading is made, taken from Laurence Binyon's poem For the Fallen:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
This is then followed by a two minutes silence. Ones eyes cannot help but scan up and down the panels of the Gate that hold the names of some of the the missing on the Salient.
Many nights the crowds which number into their thousands are joined by regimental bands and choirs. Wreaths are then laid by a number of visiting groups from across the globe. I had the honour of laying a wreath a few months ago. Just as I stepped out to walk across the road with my wreath, the band that evening thumped away at their drums - a most definite frog in throat moment!
This truly is one of the most moving ceremonies you can attend and one that I always include in tour itineraries if we are on the Salient.
We Will Remember Them