|The Menin Gate, 1927|
Here's some backstory: Ypres is an ancient town in Belgium which became renowned for its linen trade with England during the Middle Ages. Since it played such an important role in the textile industry and was a major hub of trade, it was decided to fortify the village with stone ramparts which were gradually expanded over the centuries.
|The Menin Gate before the outbreak of war, Summer 1914|
During the First World War, the town of Ypres occupied a strategic position because it stood directly in the path of Germany's planned sweep across the rest of Belgium and into France from the north (the Schlieffen plan). The German army surrounded the area on three sides, bombarding it through most of the war. As a result, British, French, and other Allied forces made costly advances in counterattack from what became known as the Ypres salient into the German lines on the surrounding hills.
|Another prewar shot of the Menin Gate- note the two lions on either side which were removed during the war for preservation|
|The Menin Gate area at the end of the war|
|The unveiling ceremony|
I just thought this was an amazing story and something that I hope we all get to experience someday as part of the history people bucket list. Information courtesy of greatwar.co.uk and historylearningsite as well as the presentation in my European History seminar.
Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)