Special Last Post on 6 September 2019
6 September 2019: the City of Ieper and the Last Post Association commemorate 75 years of continuous Last Post ceremonies and the liberation at the end of the Second World War.
On Friday, 6 September 2019 a special ceremony will be held in Ieper to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the city by the 1st Polish Armoured Division commanded by General Maczek on 6 September 1944.
The daily Last Post ceremony was held for the first time on 2 July 1928. It was suspended on 21 May 1940, following the German occupation of the city at the start of the Second World War. It is not known whether this was a decision imposed by the occupying German authorities or was voluntarily undertaken by Richard Leclercq, who was then chairman of the Last Post Committee. From January 1941, the Ieper Last Post ceremony was continued at Brookwood Military Cemetery near London, and this at the initiative of Edgar Ashley Cook, MBE.
Guy Gruwez, honorary chairman of the Last Post Association: “By 5 o’clock in the afternoon of 6 September 1944, the city had already been liberated by the Polish Division that was fighting alongside the Canadian Army. There was a great sense of joy and relief. Bugler Jozef Arfeuille thought immediately to celebrate this unique moment by a resumption of the Last Post ceremony. He went with a group of neighbours and friends to the Menin Gate, where he played the Last Post no fewer than six times, or so it is claimed, to mark the restoration of our freedom. In this way, the daily ceremony was re-initiated after a gap of four years.”
For many years, the City of Ieper has commemorated the liberation together with the City of St. Omer, the city in France with which Ieper is twinned. Both cities were liberated on the same day in September 1944 by the same Polish Armoured Division. The commemorative ceremony is held alternating years in each city. In 2019, it is the turn of St Omer, where the ceremony take place on Sunday, 1 September.
Alderman Diego Desmadryl: “But because this year is a special anniversary, the City of Ieper did not want to let this occasion pass without some form of recognition. As a result, we have arranged a programme of events in Ieper on Friday, 6 September. This will consist of a short ceremony at the Polish memorial plaque on the Cloth Hall at 19.30 hours, followed by the daily Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate at 20.00 hours. This is being arranged by the city authorities in collaboration with the Last Post Association and the Royal Association of Veterans (and persons treated as such). All citizens of Ieper are welcome to attend.”
Benoit Mottrie, present chairman of the Last Post Association: “On 6 September 2019, the Last Post ceremony will be held for the 31,520th time. During the past 25 years, public and international interest has increased enormously. For this reason, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my predecessors, all past and current members of the board of directors and all other supporters of our Association. In particular, I would like offer a special word of thanks to all past and present buglers and ceremonial assistants, who give their time so freely and so generously. In this way, we will continue to remember each day those who died for the liberation of the city and the restoration of our freedom.”