With King Filip and Queen Mathilde
On Sunday, November 5th 2017, a delegation of the Ypres’ Last Post Association travelled to India and Australia on the occasion of Armistice. The delegation consisting of Chairman Benoit Mottrie and buglers (and brothers) Rik and Dirk Vandekerckhove will participate at several official ceremonies. This trip once again underlines the mission of the Last Post Association to continue to remember the sacrifice made by the soldiers of the Commonwealth during the Great War.
On invitation of President Pranab Mukherjee of India, Their Majesties King Filip and Queen Mathilde of Belgium will visit India from 5 till 11 November 2017, in the presence of Deputy First Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders and the Minister-Presidents of the Regions. On the program are different activities in New Delhi and Mumbai. On invitation of the Belgian Court, the Last Post Association has been invited to participate in different ceremonies during the State Visit.
The delegation of the Last Post Association will participate in the ceremony on 7 November 2017 at the India Gate monument in New Delhi. The 42 meter high arch of the monument was designed in 1921 by Edwin Lutyens, from the example of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The monument remembers the soldiers from British India who fought for the British Empire during the Great War. Engraved in the monument are the names of more than 93,000 soldiers form British India who died.
On Thursday 9 November the delegation of the Last Post Association will continue its journey and travel to Australia and this on invitation of the Victorian Branch of the RSL. The RSL is the Returned and Services League of Australia (www.rsl.org.au). The RSL is with a membership of 240.000 the largest service and ex-service association in Australia. The RSL organizes numerous activities for its members and gives them access to welfare, pension, health care, …
Buglers Rik en Dirk Vandekerckhove will sound the Last Post and the Reveille at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne on 11 November 2017. For Rik and Dirk this is an extraordinary honour: “Each day, our group of buglers sounds the Last Post under the Menin Gate at Ieper. The many visitors from home and abroad that thank us after the ceremony and tell us their stories are often very emotional. Sounding the Last Post now in India and Australia, keeps us remembering the sacrifice that so many Indian and Australian soldiers brought in Flanders.”
The buglers of the Last Post Association in Melbourne on 11 November 2012.
Chairman Benoit Mottrie: “During the Great War 324,000 Australian soldiers served their country in distant Europe. With 61,700 deaths and a 155,000 wounded, together representing nearly two thirds of those who left Australia, the sacrifice was enormous. In Flanders, the Australian soldiers served at Hill 60, Messines, Passchendaele and Polygon Wood, very often together with soldiers from New Zealand. On the Menin Gate, 6.193 names of Australian soldiers are mentioned on the walls of the Memorial. Each year there’s a special ANZAC Day ceremony on April 25th to remember the sacrifice of the soldiers from Australia and New-Zealand.”
He continues: “We also honour the soldiers of the former British India. On the Menin Gate the names of 412 missing soldiers of the former British India are mentioned. Our buglers participate each year in the ceremony at the Indian monument at the Menin Gate.”
“On our program, the Last Post delegation will also meet the Governor of Victoria. On 14 November 2017, the Last Post will be sounded at the Australian War Memorial in the capital city Canberra. Dr Brendan Nelson, director of the Australian War Memorial, invited the Last Post Association to Canberra. Dr Nelson is one of the key persons in the return of the Menin Gate Lions to Ieper. To remember the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele, the two lions now stand at the Menin Gate in Ieper. After 26 November 2017, they will return to Australia. The Australian Minister of Veteran’s Affairs Dan Tehan recently announced at Ieper that Australia will take care of two replica lions that will get a permanent place in Ieper”, concludes Chairman Benoit Mottrie.
Finally, the delegation of the Last Post Association will also meet Australian Minister Mathias Cormann who has Belgian roots.