Last Post echoes 80th anniversary of wartime link with Menin Gate

EIGHTY years of an iconic remembrance ceremony being carried out at Brookwood Cemetery were marked with the easing of coronavirus restrictions allowing an increase in people attending the event.

The Last Post bugle call has been sounded regularly at the cemetery since 1941 – when local service veterans took over a tradition started in Belgium following the First World War.

Pictured in front of the standard bearers are Brookwood Last Post Association chairman Kevin Davies, Woking MP Jonathan Lord, musician Ruth Moore, Woking Mayor Liam Lyons and Captain Renaud Flamant

During the Second World War, occupying German forces banned the daily tribute to the fallen at the Menin Gate war memorial in Ypres.

Woking businessman and war veteran Edgar Cook was so upset when he heard about the stoppage that he was moved to organise a replica ceremony at Brookwood.

Ruth Moore sounds the Last Post for the anniversary ceremony

The Last Post and Reveille calls were sounded there as regularly as possible during the war, until the buglers from the Ypres fire brigade were able to revive the ceremony when the town was liberated by Polish troops in 1944.

However, through the formation of the Brookwood Last Post Association, a monthly ceremony continued at the cemetery’s RAF memorial, honouring those who have died in the two world wars and other armed conflicts.

The 80th anniversary ceremony took place on Sunday 4 July, with the Belgium government’s military attaché to the UK, Captain Renaud Flamant, as a special guest, along with Woking Mayor Liam Lyons and Woking MP Jonathan Lord.

“The event was watched for the first time in six months by a significant number of people,” said association chairman Kevin Davies. “The monthly ceremony continued during the lockdowns, but with just a few people present.

The standards are lowered during the anniversary ceremony

“Fortunately, it was possible to have a bigger audience to mark the 80th anniversary of the link with the ceremony at Ypres.”

The standards carried and lowered at the ceremony were those of the association itself, Woking branch of the Royal Naval Association, the Artists’ Rifles and Woking District Scouts.

The pipes and drums of Gordon’s School at West End paraded and the Last Post and Reveille were sounded by Ruth Moore from the scout group.

Brookwood Last Post Association stages its salute to fallen on the first Sunday of every month at 3pm. Members of the public are welcome to attend and wreaths can be laid by arrangement, using the contact form at www.brookwoodlastpost.org.

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