Drumhead service pays tribute to 30,000th Last Post

The Royal Hospital Chelsea hosted ‘tribute to a tribute’ in commemoration of the Menin Gate ceremony

On 9th July, the Royal Hospital Chelsea hosted a solemn Drumhead Service to mark the 30,000th Last Post at the Menin Gate in Ypres.

In conjunction with the Government of Flanders, the Drumhead Service (led by  Royal Hospital Chaplain Reverend Stephen Brookes) was be broadcast across Europe, linking live with the Last Post Ceremony in Flanders.

HRH The Duke of Kent attended along with Ambassadors and dignitaries from different countries around the world. The Chelsea Pensioners represented the Royal Hospital both at the Menin Gate and at home in London. During the service, Chelsea Pensioner Stanley Pepper read a tribute to Private Sidney Barrow, a soldier who perished on 9 July 1915.

Adjutant of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, Col Simon Bate OBE, said: “It is a privilege to be hosting this very special Drumhead Service to coincide with the 30,000th Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. This will be a unique event at the Royal Hospital and it will remind us of the dedication and courage of all of those who fought in World War One. 

“Some of our Chelsea Pensioners are attending the service at Menin Gate and we are honoured to be able to connect with them and nations across the world, who will also be taking part in the Last Post tribute.”

Every evening since 1928 the Last Post has been played under the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres at 8 o'clock sharp. The Last Post was a bugle call played in the British Army to mark the end of the working day. In the context of the Last Post ceremony (and in the broader context of remembrance), it has come to represent a final farewell to the fallen. Over the years, the ceremony has attracted increasingly large audiences, from all corners of the world.

Chelsea Pensioner John Gallagher travelled to Flanders to take part in the ceremony.   He said: “I am quite excited because it’s in Ypres – I spent six months in Belgium in the army myself. When I think of the Last Post I think of my uncle who was killed in the Second World War. There have been generations of my family in many past wars. I think the Menin Gate is a fantastic structure; the peoples’ names that are on there have no known graves. It’s like visiting the Unknown Warrior at Westminster but on a very grand scale. There will be people representing from all over the world.”

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