Piper Bell at the Menin Gate

Three committee members of the Coldstream and District Local History Society (Will Murray, Trevor Swan and Gerald Tait) and three friends (Robert Bell, Kenny Brodie and Barry Gold) travelled last week to the Somme Great War Battlefields in France and to Ypres, the centre of the Ypres Salient, another heavily damaged area in Flanders during the Great War. The main purpose of the visit was to pay remembrance to border men who fell and were subsequently buried in the beautiful and peaceful war graveyards of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission or are mentioned on cemetery walls. During the four-day tour, and despite indifferent weather, the group were able to locate various cemeteries and pay their respects. On visiting Ypres in Belgium, Coldstream Pipe Band legend, Piper Robert Bell, was invited to play the pipes at the Menin Gate in front of a large crowd. The Menin Gate was opened in 1927,  is near the centre of Ypres and is essentially a huge classical victory arch and mausoleum listing some 54,000 men of the British and Empire armies who perished on the battlefields of Flanders but have no known graves. A commemoration, involving 'The Last Post', is carried out every evening at 8pm. After the 'Last Post' by buglars of the Ypres Fire Brigade, Piper Bell, a piper of great experience, superbly and calmly played the 'Flowers of the Forest'. The piper remarked that this had been a very poignant, moving and solemn moment in his piping career.

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