ACT News


Belgian buglers to play at war memorial

Even before they blow a note at this evening's closing ceremony at the Australian War Memorial, buglers Filip Top and Jan Callemein of the Ypres Last Post Association will lend the occasion some presence and panache.

The two tall Belgians looked striking on Tuesday as they visited the memorial. They were elegant and a credit to Belgium in their grand uniforms of navy blue with a wealth of golden braid and buttons.

Every evening at 8 at the Menin Gate at Ypres, the traffic is stopped and in the reverent silence six buglers, all of them volunteer firemen, play the Last Post. Then there is a short silence. Then they play the reveille.

They do this lest we forget the dead of the Great War who suffered and perished in three horrific battles in the mediaeval town of Ypres. There were 13,000 Australians, among many others, killed there and there are 6193 names of Australian men with unknown graves carved into the stones of the Menin Gate.

Mr Callemein is proud to be one of the few chosen to play at the Menin Gate.

''I am only [the 18th] doing this since 1928 so that's an amazing number,'' he said. ''Our chief bugler is 87 and he's been doing this for 56 years. So he's our hero because there were times in the 1950s and 1960s when he played many times just for [the audience of] one policeman and a man with a dog. Nowadays, though, we have it much easier and there are always at least 300 people attending.''

Canberrans are invited to attend this evening's special closing ceremony. The memorial urges attendees to leave dogs at home and to arrive at the memorial's commemorative area before 4.45pm.