By Will Fowler
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Additional resources for Battle Story: Ypres 1914-15
The memorial is cut into the ramparts at the eastern exit of the town, where a fortified gate once stood, and marks the starting point for one of the main roads out of the town that led Allied soldiers to the frontline. Designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield and built by the British government, the Menin Gate Memorial was unveiled on 24 July 1927. 1. The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing. During the First World War this was the shell-shattered gap in the ramparts at Ypres through which many of the men who defended the Salient marched out to the trenches.
Lieutenant Colonel John ‘Jimmy’ McCrae MD of Guelph, Ontario was working at a dressing station close to a canal north of Ypres. During heavy fighting in the Second Battle of Ypres his commanding officer recalled that: Headquarters were in a trench on the top of the bank of the Ypres Canal, and John had his dressing station in a hole dug in the foot of the bank. During periods in the battle men who were shot actually rolled down the bank into his dressing station. Along from us a few hundred yards was the headquarters of a regiment, and many times during the battle John and I watched them burying their dead whenever there was a lull.
The Territorials, as part-time volunteers, were often viewed with some suspicion by the Regular Army, as many of them had not seen active service. The Territorial Force’s primary role was home defence and its members could only be sent overseas if they volunteered and only a small number of units had done so before the outbreak of war, but this soon changed. During the early weeks of the war, the BEF was to suffer heavy casualties and so individual TF units began to be sent to France in September 1914 (at the same time three TF divisions were sent to replace Regular units overseas).