When the Menin Gate is Quiet

Poppy Cross at Menin Gate. (P. Ferguson image, 2016)

Poppy Cross at Menin Gate. (P. Ferguson image, 2016)

Ypres Day Five of Five

Now that we have had our days in the sun, here on the Salient, it is time to go. A morning wander takes us to Menin Gate where there are few people and only the echoes of rumbling cars and trucks add to the murmurings amongst the names that live here.

In 1927, at the inauguration of Menin Gate, Field Marshall Plumer spoke to those assembled. Many were family and friends of the missing whose names line the panels . Plumer’s poignant message about those missing believed killed,…”He is not missing; he is here.”

When I walk through this gate, the Menin Gate, and all is quiet, it allows me to think upon these last few days. I remember the four nights that we have witnnesed The Last Post with many hundreds of others and who take with them this lasting memory of notes that play into the hall and never seem to fade away.

So too do I smile upon those few who come here during the day when the great gate is empty and I watch them cast their eyes upwards. Slowing their steps to take in a name or two or three. Perhaps a hand lingers upon their brow or falls along the side of their face as these names affect them.

And so as the Menin Gate continues to impart its wisdom upon all who come within its view, I say so long for now. The names upon the wall will continue with their murmurings as the bugles continue to play. They are here.

About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and in Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was further amazed by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and with time he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


Leave a Reply