The Menin Gate is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. The names of four men from Badsey and Wickhamford appear on the memorial: Rifleman Francis Henry Blake, Private Richard Frederick Cole, Private Vincent Colley and Company Quartermaster Sergeant Charles Henry Robbins.
Ypres (now known as Ieper) is a town in the province of West Flanders. The Menin Gate Memorial is situated on the eastern side of the town on the road to Menin (Menen) and Courtrai (Kortrijk). Each night at 8 pm the traffic is stopped at the Menin Gate while members of the local Fire Brigade sound the Last Post in the roadway under the Memorial’s arches.
The Salient (roughly from Langemarck in the north to the northern edge in Ploegsteert Wood in the south, but it varied in area and shape throughout the war) was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914, when a small British Expeditionary Force succeeded in securing the town before the onset of winter, pushing the German forces back to the Passchendaele Ridge. The Second Battle of Ypres began in April 1915 when the Germans released poison gas into the Allied lines north of Ypres. A Third Battle of Ypres followed in 1917, coming to a close in November of that year with the capture of Passchendaele.
The battles of the Ypres Salient claimed many lives on both sides and it quickly became clear that the commemoration of members of the Commonwealth forces with no known grave would have to be divided between several different sites. The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields. The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial now bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. The memorial, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield with sculpture by Sir William Reid-Dick, was unveiled by Lord Plumer on 24th July 1927.