In Continuing & Grateful Memory, The Menin Gate An appreciation by Shaun Caveney
“The Menin Gate is probably the best known and much loved Memorial to the Missing not only on the Western Front but anywhere in the world. Paul Foster’s three-volumed book (nearly 1,100 A4 pages) ‘In Continuing & Grateful Memory, The Menin Gate’ provides us with an incredible and original insight to the Memorial itself and of many who are commemorated on its panels. Major Tonie and Valmai Holt provide a well-written and apposite introduction to the books.
Paul carefully takes us through the development, building an opening of the Memorial, through a short history of the battles fought on the Salient to the individual cameos of some 1,500 of those all too often anonymous names. The detailed research that has been undertaken over a period of more than two years is particularly impressive revealing a wealth of personal stories. So many of those recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission do not even have their family information: Paul has been able to provide family information, the school(s) and/or university attended, their employment and career with the majority including a photograph. Where appropriate he has cross-referenced other casualties mentioned in the text who died during the war. Each book is wonderfully profusely illustrated with contemporary photographs, drawings, diagrams and maps. The text is easy to follow that is more often than not illuminated by fascinating quotations from fellow soldiers and officers, family or friends. After reading each cameo you are left feeling you now know the man and have shared his experiences.
The reader is, for the most part, able to follow the officer or soldier throughout his Great War experiences until his death. After reading the three volumes it is impossible to visit the Menin Gate, indeed the Western Front or beyond, without taking them with you to put faces and stories to the names. Wherever you are visiting the battlefields those commemorated in Paul’s book touches on them as so many who fought at Gallipoli, in Salonica, Egypt, Mesopotamia or elsewhere died on the Salient and have no known grave.
Paul has written about all Victoria Cross winners; those shot at dawn; a wide selection of artists; county and national level sportsmen; Olympians; the known 15 and 16 year olds, and a hundred brothers or fathers and sons commemorated together. It must be the most comprehensive collection ever assembled in one publication. Paul rightly deserves our thanks and congratulations on a job well done, and we look forward to the publication of many more books that are currently in the pipeline.
No other books bring the Menin Gate to life than Paul Foster’s ‘In Continuing & Grateful Memory, The Menin Gate’. You can purchase the set of books at www.remembering1418.com for the reasonable price of £75 plus postage.”
I am also about to reprint twelve ‘out of print’ books in a series entitled ‘I Was There’ concentrates on reproducing the books published by families as a tribute to their son who was killed. The books are long out of print and I have written a second section with a commentary on many of those who are referred to in the original text. Each book, with its letters home from the front, give a fascinating insight into the life in the front line and their activities both in and out of the line. These will become available at the end of August.