In Belgium the biggest ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. But how was this Unknown Soldier chosen? And did you know that Bruges played an important role in this?
These coffins were then taken to the train station of Bruges, where a blind veteran would tap on one coffin. That would become the Unknown Soldier. This all took place on November 10th 1922.
So on Friday morning, November 10th 1922 the representatives of the military authorities waited at the platform of the train station of Bruges. At that moment, the train station was still located on ‘t Zand. The train they were waiting for brought the 5 coffins, coming from Luik, Namen, Antwerp, the battlefield at the Ijzer and the zone of the Liberation Offensive in Flanders.
The clarion played at 9.15am at the moment the war veterans bring the coffins to the funeral chapel, installed in the waiting area. While several veterans stand guard with the coffins, there is a service in St Salvatorscathedral in honor of the fallen soldiers.
The coffin is brought to Brussels, placed in the tomb in between the two bronze lions in front of the Congress Column. At 11.25am every in Brussels stopped moving for one minute. No more clarions playing, traffic stops, everywhere everyone stops working and stands motionless for one minute.
But what happened with the other 4 coffins?
or that we return to Bruges. After a small ceremony in the train station, the four coffins are placed on gun carriages and transported to the military cemetery in Assebroek. Along the way to the cemetery, people line up to bring a salute and show their respect for these soldiers.
At 11am the coffins are placed in the graves. Two canons fire and everywhere people who hear this stop working for one minute.
There is no plan or register of where these graves are. Only after looking really hard the four simple graves are found. Two by two, with a simple cross to mark them. On the crosses you can read the words: “Unknown, military, died in the service of Belgium”. No column, no lions, no eternal flame or Royal salute…