The building of memorials for ‘the missing’, that is for men presumed dead but whose bodies have not been found, began in the early 1920s.
The building of the Menin Gate memorial began in 1923, though at this stage no one knew how many had died. The Army’s lists were unreliable and took a further year to verify. Dozens of people were employed to collate and allocate the names, to decide which order and in what hierarchy names should appear, as well as the size and appearance of the lettering. This was a massive and grim task for which there had been no previous experience.
The Menin Gate could contain no more than 60,000 names and it soon became clear that the number of missing in the battlefields around Ypres far exceeded that number. It was decided to inscribe the remaining names on a screen wall in Tyne Cot cemetery. Eventually it transpired that even Tyne Cot could not accommodate all the extra names.