In this remarkable guidebook, originally published in 1920, Beckles Willson, an opponent of the rebuilding of Ypres, presented his powerful argument against the redevelopment, and presented his vision of it as ‘The Sacred City of Ypres’, by telling the history of Ypres before and during the Great War.
Who was Major Henry Beckles Willson?
Major Henry Beckles Willson served as a senior officer with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the Great War. He served as an (acting) Major attached to the HQ staff and was invalided out in 1916. Major Henry Beckles Willson was the last Town Major of Ypres. He was in command of the legendary ruins in 1919 and was instrumental in the development of Ypres as the focal point of Remembrance and in the creation of the Ypres League. He was also pivotal in the creation of the Imperial War Museum in his role as the museum’s field agent, where he believed the collections should reflect the detail of battle and involvement of ordinary soldiers at ground level. During WW2 Beckles Willson was interned in France and died in Beaulieu-sur-mer in September 1942 with rank of Lieutenant Colonel, aged 73.