28 November 2017

Menin Gate Lions return to Australia after seven months in Ieper

The famous Menin Gate Lions were officially handed back to Australia at a special Last Post ceremony yesterday, after resuming guard at their former home in Ieper for this year’s centenary commemorations.

Photos courtesy of fv@lastpost.be

The stone lions returned to Belgium on loan from the Australian Government in April, and have stood on the bridge in front of the CWGC Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, where commemorations marking the Centenary of Passchendaele have taken place this year.

The stone lions were given to the Australian Government by the City of Ieper in 1936 as an expression of gratitude for the sacrifice made by more than 13,000 Australian soldiers in Belgium.

Since then, they have stood guard at the entrance to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, where they will now return.

The lions had stood on each side of the Menin Road since the mid-nineteenth century, and in 1917 many Australian soldiers passed through the Menin Gate on their way to the Western Front, outside of the town they knew as ‘Wipers’.

Yesterday’s special ceremony was attended by representatives from the Australian War Memorial as well as the Nottingham Branch of the Royal Tank Regiment Association, Tank Memorial Ypres Salient, and Youth of Canada.

In September, the Australian Government announced it will produce replicas of the Menin Gate Lions and gift them to Ieper in recognition of the 100th anniversary of Australians serving in Flanders during the First World War.

Liz Sweet, CWGC Director of External Relations, Western Europe Area, said: “Having the Lions at the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in this special centenary year has been very special. We are sorry to see them leave, but look forward to welcoming the new Lions next year.”

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