New stone lions to stand guard at Menin Gate

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Two new stone lions will stand guard at the Menin Gate in Belgium - gifts from the Australian Government to the city of Ypres.

The original Menin Gate Lions were donated to the Australian Government by the Burgomaster of Ypres as a gesture of friendship in 1936.

Now, Australia will produce and donate the replica lions in recognition of the continuing bond between Australia and Belgium, forged on the Western Front 100 years ago.

Thousands of Australian soldiers who fought on the Ypres-Salient in Flanders, marched through the Menin Gate. For the 13,000 Australians who gave their lives in Belgium, the Menin Gate was a last glimpse of normality before the mud, shellfire and senseless slaughter of the Flanders battlefields.

After the First World War, the Menin Gate became a memorial to those killed in Belgium, with no known grave, and it now bears the names of more than 55,000 British and Dominion soldiers.

The Last Post has been played every evening at the memorial since 1928 to honour the memory of those soldiers, ceasing only for four years during the German occupation of the Second World War.

"We are proud to host thousands of Australians to our city every year, and this generous gift from the Australian Government will only strengthen a special bond that has lasted for more than 100 years,” Ypres mayor Jan Durnez said.

The Menin Gate Lions, normally found at the entrance to the Australian War Memorial, are currently on loan to the city of Ypres as part of the 100th anniversary of the Flanders campaign. The lions will return to the Australian War Memorial after Remembrance Day 2017.

To find out how you can participate in this year’s Remembrance Day services visit the Australian War Memorial website.