For the last seven months the Last Post Ceremony under the Menin Gate has taken place under the watchful eyes of the Menin Gate Lions. These two proud looking beasts originally stood as guardians either side of the Menin Gate before and up to the First World War.
Damaged in the bombardment and destruction of Ypres they were given to the Australian Government by the people of Ypres as a thank you to the sacrifice by 13,000 Australian soldiers in Belgium. Their full story can be read in one of our earlier blogs click here.
Once in Australia they were restored and since 1991 have stood at the entrance to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, until this year, when to mark the 100th Anniversary of Passchendaele they were returned to Ypres. They were displayed on two large purpose built brick plinths on the causeway at the Menin Gate.
This week the lions are being returned to their antipodeans sentry duty and the plinths stand empty, but hopefully this will not be for long as the Australian government is making replicas and will gift them to the city of Ypres.
This is a huge gesture from the Australians. Blood and sacrifice has forged a bond between these two countries and is and will be ever cemented at Ypres and the Menin Gate where 6,000 Australian soldier’s names adorn the walls or this great memorial.
The Lions will welcome visitors to Ypres and to the battlefields as their original predecessors did over 100 years ago. In this unstable world that we live in, let us hope that this time the young men and women from all Commonwealth nations never have to endure the hardships or make the sacrifices our previous generation made in order that we may all live in peace.
Rifleman Tours offers a good selection of battlefield tours that include staying in or visiting Ypres. See links below.
We Will Remember Them
Lest we Forget
Many of our WW1 battlefield tours visit or stay in Ypres. Click on the tour link below for more details: