Lions to return to Menin Gates

Every night, at the Menin Gate in the town of Ypres, the Last Post is played and soon it will be under the watchful eyes of a pair of Australian-funded lions.


Two shell-damaged lions from the Gate were given to Australia in 1936 in honour of the 13,000 diggers who died on the Ypres-Salient in Flanders.

Almost every one of those Australians who died in battle would have passed the large stone lions at the Gate, which is now a WWI memorial.

Usually the lions greet visitors to Canberra’s War Memorial but to mark the centenary of WWI, Australia loaned them to Ypres.

“When I was here in April, there was a lot of joking and jesting about how it would be difficult to get the lions back to Australia,” Mr Tehan said on Monday at the gates.

“As the saying goes, there is often a lot of truth in jest.

“The Australian government are going to build replicas of the lions and we want to gift them to the city,” he said.

On the stone gate are 55,000 names of British and Dominion soldiers, including 6000 Australians, with no known grave.

Since 1928, except for a period during WWII, the Last Post has been played at the Menin Gate Memorial at 8pm sharp.

The minister said the gift of the replica lions would strengthen the friendship “that was formed of blood, mud and tears 100 years ago”.

Mr Tehan joined Governor-General Peter Cosgrove and Labor MP Warren Snowdon for the Last Post and laying of wreaths.

Earlier on Monday, Sir Peter laid a wreath at the grave of Patrick Budgen, who was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for his bravery during the battle of Polygon Wood.

Mr Tehan, Sir Peter and Mr Snowdon are to join Australians at a dawn service on Tuesday to mark the centenary of the battle of Polygon Wood.