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The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

MEDIA RELEASE

26 April 2018
VA025

Australia to gift replica Menin Gate lions to Belgian city of Ieper

The final arrangements have been put in place for the gifting of replicas of the famous Menin Gate lions from Australia to the City of Ieper, strengthening the bond between our countries which was forged on the Western Front more than a century ago.

Minister for Veterans' Affairs Darren Chester and Mayor of Ieper Jan Durnez today signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which will see the replica lions permanently displayed at the Menin Gate Memorial in Belgium.

"During the First World War, thousands of Australian troops marched through the Menin Gate on their way to the Western Front. Today, the names of more than 6,000 Australians with no known grave are listed on the Menin Gate Memorial," Mr Chester said.

"On behalf of the Australian Government I am proud to finalise the arrangements of this gift to the people of Ieper, which will be an everlasting reminder of the bond between our two countries."

After the First World War, the Menin Gate became the site for a memorial and lists the names of more than 55,000 British and Dominion soldiers killed in Belgium, many who have no known grave.

"As an expression of gratitude for the more than 13,000 Australian soldiers who died in Belgium during the First World War, the original Menin Gate lions were given to Australia in 1936," Mr Chester said.

"The lions have been on display inside the front entrance of the Australian War Memorial since 1991, but were last year loaned back to the City of Ieper for the centenary commemorations of the Flanders campaign."

The new replica lions will be displayed on the plinths in front of the Menin Gate Memorial where every evening the residents of Ieper honour every Australian who served in the First World War by sounding the Last Post.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Whil Prendergast: 0427 672 815
DVA Media: 02 6289 6466
Office of the Hon Darren Chester, Canberra ACT.

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.