Australia has a profound association with Ypres in Belgium. Through this walled medieval city Australian soldiers and thousands of other allied troops marched towards the front line during some of the most costly fighting of the First World War.
At the centre of the city, they would have passed the historic Cloth Hall, first constructed around 1200. By 1917, this proud symbol of the region’s famous textile trade had been virtually destroyed by German artillery fire.
As they made their way towards the battlefields of the Ypres Salient, the troops passed through the Menin Gate, at which two stone lions, also heavily battle scarred, stood astride the road on silent guard.
Originally commissioned for the ancient Cloth Hall, these magnificent carved blue stone beasts had been relocated to the city’s eastern gateway in 1862. At the end of the war they were pulled from the rubble, and in an important symbolic gesture, the Burgomaster of Ypres presented them to the Australian Government in 1936 as a token of friendship and an acknowledgement of Australia’s sacrifice.
It is estimated that Australia suffered 38,000 casualties in the fighting around Ypres. The names of 6,000 Australians are included among those recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing dedicated to the 55,000 British and Empire troops who died in Belgium during the First World War and have no known grave.
The Menin Gate Lions now have a permanent home inside the entrance to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. There, they stand in abiding honour of those who never returned from Flanders.
The ANZAC Spirit 100th Anniversary Coin Series – Many Never Returned
2017 1oz Silver Proof Coin
Inscribed with the words ‘1917 Many Never Returned’, this addition to The Perth Mint’s five year ANZAC Spirit Coin Series bears a design representing war weary Australian soldiers walking near the ruins of the Cloth Hall in Ypres. Expressing the nation’s indebtedness to the men and their fallen comrades, the word GRATITUDE is included on the coin’s serrated edge.
Accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity, no more than 7,500 of these solemn coins will be released in individual presentation packaging comprising a red and black display case and superbly illustrated shipper.
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