When thousands of Australian and New Zealand troops marched from the Belgian city of leper to the battlefields of the Western Front they passed two stone lions at the city's Menin Gate.
Many of those soldiers never made it home but the lions, which were gifted to Australia by Ieper, have been temporarily returned to stand guard again at the gate as part of World War I centenary commemorations.
The "Menin Gate Lions" were unveiled in a special Last Post ceremony in Ieper on Monday night, with a small explanatory exhibition about them also opened at the Flanders Fields Museum in the city's imposing Cloth Hall.
The lions, which each hold a shield bearing the coat-of-arms of Ieper, had stood guard at the Menin Gate from the mid-19th century
During World War I Ieper was reduced to ruins by German shelling.
The broken and damaged lions were later recovered and in 1936 were gifted by the Burgomaster of Ieper to Australia as a gesture of friendship and gratitude for the sacrifices made by the Australian nation during the war.
Since then they have stood guard at the entrance to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Australian War Memorial Director Brendan Nelson said the return of the lions strengthened the bond between Australia and Belgium forged by the sacrifice of those who passed through the Menin Gate on the way to the front.
"There they will remind us of the price paid by so many during the battles for Ieper, Polygon Wood and the Wijtschate-Mesen ridge, during which tens of thousands of Allied soldiers were killed," he said in a statement.
After the war a massive war memorial arch was built as the new Menin Gate dedicated to British and Commonwealth soldiers killed in the Ieper Salient and whose graves are unknown.
A Last Post ceremony has been held every evening at the gate since 1928 and on Monday night it took place for the 30,655th time.
The lions will stand on the bridge in front of the Menin Gate and will be returned to Canberra by the Royal Australian Air Force after Armistice Day in November this year.