The Lorne RSL sub-branch has been an integral part of the Lorne & District community for over 75 years and has a rich history. There are many examples of heroism, hardship, illness and all too often death of the men and women who served our great country. Over the next few months leading into 2020 ANZAC Day we intend to contribute an article to the Lorne Independent telling the individual stories of members of our community who served.
The Lorne R.S.L. sub-branch was formed in 1940 with Captain Jack Nichols as its first president. Prior to World War 2, local diggers were members of the Winchelsea sub-branch. In the Great War (1914-1918), forty-one men and Violet Stirling, who were residents of the township, served. In World War 2, one hundred and twenty-seven men and six women enlisted to serve. Eight residents served in Vietnam.
Over the years since its formation, many Lorne identities have provided outstanding service to the branch and to the returned service personnel of Lorne. For example: Garth Harry 22 years as treasurer, Jack Carrol 21 years as secretary, Doug Stirling 20 years as president, Eric Hodson 19 years as secretary, Jack Hickey 18 years as president and Graham Wheal 11 years as both president and secretary. Ron Adams is a current member of the branch who for years has given his time to sell poppies prior to ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day, to raise funds for the work of the RSL.
Members since the end of the Great War have worked tirelessly to provide support to the diggers and their widows and also, through Legacy, to the children of those who served and never returned.
In the early 1950s the branch raised the funds to build the RSL Hall (now part of the Lorne P-12 College in Smith Street), to serve as a meeting place and to host community dances and functions.
Gary Allen has provided his thoughts below on the Lorne RSL and reflects on his father’s participation.
“In the Second World War my father served as part of the Ambulance Corps, as a stretcher-bearer in Papua New Guinea. He never once burdened us with the horrors he witnessed in those fields, he always deflected our questions. After his death I found a photograph in the Australian War Memorial’s digital collection of him on Christmas Day 1943, with the wounded in the field hospital.
To honour his memory and the service of so many from our township I joined the Lorne Sub-Branch of the RSL as an affiliate member and worked with others to build the membership of the branch to well over 50 people. This was done in the year of the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing, with the target of reaching 100 members. Sadly, this work faltered, but now, we as a community must work to honour those who were willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice, by keeping an active sub-branch in Lorne.”
Since early 2015 a number of members of the RSL have worked to upgrade ANZAC Square which opened in time for the 2018 Armistice commemoration on the 11thNovember, exactly a hundred years to the day when fighting ceased in Europe. Unfortunately, the Square has not been officially opened – let’s hope that bureaucracy does not continue to hinder the Opening & Dedication of the Square – the lead up to ANZAC Day 2020 would be appropriate.
The sub-branch has for some years found it difficult to fill Committee positions and as such it may ultimately need to amalgamate with another branch, something I am sure our Community would not like to see happen.
Membership is open to all members of the community, there are three categories:
- Service: for past and present serving members of the Australian Defence Forces & Allied Armed Services.
- Affiliate: for relatives of a past/present service members or members of emergency services. (i.e. aa
- Social: for those not eligible to be Service or Affiliate members.
Membership forms can be obtained by contacting :
Craig Hunt email@example.com
June Adams firstname.lastname@example.org
Cr Clive Goldsworthy – 0400 756 854