ON May 5, 1918, a group of World War One soldiers – many of whom would have been sent home injured – got together to create the Tamworth RSL sub-branch.
A century on and the sub-branch’s legend lives on. President Bob Chapman said the organisation has a big day planned to market the occasion on Saturday.
“We are probably one of the first country sub-branches that formed,” he said.
“Only two years after the RSL was designed we came into being. 100 years later, we are still doing what they were doing, because the objects and the aims of the league written then haven’t changed, they’re exactly the same.”
The historic day begins at 9.30am at Tamworth Regional Council, who will bestow the Freedom of the City upon the sub-branch.
Following that, a commemorative service will be held at Town Hall at 10.30am, and Mr Chapman said there was an open invitation to the whole community.
“We wouldn’t have reached it without the support of the community, so this is also our chance to thank them,” he said.
The day will end with a semi-formal military-style dinner at Diggers – which was the sub-branch’s home for many years.
While it was a proud moment, Mr Chapman said it was also a time for bittersweet reflection.
“The thing I’m a bit sad about is that a lot of our World War Two veterans are gone now,” he said.
“I think we’ve got about 10 members left, many of them are in nursing homes.
“Korean veterans, at a guess we’ve got about two left in the region. Vietnam veterans, a few of them have passed away in Tamworth in the past few years.”
That’s why the RSL has made the Tamworth Young Veterans a central part of the centenary celebrations.
At midday, the RSL sub-branch will step out of the spotlight, as the city’s Young Veterans unveil their new memorial at Railway Park, for post-1973 service men and women.
“Including them is always in the forefront of our minds,” Mr Chapman said.
“We must nurture them, so they can keep the RSL going.”
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