general information

Chatswood RSL Club has been operating on the present site since 1947, when Sub-branch members and Returned Soldiers decided to seek a Club License to raise funds for benevolent work.


The original premises were the Memorial Hall and occupied a two-storey structure fronting 446 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood. Extensions to the Club in 1963 provided the Thomas Street frontage and the Club then occupied the whole area through the block with entrances at both streets. The Club was a ‘men only’ Club until 1966 when women were permitted to join and attend the Club. Over the years the Club purchased adjoining contiguous properties to provide for expansion.


The Club incorporates and now totally surrounds the Chatswood War Memorial Hall built in 1921-1922. A marble memorial to the fallen can be seen at the Victoria Avenue entrance of the Club. Much of the old hall has been renovated over the years so it is now unrecognisable. The hall was sold by the local Memorial Hall Trust in 1981 to the Club when they could no longer maintain the property, being of wood construction internally, to the then “Ordinance 70” fire and building standards.


In 1995 the Club expanded its premises over 442-444 Victoria Avenue and the Club utilised the greater now fully integrated and incorporated spaces. New function rooms provided an added community amenity and the enlarged Bistro, gaming room and an additional new bar were opened in the new areas built. However, the Club continued to face space demands and in 2004-2005 the properties which the Club had accumulated by purchasing, and which are located to the west of the existing Club, – 448-452 Victoria Avenue, which had been providing marginal rental income – were demolished as space was needed for an increasing membership and visitor attendances grew. Increased car spaces, a cafe and larger lounge area were a necessity – In 2006 the Club opened the new cafe/lounge/pool playing area known as Shades.




Laying of the Foundation Stone, 17th September 1921


Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 19th September 1921.


Photo of Foundation Stone currently located at the Victoria Avenue entrance.




Official Opening of the Memorial Hall, 10th June 1922.


News_Article_-_10.06.22 (1)


Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 12th June 1922


Unveiling of tablets listing the names of Members of the North Shore Line, RSSILA, who gave their lives in World War I. The tablets were unveiled by Sir Dudley de Chair, 1st March 1924.


Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 3rd March 1924.



Photo of Memorial Hall showing the tablets.




Photo of tablets.



Foundation Stone, Laid on 17th September 1921.




Unveiling of the tablets listing the names of members of the North Shore Line, RSSILA, who gave their lives in World War I, 1st March 1924.




Tablets listing the names of members of the North Shore Line, RSSILA, who gave their lives in World War I, first unveiled on 1st March 1924.





Oustide of Club showing tablets listing the names of members of the North Shore Line, RSSILA, who gave their lives in World War I, first unveiled on 1st March 1924.




Victoria Avenue West towards Pacific Highway, early 1930s.




50th Anniversary Sub Branch Commemorative Plaque, currently displayed at the Victoria Avenue entrance to the club.




Memorial Plaque, currently displayed at the Victoria Avenue entrance to the Club.



The First World War began when Britain and Germany went to war in August 1914, and Prime Minister Andrew Fisher’s government pledged full support for Britain.


The outbreak of war was greeted in Australia, as many other pleces, with great enthusiasm.Australia’s early involvement in the Great War included Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force taking possession of German New Guinea and the neighbouring islands of the Bismark Archipelago in October 1914. In November 1914 the Royal Australian Navy made a significant contribution when HMAS Sydney destroyed the German raider SMS Emden.







On 25 April 1915 members of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) landed at Gallipoli together with troops from New Zealand, Britain and France. This began a campaign that ended with the evacuation of troops on 19 and 20 December 1915. Following Gallipoli, Australian forces fought campaigns on the Western Front and in the Middle East.




Throughout 1916 and 1917 losses on the Western Front were heavy and gains were small. In 1918 the Australians reached the peak of their fighting performance in the battle of Hamel on 4 July. From 8 August they then took part in a series of decisive advances until Germany surrendered on 11 November.




The Middle East campaign began in 1916 with Australian troops participating in the defence of the Suez Canal and the allied reconquest of the Sinai peninsular. In the following year Australian and other allied troops advanced into Palestine and captured Gaza and Jerusalem; by 1918 they had occupied Lebanon and Syria. On 30 October 1918 Turkey sued for peace.





On 3 September 1939 Prime Minister Robert Gordon Menzies announced the beginning of Australia’s involvement in the Second World War on every national and commercial radio station in Australia.





Almost a million Australians, both men and women, served in the Second World War. They fought in campaigns against Germany and Italy in Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa, as well as against Japan in south-east Asia and other parts of the Pacific. The Australian mainland came under direct attack for the first time, as Japanese aircraft bombed towns in north-west Asustralia and Japanese midget submarines attacked Sydney harbour.


On 7 May 1945 the German High Command authorised the signing of an unconditional surrender on all fronts: the war in Europe was over. The surrender was to take effect at midnight on 8-9 May 1945. On 14 August 1945 Japan accepted of the Allied demand for unconditional surrender. For Australians it meant that the Second World War was finally over.







The Korean War began on 25 June 1950, when North Korean forces launched an invasion of South Korea.





Personnel from the Australian Army, RAAF, and RAN fought as part of the United Nations (UN) multinational force, defending South Korea from the Communist force of North Korea.


The end of the war came with the signing of an armistice on 27 July 1953, three years and one month after the war began. The ending was so sudden that some soldiers had to be convinced it really was over. After the war ended, the presence of Australians in Korea continued with a peacekeeping force until 1957.





Australia’s military involvement in the Vietnam War was the longest in duration of any war in Australia’s history.





From the time of the arrival of the first members of the Team in 1962 almost 60,000 Australian’s, including ground troops and air force and navy personnel, served in Vietnam; 521 died as a result of the war and over 3,000 were wounded.


The war was the cause of the greatest social and political dissent in Australia since the conscription referendums of the First World War. Many draft resisters, conscientious objectors, and protestors were fined or jailed, while soldiers met a hostile reception on their return home.





On August 2 1990 Iraq invaded its rival oil-exporting neighbour Kuwait. The invasion was widely condemned, and four days later the United Nations (UN) Security Council unanimously approved a trade embargo against Iraq.


A blockade of Iraq’s access to the sea followed within weeks, as the United States assembled a large multinational task force in the Persian Gulf, while another was formed in Saudi Arabia.


By the end of 1990 the coalition force numbered some 40,000 troops from 30 countries, although the United States remained the dominant patner in the coalition. In November 1990 the UN Security Council set 15 January 1991 as the deadline for an Iraqi withdrawl from Kuwait. Iraq failed to comply, and on 17 January full-scale was erupted when coalition forces began an air bombardment of Iraqi targets. Within four days, coalition forces destroyed the Iraqi invading forces and drove the remnants out of Kuwait, although the Iraqis retained significant military strength intact in Iraq. The air bombardment continued without respite until the war ended 43 days later.


On 24 February 1991, after more than a month of air attacks, the coalition’s ground forces moved against Iraqi positions in Kuwait and in Iraq itself. The magnitude and decisiveness of these strikes destroyed what was left of Iraq’s capacity to resist. After two days of air strikes, Baghdad radio announced that Iraq’s armed forces had been ordered to withdraw from Kuwait to the positions they had occupied before August 1990. Two days after this order, the coalition ceased hostilities and declared victory. Coalition losses amounted to 166 killed, many by “friendly fire”. At least 100,000 Iraqis had been killed.


Australia was one of the first nations to join the coalition force. Australian forces were deployed under the auspices of the UN. Three Australian warships conducted blockade operations in the Persian Gulf. Australia also provided a supply vessel, four medical teams and a mine clearance diving team that joined a protective screen, under US operational control, around aircraft-carrier battle groups in the Gulf.


The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) provided vessels for the multinational naval force, which formed an interception force in the Persian Gulf to enforce the UN sanctions. The RAN presence included two frigates and the replenishment ship HMAS Success, which, having no air defences of its own, relied on the army’s 16th Air Defence Regiment. In January 1991 the replenishment tanker HMAS Westralia left Fremantle, Western Australia, to relieve Success. Four warships, HMAS Sydney (IV), HMAS Adelaide, HMAS Brisbane and HMAS Darwin, also served tours of duty in the Persian Gulf. During the operational phase of their deployment, they formed part of the anti-aircraft screen for the carrier battle groups of the US Navy. A RAN clearance diving team was also despatched for explosive ordnance and demolition tasks.


In addition to naval units, Australian personnel took part on attachment to various British and American ground formations. A small group of RAAF photo-interpreters was based in Saudi Arabia, together with a detachment from the Defence Intelligence Organisation. Four medical teams were also despatched at the request of the United States. Although the ships and their crews were in danger from mines and possible air attack, Australia’s war was relatively uneventful and there were no casualties.


At the conclusion of hostilities, 75 Australian personnel were sent to northern Iraq to assist in the provision of humanitarian aid to Kurds living in the UN-declared exclusion zone, while ships of the RAN remained on station, at the request of the United States, to enforce UN sanctions. Several Australian naval officers commanded the multinational interception force. Australia later provided weapons inspectors in Iraq to monitor the discovery and disposal of prohibited nuclear, chamical and biological “weapons of mass destruction”.



From the early 1990s, the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the former hegemony of the Soviet Union led to the emmergence of new independent states and shifts in the international strategic balance. Fundamentalist religious dogma and the resort to mass terrorism replaced Cold War ideologies as a driving force of conflict in the 21st century.


Following the multiple terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC on 11 September 2001, US President George W. Bush declared a ‘war on terror’. Australia invoked the ANZUS treaty to support the US effort and Australian military personnel joined the forces of ‘the coalition of the willing’.


In October 2001, coalition forcesunder American leadership invaded Afghanistan and ejected the ruling Taliban regime. From November to April 2002, Australian SAS squadrons participated in operations in the mountainous regions south of Kabul, conducting reconnaissance and surveillance, searching for Taliban and al Qaeda fighters and their bases. Their capabilities and professionalism earned them high praise from American commanders.


The war ended inconclusively in mid 2002. However, approximately 500 Australian soldiers remained on deployment in Afghanistan, continuing operations with American and other coalition forces to hunt Taliban terrorist groups and carry out reconstruction and engineering projects.


The continuing deployment of Australian forces on operations in Oruzgan province has produced increasing numbers of Australian casualties: 11 Australians died on operations in Afghanistan from 2002 to the end of 2009, 10 died in 2010, and 11 in 2011.


Successive Australian governments have renewed the commitment to the war in Afghanistan despite these mounting losses. Approximately 1,550 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel are currently based within Afghanistan as part of Operation SLIPPER, Australia’s military contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, maritime security in the Middle East Area of Operations and countering piracy in the Gulf of Aden. An additional 830 ADF personnel are deployed across the broader Middle East Area of Operations. Australia has also maintained a continuous maritime contribution to Operation SLIPPER, which currently consists of the ANZAC Class Frigate HMAS Toowoomba.



On 20 March 2003, a combined force of American, British and Australian troops under US leadership invaded Iraq in what was termed ‘the Second Gulf War’. Their object was to located and destroy suspected ‘weapons of mass destruction’.


Small but highly effective Australian army, air force and navy elements assisted the operation. Within three weeks coalition forces had seized Baghdad and the corrupt and brutal dictatordhip of Saddam Hussein was overthrown. However, no weapons of mass destruction were found.


The coalition’s victory was followed by a difficult ‘nation building’ and counter-insurgency campaign to prevent Iraq sliding into civil war. In July 2003 an Australian army training team began to train Iraqi soldiers in Iraq and in April 2005 the army deployed a task group to southern Iraq to protect a Japanese engineer construction unit.


By 2006, approximately 1,400 Australian soldiers remained engaged in reconstruction and rehabilitation work in Iraq together with American and other coalition forces. In mid 2008 Australia began vto reduce its forces with the withdrawl of approximately 500 troops, leaving almost 1,000 Australian soldiers in Iraq. Australian combat troops ceased their operational role in Iraq on 31 July 2009.


By May 2011 all non-US coalition forces had withdrawn from Iraq and the US military withdraw all forces on 18 December 2011, thus ending the Iraq War.


Two Australian service personnel dies in the conflict in Iraq between 16 July 2003 and 31 July 2009.



Aiguillettes are gilded cords ending in gold metal tagged points, and are worn by officers to distinguish special and senior appointments.




Aiguillettes distinguish special and senior appointments, such as Army officers of General rank, Chief of Army, Deputy Chief of Army, members of the Chief of Army’s Senior Advisory Committee, Military Attache and Aide-de-camp.


Several traditions account for their origin.


One account of the origin is that the Aiguillette denotes the rope and pickets carried by the squires to tether their knights’ horses.


Another authority has it that they were ‘aiguilles’ or needles for clearing the touch hole of very old muskets and that the cords were originally lanyards, which fastened the needles to the soldiers’ equipment.


It is also suggested that the Aiguillette represents the Provost Marshall’s rope with which he hung defaulters.


The most probable explanation is that they were the pins used to secure a pauldron, or shoulder protector, on the cuirass (a piece of armour) of a knight or cuirassier’s plate armour.


Another position on the origin of the Aiguillette is that they represent the pencil that every good Staff Officer had at hand, tied to his person by a piece of string. The Aigullette of the Japanese is in fact adapted for use as a pencil.


The type worn depends on the rank of the officer and/or the position or appointment they hold. The appointment also dictates which shoulder the item is worn. Most senior officers wear the Aiguillette on the right shoulder, whilst Military Attache and Aide-de-camp wear the Aiguillette on the left.


The Governor-General of Australia, as the Commander in Chief of the Australian Defence Force, is also entitled to wear a uniform on which an Aiguillette made of platinum is worn.



ANZAC Day is one of Australia’s most important national commemorative occasions. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.




When is ANZAC Day?

ANZAC Day falls on the 25th April each year. The 25th April was oficially named ANZAC Day in 1916.


What does ANZAC stand for?

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.


On the 25th April 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula. These became known as ANZACs and the pride they took in that name continues today.


Why is this day special to Australians?

On the morning of 25th April 1915, the ANZACs set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The objective was to capture Constantinople (now Instanbul in Turkey), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and an ally of Germany.


The ANZACs landed on Gallipoli and met fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. Their plan to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months.


At the end of 1915, the allied forces were evacuated. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed. News of the landing on Gallipoli and the events that followed had a profound impact on Australians at home. The 25th April soon became the day on which Australians remember the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.


The ANZACs were courageous and although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the Australian and New Zealand actions during the campaign left us all a powerful legacy.


What does ANZAC Day mean today?

With the coming of the Second World War, ANZAC Day also served to commemorate the lives of Australians who died in that war. The meaning of ANZAC Day today includes the remembrance of all Australians killed in military operations.


What happens on ANZAC Day?

ANZAC Day remembrance takes two forms. Commemorative services are held at dawn – the time of the original landing in Gallipoli – across the nation. Later in the day, ex-servicemen and women meet to take part in marches through the major cities and in many smaller centres. Commemorative ceremonies are more formal and are held at war memorials around the country.


A typical ANZAC Day ceremony may include the following features: an introduction, hymn, prayer, an address, laying of wreaths, a recitation, the Last Post, a period of silence, either the Rouse or the Reveille, and the national anthem. After the Memorial’s ceremony, families often place red poppies beside the names of relatives on the Memorial’s Roll of Honour, as they do after Remembrance Day services.


Rosemary is also traditionally worn on ANZAC Day, and sometimes on Remembrance Day. Rosemary has particular significance for Australians as it is found growing wild on the Gallipoli peninsula. Since ancient times, this aromatic herb has been believed to have properties to improve the memory.


The ANZAC Biscuit

During World War I, the friends and families of soldiers and community groups sent food to the fighting men. Due to the time delays in getting food items to the front lines, they had to send food that would remain edible, without refrigeration, for long periods of time that retained high nutritional value the ANZAC biscuit met this need.


Although there are variations, the basic ingredients are: rolled oats, sugar, plain flour, coconut, butter, golden syrup or treacle, bi-carbonate of soda, and boiling water.


The biscuit was first known as the Soldiers’ Biscuit. The current name, ANZAC Biscuit, has as much to do with Australia’s desire to recognise the ANZAC tradition and the ANZAC biscuit as part of the staple diet at Gallipoli.


The ANZAC biscuit is one of the few commodities that are able to be legally marketed in Australia using the word ‘ANZAC’, which is protected by Federal Legistlation.



On 26th January each year, Australians come together as a nation to celebrate what’s great about our country, and to reflect on what we have achieved and what we can be proud of.




These sentiments resonate strongly with members of the Australian Defence Force who, each day, are proud to wear the uniform and serve our nation at home and abroad.


To commemorate the federation of our nation, members of the Australian Army will fire a 21 Gun Salute.


The tradition of the gun salute originated in the early 14th Century, firstly, as ceremonial method of creating noise to honour a guest and, secondly, for the practical purpose of confirming the guns were empty. Saultes were considered a gesture of friendship and trust, and are always fired with an odd number of rounds as this was considered lucky.



The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, whose head office is in England, was established by Royal Charter of 21 May 1917. Its duties are to mark and maintain the graves of the members of the forces of the Commonwealth who died in the two world wars, to build and maintain memorials to the dead whose graves are unknown, and to keep records and registers.




The Commission’s work is founded upon principles which have remained unaltered: that each of the dead should be commemorated individually by name either on the headstone on the grave or by an inscription on a memorial; that the headstones should be uniform; and that there should be no distinction made on account of military or civil rank, race or creed.


Climate permitting, the headstones stand in narrow borders, where floribunda roses and small perennials grow in a setting of lawn, trees and shrubs. Two monuments are common to the cemeteries: the Cross of Sacrifice, set usually upon an octagonal base and bearing a bronze sword upon its shaft; and, in the larger cemeteries, the Stone of Remembrance, upon which is carved:



The majority of those who died are buried in cemeteries throughout the world in 23,000 sites in 146 countries. Australian war dead of the First and Second World Wars total 102,256. Of these, 11,094 are buried in Australia. They are buried or commemorated in 586 different cemeteries and churchyards and 11 crematoria. There are over 70 War Cemeteries and plots in Australia.


The Office of Australian War Graves

In Australia, the Office of Australian War Graves acts as an agent on behalf of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The Office of Australian War Graves maintains 21,325 graves and 4,101 commemorations on Memorials to the Missing of men and women who gave their lives while serving in the forces of the Commonwealth countries in the two World Wars. These are located in over 900 war and civil cemeteries in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Honiara (Solomon Islands) and Norfolk Island.


The Office of Australian War Graves also looks after Australia’s interest in the commemoration of the war dead of Australia’s Armed Forces who gave their lives in other campaigns such as Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam. Equal commemoration is provided for those Australian veterans whose post-war deaths have been accepted as being due to their war service. These number in excess of 192,500 up to the present time.


The Gallipoli Campaign

Under the Armistice with Turkey the British Army re-entered the Peninsula at the end of 1918 and cleared the battlefields of the bodies still unburied. In the nine months of this bitterly fought campaign more than 36,000 Commonwealth servicemen died. The 31 war cemeteries on the Peninsula contain 22,000 graves but it was possible to identify only 9,000 of these. The 13,000 who rest in unidentified graves in the cemeteries, together with the 14,000 whose remains were never found, are commemorated individually by name on the Helles Memorial (British, Australian and Indian), the Lone Pine Memorial (Australian and New Zealand) and the Twelve Tree Copse, Hill 60 and Chunuk Bair Memorials (New Zealand).


World Wars 1 and 2

Of the cemeteries containing WW1 burials, the following contain large numbers of Australian war dead:

  • 958 – Heath Cemetery, Harbonnieres, France
  • 690 – Pozieres British Cemetery, France
  • 1,128 – Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium
  • 1,353 – Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium
  • 772 – Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, France

Of theWW2 cemeteries, the following contain large numbers of Australian war dead:

  • 3,147 – Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery, Papua New Guinea
  • 1,167 – Labuan War Cemetery, North Borneo
  • 1,115 – Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore
  • 1,362 – Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Thailand
  • 1,234 – El Alamein War Cemetery, Egypt

There are also numerous Memorials to the Missing, listing the names of those veterans whose remains were not recovered or could not be identified. Notably among these are:

  • 10,982 – Villers-Bretonneux Memorial to the Missing, France
  • 6,209 – Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, Ieper, Belgium
  • 744 – Port Moresby (Bomana) Memorial to the Missing, PNG
  • 1,645 – Singapore Memorial to the Missing, Kranji War Cemetery
  • 1,225 – Rabaul Memorial to the Missing, Papua New Guinea
  • 2,258 – Labuan Memorial to the Missing, North Borneo

Subsequent Conflicts

Those who died in subsequent conflicts in which Australia was involved are mainly buried overseas. The majority of those who died in the Korean War are buried or commemorated in the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Pusan, Korea and 10 are buried in the British Commonwealth Forces Cemetery at Yokohama, Japan. Those who perished as a result of the Malaysian Emergency and Confrontation are, with the exception of 8, buried or commemorated in military cemeteries or crematoria in Malaysia. Of the 520 war dead of the Vietnam War, nearly all are buried or commemorated in cemeteries, crematoria and Gardens of Remembrance in Australia. Those who died early in the conflict are buried in Malaysia and Singapore. The Vietnam War was the only conflict where our war dead were repatriated.



One of the oldest symbols of Government and / or Ordnance is the mark of the ‘Broad Arrow’.




Although not as common as it once was, the Broad Arrow is still in use in the Australian Army and is used to identify Defence owned property. It has now been embellished by adding two capital letter ‘D’s’ (for the Department of Defence) to the broad arrow. In the past, there were occassions where the use of two capital letters ‘WD’ either side of the arrow to for War Department.


The history of this mark has its origins linked to the Ordnance Service of the Britain, the Government Commissaries, Colonial Storekeepers, Military Stores Departments and Ordnance Stores Corps both in England and in the Australian Colonies. The mark of the Broad Arrow was also adopted by the Australian Army Ordnance Department at the beginning of the 20th Century, and the mark is still used today.



The Dawn Service observed on ANZAC Day has its origins in a military routine that is still followed by the Australian Army today.




During battle, the half-light of dawn was one of the most favoured times for an attack. Soldiers in defensive positions were woken in the dark before dawn, so by the time first light crept across the battlefield they were awake, alert, and manning their weapons; this is still known as the ‘stand-to’.


After the First World War, returned soldiers sought the comradeship they had felt in those quiet, peaceful moments before dawn. A dawn vigil, recalling the wartime front line practice of the dawn ‘stand-to’, became the basis of a form of commemoration in several places after the war.


The Dawn Service is a public ceremony normally conducted at the Returned and Services League of Australia with involvement across all three Services of the Australian Defence Force. The origins of the Dawn Service are not entirely clear and research is currently being undertaken by Australian military historians to ascertain the true beginnings of the Dawn Service.


It is probable that the holding of a commemorative service at dawn may have had its origins from either the military practice of ‘stand-to’ at dawn on the battle field, or it may also have recognised origins from the dawn landing at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915.


Current research indicates there may be a number of ‘first’ Dawn Services held; they include:

  • A service held on the Western Front by an Australian Battalion on 25thApril 1916;
  • A service held at Toowoomba Queensland in 1919 or 1920;
  • A service conducted in Albany, Western Australia in 1923 (or later); and/or
  • A service held in the newly built Cenotaph at Martin Place, Sydney in 1928.

It is concievable that a number of ‘Dawn Services’ did occur independent of each other with participants not having any knowledge of the other services held in other locations.


The Australian Army and others is undertaking researh to assess each possible occasion to enable instance to be understood with the results being published prior to the centenary of ANZAC Celebrations in 2015.



In most ceremonies of remembrance there is a reading of an appropriate poem designed to help the listener understand the experiences of service people and their relatives in wartime.




With proud tahnksgiving, a mother for her children

England mourns for her dead across the sea,

Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,

Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal

Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,

There is music in the midst of desolation

And glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,

Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow,

They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,

They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again,

They sit no more at familiar tables of home,

They have no lot in our labour of daytime,

They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires and hopes profound,

Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,

To the innermost heart of their own land they are known

As the stars are known to the night.

As the stars shall be bright when we are dust,

Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,

As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,

To the end, to the end, they remain.



In most ceremonies of remembrance there is a reading of an appropriate poem designed to help the listener understand the experiences of service people and their relatives in wartime.




The poem was written by a Canadian Medical Corps doctor, Major John McCrae, who was serving with a Field Artillery Brigade in Ypres. The death of one of his friends in May 1915, buried in the cemetery outside his dressing station, affected him severly and he wrote his poem as a way of expressing his anguish at the loss. He was dissatisfied with the poem when he finished it and threw it away but one of his fellow officers retrieved it and was so moved that he sent to the media in London, where it was published by Punch on 8th December 1915. Its simple but evocative encapsulation of the horror of the trenches has made it the most famous of war poems. In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place: and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.



The Last Post is one of a number of bugle calls in military tradition that mark the phases of the day.




In military tradition, the Last Post is the bugle call that signifies the end of the day’s activities. It is also sounded at military funerals to indicate that the soldier has gone to his final rest and at commemorative services such as ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day.


The Last Post is one of a number of bugle calls in military tradition that mark the phases of the day. While Reveille signals the start of a Soldier’s day, the Last Post signals its end.


During the evening, a duty officer moved around his units position checking that the sentry posts were manned and sending the off-duty soldiers to their beds. The ‘first post’ was sounded when the duty officer started his rounds, while the final bugle call indicated the completion of these rounds, when the last post was reached.



Australian war historian C.E.W. Bean attributes the acronym ANZAC to a Lieutenant A.T. White, one of General Birdwood’s ‘English clerks’.




The first official sanction for its use was at Birdwood’s request to denote where the Corps had established a bridgehead on the Gallipoli Peninsula. However, there is little argument that ANZAC was first used as a simple code in Egypt. A later historical work, Gallipoli, by the English historian Robert Rhodes James states:


Two Australian Sergeants, Little and Millington had cut a rubber stamp with the initials ‘A & NZAC’ for the purpose of registering papers at the Corps headquarters, situated in Shepheard’s Hotel, Cairo. When a code name was requested for the Corps, a British officer, a Lt. White, suggested ANZAC. Little later claimed that he made the original suggestion to White. It was in general use by January 1915.


Whatever its origin, the acronym ANZAC became famous with the landing of the Corps on the Gallipoli Peninsula at the Dardanelles, on 25 April 1915. It has since become synonymous with the determination and spirit of our armed forces. The significance of the day, and the acronym, in Australia’s heritage is probably best stated by Dr. Bean in the following excerpt from his official war history.


It was not merely that 7600 Australians and nearly 2500 New Zealanders had been killed or mortally wounded there, and 24,000 more (19,000 Australians and 5,000 New Zealanders) had been wounded, while fewer than 100 were prisoners. But the standards set by the first companies at the first call – by the stretcher-bearers, the medical officers, the staff, the company leaders, the privates, the defaulters on the water barges, the Light Horse at The Nek – this was already part of the tradition not only of ANZAC but of the Australian and New Zealand peoples. By dawn on 20 December, ANZAC had faded into a dim blue line lost amid other hills on the horizon as the ships took their human freight to Imbros, Lemnos and Egypt. But ANZAC stood, and still stands, for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat.


The acronym survived Gallipoli. I and II ANZAC Corps fought in France and the ANZAC Mounted Division fought in Palestine. The decision to separate the Australian and New Zealand components of the ANZAC Corps was taken on 14 November 1917 when it was announced that the Corps would cease to exist from January 1918. An Australian Corps was then created to absorb the Australian divisions.


There was a brief period during World War 2 when ANZAC was resurrected. On 12 April 1941 in Greece, General Blamey declared Australian Corps to be the ANZAC Corps, much to the delight of its Australian and New Zealand formations.


ANZAC was again a reality during the Vietnam conflict where, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, an ANZAC battalion served in Phuoc Tuy Province. These battalions were created by absorbing two companies and supporting elements from The Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment into a battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment (RAR). Our 2nd, 4th and 6th Battalions held the distinction of being titled, for example, 2RAR/NZ (ANZAC) Battalion.



Medals for bravery or participation in campaigns can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians and Romans, where plaques of brass or copper were awarded for outstanding feats of bravery.




However, the first British medals to be issued and classed as such, didn’t appear until 1588 when they were struck by Queen Elizabeth I upon the defeat of the Spanish Armada. They were made from gold and silver and were fitted with rings and chains for suspension around the neck.


In 1643 King Charles I awarded a medal for conspicuous conduct to Robert Welch, for recovering the Royal Standard during the first battle of the English Civil War, the Battle of Edgehill. He thus is seen as the first British Monarch to make an award in the form of a military medal for prowess on the battlefield. In 1650 Oliver Cromwell issued the first campaign medal which was awarded to both officers and men. It was known as the Dunbar Medal and commemorated the defeat of the Scots Royalists at Dunbar. This medal too was suspended from the neck.


The first official war medal, as we know them today, was the 1815 Waterloo Medal. It was issued with a ribbon and an instruction stating ‘…the ribbon issued with the medal shall never be worn but with the medal suspended on it.’ From this time on medals were struck for nearly every engagement and later medals were introduced as honours and awards.


There is today some confusion about the difference between Honours and Awards, and Orders, Decorations and Medals. An Honour is an appointment made to an Order (eg. The Order of Australia), whilst Awards cover Decorations and Medals.


Decorations include the Victoria Cross, the Star of Courage, both the Conspicuous Service Cross and Medal. Medals cover the Member of the Order of Australia and the Medal of the Order of Australia (the term ‘medals’ includes the badges of the 4th and 5th classes of orders and decorations which are worn as medals) as well as for campaigns and long service.


A current popular method of wearing medals is in the style known as ‘court mounted’. This method of mounting has the ribbons going back behind the medals and it was designed to stop the medals ‘clinking’ against each other as the personnel moved about in the British Royal Courts.



The Red Poppy has special significance for Australians and is worn on Remembrance Day each year.




Why a red poppy?

Canadian, Colnel John McCrrae first described the Red Poppy, the Flanders’ poppy, as the flower of remembrance.


Whilst serving in the First World War, one death in particular affected, then Major McCrae. A young friend and former student, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer of Ottawa, was killed on 2nd May. He was buried in the cemetary outside McCrae’s dressing station, and McCrae had performed the funeral ceremony in the absence of the chaplain.


McCrae vented his anguish by composing a poem. At the Second battle of Ypres in 1915, when in charge of a small first-aid post, he wrote in pencil on a page from his despatch book a poem that has come to be known as “Flanders’ Field” which described the poppies that marked the graves of soldiers killed fighting for their country.


What is the significance for Australians?

The Red Poppy has special significance for Australians.


Worn on Remembrance Day each year, the red poppies were among the first to flower in the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium in the First World War. In soldiers’ folklore, the vivid red of the poppy came from the blood of their comrades soaking the ground.


In England in 1919, the British Legion sought an emblem that would honour the dead and help the living. The Red Poppy was adopted as that emblem and since then has been accepted as the Emblem of Remembrance.


The League adopted the idea in 1921, announcing,

“The Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia and other Returned Soldiers Organisations throughout the British Empire and Allied Countries have passed resolutions at their international conventions to recognise the Poppy of Flanders’ Fields as the international memorial flower to be worn on the anniversary of Armistice Day.”


Australians wear a Red Poppy on Remembrance Day for three reasons.

Firstly, in memory of the sacred dead who rest in Flanders’ Fields; Secondly to keep alive the memories of the sacred cause for which they laid down their lives; and thirdly as a bond of esteem and affection between the soldiers of all Allied nations and in respect for France, our common battle ground.


Today, cloth poppies are sold on, or around, 11th November each year. They are an exact replica in size and colour of the poppies that bloom in Flanders’ Fields. The RSL sells millions of red cloth poppies with proceeds going towards raising funds for welfare work.



Remembrance Day in Australia is an occasion to commemorate and remember all Australians who have died as a result of war.


When is Remembrance Day?

Remembrance Day falls on the 11th November each year.


On the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, a minutes’ silence is observed and dedicated to those soldiers who died fighting to protect the nation.


In Australia and other allied countries, including New Zealand, Canada and the United States, 11 November became known as Armistice Day – a day to remember those who died in World War One. The day continues to be commemorated in Allied countries.


After World War Two, the Australian Government agreed to the United Kingdom’s proposal that Armistice Day be renamed Remembrance Day to commemorate those who were killed in both World Wars. Today the loss of Australian lives from all wars and conflicts is commemorated on Remembrance Day.


Why is this day special to Australians?

At 11am on 11th November 1918, the guns on the Western Front fell silent after more that four years of continuous warfare. The allied armies had driven the German invaders back, having inflicted heavy defeats upon them over the preceeding four months.


In November, the Germans called for an armistice (suspension of fighting) in order to secure a peace settlement. They accepted the allied terms of unconditional surrender. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month attained a special significance in the post-war years and became universally associated with the remembrance of those who had died in the war.


In 1997, Govenor-General Sir William Deane issued a proclamation formally declaring 11th November to be Remembrance Day, urging all Australians to observe one minutes silence at 11am on 11th November each year to remember those who died or suffered for Australia’s cause in all wars and armed conflicts.




Proudly worn by soldiers of the 1st and 2nd Australian Imperial Force in both World Wars, the ‘Rising Sun’ badge has become an integral part of the digger tradition. The distinctive shape of the badge, worn on the upturned side of a slouch hat, is commonly identified with the spirit of ANZAC.


There are seven patterns of the Rising Sun. The Rising Sun has evolved over time and today Australian Army soldiers wear the seventh pattern Rising Sun.



The First Pattern – February 1902

During this time, a badge was urgently sought for the Australian contingents raised after Federation for service in South African (Second Boer) War. The most widely accepted version of the origin of this badge is the one that attributes the selection of its design to a British Officer, Major General Sir Edward Hutton, the newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Forces.


Hutton had earlier received a gift from Brigadier General Joseph Gordon, a military acquaintance of long standing, a ‘Trophy-of-Arms’ composed of mounted cut and thrust swords and triangular Martini-Henry bayonets that were arranged in a semi-circle around the Crown. To General Hutton, the shield was symbolic of the cooperation between the naval and military forces of the Empire.


The Second Pattern – April 1902


The second pattern badge added a scroll with the words ‘Commonwealth Horse’ and changing ‘Australia’ to ‘Australian’. This badge was a modified version for the Commonwealth Horse.


The Third Pattern – May 1904


The third pattern Rising Sun badge carried a scroll inscribed with the words ‘Australian Commonwealth Military Forces’ and was worn throughout both World Wars. There were, however, a number of variations of the badge; a special version was struck for the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902 and there were badges of the Commonwealth Horse and the Australian Instructional Corps, each with its respective title on the scrolls. This pattern badge formed the template for all subsequent General Service badges.


The Fourth Pattern – 1949

Corps and regimental badges were reintroduced into the Army and the inscription on the scroll was changed to ‘Australian Military Forces’.



The Fifth Pattern – 1954

The fifth pattern badge substituted the Imperial State Crown with the St Edwards Crown. It was approved in 1964 and issued in 1966.



The Sixth Pattern – 1969

The badge went through another alteration, with the introduction of the Federation Star above a heraldic wreath and the inscription was once again changed to read ‘Australia’. However, this design was never fully issued.



The Seventh Pattern – 1991

The current design was produced with ‘The Australian Army’ on the scroll and the removal of the Federation Star and heraldic wreath.


The Rising Sun Badge was originally called the General Service Badge, but it is now officially labelled the Australian Army Badge. It will, however, always be referred to as the Rising Sun Badge.



Rosemary is a small perennial shrub of the mint family. This compact evergreen, with clusters of small light blue flowers and leaves that yield a fragrant essential oil used in making perfume and to flavour food, is native to the Mediterranean region.


Legend says that the Virgin Mary, while resting, spread her cloak over a white flowering rosemary bush. The flowers turned the blue of her cloak, and from then on the bush was referred to as the “Rose of Mary”.


This plant was, in ancient times, supposed to strengthen memory. Greek scholars wore rosemary in their hair to help remember their studies, and the association with remembrance has carried through to modern times. In literature and folklore it is an emblem of remembrance.


On ANZAC Day, the wearing of small sprigs of rosemary in the coat lapel, pinned to the breast or held in place by medals is thus synonymous with remembrance and commemoration.




The Rouse and Reveille are bugle calls played to signify different parts of the day.




The Rouse is the call used in conjunction with the Last Post at commemorative services such as Remembrance Say services, at dedication services and at military funerals. The Rouse is a shorter bugle call that was also used to call soldiers to their duties.


After the one minute silence, the Rouse is sounded during which flags are raised from half mast to the masthead.



Reveille, from the French word ‘reveillez’ meaning to ‘wake-up’, was originally played as a drum beat just prior to daybreak.


Its purpose is to wake up the sleeping soldiers and to let the sentries know that they could cease challenging. It was also a signal to open the town gates and let out the horse gaurd, allowing them to do a reconnaissance of the immediate area beyond the walls.


During the ANZAC Day Dawn Service the Last Post is sounded followed by a minute of silence. The silence is broken by the Reveille. Today, the Reveille is only performed on the various Dawn services or as the first call of the day in Barracks.



Saluting is a military custom by which a soldier signals acknowledgement of the due respect to a superior rank.




Salutes are reciprocated at the highest levels up to and including Heads of State and are indicative of a feeling of mutual trust and respect.


The exact origin of the military salute has been lost in time but it is believed that it originated by showing that the right hand (the fighting hand) was not concealing a weapon.


Another explanation is that when men-at-arms took to wearing armour, the approaching generals or king would ride forward and, holding the reins of the horse with the left hand, they would raise the visor with the right to identify each other.


By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the salute with the hand palm to the front was firmly established.



Silence for one or two minutes is included in ANZAC and Remembrance Day ceremonies as a sign of respect and a time for reflection.




The idea for the two-minute silence is said to have originated with Edward George Honey, a Melbourne journalist and First World War veteran who was living in London in 1919. He wrote a letter to the London Evening News in which he appealed for five minute’ silence, to honour the sacrifice of those who had died during the war.


In October 1919 Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, a South African, suggested a period of silence on Armistice Day (now commonly known as Remembrance Day) in all the countries of the empire. Throughout the war, whenever South African troops suffered heavy losses on the Western Front, a period of silence had been observed at noon in Cape Town.


Fitzpatrick’s suggestion was presented to King George V, who readily agreed to the proposal. But after a trial with the Grenadier guards at Buckingham Palace, at which both Honey and Fitzpatrick were present, the period of silence was shortened to two minutes. It is unclear whether Honey and Fitzpatrick ever met or discussed ideas abou the silence.


On 6th November 1919, the King sent a special message to the people of the Commonwealth:

I believe that my people in every part of the Empire fervently wish to perpetuate the memory of that Great Deliverance, and of those who laid down their lives to achieve it.


The King requested that “a complete suspension of all our normal activities” be observed for two miutes at “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” so that “in perfect stillness the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the Glorious Dead”.


Two minutes’ silence was first observed in Australia on the first anniversary of the Armistice and continues to be observed on Remembrance Day, 11th November. Over the years, the two-minute silence has also been incorporated into ANZAC Day and other commemorative ceremonies.


At league clubs around Australia the remembrance silence has become part of the nightly six o’clock (previously nine o’clock) ritual, when any light other than the memorial flame is dimmed, members stand in silence, and then recite the ode.


In recent times, one minute of silence has been observed at Australian commemorative events, such as ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies. The reason behind this change is largely unknown.



Today’s swords are facsimiles of the functional weapons of the past and are essentially a ceremonial weapon.


There are five distinct swords carried in the Australian Army;

  • The Mameluke Sword
  • The Cavalry Sword
  • The Artillery Sword
  • The Infantry Sword
  • Scottish Claymore Sword



The Mameluke Sword

Mameluke swords are a cross-hilted, curved, scimitar-like sword historically used by Mamluk warriors from whom the sword derives its name.


Mameluke swords were carried as dress swords by officers of most light cavalry and hussar, and some heavy cavalry regiments in the British Army at various points during the 19th Century, starting in the period after Waterloo.


This sword is carried by officers of Major General rank and above. The current regulation sword for generals is the British General Officers Dress Sword pattern of 1831, it is a Mameluke style sword, and is carried on ceremonial occasions.



The Cavalry Sword (Sabre)

The current Cavalry Sword is the British Cavalry Officer’s Sword pattern of 1912. The hilt has a nickel-plated steel bowl guard decorated on the outside with a scroll design and has a sword knot slot near the pommel.


The straight blade has a single fuller to each side to within eight inches of the sword point and is decorated with an engraved floral design.


Members of the Royal Australian Armoured Corps and Australian Army Aviation wear the Cavalry Sword with black leather and silver fittings.



The Artillery Sword

The current Artillery Sword is the British Artillery Officer’s Sword pattern of 1822. It has a steel three bar hilt and back strap with a wire bound sharkskin grip.


The sword knot is able to hang so that the strap can be wrapped around the wrist when mounted. The slightly curved blade (based on the cavalry sword) has a single fuller to each side to within eleven inches of the sword point.


The Artillery Sword is worn by members of the Royal Australian Artillery.



The Infantry Sword

The current Infantry Sword is the British Infantry pattern of 1897. The hilt has a nickel-plated three quarter ‘scroll’ pattern pierced sheet steel guard with the “EIIR” royal cipher. It has a leather sword knot attached to the slot near the pommel.


The grip is wire bound black sharkskin. The straight blade is etched half way on both sides with foliage design having the royal cypher of Elizabeth II in the centre. There is a single fuller on each side. The brown leather scabbard has a nickel-plated chape and throat. This model sword was an improved version of the 1895 Pattern, which combined a more robust blade with a thrusting point to the blade.


The hand guard was also turned down on the inner edge to prevent the fraying of the uniform. On ceremonial occasions such as trooping the colours, the ensign’s brown scabbard may be replaced by a chrome scabbard.


The Infantry Sword is worn by members of the Royal Australian Infantry and all other members and ex-members entitled to wear a sword. The Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps have a black leather scabbard fitted with a black leather Infantry sword knot.



The Claymore (Scottish Units)

There are three distinct types of Claymore swords.


The original ‘claidheamh mor’ was a large teo handed sword used in the late Medieval to early modern times.


The second called a ‘claidheamh da laimh’ was also a two handed heavy broadsword.


However, the more commonly recognised type of ‘lowland sword’ or basket hit sword is not of Scottish origin, although it is always associated with the Highland warrior.


The original enclosed handle design was introduced to protect the hand during combat. Within the military the basket-hilted Claymore is still carried by officers in Scotish Regiments as part of their ceremonial dress.


The Victoria Cross is the pre-eminent award for acts of bravery in wartime and is Australia’s highest military honour.



The Victoria Cross is awarded to persons who, in the presence of the enemy, display the most conspicuous gallantry; a daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice; or extremem devotion to duty.



The Victoria Cross was created by Queen Victoria in 1856 and made retrospective in 1854 to cover the period of the Crimea War.


Until the Victoria Cross for Australia was created in 1991, Australian’s were eligible for the Victoria Cross and other awards under the Imperial system of honours.


The Imperial Victoria Cross has been awarded to ninety-six Australians. Ninety-one recieved the Victoria Cross while others serving with Australian forces and five Australians received the award while serving with South African and British units.



Australians were first recognised for their gallantry in the Boer War and more recently during the Vietnam War.


Australians have been awarded the Victoria Cross in the following conflicts:

  • 6 in the Boer War 1899-1902
  • 64 in World War I 1914-1918
  • 2 in North Russia 1919
  • 20 in World War II 1939-1945
  • 4 in Vietnam 1962-1972

Nine of the crosses awarded in World War I were for Australians at Gallipoli.


Victoria Cross for Australia

The Victoria Cross for Australia was instituted in the Australian honours system by Letters Patent on 15th January 1991.


It replaced the British or Imperial Victoria Cross. Corporal Mark Donaldson, VC (then a Trooper) was awarded the first Victoria Cross for Australia. Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith, VC, MG was the second recipient of the award. The third recipient of the Victoria Cross for Australia is Corporal Daniel Keighran, VC.


How it is awarded

The Govenor-General awards the Victoria Cross, with the approval of the Sovereign, on the recommendation of the Minister for Defence.


The Victoria Cross may be awarded posthumously.


The post-nominal entitlement for the Victoria Cross is VC.


A subsequent award for the Victoria Cross to the same person is made as a bar to the cross. They are also entitled to the post-nominal VC and Bar.


Medal Design

The Victoria Cross is designed in the form of a Maltese Cross: in the centre of the medal is a lion guardant standing upon the Royal Crown.


The words ‘For valour’ are inscribed below. The Victoria Cross is suspended from a bar by a crimson ribbon. On the reverse of the cross the date of the act of bravery is inscribed, along with the name, rank, and unit of the recipient.



VP Day (Victory in the Pacific) Day, also referred to as VJ (Victory over Japan) Day, is celebrated on the 15th August. This date commemorates Japan’s acceptance of the Allied demand for unconditional surrender on 14th August, 1945. For Australians, it meant that the Second World War was finally over.



The following day, 15th August, is usually referred to as VP Day. In August 1945 Australian governments gazetted a public holiday as VP Day and most newspapers reported it as such. However, the governments of Britain, the United States and New Zealand preferred VJ Day. It is not true, as some have claimed, that the day was originally called VJ and the name was surreptitiously changed later.


Source: ‘VP or VJ Day?; Wartime 21 (2003) 5.