Eudunda RSL milestone

Eudunda RSL sub-branch president, Mr John Stephens with the framed certificate presented by Member for Stuart, Mr Dan van Holst Pellekaan commemorating the sub-branch centenary.

There is pride in the eyes of Eudunda RSL sub branch president, Mr John Stephens as he welcomes visitors to the town’s clubrooms.

This place is steeped in history. Unique photographs line the walls, depicting locals who have served their country in theatres of war and the celebrations on their return when the townspeople of the era packed the hall rejoicing.

Now a framed certificate commemorating the sub-branch’s centenary has also been added to that unique collection of memorabilia following a special presentation on July 7 by Member for Stuart, Mr Dan van Holst Pellekaan.

For John, the certificate highlights the spirit of ANZAC and the unique camaraderie that only those who have served and continue to serve today, fully
understand.

John said Eudunda’s returned servicemen would have begun meeting more than 100 years ago, but November 19, 1919 was the official date they received the charter and became full members of the
RSL.

 “I think when they started they could never have imagined it would still be going 100 years later,” John said.

“A few of the guys, when they came back, would have got together as they all did in those days. They weren’t getting all that much support so they were supporting each other.”

Back then, the official RSL logo only had two figures, one representing the army, the other the navy.

“Then came the air force with the second world war and then they added a fourth figure, a servicewoman. That was another major step forward,” John said.

“There were a lot of hiccups along the way of course. In fact, they thought the second world war fellas should have a separate organisation. Anyway, it all became one. Then, again, when we came back from Vietnam there were some that thought we shouldn’t belong…But it’s become much more encompassing.”

John is a Vietnam veteran, having served in the Royal Australian Airforce in communications and has been with Eudunda RSL for 36 years.

“We have a few Vietnam vets here, even though we came later, in this area we were very well received by the WWII veterans. Unfortunately, they are all gone now…but they were magnificent.

“The original guys raised funds and did a lot of work to get the war memorial here. Then later, WWII groups did work to improve it and we’ve done the same, we got floodlighting for the memorial, new flagpoles, things like that to always keep it going.”

For John and around 35 members of the Eudunda RSL, it is an important job to  care for local memorabilia, help educate future generations and support each other, all in an effort to continue the legacy of those before them.

“That spirit of ANZAC is still there,” John said.

“We meet people that have come back now from Iraq, the Middle East and yes, that spirit is still there and I’m pretty proud of those guys.

“When you’ve served, especially in a war theatre, there is a special camaraderie which forms and you don’t forget.

“We need to make sure the memory lives on.”

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