In September 2018, Tweed Heads & Coolangatta RSL Sub-Branch celebrates its 100th birthday.
According to Sub-Branch records, the inaugural meeting of the Tweed Heads and Coolangatta District RSL Sub-Branch was held on 27 September 1918, with less than a dozen World War I (1914-1918) returned servicemen in attendance.
In the early years, the Sub-Branch struggled to gain members and recognition. In 1925, a letter was sent to its few existing members about an upcoming monthly meeting, requesting their attendance and also asking them to bring along a returned soldier friend or friends.
The 1930s became years of consolidation for the Sub-Branch but by the end of that decade, local families were once again saying goodbye to a new generation of town folk who were embarking for overseas combat during World War II (1939 to 1945).
By the end of the war, membership had risen to 200 but it took until 1969 for Sub-Branch membership to pass the 1,000 mark. By 1990, the Sub-Branch had over 6,000 members.
One hundred years on from where it all began, and whilst the number of family members of returned services personnel who march in honour of loved ones is strong, the numbers of servicemen and women who participate in ANZAC Day services has dwindled as age and infirmity catches up with many of them.
As sub-branch membership nationwide continues to decline, the focus of Tweed Heads & Coolangatta RSL Sub-Branch is twofold: ensuring ageing ex-servicemen and women continue to receive the care and attention they deserve; and welcoming a new generation of serving or ex-service men and women to its ranks.
Existing members of the Sub-Branch, as well as Twin Towns club members, should suggest to friends or relatives that may be serving or ex-service defence personnel, that they should join the Sub-Branch. This call-out is just as relevant now as it was back in 1925.
Twin Towns Board Director and Tweed Heads & Coolangatta RSL Sub-Branch Secretary Dr John Griffin says that whilst Australian service personnel continue to serve, there will always be a need for the Sub-Branch.
“Today, we continue to do the work our forebears started at the Sub-Branch 100 years ago, and That is mates looking after mates.
“The spirit and goals of our organisation are as true today as they were when the returned diggers of Tweed Heads and Coolangatta embarked on its establishment in 1918,” said Dr Griffin.
The RSL Sub-Branch will hold a Centenary Lunch on Monday 24 September in Visions at Twin Towns. Cost is $20 per person.
Tickets are available at the Sub- Branch office.