ANZAC DAY SERVICE.
The first Anzac Day service in the North Beach locality that Merv Hall recalls was in 1946. The parade marched from Henderson’s shop, on the corner of Odo St and North Beach Road, to the Surf Club. The services, in the first few years, before he was transferred to the country as a Parish Priest, were conducted by Mr. Frederick Pitcher, a lay preacher. During Bill Lonnie’s term as State President 1955-65 the regulation stating that Anzac Services had to be conducted by a Minister of Religion was abandoned. The Sub-Branch Presidents, Frank Kent and Merv Hall, during their terms of office, conducted the services, which for many years continued to be held in the Surf Club Hall. The music was always provided in those days by Mrs Thelma Washing at the piano.
Anzac Day services were conducted each year in the early years of the North Beach Sub-Branch, until 1969. At the September meeting it was discussed whether a service would be held the following April. Lack of interest and a decline in membership was the problem, but the Sub-Branch rallied, and a service was held. However, no service held in the years 1971 and 1972. Membership had declined from 53 in 1958 to only 25 in June 1972.
Over the years the Anzac Day Services have been conducted at various venues, such as the Sun Club Hall and then in the RSL Hall once it was up graded. Some members that lived north of the Charles Riley Memorial Reserve have regularly attended the Autumn Centre in Flora Terrace. Ralph Hancock gave the 1987 Anzac address at the Duncraig Primary School. In later years, 1989 onwards, a Dawn Service has been held at the War Memorial on the nor-west side of the Riley Reserve.
At a meeting after the Anzac Day Service in 1978 Bill Boyle suggested that following the Annual Anzac Service there should be a Sub-Branch get together. A resume was given of the nature of the program in past years. It was decided that a social gathering would be held at the Sports Club at 1.30 pm. on Anzac Day. A mixed bowls match with the North Beach Bowling Club ensued and has continued on Anzac Day ever since.
Wally Somers, Merv Hall, Ted Dyas, Len Snell Remembering Departed Friends
At the May 1981 meeting a vote of thanks was recorded to Stan Kent for painting the Remembrance Stone at the Convent. The Sub-Branch had been approached to give an address and conduct an Anzac Service in School hours at Our Lady of Grace Convent situated in Kitchener Street, North Beach. There were a couple of flag poles in the school grounds and to create a suitable atmosphere to the ceremony it was necessary to have a place to lay wreaths during the ceremony. A neat half top of a round septic tank was obtained. It was suitably painted, and the Words “LEST WE FORGET” sign was embossed on it.
The address was given by Mervyn Hall in both 1981 and 1982. During the Services, which were held in the Church, a cadet from the Scarborough Cadet Unit was posted at each flag pole. A third cadet was posted at the door and gave signals to the bugler and the other two to raise and lower the flags.
At the September 1981 meeting it was resolved to purchase a wreath for the next Anzac Day service and that enquires would be made regarding the Anzac Day Awards.
WAR MEMORIAL CHARLES RILEY MEMORIAL RESERVE, NORTH BEACH.
The place where the Memorial was to be erected was brought to the Sub-Branch’s notice by the Deputy Mayor of the City of Stirling, Mr John Bombak, at the meeting of April 1989.he Sub-Branch recommended to Mr Bombak that the Memorial be not placed at the Autumn Centre in Castle St, as proposed by that body, but near a main road central to schools in the district. The Memorial obelisk was erected at the north west corner of the Charles Riley Memorial Reserve by the City of Stirling before the following RSL meeting in May. The City of Stirling erected a flag pole at the Autumn Centre and the Pensioners’ League of WA. North Beach Sub-Branch provided a plaque there.
The inscription on the obelisk at Charles Riley Memorial Reserve reads:
DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF THOSE MEN AND WOMEN OF THEARMED AND ANCILLARY SERVICES WHO PAID THE SUPREME SACRIFICE IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY.
No date or other information appears on it. In the editor’s opinion it is a pity that not more history appears on this memorial, for people who are not directly connected with the various services are able to learn about our history. We who know, move on, but the land remains forever. The City of Stirling erected two flagpoles on each side of the Memorial, for which they received a letter of thanks from the Sub-Branch.
In early 1992 the Memorial was enhanced by the laying of brick paving around it and the flagpoles. It gave better standing for groups holding services there. The City of Stirling staff prepared the site, the Midland Brick Company provided the bricks and Brick Paving installed the paving, the overall cost being $1,800.
The erection of the Memorial has created additional interest, not only to the members of the RSL, but to the community. Every year since its erection a Dawn Service has been held, with an increasing number of people attending that service. This additional interest has been created by a sub-committee being appointed to deal with the different facets of the service. The Sub-Branch has recorded in its minutes its gratitude to the Stirling Times for the coverage that it has given to promote the Anzac Day dawn service. Letters of thanks and appreciation were sent to the paper by both the Chairman, Len Snell, of the Anzac Day Sub-Committee, as well as the RSL Sub Branch Secretary Joe Oversby. The paper has also photographed a number of members to attract attention to the Service. Records show that 53 members of the Sub-Branch attended in the April 1990 Service. The 1992 service attracted about one hundred souls.
Buglers are hard to come by, so a tape recorder has been purchased. It plays the Last Post, Reveille and any other necessary ceremonial odes. An example of the detail required to make the dawn services a success is shown in the duty roster for 1992.
Len Snell was appointed to be the Director, ie. to take the blame for anything that wasn’t organised, Alf Price the Marshall, Flag Marshalls to be Don Wright and Ted Dyas, Light Marshall was Wallie Somers, Wreath Laying by Frank Kent, the assembly to be at 5.45 am., the march off to be at 6 am. At the May meeting a vote of thanks was recorded to Lindsay Bennett and his wife for organising the refreshments at the North Beach Bowling Club after the service.
Len Snell’s work had not finished. It had just staffed. For the evening barbecue after the Bowls match with the Bowling Club, he had in the kitchen the stewards Ray Wayman, Jim Middleton, Ray Treen and Ted Dyas. Frank Kent, Don Wright and Clyde Evans were the cooks. Jack Shaw was to collect the fee of four dollars for the meal, which was to be a piece of steak and two sausages, with a potato salad. Bread, sauce and margarine were to be available.
In the meantime, Len had teed up with Charlie Chapman to arrange the Bowls match to finish about 4.45 pm. in order that the evening meal was completed by about 6 pm. Entertainment was to be given by Ray Wayman, Merv Hall and Jack Dickinson. The choir, Alf Price, Len Snell, Ted Dyas and Joe Frankland, rendered songs like Bowlers Lament, Bowlers Dreams and Clown Shots. A good day was had by all. Oh no!!! – the Old Tin Hat Bowling Shield was lost to the Bowling Club!
The additional expenses of the day were subsidised by $239 from a day raffle organised by the RSL Sub-Branch. Councillor Murray Carter, of the City of Stirling, donated one of the prizes. Hence the people who are born in the next century or two may realise that there was still life in Western Australia, and that, despite what they may read in the archives, there were far more good times had by the public than bad times. Twelve per cent of the people were unemployed but 88% had good incomes.
OTHER MEMORIAL SERVICES
At the April 1983 meeting Stan Kent and member Hurley reported on attending the Anzac Service at the Stirling City Council grounds. The Sub-Branch resolved to thank the City of Stirling and the newly elected Mr. Graham Edwards for the two War Memorials erected there.
The Anzac Memorial Services held at the Mt Lawley War Veterans Homes in Alexander Drive, Menora, have always been supported, generally by at least two representatives of this Sub-Branch and their wives. Some members, in respect for their fallen comrades, go to the dawn service at the State War Memorial in King’s Park, whilst others attend the Anzac Parade in the City of Perth. In all cases there is a sad reflection of memories for fallen friends, a spirit of National pride and a renewal of friendships with those who have survived. Above all, it is an attempt to show their heirs and additaments, their friends and the general community that they do have a great country, where free speech and freedom of worship, a democracy that other nations yearn about, still exists, and is worth fighting for.
KOREA AND VIETNAM MEMORIAL SERVICES
The North Beach Sub-Branch members were lethargic, much like the rest of Australia, in recognising the fallen during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The Whitlam Government, shortly after being elected, curtailed the activity in Vietnam and quickly recalled the Australian Forces back to Australia. It made the people feel that this was an unnecessary War. The most unfortunate and disappointing thing that transpired was that the Australian people failed to give honour and recognition to those loyal soldiers, sailors, nurses and airmen who had participated in the conflict. Yet they were service people who had been ordered there, under the National Defence Act, by the Australian Government, to defend their country. They had performed their task with diligence, loyalty and valour, emulating their ancestors in other conflicts. It took many, many years before even a glimmer of recognition began in Australia.
With the election of Mr. Graham Edwards, a man who had lost both of his legs by the explosion of a land mine in Vietnam, to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly, some recognition to the loyal citizens began. He had previously been a City of Stirling Councillor. He visited the Sportsmen’s Club on Saturday, 13th April 1985 to present a National Flag and a portrait of the Queen. It was not long after his visit that there was a glimmer of interest in the Vietnam Veterans.
Mr Stan Kent reported to the next meeting that on the 16th August 1986 he had attended a service at the City of Stirling, which was held to honour the Vietnam Veterans. He had stated that it was a most successful Service.
At the July 1987 meeting it was resolved that Veterans of the Vietnam War be invited to attend the next meeting of the Sub-Branch in order to hear their views and participate in some companionship. At the Annual State Congress mention had been made that at both the Bunbury and Geraldton Sub-Branches the Vietnam Veterans were actively participating in Sub-Branch affairs. These “Vietnam Veterans” were the younger men in our society, probably around twenty to twenty five years younger than most Sub-Branch members. Action was taken at North Beach to make known to these potential members that they would be made most welcome to join the Sub-Branch.
The following year Mr Stan Kent again reported that he had attended the August Memorial Service at the City of Stirling. About two hundred had marched and it was a most memorable Service. He hoped and urged that more Sub-Branch members would participate in the ceremony. The following year it was reported that Stan was not well. There does not appear to be any more reports about the service, but undoubtedly there would have been some representation.
Lindsay Bennett, a Vietnam veteran and subsequent SAS man, reported to the October meeting that he had attended King’s Park on the first of October 1989. There had been a Dedication Service in Memory of the WA. members of the Services who had died because of the Vietnam War.
Recognition of the Vietnam Military Forces culminated in a National Memorial being dedicated in Canberra during 1992. Many people from all States of Australia attended the ceremony and a limited number of Veterans from each State were flown there and back by the Australian Government. Of local interest, a Vietnam Veteran, Mr Fountain, the father of the North Beach Bowling Club’s junior greenkeeper, attended the Service.
Retarded interest and recognition of the American Veterans in their country appears to have been much in parallel to that of Australia. It has been publicised that during 1993 the American ex Service women, mostly nurses, will be dedicating a Memorial to their Veteran Womenfolk. That will be about thirty years after the War commenced.