By Michael Giles and Shelby Brooks
FOR 100 years, the women of the Korumburra RSL Women’s Auxiliary have tasked themselves with keeping alive the memories of their husbands, brothers, fathers, uncles and friends who served during wartime.
It was a heady time back in 1920 when the womenfolk; the wives and family members of the returned servicemen of the Korumburra RSL Sub-branch saw the need to form a group of their own, the Korumburra RSL Women’s Auxiliary.
By then, the welfare issues resulting from the ravages of war, not to mention the influenza pandemic, would have been all too evident.
The men might not have known it or acknowledged it, but they needed help.
“If anyone needs help, we’ll do it,” is the attitude of current Auxiliary president Avis Tilley.
Avis joined the group in 2004 before taking on the role of president three years ago when she was a mere 92 years old.
Her husband was an army officer and captain so she originally joined the group as a way to support and give back to the RSL sub-branch, as well as make connections with other women who had veterans in their families.
Last Thursday, the women met for a 100th birthday lunch to celebrate the power of good the group has done over the years, from epic fundraising efforts to hosting monthly casserole nights.
“Basically, anything that the Korumburra RSL and its members needed, as a traditional RSL Club, they raised money for and provided,” Korumburra RSL president David Jackson said.
But the club’s future is uncertain, with thoughts the group may wrap up due to low numbers and an aging membership.
The women decided to rest the club for three months while they reassess their ability to continue.
“It’s a bit of a blow,” Avis said.
“We don’t want to close if we don’t have to.”
But as fellow member Joy Anderson pointed out, the younger generation hasn’t experienced war to the same scale they have, so finding younger members to take some of the load has been difficult.
“It’s important to keep the story and memories of these men alive. It’ll fade out otherwise,” Jan Dowling said, who has been a member for four years.
“They’ve decided to wind it up now, their involvement at least, but we’ll just put the group into recess and see if it can’t be reformed at some time in the future,” David explained.
“Over the years they’ve done a magnificent job for the community and for ex-service personnel and their families in particular.
“They’ve supported veterans and their families, whether that’s been raising money for welfare or for the things the RSL has needed like extra chairs or fixing a window, and they’ve provided a place for Legatees, the widows of ex-servicemen, to come and have a cuppa and a chat, to get-together.
“Only recently we received a cheque for $1500 from them.
“The ladies of the Korumburra RSL Auxiliary have been a very important group for the town over the years, but they feel it’s time for them to finish up, which we certainly respect.”