ANZAC SPIRIT: Woolgoolga RSL Sub-branch president Graeme Geyson at the Woolgoolga Diggers Club.
ANZAC SPIRIT: Woolgoolga RSL Sub-branch president Graeme Geyson at the Woolgoolga Diggers Club. Rachel Vercoe

Enduring efforts of RSL members undeniable

AS ANZAC Day services take place across the country tomorrow, the enduring efforts of members of the Returned and Services League is undeniable.

A day to commemorate those who have lost their lives in war, the marches and ceremonies would not be possible without the not-for-profit RSL Sub-branches.

Graeme Geyson, President of the Woolgoolga RSL Sub-branch, served 22 years in the Australian Regular Army.

His father fought in World War II, serving in several countries. One of his grandfathers served in the Army Flying Corps in World War I, while the other served in the 20th and 33rd Battalions at Bullecourt, Messines and the Somme as a machine gunner. He joined when he was 14 and was gassed while fighting in the Somme.

"Initially, Anzac Day was to commemorate those who had paid the ultimate sacrifice during World War I. Today however, we pay homage to all those service men and women who lost their lives during military conflicts to date," he said.

"The public often don't realise the RSL Sub-branch are the ones who organise the Dawn Service, the marches, and Remembrance Day, rather than the RSL Clubs.

"The clubs were originally established and owned by the 'returned' service men and women of the Boar War and WWI. They constructed halls which formed the basis for the clubs we see today.

"Woolgoolga RSL was established in 1935 but in 1979 it was 'handed over' to a Board of Directors of the Woolgoolga Returned Services Club.

"It was generally agreed the sub-Branch be given an office within the club to continue its charitable work."

First taking place in 1916 with a march through London by Australian and New Zealand soldiers, Mr Geyson said without the Sub-branch there would be no services or marches to commemorate Anzac Day.

Despite most World War II veterans having passed on, Mr Geyson said he is confident Anzac Day will continue well into the future.

"We still have those who went to Korea, Borneo, Malaya, and Vietnam, and newer diggers that went to Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. There are 19-year-olds that are returned, so it will continue on.

"I hope there will be no more wars, but there are still service personnel who will continue on. Anzac Day will continue long after I'm dead."

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