Tag Archives: RSL Victoria

They gave up their tomorrows for our today

ONE OF THE largest crowds in recent times gathered at the Warrandyte RSL this Anzac Day to commemorate our fallen service men and women.

The March, this year led by Jim Pleasance stepped off from Whipstick Gully towards the Warrandyte Memorial Gardens.

Older veterans were given the dignity of a seat in a former army 110 Land Rover, provided by, and driven by Justin Welander.

Marching veterans were joined by dignitaries, CFA, Scouts, sporting groups, schools and community members who this year numbered in the hundreds.

The March this year culminated in a flyover by four PC21 RAAF aircraft on their way to the skies above the March at the Melbourne Shrine.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, where 3,200 Australians took to the beaches of Normandy.

RSL President David Ryan told those assembled that Anzac Day holds a sacred place in the hearts of all Australians and New Zealanders, as we pay homage to the invincible spirit of our Anzacs who forged a legacy of sacrifice and resilience on the shores of Gallipoli over 100 years ago.

Their unwavering dedication to duty and their profound sense of camaraderie serve as guiding beacons for us all, inspiring to uphold the values of mateship, courage and sacrifice in our own lives.

The service also reflected on the discovery last year of the sunken Japanese transport ship Montevideo Maru, which was sunk in 1942 in the South China Sea, with more than 1,000 Australian Prisoners of War on board, the worst maritime disaster in Australian history.

A sobering speech from Member for Menzies and Afghanistan Veteran, Keith Wolahan MP vividly depicted the loss of life from war.

Imagining standing on the field of an empty MCG with its 100,000 seat capacity, Mr Wolahan took us through the casualties list of each war from World War I until the most recent casualties in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Timor.

“As young Australians lose their lives in conflict you will see on some days, one or two seats fill up, on some days a few rows, and in some devastating days, whole stands fill.

On April 25, 1915, 620 Australians will take their seats before you.

By the end of the Gallipolli campaign, 8,141 — one-third of the Olympic stand.

In Fromelles on July 19, 1916, 1,917 Australians will take their seats in a 24-hour period — more than the people standing here — in 24 hours.

In the Battle of the Somme, in the space of a few weeks, 6,800 will take a seat before you — half of the Ponsford Stand.

A few months later, the second half of the Ponsford stand will be filled by those 6,800 who lost their lives at Pozieres, in Bullecourt, 2,000 lose their lives.

In Passchendaele from, the end of July through the middle of October 1917, 12,000 young Australians will lose their lives.

Before you 61,000 seats have filled just from WWI, from a population of five million.

We don t need to be a computer to know that that means there wasn t a family left untouched by that tragedy.

A few decades passed and some of the young boys who stood next to their dad or their granddad at the memorials like this are now serving in uniform in World War II.

749 will take their seat from Tobruk, 1,789 from the full of Singapore — and 7,000 as Prisons of War, who will die later.

On July 1, 1942, the sinking of the Montevideo Maru, 50 rows of the MCG.

And on March 23, 1945, nine will take a seat nine who never came back from an RAAF Liberator aircraft and one of those was William Flanagan from Warrandyte.

In Bomber Command 3,500 Australians were killed, and just under another 3,000 from El Almain, 625 from Kokoda.

At the end of World War II, The MCG, every seat, and all the standing room, is now full, with the additional 39,657 who died in that conflict.

And as we continue on through many other conflicts, those who die won t have room to sit down and they will have to move out onto the grass and the boundary in front of you.

In Korea 340 — 53 from the Battle of Kapyong alone.

From Vietnam 523 — 17 in one battle at Long Tan, 25 from the Battle of Coral-Balmoral.

And as we move through other conflicts, we will see 47 take their seats from Afghanistan, where a friend of mine from Doncaster, Greg Sher, who takes his seat on January 4, 2009, as well, Marcus Case who takes his seat on May 30, 2011, and is buried across the river in the Eltham Cemetery.

So right now, at this moment in time you were looking at 103,021 with an average age of just 19 or 20.

Lest we forget who you were, lest we forget what you did, lest we forget that you gave up all your tomorrows, so we can have our today.

But the other part of Anzac Day is just as important.

It s not about gratitude and memory.

It is about looking forward to the lives we want to live, to the country we want to build.

And when you do that, you wonder about their memories of home.

I know that their memory was a happy one, because it was a place called Australia.

And for many, it was a place called Warrandyte.

And that is a place that stood for something it still does.

A place that we will dedicate ourselves to be one that is worthy of their memory, worthy of their sacrifice and if required, one that is worth fighting for.”

Photos Bill McAuley and Anna Maree

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Stand apart but together for our Anzacs

Photo: Bill McAuley

IN THIS EVER-CHANGING climate of uncertainty, social distancing and working from home I would like to remind you of the importance of looking after those around us.

As the President of the Warrandyte RSL I would like to call on you all as a community to ensure we are caring for our families, friends, veterans, members of Anzac House and the elderly.

The priority of the Warrandyte RSL is to support veterans and their families during the coming months and difficult times ahead.

If you are aware of a veteran or family member who requires assistance, please contact us on (03) 9844 3567.

We will endeavour to do our best to support those in need.

In some cases, you may be required to request additional support from RSL Victoria.

They can be contacted on:
(03) 9655 5555.

Anzac Day

The Warrandyte RSL traditional Anzac Day service will be very different to what most of us are used to.

The community march along the main road to the Memorial RSL grounds has been cancelled.

Warrandyte RSL will hold a Commemorative Service, but we ask our local community to stay at home.

Anzac Day is not cancelled; we are asking families to commemorate the day at home by watching or listening to the Dawn Service on television, the internet, or on the radio.

We are also asking people to participate with a Stand-To gesture.

At the time of the Last Post bugle call, we are asking members of the community to stand to attention at the end of their driveway, or on their veranda, balcony or deck, with their right hand on their heart and then to stay there, with their head bowed for the one minute’s silence which follows.

It would also be great if families and individuals could take a selfie of themselves doing this and share it on social media with the hashtag #STANDTO.

Musicians are being urged to play the Last Post on their lawn at 6am.

Anzac Day can be a deep, meaningful and nearly spiritual experience for everyone.

While it is primarily the recognition of the camaraderie, mateships and sacrifices made by the ANZACs.

Remembering their sacrifice is particularly relevant given the sacrifices we are all being asked to make during this time, as the whole of humanity does what it can to combat the spread of COVID-19.

This year, we are unable to sell Anzac badges locally, at schools, or on the street.

We shall, however have tins (for donations), and Anzac Badges available at the counters at Quinton’s SUPA IGA.

If members of the community would like to buy the limited-edition Anzac biscuit tin, please ring the Warrandyte RSL on (03) 9844 3567.


ANZAC: The story of “Turkish” Charlie Ryan


I THOUGHT I knew the ANZAC story well but recently stumbled upon a new insight — the story of Charlie Ryan.

He was born at Killeen Station just north of Melbourne in 1853.

The son of a grazier, Charlie dedicated his life to medicine and the care of others.

He graduated as a surgeon from the University of Edinburgh in 1875.

Seeking adventure, Charlie sought medical experience with the Turkish Army in Constantinople (now Istanbul).

However, the Russo-Turkish war of 1877–1878 broke out and Charlie found himself in the Balkans at the siege of Plevna as a young military doctor.

Despite his brave caring of the wounded, he was eventually captured by the Russians at another front in Eastern Turkey.

After the war, Turkey honoured Charlie’s distinguished service with the Order of Mejidiye (4th class) and the Order of Osmanli, the second highest order in the Ottoman Empire.

A hero to the people of Turkey, he returned home to Melbourne in 1878 to become a successful civilian doctor.

He also was made the representative — similar to an ambassador — of the Ottoman Empire in Australia for some years.

He still liked army life and continued as a Captain in the Volunteer Medical Service.

Charlie was the doctor who tendered the wounded bushranger Ned Kelly, and after his execution — declared him deceased.

At the outbreak of World War 1, Charlie enlisted as the Senior Doctor for the 1st Division, Australian Imperial Force (AIF), and landed in Egypt just after his 61st birthday.

He had enlisted to fight the Germans.

Aboard the troopships bound for the ANZAC landings at a dinner for senior officers Charlie knew more than anyone how hard the Turks would fight to defend their homeland.

It prompted him to state: “If, after 40 years, I am now about to fight them, it is not because of a feeling of enmity, but because of orders I have received as a soldier”.

Clambering up the steep cliffs of Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, Charlie and the ANZACs landed on the peninsula to face the Turkish commander, Mustafa Kemal and his troops.

On May 19, the Turks launched a major attack which became a slaughter; over 3,000 Turks lay dead in no man’s land.

Both armies wanted to bury the dead as the putrid smell had become unbearable.

A one-day cease fire was declared on May 24 and on that day, both sides buried their dead in shallow graves.

This was the first time; the Turks and Australians came face to face and talked to each other.

There are diary entries about swapping Turkish tobacco for bully beef.

Respectfully, the seeds of comradeship between two countries were sown on that day — this still thrives today.

Charlie Ryan carefully attached his Ottoman Medals and, armed with only a box camera, proceeded to direct his medical staff tending the wounded.

Some Turks became seething, thinking he had stolen the decorations.

In an unused Turkish voice of 40 years, the distinguished looking doctor was able to placate the situation.

All stopped their gruesome tasks, time seemed suspended, the Turks remembered the “Hero of the battle of 93” — Charles “Plevna” Ryan.

Shortly after this infamous armistice, Charlie contracted dysentery and typhoid.

He recovered and was knighted by the King in 1916 and appointed the senior doctor of the Australian Army until November 11, 1918.

Charlie was the hero of two countries.

Major General Sir Charles Snodgrass Ryan KBE, CB, CMG, VD, died on October 23, 1926.

Turkish Charlie Ryan: Canakkale’s Anzac Hero written by John Gillam and Yvonne Fletcher, and beautifully illustrated by Lillian Webb, was published in 2018.

It is a wonderful book straddling this defining story of a little-known hero for both countries and it is a story every Australian should know, and cherish.

A copy of the book, as well as a special package for teachers can be purchased from


The true meaning of Anzac Day


WHEN ON United Nations Peacekeeping and Demining operations in Africa in 1994/5, I had the unique and pleasant opportunity, to spend a few days on leave at the spectacular Victoria Falls.

Going for a pre-dawn stroll, on Anzac Day in 1995, to pay my respects, I came upon three fellow visitors to this magnificent natural wonder.

The first was a tourist from Japan, we exchanged cordial pleasantries.

Next, was a robust and jovial German on his first trip to Africa — we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.

Finally, I bumped into an outgoing and friendly South African Boer, who was visiting the amazing Victoria Falls for the first time.

It made me reflect deeply — as these men were all former enemies of Australia.

It also made me reflect on the mammoth task of trying to rid a country (Mozambique) of the appalling remnants of war (landmines).

It took 20 years for Mozambique to be the first severely landmine affected country in the world to be declared “landmine free”.

How long does it take to declare ourselves free of the other effects of war?

Just before Sir “Weary” Dunlop, the great Australian Prisoner of War Doctor, passed away in 1993, I had the honour of hearing him speak at a formal regimental dinner at the Oakleigh Army Barracks.

He spoke with reverence and sincerity, of the need to forgive past enemies.

Despite witnessing horrendous atrocities during the latter campaigns of the Second World War, he had come to the understanding — that forgiveness is probably the greatest of human attributes.

War is the result of deep divides in society, and it is in peace, where we heal those divides, that our true spirit lives.