A Long History in Our Community
In 1919, after the demobilisation march, an organisation was formed that we now know as the Penrith RSL Sub-Branch. At the time, it was known as the “Penrith Soldiers Club” and was part of the “Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA). The first Charter was awarded in 1920.
Later that decade the “Penrith Soldiers Club” changed their name to the “Penrith Returned Soldiers Club”, with an agenda to conduct commemorative services for Armistice Day (now known as Remembrance Day) and ANZAC Day services.
In 1940, the name of the League was changed to the Returned Sailors’, Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia (RSSAILA), and Penrith was made a Sub-Branch.
For many years, the Sub-Branch operated from the “Old Drill Hall” in Henry St, Penrith, prior to purchasing property in Lethbridge St. This led to the opening of the Club, Ltd. in 1960.
In 1965, the name once again changed, this time to the familiar Returned Services League of Australia (RSL).
It is believed that the first Schools ANZAC was conducted in 1975.
In the year 2000, the Sub-Branch sold their property (bricks, mortar and land) to the current Penrith RSL Club, Ltd.
To date, there have been 23 Sub-Branch members awarded Life Membership to the RSL, and one Life Member transferred in.
Two of the Sub-Branches Life Members – A.G. (Jim) Kinder MBE and R.A. (Alan) Ellison BEM – have been awarded the RSL Meritorious Medal.
A brief history of Memory Park War Memorial
One of the first projects that the members of the Penrith RSSILA were involved with was the development of a War Memorial in Penrith (Memory Park), and plaques honouring those that served in WWI. The first dedication was by His Excellency, Sir. Walter Davison KCMG in July 1922.
In 1989, Memory Park Memorial was re-developed to include the names of deceased Penrith servicemen from WWII, Korea and Vietnam. This was dedicated by His Excellency, Rear Admiral Sir. David Martin KCMG, AO.
During 1995, an additional commemorative service was conducted to recognise the 50th anniversary of the ending of WWII. This extra service led to an increase in participation at subsequent commemorative services, making it necessary to redevelop the Memory Park Memorial once again. During this year, the Sub-Branch also planted a number of Canadian Redwood Pines at Tench Reserve, with a plaque to memorialise this important anniversary.
In 2004 the Sub-Branch raised a committee to oversee the redevelopment of the Memory Park Memorial. The new Memorial was designed and built by local sculptor Terrence Plowright. The work commenced in early 2007, and was completed in late 2008. The dedication of the redeveloped War Memorial was by Her Excellency, Prof. Marie Bashier AO, CVO.
Penrith City Council completed the landscaping of Memory Park in 2013, and the Memorial was re-dedicated by Her Excellency, Prof. Marie Bashier AO, CVO, to include the dedication of a Korean War Plaque.
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Factsheets. http://factsheets.dva.gov.au/