RSLA Women's Auxiliary celebrate 80 years

DEDICATED: RSLA Women's Auxiliary's Gail Wright and Ann Cash looking through the old photo album of 80 years of the group. Picture: Piia Wirsu

DEDICATED: RSLA Women's Auxiliary's Gail Wright and Ann Cash looking through the old photo album of 80 years of the group. Picture: Piia Wirsu

The women of the RSLA Women’s Auxiliary have been a force of positive energy for 80 years. 

The group, previously called the ANZAC Hostel Women’s League of Remembrance, has played a key role in supporting servicemen and veterans since it began in 1936. 

“I think the women felt that they needed to do something and then when the second world war started they started knitting socks and care parcels and all that to send away,” RSLA Women’s Auxiliary secretary Ann Cash said. 

The women established a hostel that ran for many years in Paterson Street, for men returned from the second world war – shell-shocked, damaged or with nowhere to go. 

They have also fundraised purchased, cooked, ran raffles, cake stalls and helped wherever needed. 

“They just were there for the men when they came home,” RSLA Women’s Auxiliary president Gail Wright said. 

“That’s all still being done today … it’s wherever we’re needed you’ve only got to ring us up and ask.”

The women have also born witness to the changes the decades have brought, each with their own war-damaged generation of soldiers. 

“Back in the first and second world war all the soldiers wore a uniform so you knew if it was a German or an English or an Australian, you could tell who you were fighting,” Ms Wright said. 

“Vietnam was totally different, they could be peasants by day and the soldiers would walk past them and they'd change into their black pyjamas, as they used to call them, and infiltrate the lines.”

Ms Wright said the soldiers today are facing the same challenges. 

She hopes to see some younger people join the Women’s Auxiliary. Most of the current group are wives of Vietnam veterans. 

“Anybody can join us if they want to, if they can spare that couple of hours once a month and maybe on a function night come and give us a hand, knit poppies for us, anything and we’d be grateful,” she said. 

Ultimately the dedicated group of women have a single aim – to help. 

“We get a great deal of satisfaction for the fact that we can achieve something to help,” Ms Wright said. 

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