RSL History Following the aftermath of World War I, wounded soldiers began returning home to find there was limited government support available to them.
Diggers felt that a united voice was needed to bring about change for returned servicemen and women. The RSL was formed – an independent, apolitical organisation run by its members, for its members and the ex-service community. The RSL proceeded to represent the interests of returned servicemen and women, lobbying the Government and providing welfare services.
Originally known as the Returned Sailors & Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA), the name was changed to the Returned Soldiers and Airman’s Imperial League of Australia (RSSAILA) in 1940. In 1965, the name was then changed to the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSLA). Finally, in 1990, the name was changed to the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL).
The RSL Badge:
The RSL badge is a symbol representing readiness at all times to render service to Queen and country and to former comrades. It can’t be purchased and may only be worn by those who have served their country.
The shield design is symbolic of the protection provided to those who wear it. Within the badge, red represents the blood ties of war that exist between comrades; white stands for the purity of the motives in joining the league – to render service without personal gain or ambition; and blue indicates a willingness to serve a comrade anywhere under the blue sky.
The wattle draws symbolism from its Australia roots, with the leek, the rose and the shamrock standing for Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland respectively.
Within the centre circle – a sailor, soldier, airman and servicewoman marching together with their arms linked in comradery depict all of the services and ranks marching together in unity.
The Ode of Remeberance:
The Ode for commemoration services is the famous fourth stanza from For the Fallen, a poem by the English poet and writer Laurence Binyon, which was first published in London’s The Times newspaper on 21 September 1914.
This compelling verse, which became the Ode of Remembrance in common usage across the Commonwealth, has been used in association with commemoration services since 1921:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.”
The Last Post:
In military tradition, The Last Post is the trumpet or bugle call sounded at 10pm each night to mark the end of the day’s activities.
At military funerals and commemorative services, such as Anzac Day and Remembrance Day, it is sounded as a final farewell and as a symbol that the duty of the dead is over, their day has drawn to a final close and they can rest in peace.
During the sounding of The Last Post all members in uniform are to stand to attention and salute. Armed parties are to be given the command to present arms.
At Remembrance Day ceremonies, The Last Post is to be sounded at 11am precisely.
Get up at once, get up at once, the bugle’s sounding, The day is here and never fear, old Sol is shining. The Orderly Officer’s on his rounds. (words to Rouse)
After the minute’s silence following The Last Post, the Rouse is sounded. The Rouse is traditionally the lively trumpet or bugle call to signal soldiers that it is time to rise and prepare for a new day.
The Rouse is played at Anzac Day services (except the Dawn Service), Remembrance Day and other commemorative services. As the Rouse sounds, flags should be slowly raised to the masthead.
Reveille is the more extended call played to awaken soldiers. From as long ago as 1600, it has stirred them from their sleep. Today it is ceremonial more than practical.
Reveille is sounded instead of the shorter Rouse at Anzac Day Dawn Services, symbolising the awakening of the dead in a better world and calling the living to return to duty.