History

History of the Sub-Branch:

Founder of the Sub-Branch: Earnest Keith White was the founder and first President of the Gosford Returned and Services League Sub-Branch. He served as a Captain and Adjutant of 4 Battalion, Australian Imperial Force France (MID in Sir Douglas Haig's Orders). He was also the founder in 1936 and first federal president of the Australian-American Association. In 1943, he was founder of and President of the Liberal Democratic Party which later combined with others to form the Liberal Party.

A preliminary meeting was held in November 1919 to inform potential ex- servicemen of the intent to form a Sub-Branch and the first official meeting was held in December 1919 at which Captain White was confirmed as the foundation President Land was donated by Dr James Paul located behind the old Anglican Church opposite the Cenotaph as we currently know it. The Brisbane Water District Club and the sub-branch were one and the same at this time in history. It consisted of a caretakers quarters, auditorium, a billiard room containing two billiard tables and an enclosed veranda, The good Doctor put a covenant on the property that the premises would not permit the sale of spirituous liquor. However, being ex-servicemen, they were a resourceful lot and soon identified a downstairs room as an informal bar area, which provided members with copious amounts of beer known as "MUDGEE MUD".

The Early Years 1919 to 1929. Click here to read Minutes of Meetings from 1919 to 1929

This was beer brewed in Mudgee and as the name suggests this was a fairly accurate description of its taste and texture. At one stage, a caretaker at the club, Charlie Mills was down at the bar with a mate one night They had just opened a fresh bottle of beer before the others arrived. After drinking a glass each, Charlie poured the last of the beer into his glass and out came a huge blowfly, Needless to stay, Charlie was not well that evening hut surprisingly, blokes still drank the famous Mudgee Mud. Another brew, which was brewed in Lithgow was also available, however Geoff can guarantee that it was worse than Mudgee Mud. They avoided any breach of the covenant by pre selling coupons off site which were then redeemed at the bar for the appropriate brew or spirits. (This must have been organised by Engineers who have a reputation for being a resourceful lot.) The sub-branch met monthly as it does to this day. The caretaker would provide a meal and drinks were also available at the Brisbane Water District Club.

The sub-branch decided to start indoor bowls, however the only area large enough for the bowls mats was the veranda and it was six foot short. Volunteer labour then set to work and extended the veranda by the required six foot to accommodate the bowls. The two billiard tables are still used in the snooker room of the licensed club to this day. The club and sub-branch continued as a facility which provided good fellowship as well as a venue for sub-branch meetings until in 1958, the then secretary Owen Gannon initiated moves to obtain a licence for the club despite serious reservations expressed by the World War 1 members. About thirty members then contributed one pound each towards the cause. However, it was to be another twelve months and a contribution of an additional two pounds per person before any real action got underway The licensed club and the sub-branch were always kept as separate entities because the World War 1 members had no confidence in the state body and this culture was carried on by the \World War 2 members out of respect. (This in hindsight may not have been tile best outcome for the future financial independence of the sub-branch). The history of both is so intertwined to the point where they really cannot be separated.

However, not everyone was happy with the club's move to obtain a liquor licence. The club's first choice of premises in Gosford's Mann Street was thwarted by the Mayor Mr P M Schwartz and his wife Amy. The club had arranged to lease two storeys of a council building for the new licensed club however; the ground floor housed the Women's Rest Centre which was run by Amy.

It seemed that there was no way Amy was going to let drunken, ex- soldiers harass her women. She simply organised petitions to stop the club from opening. In the meantime, while the dub was looking for new premises, they brought a block of land on the corner of Donnison Street and Henry Parry Drive. Although the land was to cost about four thousand pounds, the club had yet to pay any money for it when the premises in Mann Street were offered to them. Bert Ashwell, who was then a real estate agent, sold the Donnison Street land for a profit without paying a penny on the land to begin with. Gosford Town Centre now stands on that site. The new club, housing the sub-branch office was finally opened in 1960 on the site of the disused Richardson Ford Garage. On 22 January 1973 a sudden fire outbreak quickly swept through the club.

The building was gutted within minutes and was beyond restoration. This included a lot of sub-branch records kept in the sub-branch office" So it was that following the purchase of the Galaxy Motel site on ten acres of land at West Gosford the new Gosford RSL Club opened on 18 July 1973 and the sub-branch continued its parallel existence and occupies office space in the club to this day. The contribution by the sub-branch to the ex-service community and the community in general has developed over time and really took off in the 1970s following the return of the Viet Nam veterans.

There was recognition that a more comprehensive support network needed to be put in place to address the issues that arose as far as pensions and welfare initiatives were concerned. Today, the sub-branch provides pension and welfare advice and support to all ex-service personnel free of Charge and on a Voluntary basis. Suitably trained sub-branch volunteers are available in office facilities provided by the licensed club to conduct interviews and complete all documentation to pursue various claims on behalf of all veterans and their families where appropriate. To this end, the sub-branch is also appreciative of the support provided by the local VAN office.

The sub-branch also conducts regular visits to nursing homes and hospitals within it defined area spending time with any identified OVA patients and delivering them pieces of fruit This has been proven to provide a degree of comfort to these people in that they are aware that the sub-branch is thinking of them at all times. On a more sombre note but regarded as a very important activity, the sub- branch is also at the call of local funeral directors to provide volunteers who are able to deliver the RSL service component of a funeral of a veteran as it is every service person's right to be afforded this honour.

The sub-branch partners with, or sponsors a number of groups who make invaluable contributions to the fabric of our local society and therefore are a valuable Dart of the sub-branch history