By Taylah Eastwell
A local historian, who has spent 30 years researching the history of Lilydale RSL, has compiled his findings in a new book to commemorate 100 years of the Lilydale sub-branch.
Mt Evelyn RSL Secretary and Historian Anthony McAleer said he was commissioned by late Lilydale RSL president Don Parsons to compile the book as a way to commemorate the centenary milestone.
“It all started in the lead up to the clubs centenary, which was happening in 2019, they wanted to produce a history of the club seeing as 100 years is a significant event,” Mr McAleer said.
“We got a grant from Yarra Ranges Council that helped cover the cost of researching, writing and designing the book, and the RSL have funded the printing,” he said.
Titled ‘A Century of Service’, the book tells the story of the club, formed in early 1919 by World War I veterans at a meeting at Lilydale’s Athenaeum Hall.
“The RSL was formed by a group of WWI vets soon after they returned home. Ralphe Goode was the first man to enlist in the AIF from Lilydale in 1914, and when he returned in late 1918, he got together with a number of other veterans and formed the RSL, with their very first meeting being in the Athenaeum building in Lilydale,” Mr McAleer explained.
“The history is certainly a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows, it is really only still around because over the years hundreds of members have dedicated themselves to the values of the RSL and serving and looking after their mates, that’s all that’s kept it going over the years,” he said.
Mr McAleer said around 400 copies have been printed, which will be available on fundraising tables at shopping centres when RSL members sell their ANZAC tokens and at the Lilydale club.
The book will be launched on Sunday 11 April at 11.00am in the Athenaeum Theatre, in Lilydale, with special guest Jaime Twidale, CEO of RSL Victoria.
Later that afternoon the club will also unveil the new marble soldier on the top of the Lilydale War Memorial at a special ceremony at 2.00pm at the Ralph Goode Reserve in Main Street, Lilydale.