History of the Deception Bay RSL Sub Branch

The Deception Bay RSL Sub Branch was founded in 1976 after a group of ex-servicemen would gather on ANZAC Day for the Dawn Service outside of the Bowls Club.


1976 – a group of ex-servicemen started to gather each ANZAC DAY for a Dawn Service outside the Bowls Club in the front garden. The memorial was then located on the grounds. An oily rag used to be lit for the flame and invariably used to go out before the service was over.  

The group gradually built up and the gatherings increased to fill the garden and then the footpath and then onto the roadway.  

From this group came the impetus to form a sub-branch in the Bay. The inaugural meeting was held in the CWA Hall on Thursday 6th June 1983. The meeting was chaired by Mr. F.G. Ferguson, and the attendance book was signed by 38 including the then SED President and Secretary.  

Some of the names were well-known identities around the Bay- Eric Michels, Albert Basnett, Cec Walters, Bill Perren, Eric Foster, to name just a few (All now deceased). Eric Foster was one of the first TRUSTEES.  Eric Michels was the first President of the sub-branch. The sub-branch moved to the Community Hall Supper Room for meetings from the October 1983 meeting, and it was this time that the Women’s Auxiliary formed. The sub-branch continued to meet then on a Thursday night, and the attendances averaged about 15.  

July 1986 saw Stephen Boucher sign on for the first time and he was duly elected as Secretary. Stewart Millikin was President for a number of years and was eventually awarded Life Membership of the League and the first for the sub-branch.

November 1988 saw the meetings move to the Bowls Club. Over several years the sub-branch raised funds for the relocation of the War Memorial to its present site.  The annual Dawn Service for Anzac Day has continued, and our service now attracts a crowd of 3000 and involves all the schools in the area.  We are also conducting commemorative services for Vietnam Veterans Day and Remembrance Day.  

The AGM in 1994 saw Brett Ingram elected President; Peter Jones elected Secretary, and Stephen Boucher, Treasurer. Sub-branch membership at that time was 19.

The following year it was decided to try Saturday afternoon meetings in an attempt to increase participation. This brought about our return to the CWA hall where the sub-branch continues to meet to this day.

Membership has continued a steady climb since to a maximum of 73 and with our current membership standing at 64. Stephen Boucher and Peter Jones were awarded Life Membership of the League in 2005 and our immediate past President John Whipp AM CSM was awarded Life Membership in 2009. At the Life Members Luncheon conducted by the Brisbane North District on the 19th of September this year, Bill Clayton was awarded Life Membership of the League.  

Our finances have steadily improved over the years through the hard work of Stephen Boucher, Bill Clayton, Clive Cass, and their small band of helpers who conduct a fundraising stall in the local shopping centres and a small weekly BINGO session.  This stall has virtually become a fortnightly occurrence and has been responsible for the bulk of our increase in membership.  

We often hear the statement “WE DIDN'T KNOW THERE WAS AN RSL IN THE BAY”.  This has been our biggest obstacle over the years.  The general public and even the ex-service and veteran community believe that the RSL is the Club down the road.  They are not aware of the work the sub-branch does for its members and is the real heart of the RSL.

In 1991 the sub-branch was granted a lease on a block of ground. Several attempts had been made to establish a much-needed PHYSICAL PRESENCE in the BAY over the years, and these had all failed for one reason or another. There was also pressure being applied to possibly take back the land as we had not done anything with it. In 2004 we were given 4 years to do something, or the lease would be revoked. 

In June 2005 the sub-branch prepared an application for Community Retirement Home funding through RSL Queensland Branch.  This was done after the encouragement of the previous District President and State Vice President Ron Glew, who sadly is no longer with us to see the end result of having passed away in 2009. This application was held up for one reason or another and was eventually misplaced.  The application was updated and resubmitted in June 2007.

In October 2007, RSL Qld. Branch State Council meeting approved our application to fund the building of 4 Community Retirement Units on the land, and we gratefully acknowledge and appreciate this funding.  It took all of 2008 to get our development application through the local Council, and the building of these units commenced in January 2009.

The units were completed in August 2009, and our first tenant moved in towards the end of August. The RSL badge was attached in September. The complex was officially opened by the then State Deputy President Terry Meehan on the 21st  November 2009.

Council approval of stage 2 of this project allowed us to build a storage/office facility on site. The slab for this was poured during the construction of the units. Our application for some funding through Jupiter’s Casino Community Fund to complete it was unsuccessful and we were then successful with an application for some funding through the District by way of a grant and a loan on the 5th November 2009.

The ability to have some office space was most welcome, and the sub-branch was finally able to be listed in the telephone directory, and have that “PRESENCE” in THE BAY even though we have been here now for 30 years.  Peter Jones has been Secretary of the sub-branch since 1994 and was heavily involved with all the efforts to have that PRESENCE in the Bay we desperately sought and it gave a great deal of satisfaction the day the RSL badge was attached to the brickwork of the letterboxes.  We would like to again acknowledge the efforts of our current District President Vic Reading in getting the funding approved by the State Council and RSL Qld.  

Although we now have that physical presence in the Bay, any change to the statement ” We didn’t know there was an RSL in the Bay” has not really materialised. The public perception of the RSL being the Club down the road is still alive and well. We are currently in the process of establishing our website so that we can have a virtual presence as well. Hopefully, this will attract the younger veterans in our community to enquire as to the benefits of joining our smaller sub-branch. 

The Sub-Branch has and continues to provide services for our members – we have qualified Pension and Welfare Officers, and they assist when needed. We visit ill members in the hospital and at home. We keep the members informed of vital information through a monthly newsletter.  Our membership is increasing in age, and with that comes the inevitable slowdown in lifestyle.

I would like you to acknowledge one of our members who say that “that is just a load of nonsense” and at 101 years of age, Sam Heywood is still a keen participant in sub-branch activities, since transferring to us several years ago.

As you have heard, the sub-branch is alive and well. The unit rental arrangement with State Branch gives the sub-branch a boost in its financial status, but we still rely on our fundraising efforts of badge and merchandise sales.  We are even venturing into the sausage sizzle game at Bunning’s at their new store at North Lakes on the Saturday before remembrance day and with also the possibility of badge and merchandise sales there as well.

The sub-branch has plans underway to commemorate the centenary of Anzac in 2015. A commemorative memorial is to be erected on the foreshore with funds from the Federal government’s Petrie electoral centenary of Anzac grants scheme and assistance from the Moreton Bay Regional Council.  We also aim to commence a memorial walk similar to that on the headland at Caloundra as part of this project.

May the sub-branch continue to do its good work for many years into the future.   You never know after all the strategic communications planning that has been undertaken in recent months is put into action, we might even be able to hear the comment “Heard there is an RSL sub-branch in the bay – how do I join?”