In celebrating and giving thanks for the life of the deceased, a funeral service assists the bereaved in coping with grief. The RSL may conduct a funeral ritual segment for its members that highlights the services of the deceased to his country, both in conflict and in peace, so that the bereaved will be proud of the veteran’s contribution and the RSL’s acknowledgement of it.
A funeral ritual may only be conducted for a deceased member with the prior consent of the deceased member’s family. For a full description of the Funeral Ritual which may be conducted for deceased RSL Service Members, please click on this paragraph.
Below are some details regarding the responsibility, preparation and other matters to be concidered when conducting an RSL Funeral Ritual.
Who’s Responsible for Conducting the Ritual?
It is traditional practice for the member’s Sub-Branch President to conduct the ritual but circumstances may cause the President to delegate this function to another RSL person or, if appropriate, Women’s Auxiliary or Affiliate member.
If a Sub-Branch is unable to conduct the ceremony it MUST arrange for someone else to do it (some Sub-Branches have a Civil Celebrant in reserve). The RSL has no obligation to do the Ritual for non-members.
What Preparation is Required by the Sub-Branch?
- Arrange either for a Bugler or recording to sound the Last Post and Reveille. Most Funeral Directors have such a recording. If not, ANZAC House Trading has them available.
- Ensure sufficient poppies or other flowers are available. Replenish suppliers of ritual poppies from Appeals Department at ANZAC House if required.
- Research the deceased member’s service in the Armed Forces & the RSL for the eulogy. Sources are family, unit association (get address from ANZAC House) & the History Sections of the Armed Forces Records Offices, phone number as follows:
- ARMY – (03) 9282 4999
- NAVY – (02) 6266 5968
- AIR FORCE – (02) 6266 5850
For the deceased member’s RSL record and service, contact the late member’s Sub-Branch or membership Office at ANZAC House.
- Contact the Minister or Celebrant to arrange the RSL Rituals in the format of the service.
- Give the Funeral Director or person responsible, a copy of the Ritual with cue words marked to ensure that the Last Post and Reveille are sounded at the correct place in the service.
- Arrange for people to hand out poppies and for one member to move promptly to lay the first poppy after you place yours and say, “We place it here in abiding memory“.
- The undertaker will drape the casket with an Australian Flag
Conducting the Ritual
- Introduce yourself and express condolences to the family on behalf of the RSL.
- Speak into the microphone and address the congregation except when saying the lines of “O Valiant Hearts“, when it is preferable to address the casket.
- When approaching the lectern to begin the ritual and when leaving it to resume your seat, halt at the foot of the casket and bow your head in salute.
- On leaving the church or funeral parlour, RSL members leaving the church may form a Guard of Honour between the door of the church and the hearse through which the casket will be borne during the final hymn.
- On arrival at the cemetery RSL members may again form a Guard of Honour or, if the distance is too great, walk on either side of the casket as it is carried to the gravesite.
- Distribution of poppies is at the discretion of the Sub-Branch. Some confine the issue to RSL members, some give to all who wish to pay a final tribute.
- Medals are not normally worn except when the deceased is being accorded Military Honours when servicemen will wear medals and veterans should confirm this. If the family asks that medals be worn, then Sub-Branches should accede to their wish.
- If Masonic or legacy rituals are being conducted, ask that they precede the RSL Ritual to ensure that Last Post and Reveille are the finale.