The RSL was formed in 1916 and originally known as the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (R.S.S.I.L.A.). After several name changes, the League finally became known as the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL). The League’s motto is “The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance”. The Morwell RSL Sub-Branch was formed by a group of Boer War and First World War Veterans in 1919. After spending 12 months consolidating its membership, the Sub-Branch applied for affiliation with the Victorian Branch R.S.S.I.L.A. and was chartered on Saturday, 1st January 1922. The first President was David White, a Boer War Veteran and well known local identity. It has been very active since that date by committing itself to provide welfare and support, including pensions, medical assistance, accommodation and suitable employment for the sick, wounded and needy Returned Service Veterans and their families. Members of the Sub-Branch originally held their meetings in various halls and locations around the district until they purchased a small property in Elgin Street Morwell from Mrs Martha Billingsley.
The Morwell RSL Sub-Branch’s membership and welfare work increased after the Second World War when many younger veterans joined. It was during these early days in the late 1940’s that a group was formed called the “Young Diggers”. Together with the newly formed Women’s Auxiliary, their main aim was to raise funds to build a Morwell RSL Memorial Hall. It was to be used as a meeting place for the Sub-Branch members and a centre point of entertainment for the community. Their efforts were also rewarded by Mrs Martha Billingsley, who generously donated a parcel of land on the corner of Elgin and Tarwin Streets, adjacent to the existing Sub Branch’s property.
Architects for the building project was the company “Best Overend”; their local office was located in Avondale Road. Morwell RSL member and “Best Overend” employee, Mr. Stan Frew, acted as the architect’s local representative. Mr Frew advised the Sub-Branch’s monthly meeting on Thursday, 9th October 1952, that plans for the project had been finalised. The membership then gave its approval for tenders to be called and a tender notice for the project appeared in the Morwell Advertiser edition dated Thursday, 23rd October. The successful contractor was T. W. Morris and Son from Murrumbeena and they commenced construction early in February, 1953. The building was completed and officially opened by Major-General Sir Clive Steele, KBE, DSO and VD on Sunday, September 20th 1953.
For many years Saturday Night Dances were conducted in the Morwell RSL Hall and these became part of the “Casbah Club”. Later the Sub-Branch obtained a full liquor licence and the Club continued to grow. During the past 90 years there have been many changes to the Sub-Branch’s committee, membership and the overall building itself. The majority of the original building and hall is now known as the “ANZAC Function Room”. The original concept of “Serving Still” has remained unchanged and we now have an RSL Sub-Branch and building known to all as the Morwell RSL, of which the members and community can be really proud.
Membership of the Sub-Branch is now open to all persons who have served or are servingin our Defence or Allied Forces, along with their family members and others who wish to join as Service, Affiliate, Social or Community Members.