At the Soldiers Club in Sydney on the 10th of September 1915, Brigadier E.T. Wallack suggested to a number of Returned Soldiers that they should form an Association. The suggestion was warmly received and before the men dispersed, the Returned Soldiers Association was formed with Brigadier Wallack as its first Patron.
This Returned Soldiers Association was the foundation upon which the present Returned & Services League was built.
It is believed that Mr. Sam Dally was the first serviceman to return to Wollongong from World War 1, around Christmas 1915, and from that date onwards the Association undertook the task of arranging “welcomes” to all the servicemen upon their return.
One month later, on the 2nd of December 1916, elections for the forthcoming year were held and the following Office bearers were appointed:
President – Mr. J. J. Kelly
Vice-President – “Gunner” Graham
Trustees – Comrades Beatson, Figtree, Powell
There the matter stood until the meeting of the 9th of February 1918, when Comrade Hutchison moved and Comrade Graham seconded:
“That the R.S.A. of Wollongong affiliate with the New South Wales Branch of the Returned Sailors & Soldiers Imperial League of Australia”. This was carried.
The Federation of the various Returned Soldiers Organisations took place about September 1916, and it is interesting to note that at the meeting of the local Association held on the 4th of November 1916, the following motion was carried:
“That the Name of the Branch change from the ‘lllawarra Returned Soldiers Association’ to ‘Wollongong Branch Returned Soldiers Association’: – the elected Officers to carry on in their respective posts.”
The first mention of the “Returned Soldiers & Sailors League” was at a meeting held on the 30th of May, 1917, with the Sub-Branch Secretary being requested to write to the R.S.A. in Sydney for further information. Later that year, at the 14th of December meeting, a motion is recorded:
Moved by Comrade Kelly
Seconded by Comrade Graham:-
“That this Association affiliate with the R.S. & S. L.”
However, an amendment by Comrade Hutchison: “That the question be held over until the By-Laws and Constitution of the R.S. & S.L. be received” was carried.
Hence from these early meetings the present City of Wollongong Sub-Branch came into being, and the generally accepted date of its formation is the· 1st of January 1917.
However, the original Charter was not issued until the 14th of February 1919, making the City of Wollongong Sub-Branch one of the oldest continuous sub-Branch’s in NSW