Ballina RSL Sub-branch president John ‘Mac’ McCallum (left), RSL state president Don Rowe, Keith Payne VC of Mackay, and Ballina RSL Sub-branch life member Bill Stanford at the memorial.
Ballina RSL Sub-branch president John ‘Mac’ McCallum (left), RSL state president Don Rowe, Keith Payne VC of Mackay, and Ballina RSL Sub-branch life member Bill Stanford at the memorial. DAVID NIELSEN

We still remember them

MEMORIALS, large or small, bring to mind the sacrifice of mankind.

These words, in a speech made by Victoria Cross recipient Keith Payne at the rededication of the Ballina RSL Memorial on Sunday, had special significance for the Ballina RSL Sub-branch president John McCallum.

The memorial needed rebuilding.

“It was getting old and had cancer in the cement,” Mr McCallum said.

Refurbishment of the memorial that sits alongside the Richmond River coincided with the 90th anniversary of the chartering of the Ballina RSL Sub-branch.

Bill Stanford, 87, of Ballina, was there to lay a wreath at the base of the memorial.

Mr Stanford signed up to fight in the war on June 20, 1940. He ended up as a stoker in the navy where he served for five years.

“I never had a teenage life. I was 17 when I joined up,” he said.

State president of the RSL, Don Rowe, unveiled the memorial then ex-service men and women and guests were invited to lay wreaths. Ballina mayor Phillip Silver laid a wreath on behalf of the councillors and staff of Ballina Shire Council

Mr Payne summed up the day.

“As long as those who are left look upon all memorials and bow our heads in prayer and remember those who were shot to pieces - this is the legacy of war.”

Mr Payne, 76, is the last living recipient of the imperial (British) Victoria Cross.

Also in attendance yesterday was state vice-president of the RSL Bob Crosthwaite, and chief executive of the RSL NSW branch, Chris Perrin.

Grey skies loomed over the proceedings but Mr McCallum said he had asked 'the big fella upstairs' to keep an eye on the weather.

His prayers were answered.



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