Among Mates: Caulfield RSL
In the wake of the First World War, a generation of men returned to Australia. Irrevocably altered by their war experiences, many also found they had to contend with unemployment, debilitating injuries and trauma. It was this atmosphere that gave rise to the formation of small service clubs, with the protection of returned servicemen’s rights high on the agenda.
The 11th Australian General Hospital, set up to deal with the extraordinary number and severity of soldiers’ enduring injuries and illnesses, was situated in Caulfield. The hospital convalescents formed the basis of The Caulfield and District Returned Sailors and Soldiers Social Club, established in August, 1918. A year later, the club was chartered, and Caulfield went on to become one of the most prominent and influential RSL clubs in the country, with such members as Stan Savige, the founder of Legacy, and Harold Cobby, the WW1 Air Ace, and patrons such as Sir John Monash. Over half a dozen Victoria Cross winners were early members of the club.
The collection at Caulfield RSL is mainly a result of donations from members and their families. Many items are souvenirs of war, collected by the soldiers on their journeys, and include arms, uniforms, trench art, photographs, and documents.