[World War I veterans recall the beginnings of the Returned Soldiers' Association in Wellington].

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Foundation members of the Returned Soldiers' Association (RSA), Mr. G. A. Lawrence, aged seventy-three, and Mr. E. Golding, aged seventy-seven, talk about the beginnings of the association in 1916.

Gilbert Lawrence came back from the war in January 1916, invalided back from Gallipoli. He talks about wanting to set something up where returning soldiers could get what they were entitled to, such as pensions. Many men came back to Wellington and needed accommodation. The women formed a committee and established a returned soldiers' hostel in Newtown and then on the Terrace, where it remained for some years.
He recalls there were about eight men at the first meeting.

Before the RSA badge was developed. they wore an armband, red in colour with a crown on it when they first got home. They were glad to get rid of that in exchange for the big badge.

Ernie Golding talks about men having nowhere to meet once they got home from the war. They met at the Alhambra Hotel in Cuba Street. Claude Batten and Mr Wilde and Mr Sievwright were early members of the movement.

They marched on Parliament in 1920, lead by Mr Sievwright. They went and saw the Premier Mr Massey and were able to get two suits of under-clothing, but had to go to Buckle Street for them.
Mr Golding says he was not at the Alhambra meeting, as he had been discharged, but believes it took place sometime before March 1916.
He says Claude Batten was one of the prime movers. Some returned men were practically destitute and had nothing to look forward to except their deferred pay, which they didn't collect until they were discharged.

After talking it over, they put up a notice at the Alhambra Hotel that a meeting would be held at rooms made available by the ladies of The Patriotic Society, down on Lambton Quay.

The first president was elected, Captain Donald Simson. They leased four houses on The Terrace at the top of Woodward Street by the gentlemen's club. There was always a bed there for the returned soldiers as no one else wanted them, and people looked down on them.

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Year 1966

Reference number 246830

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Ngā Taonga Korero Collection

Genre Interviews (Sound recordings)
Sound recordings

Credits Lawrence, Gilbert Alexander, Interviewee
Golding, Ernest Alexander, Interviewee
New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation (estab. 1962, closed 1975), Broadcaster

Duration 00:06:45

Date 1966

Subject Lawrence, Gilbert Alexander -- Interviews
Golding, Ernest Alexander -- Interviews
Batten, Claude Wilfred
Sievwright, Archibald Burnett
New Zealand Returned Soldiers' Association -- History
Soldiers -- New Zealand/Topical
Veterans -- Services for -- New Zealand/Topical
World War, 1914-1918 -- Veterans -- New Zealand
World War, 1914-1918 -- Repatriations