By Ben Donaldson
This year’s Anzac Day marked 100 years since the first service was held in Warkworth in 1916.
The town hall, just five years old at that time, was the venue until 1922 when the service moved to the Mahurangi River, where a memorial had been built the previous year on Armistice Day November 11.
The memorial was moved to its current location on Church Hill in 1931 and services have been held next to the rotunda ever since.
From World War II onwards, servicemen gathered at the Warkworth Anglican Church and marched to the memorial before heading to the RSA.
The RSA building was known as ‘the hut’, which was a recreation building funded by the National Patriotic Board and built in 1943.
During the war, the hut was mainly used by American soldiers as most New Zealand soldiers were away preparing for a possible Japanese landing.
The hut functioned as the RSA building and one of the town’s main social centres until 1987, when it was demolished to make way for the construction of the current RSA building.
Three returned servicemen have been RSA members since World War II when the hut was built. They are Trevor Dill, Phil Copestake and Norrie Wyatt.
RSA members remember one fallen soldier from the district every Friday evening before the Ode is recited.
RSA club manager Robbie Blair noted that this year also marked 100 years since New Zealand expeditionary forces landed at the Western Front, where 63 soldiers from the Warkworth community died.
“We at the RSA are heartened by the ever increasing attendances at Anzac Day services each year to honour our returned service men and women,” Robbie says.