The impressive achievements and sacrifices made by Brigadier Arthur Varley during the two world wars are clearly signs of a heroic, generous, thoughtful and considerate leader of soldiers.
He led his soldiers on the battlefield with distinction and subsequently endeavoured to protect and nurture his men against the background of abuse and maltreatment by the Japanese. He has, forever, engraved his name in the chronicles and stories of the ANZAC tradition.
His legacy of commitment and dedication to the cause and his men, has been acknowledged by the community of Inverell and the Inverell RSL Sub Branch in naming the main sporting oval in Inverell - Varley Oval.
A memorial has been erected in his name and stands proudly in the confines of this fine sporting venue. Memorabilia has also been gathered and is prominently displayed in the military museum in the Pioneer Village.
Chris Clancy's letter of September 9 2020 is a poignant reminder to us all of the contributions made by our soldiers in war and reminds ex-servicemen in the Inverell RSL Sub Branch to carefully review their involvement and commitment to commemorations of all fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen, nurses and all other military personnel in all theatres of war, peacekeeping and peacemaking.
The State Branch of the RSL has placed important significance on the remembrance/commemorative code in its constitutional releases. I quote - "Like nearly every country in the world, Australia has a system of honours and awards to its citizens can be recognized for excellence, achievement or meritorious service. We give honours to recognise, celebrate and say thank you to those who made a difference, those who achieve their best and those who serve others."
The constitution goes on to say that Australian honours are unique and were designed for the community to make nominations. Anyone can nominate an Australian citizen for an honour and this system is free of patronage and political influence.
The Chris Clancy letter makes mention of the possibility of an annual spring festival, featuring community games, education initiatives as well as awarding scholarships to deserving applicants and an outreach program to welcome and accommodate international visitors.
In relation to highlighting the service of Brigadier A Varley MC, the Inverell RSL Sub branch along with most other sub branches, commemorate the fallen on ANZAC Day, Remembrance Day, VP Day, Vietnam Veterans Day and other gazette days which embraces all the fallen in a particular campaign or theatre of war.
There is reluctance to focus entirely on individuals in a commemorative initiative because this focus could be misconstrued and the value and contribution of other servicemen and women demeaned or diminished which is contrary to the aspirations and wishes of all service personnel. The organisation of the RSL prides itself on inclusiveness and this is the tradition our organisation is keen to maintain.
Having looked at Brigadier Varley's service records, I am firmly of the opinion that he too, would much prefer a commemorative initiative that includes ALL the fallen in a particular theatre of war. Here was a man who did not seek to obtain personal acclaim, awards or prominence.
Furthermore, Chris Clancy raises the spectre of a continuing annual event to honour Brigadier A Varley MC on Varley Oval itself and if Chris wishes to purse this initiative then he should make representations to the community and the Inverell Shire Council.
His educational interest and outreach proposals are commendable and we all agree that the life and service of Brigadier Varley is worthy of study and research and would be a fitting example for students to pursue. Once again, these proposals have merit and I recommend that Chris Clancy make the necessary approaches to authorities and teachers to act on his suggestions.
Chris Makes mention that Brigadier Varley's records and memorabilia are "languishing" in the military museum in the Pioneer Village.
The military museum in its current location has, admittedly, some disadvantages but despite these limitations, the curator has in our opinion done a sterling job to promote the museum and its memorabilia to the community in Inverell. It will no doubt please Chris to hear that negotiations for an alternative museum location have commenced and we are awaiting a favourable outcome.
In addition the memorial plaque dedicated to the service and sacrifice of Kathleen Neuss is being restored in the garden precinct of the RSM Club. The memorabilia associated with this exceptional lady will hopefully find a more prominent place in the renovated museum down the track.
I thank Chris Clancy for his letter and hope that he will take up the challenges of implementing some or all of his proposals.