Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19): Find out more about RSL LifeCare services. Read more
What is RSL Life Care? Find out
ww2-newspaper-1 | RSL LifeCare - provide care and service to war veterans, retirement villages and accommodation, aged care services and assisted living
September 03, 2019

80 years ago today

80 years ago today, Australians listened to their radios as Britain, and therefore Australia, declared war on Germany. Thousands of RSL LifeCare’s residents heard the radio broadcast with their own ears – a moment that would change the world and their own individual lives, forever. Here are a few of their memories…

We were next to a playground where the children would play and every day you would hear the children’s voices and that day, it’s amazing how different everything was. There wasn’t a dog barking, a child crying. And the silence had an effect – you thought “This is getting serious” and you knew something was about to happen. That happened at the end of August and then on the 3rd of September, war started.”

Colin Hilan from Kokoda Village, Ballina: “At the outbreak of war I was eight years of age and living in Ballina. I was attending Ballina Primary School and helped to dig diagonal trenches between the school fence and the roadway. We practiced getting from the classroom to the trenches and practiced knowing where sand, buckets, water and First Aid equipment was. At home we made block-out curtains. All the small vessels were confiscated and some late model cars too. We were given ration tickets for food, clothing and petrol and I remember many of the First World War diggers took an active part in the defence of the town through their membership of the VDC (Volunteer Defence Corp). During all of the years of the war a lot of the boys came home and then returned to the front lines.”


Colin Hilan as a young boy in Ballina


Cynthia Turner, resident of Kokoda Care Home Narrabeen, was a young girl living in England when the news was announced: “It was in the holiday time and a friend of mine, Margaret Pern, her family owned a little beach house down the coast and they invited me to go there in the summer holiday. There was the news that Hitler had been invading everywhere, it looked like he was going to invade Poland and if he did, we would go to war. So we were sitting down having lunch and Chamberlain came on [the radio] and we sat there and that was the speech. Before that we were warned that there might be gas, so we all carried gas masks on straps. When the war was declared all the people down there started going down to the beach and filling the buckets with sand, it was quite funny in a way. So they were coming back down to protect their doors in case the bombs came.”

Malcolm Stening, past resident at ANZAC Village, Narrabeen, was a newly graduated doctor and member of the Navy when war was declared. He was in London at the time, having travelled there as a ship’s surgeon on a cargo passenger ship: “London had reached the top of its entertainment – entertainment was everywhere, and that was the position before the war. August was the most beautiful month as far as weather was concerned. August in 1939 was exceptional. Everyone normally goes on holiday in August but they didn’t this time because everyone knew what was coming and they knew they were preparing for war and the entertainment went without expectation. A person was very lucky to be there at that time. Because I think we were seeing London at its best. Everything was just a matter of pleasure and fun.”

I’ll never forget when the children were evacuated from London just before war was declared. Oh that was an extraordinary day. All these children, and I think a lot of their pets, were taken out in trains – over a million children went out in one day. We were living in London House near Gravesend Road. We were next to a playground where the children would play and every day you would hear the children’s voices and that day, it’s amazing how different everything was. There wasn’t a dog barking, a child crying. And the silence had an effect – you thought “This is getting serious” and you knew something was about to happen. That happened at the end of August and then on the 3rd of September, war started.”

Lest We Forget.”


Colin Hilan today


Story by Helen Johnston

Blog Posts

Help for Vets in Need

Veterans’ Services

Find out more

Latest News

array(2) { [0]=> int(175) [1]=> int(41) }

Rapid Antigen Test kits now available to Aged Care providers.

The Department of Health is offering Rapid Antigen Test kits to aged care providers across NSW in high-risk Local Government Areas (LGAs). Rapid Antigen Testing...

Read more

RSL NSW members dig deep to support their fellow veterans

*This media release originally appeared on the RSL NSW website. RSL NSW veteran members have rallied to bolster life-changing support for veterans and their families...

Read more

Homes for Heroes comes home

After a two-year partnership with Wesley Mission delivering the life-changing Homes for Heroes program, RSL LifeCare Veteran Services has built its internal capabilities and is...

Read more

Veteran Employment a Focus in New South Wales

RSL LifeCare, has today announced that it is partnering with specialist career management firm, Right Management to deliver the RSL Employment Program in New South...

Read more

Riverina Veterans front and centre for RSL NSW and RSL LifeCare

RSL NSW and its partner charity RSL LifeCare have announced today that a veteran wellbeing centre will be established and operated by them in Wagga...

Read more

Aged Care Employee Day is a day to thank everyone at RSL LifeCare.

7th August is Aged Care Employee Day. This is a day for us to thank every person who works in our organisation and to acknowledge...

Read more

Horse Trekking Course – Trek 1, 2021 – Back in the saddle

ANZAC Day is a time of remembrance and camaraderie for many veterans; with emotions running high as they reflect on their service and the service...

Read more

Aged care workers should be vaccinated on site.

AGED care provider, RSL LifeCare, have applauded the Australian Government for their decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for staff however warned that more needs to...

Read more

Wal Williams awarded OAM.

Wal (Walter) Williams, resident of RSL LifeCare's ANZAC Village in Narrabeen, has been awarded an Order of Australia (OAM) for Services to the Veteran Community...

Read more

RSL LifeCare welcomes Mark Dickson as new Board Chairman.

RSL LifeCare announces Mr. Mark Dickson as new Board Chairman as part of a planned Chair succession, with Mr. Andrew Condon stepping down from his...

Read more

Chester Joint Release – Regional NSW Veterans Get Boost in Wellbeing Support

*This media release originally appeared on the Minister for Veterans' Affairs website. The Hon Darren Chester MP Minister for Veterans' Affairs Minister for Defence Personnel...

Read more

Nowra Veteran Centre Open for Business

Up to 20,000 veterans and their families will be able to access vital mental and physical wellbeing, housing and employment support services from today as...

Read more

Download a brochure

We'll never share your email address and you can opt out at any time, we promise

Career Application Single

  • Accepted file types: docx, doc, pdf, Max. file size: 50 MB.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Contact RSL DefenceCare,
we’re here to help.

Are you ready to explore a new operations role with extra benefits?

Take your career in a new direction RSL LifeCare.

Search for an operations role at an RSL LifeCare Residential Aged Care facility in the Southern NSW region. Take a look at all our current positions here.

1. 100% funding on participating certifications

Undertake a participating certification through the RSL LifeCare Earn and Learn Incentive Program1 and you could be eligible to have your learning fully funded.

2. Cash bonus of up to $1000 (less income tax).

Through the RSL LifeCare Sign-on Bonus, you could be eligible for two split payments of $500 (less income tax), when you start a new role with us.

Contact Homes for Heroes today