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Calling all family members of honour roll diggers

The loss of the iconic Diggers on the Darling premises in 2021 saw the Bourke community lose one of its most popular meeting places and decades of precious wartime memorabilia.

Photographs and artefacts from Bourke families whose forebears served in world wars and military operations over many decades went up in flames.

Since then, the community and the Bourke RSL has asked for anyone with historic items relating to the defence forces to donate them so the story of Bourke’s contribution to the defence of the nation can again be put on display.

Bourke RSL President, Victor Bartley, is now calling for descendants of a very special group of young men to come forward with information and memorabilia.

“I have a wooden honour roll from the old Hales and Co Store in the main street, where the Home Hardware shop now stands,” he said.

“On it is a list of names of the young men who signed up to fight in the Second World War.

“Hales Store was a general-purpose store that sold just about everything, in the days when Bourke was one of the biggest wool producing and exporting areas in the world and we had three steam trains and three diesel trains coming to town every week.

“We had the meatworks, and all the related businesses and Bourke was a big centre for all that industry back then.

“In the Second World War, many young men and women signed up for service including many young staff members at Hales Store.

“There must be descendants in Bourke, the granddaughters and grandsons and other family members who have memorabilia.

“When Hales and Co closed, that honour roll was stored after the former RSL closed.

“On Anzac Day, the Bourke Bowling Club always hosts the breakfast after the Dawn Service and the club has a strong relationship with the RSL.

“The Bourke Bowling Club board of directors has agreed to donate an area for a display on Anzac Day and we would like to hang this honour roll and any other photographs and items that people would like to donate.

“Unfortunately, there are no names on many of the photographs, but the honour roll will have names of people who worked in Bourke at the time and we would love to honour them by including photographs in the Anzac Day display,” Mr Bartley said.

Anyone who would like to contribute can contact Victor Bartley on 0429 306 633.


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