A significant piece of Australia’s heritage has been stolen from NSW RSL headquarters in Sydney.
The first flag to be carried ashore to Gallipoli by Australian troops has been stolen from ANZAC House.
The Sydney Morning Herald article on Thursday 6 August stated:
The first flag carried ashore by Australian troops at Gallipoli in World War I has been stolen from the NSW RSL’s Sydney office.
State RSL president Don Rowe said staff noticed the flag missing from Anzac House Castlereagh St, in Sydney’s CBD, on Monday.
It was in storage with other memorabilia at the RSL’s headquarters while renovations were carried out on the war memorial in Hyde Park, where it is usually on show.
Mr Rowe said the flag was taken ashore by Australian troops of the 9th battalion, 3rd brigade, at Gallipoli and carried throughout the campaign from 1915.
The flag bears the signatures of several historical figures including Albert Windsor who became King George VI.
While the flag has been valued for insurance it is the sentimental value that means the most, Mr Rowe said.
“You can’t put a value on it. It’s historical as well as sentimental, something that’s irreplaceable,” he told AAP on Thursday.
“And it’s really got no value to the person who took it because no one will want to buy it. No one will want to touch it because… the word’s out that it’s been taken.
“It’s significant to the nation not to an individual.”
Police have been notified and a list of people who had access to the storage area has been compiled.
Mr Rowe said the person who has the flag can return it to Anzac House or any RSL branch.
“I hope they’ve got a guilty conscience and return it because a lot of cases people just don’t know what it is. They just think `oh, that looks good, I’ll take it’,” he said.
“And they don’t realise what it actually means.”
Further media reports on the theft and photos of the flag follow:
ABC NEWS: Police probe Gallipoli flag theft. Click here.
Macquarie News: Priceless Australian Flag stolen from ANZAC House. Click here.
Sky news online: First Gallipoli flag stolen. Click here.
The NSW Premier Nathan Rees has appealed for the flag’s return: If anyone sees a home-made Australian flag or is offered one or is shown one, please, please encourage the person who has it to return it.
New South Wales RSL President Don Rowe has also appealed for its return: It has very little value to anyone else except us and the people of New South Wales.
If anybody knows where it is or have it would they please be kind enough to return it to the RSL or their nearest RSL club or sub-branch.
The Families and Friends of the First AIF thanks the Australian, UK and French governments for affording Australian and British soldiers buried in mass graves at Pheasant Wood by German soldiers following the Battle of Fromelles on 19/20 July 1916 dignified individual reburials in a new CWGC cemetery at Fromelles, and applauds the joint decision to DNA test the remains at exhumation and use every reasonable method to attempt identification of each soldier.