The Port Pirie RSL Museum was officially opened in April 2009 and endeavours to display exhibits from the Boar War to present day Afghanistan, including Australian peacekeeping missions that are factual, informative and most importantly easy to understand. Each exhibit features individual stories, general items, as well as priceless belongings of service personal and artefacts from these conflicts.
The museum has two multimedia information points that allow visitors easy access to film footage, slides, photos and audio of the different wars – often from the soldier’s viewpoint. Unique displays include the kit bag of the soldier given the first regimental number in the Australian Imperial Forces, Dead Man’s Penny sent to the relatives of fallen soldiers, a rare and unusual German Woven Paper Work Coat, a metal photo frame made from a dixie by a Japanese prisoner of war, the engraving achieved from a nail sharpened on a piece on concrete, diaries and personal relics from “Rats of Tobruk” soldiers, postcards and native garments from Somalia, limited edition statue and story of Horrie the Wog Dog – a four legged War Hero, medals, badges, trench art and original uniforms are always on display.
In honour and remembrance of those who serve their country and in many instances pay the ultimate sacrifice, individually engraved bronze plaques with messages from service persons, their family and friends can be purchased and displayed on the Wall of Memory located within the museum.
An important part of the museum and Port Pirie’s history is the exhibit detailing the history of Number 2 Bombing and Gunnery School RAAF in Port Pirie during World War II. No 2 B.A.G. was opened in June 1941 and by November 1943, 3,500 airmen had passed through the school. Many of the RAAF crews who flew from Britain across Europe in Lancaster and Mosquito aircraft trained in Port Pirie.
Of particular interest is the fully restored to working condition Wiles Junior Mobile Cooker. Mobile cookers like this “junior” are credited for having been an innovative and reliable piece of equipment that played a significant role in our war effort.
A unique feature is our twelve panel history exhibit that outlines Australia’s Military History from the First Fleet to the New Millennium for use as an educative tool. The panel is understandable to a wide range of students and the general visiting public.
There is an amazing painting (12ft x 6ft) titled Forever United which pays tribute to all our forces. The images have been chosen to reflect the range of everyday situations and emotions experienced by our soldiers.
Located on the external wall of the Museum the LEST WE FORGET mural is illuminated at night, depicting red for remembrance, with two soldiers in the “arms reverse” position holding their heads bowed. As individual displays within the museum change regularly, return visits to the museum are recommended.
In 2014 after much campaigning, Port Pirie RSL received a Huey Iroquois helicopter,an icon of the Vietnam War which can now be viewed in a purpose built hangar at the museum.