Historical information

Two member badges from the The Returned Sailors, Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (RSSILA). The number 68 on the front could be 1968 as it is detachable and could be updated each year. The badge with 1921 could be the year of membership. The member number is engraved on the rear.
The shield design is symbolic of the protection provided to those who wear it. Within the badge, red represents the blood ties of war that exist between comrades; white stands for the purity of the motives in joining the league – to render service without personal gain or ambition; and blue indicates a willingness to serve a comrade anywhere under the blue sky. The wattle represents Australia, with the leek, the rose, the thistle and the shamrock standing for Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland respectively.
The RSSILA was the precursor to the Returned Services League (RSL) and provided support for returned servicemen after World War One. Worn by members of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers Imperial League of Australia, those eligible being members of all services, both wars, including nurses, who have returned from active service outside Australia.
These were with other World War 1 memorabilia that has come from Private John Basil McLean, 2nd Reinforcements, 37th Battalion, A.I.F.
J.B. McLean (Service No. 13824) was from near Maffra, Victoria and enlisted on 22 January 1916. He embarked on 16 December 1916 for Europe. He spent time with the Australian Field Artillery (Pack Section). At the end of the war he worked for a year at the A.I.F. Headquarters in London before returning to Australia on the 'Ceramic', arriving in Portsea in 1920. His full war record is available from the National Archives of Australia (B2455, MCLEAN JBM).


The RSSILA was an important organisation for ex-servicemen and many Legatees would have been members.

Physical description

Enamel badges from the R.S.S.I.L.A. The centre of the badge shows a sailor and a soldier in raised detail. A blue enamel circle surrounds the central detail and has 'RETURNED SAILORS & SOLDIERS / IMPERIAL LEAGUE' in gilt lettering. The outer edges of the badge are white enamel with a floral spray to the top left and right of the blue circle. At the bottom of the badge is a red enamelled scroll with 'AUSTRALIA' written in gilt lettering. On the reverse of the badge are soldered two brass lugs with a split pin attached for securing the badge to clothing.

Inscriptions & markings

01124.1 Front has '68' and 'Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia'. On the reverse 'V92210 Badge remains the property of League'.
01124.2 Front has '1921' and 'Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia'. On the reverse 'R 3871' and 'C.C Roeszler and Son Pty Ltd Melb.'