Get Ready for the Legacy Centenary Commemoration Torch Relay in 2023
by Digby Ross
The Legacy Centenary Torch Relay is a six-month campaign to pay homage to and acknowledge veterans’ families, saluting their sacrifice. Legacy has its roots in a battlefield promise, from the trenches in Pozieres, on the Western Front in World War I. A promise from a soldier to his dying mate to “look after the missus and the kids” is one that has been revered since the first Legacy Club was established.
Honouring the promise to the thousands of veterans, Major General Sir John Gellibrand formed the Remembrance Club here in Hobart to help widows and children left behind. Records show and reports in the Mercury establish that the Remembrance Club Hobart was formed in 1922. Lieutenant General Sir Stanley Savige, another returning soldier, visited his mate Gellibrand in Hobart and saw the work of the Remembrance Club. He was inspired to establish a similar club in Melbourne in 1923 named Legacy. This year, to commemorate the centenary, the Legacy Relay begins on 23 April, 2023, in Pozieres, France where the torch will be lit at an opening ceremony at the military cemetery. On 25 April, 2023 the torch will arrive at an Anzac Day Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial at Villers Brentonneux. From there the torch travels to Menin Gate in Belgium for a Last Post Ceremony and on to London Legacy. This starts a total of 45 Legacy Club stops. It will be flown into Albany and travel via Fremantle to Perth.
The torch will travel over 55,000 kilometres through 100 locations, carried by 1,500 Torch Bearers. In addition to paying homage it aims to raise $10 million for Legacy.
The torch will be carried from Adelaide to Darwin then down the Queensland coast via eight Legacy clubs through Brisbane and then through NSW 19 Legacy Clubs.
The torch is in Canberra for the National Legacy Week Launch in the last week of August, then via 11 Clubs in Victoria before flying to Launceston. Legacy Week was started in 1942 as the War Orphans Appeal to raise funds for widows and children of soldiers who did not return.
From Launceston the torch relay visits Ouse, the birthplace of Sir John Gellibrand, then onto Hobart. From Hobart it flies to Melbourne to pay homage to the birthplace of Sir Stanley Savige. The torch is carried along the main streets of Melbourne on Friday 13 October, 2023.
Around Australia Legacy currently supports 40,185 widows and widowers, 1282 children and youths, and 107 beneficiaries with disabilities. Legacy is inviting people to register as volunteers to assist with the local torch bearers. Applications for torch bearers have closed but you can cheer them on when they visit here.