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Doug Arrowsmith - A Tireless Veteran

Doug Arrowsmith has spent a lifetime dedicated to serving his country and local community.

He has won an impressive suite of honours – an Order of Australia in 2007, an Australian Sports Medal in 2000 and a Premier’s Australia Day Active Citizenship Award in 2004. For his service in World War II flying the iconic Lancaster Bomber, he was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross, which was presented to him by King George VI. 

With no previous aviation experience before the war, he found his place as part of Bomber Command in the RAAF’s 460 Squadron and was stationed in Binbrook, Lincolnshire.

He completed 35 missions across Europe, and considers himself lucky to have returned when so many did not.

He’s been a member of the RSL since 1947 after he returned from the war, but in 1999 a chance conversation with a chap at the Subiaco Hollywood Bowling Club saw him named as secretary of the Nedlands Sub-Branch, with his wife Helen named as treasurer.

For several years he was the sole member of the sub-branch, and kept it going because he felt the public looked forward to attending the ceremonies run by the sub-branch. In 2014 a new secretary took over the position and he became president.  

At the age of 93, he is still active in organising RSL ceremonies. He organises and coordinates volunteers for Poppy Day every year – a day he feels is intrinsic to the RSL because it raises money for the welfare of returned service personnel and their families, as well as keeping alive the memory of all who laid down their lives for their country. His volunteers usually raise up to $4,000 every year.

Mr Arrowsmith considers Remembrance Day to be as important and an even more solemn occasion than ANZAC Day.  As President of the sub-branch, he instituted a ceremony for Remembrance Day, insisting it was held at the Perth War Cemetery on Smyth Road in Nedlands.

He also organises the annual RSL Luncheon, attended by members, widows, friends and supporters. The luncheon is a great inter-generational event – Mr Arrowsmith engages the services of guest speakers and local school children to provide entertainment.

The luncheon gives the children the invaluable experience of performing in front of more than 60 people.

Mr Arrowsmith has enlisted the services of children from various schools over the years – St Hilda’s, Churchlands Senior High School, Perth Modern School and Nedlands Primary School among them.

“It’s amazing the quality of the kids – it’s unbelievable how good they are!” he said.

His Order of Australia was awarded for his long-standing service to veterans, their families and the greater community, and to lawn bowls.

“I was honoured of course, and very surprised to be even nominated for the Order of Australia,” he said.

“It was very satisfying but you don’t do all these things for any kind of recognition. There are so many people who do things who don’t get any recognition.”

His Australian Sports Medal Award was awarded for his contribution to lawn bowls. He has won five team bowls championships and was runner up in the state singles. He has represented WA 51 times in his bowls career and was also WA State Coach for many years. Both he and his wife were honoured with life membership of the Hollywood Subiaco Bowling Club and a green has been named after them.

He was nominated for the Active Citizenship award by a City of Nedlands staffer because of all the time he has given to the community over so many years.

Mr Arrowsmith has lived in the Western Suburbs since 1971 but is thinking of moving out of his beloved house as his garden is too big for him to manage how.

He still drives his classic 1968 Holden Brougham which prompts many an admiring glance as he motors around town. Despite all the work he continues to do in the community he still finds time to make his own jam and even creates intricate needlepoint artworks of flowers, birds – even the Lancaster Bomber!