LEST WE FORGET: Requiem mass for Second World War veteran and former vice-president of the Bangalow RSL sub-branch, Russell Blanch at St Kevin’s Catholic Church, Bangalow.
LEST WE FORGET: Requiem mass for Second World War veteran and former vice-president of the Bangalow RSL sub-branch, Russell Blanch at St Kevin’s Catholic Church, Bangalow. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Bangalow commnunity stalwart Russell Blanch farwelled

BANGALOW farewelled a much-loved son yesterday at the packed funeral for Russell Blanch, Second World War veteran and former vice-president of the Bangalow RSL sub-branch.

"He would be over the moon to see you all here today," Russell's son, John Blanch told the congregation at St Kevin's Catholic Church.

"Dad loved people. He always saw the best in people, and he loved a party," Mr Blanch said.

"He knew how to enjoy everything, he did.

"Through dad's stories he taught me so much about life, and about the early days of Bangalow."

Russell Blanch was born in 1921 and lived his entire life in Bangalow, studying at St Kevin's Primary School and St Johns Woodlawn and moving to his Lismore Rd home when he was 14 where he lived out his adult life, nurturing his garden.

Mr Blanch is survived by his son John, daughter Ellen and four grandchildren.

While his son regaled the congregation with tales of his 93-year-old father's penchant for Scotch whisky; love for NRL and fishing; his passion for gardening and his deep ties to his family, he also paid tribute to his father's 33 years as a member of the Bangalow Fire Brigade and his lifetime support of the Bangalow RSL.

Former Bangalow RSL sub-branch president, Chris Grey described Russell Blanch's courage in New Guinea during the war, saving top-secret signal codes while under fire.

Mr Blanch had been a commando in New Guinea in 1943 when he was fired upon by the Japanese after entering enemy territory.

"Russell suffered severe shrapnel wounds; was separated from his troops and survived with no food or medical supplies in the thick jungle for five days," Mr Grey said.

The Last Post was played and Mr Blanch's casket was carried past a guard of honour of ex-service men and women and Bangalow Fire Brigade in full regalia.


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