The Women’s Auxiliary of the 2/43rd battalion, formed in 1940, embroidered the names of the campaigns and battlegrounds of the infantry men during World War II.
Over eight decades the regimental flag led the battalion’s veterans who have marched on Anzac Day in Adelaide.
In 2012 the battalion’s memorial crosses were entrusted in perpetuity to SAC students who have been placing them in the Field of Remembrance before November 11 every year.
The crosses were presented to the college by Bill Corey, one of the last remaining members of the battalion who visited the college a number of times to speak with students before his death in 2018 at the age of 101.
Bob Boscence, who was president of the 2/43rd Battalion Association for 13 years and was involved in handing over the crosses to SAC, gave a brief history of the 2/43rd battalion at the flag blessing. His father-in-law, Wilf Marlow, was instrumental in the installation of the 43rd and 2/43rd Colours in the Cathedral in 1964.
Mr Boscence also thanked SAC for its “ongoing commitment to acknowledge the service and sacrifice of the battalion”.
The regimental flag was brought forward to the altar by Janine Keulen, daughter of Captain Rockleigh Sudholz, who was mentioned in despatches at Tobruk and mortally wounded at El Alamein in 1942; Alison Smith, wife of the late veteran Hedley Smith, an original 1940 enlistee who died in October 2000; and Jane Sturm whose uncle, Sergeant Harold Heath, was killed in New Guinea in 1943.
A new regimental head cross made by SAC staff members was also blessed at the ceremony.
SAC Year 11 student Emily Crocker told the gathering that as an all girls’ school, it was no accident it became custodians of the memorial crosses and now the flag.
“Mr Corey believed that in times of war, it was also the women who sacrificed, suffered and sustained the war effort from the home front,” she said.
“It is illustrated in my family history, in the lives of my great grandmothers. One left the family dairy farm to become a war-time nurse.
“Another was on her own with a baby while my great-grandfather served in the Royal Australian Air Force.
“For the women and children of the time, the loss of loved ones was devastating and enduring.”
Emily said the handing over of the regimental flag to St Aloysius reflected the ongoing relationship with the 2/43rd Battalion Association and was a tribute to the “men and women of yesterday, today and tomorrow”.
“The battalion’s Women’s Auxiliary made this flag with painstaking love and care, embroidering the names of distant places and battlefields, from which many men did not return,” she said.
“It was these same women who sewed the colour patches onto the uniforms of their loved ones. We remember them. We honour them.
“We are humbled and proud to receive the 2/43rd Battalion’s regimental flag and unite it with the memorial crosses. We will cherish the flag, its story and tradition, as we do the memorial crosses.”
The Anzac Day Vigil Mass will be held at 6pm on Saturday April 24 in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral.