Bill Gelhaar of the local RSL has strong views on the Last Post being sold as a ring tone for mobile phones.
Bill Gelhaar of the local RSL has strong views on the Last Post being sold as a ring tone for mobile phones. ROB BARICH

Vet says RSL hit the wrong tone

BUNDABERG Vietnam veteran Bill Gelhaar is on a one-man mission to stop the Last Post from being a downloadable ring tone.

But the RSL has defended its decision, saying the ring tone was a part of a campaign that encouraged young people to participate in Remembrance Day.

Mr Gelhaar said if he heard the Last Post playing as a ring tone on a person’s mobile phone, he would probably “end up in jail”.

“I would not be able to resist grabbing the phone and smashing it, and you know what would happen then,” he said.

People can still download the commemorative tune on their mobile phones.

The Queensland RSL branch made the Last Post available as part of a campaign in the lead-up to Remembrance Day.

The RSL also allowed people to download digital red poppies to their mobile telephones, for a fee.

The Queensland branch chief executive officer Chris McHugh said the RSL was “deeply concerned” that Remembrance Day was fading in the minds of young Australians.

“The number of people who got involved with Remembrance Day has dwindled over the years,” he said.

He said the website where the Last Post was available had received more than 200,000 hits.

But Mr Gelhaar, who served in Vietnam from 1966-67, said he was horrified when he learned of the decision.

“To veterans, it’s a sacrilege,” he said.

“The Last Post has become over the years a prayer for the fallen. I can’t believe they’ve actually commercialised it.”

The veteran said he had sent about 60 emails to state and federal politicians, veterans’ associations, the RSL and other organisations.

“The Last Post brings back memories of your own actions, memories of those who stood with you and died,” Mr Gelhaar said.

Bundaberg RSL Club president Tom Bradbury said he personally felt “disgusted” by the decision and had not been consulted by the Queensland committee who made it.

But Mr McHugh said that it was unreasonable to think the state body could consult every member over every decision it made.

“If we go out and consult every one of our 40,000 members we wouldn’t ever get anything done,” he said. 

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