Lane Cove Local Identity Harvey Porter – RSL Sub-Branch President

Lane Cove RSL Sub-Branch

Harvey Porter is the President of the Lane Cove RSL Sub-Branch. Since 2001, he has been leading the ANZAC Day Service in Lane Cove. Each year more and more people pack the Lane Cove Plaza to attend the Lane Cove ANZAC Day Service. This is a testament to the work put in by Harvey, the Lane Cove RSL Sub-Branch, and the Lane Cove Council. Together they have worked hard to make the Service inclusive with a Lane Cove focus. Harvey is a fascinating man with a colourful life.

Harvey’s Service Career

Harvey grew up in Sydney on the Northern Beaches (Balgowlah Heights). His family has a long tradition of military service. His two Grandfathers served in the Royal Australian Army and his father served in the Royal Australia Air Force (RAAF). Harvey joined the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 1958 (at the tender age of 15 1/2) and retired from the RAN in 1978.

Harvey in Unifrom

Harvey saw active service in Vietnam, Malaysia and the Far Eastern Strategic Reserve (sometimes referred to as the Cold War Force). Harvey obtained the rank of Chief Petty Officer on the Light Fleet Aircraft Carrier the HMAS Melbourne.

Harvey in Navy

After being declared unfit for sea duties, Harvey was reassigned to work for the RAN in North Sydney. Harvey worked in Avionics and had to undertake extensive training in the USA. It’s ironic that Harvey ended up working on planes, as his father always wanted him to join the RAAF and not the Navy.

HMAS Melbourne
HMAS Melbourne (photo source RAN)

Harvey’s Connection to Lane Cove

During the time he worked in North Sydney, he became involved with the Tambourine Bay Sea Scouts. Harvey had grown up sailing, so he was an ideal person to help teach Lane Cove’s young scouts sailing and other water activities. In his role as Scout Leader at Tambourine Bay Sea Scouts he was asked to recruit more Venturers (and in particular girl venturers). This meant recruiting a Female Venturer Leader. Harvey had a list of qualities he wanted in a Venturer Leader and set out to find the right candidate. He attended a Rover Camp and bumped into a spirited young girl called Janet (he recognised her as a girl he had taken out sailing when she had visited the Tambourine Bay Scouts a year before). Janet impressed Harvey and she ticked all the boxes on his Venturer Leader list. She also ticked all the boxes for another list Harvey had – his ideal partner list. They were unofficially engaged within a week and have now been married for 39 years.

After meeting the parents of the Tambourine Bay Sea Scouts and spending time in Lane Cove, Harvey had grown attached to Lane Cove. He was renting a room in Austin Street and wanted to stay in leafy Lane Cove. He was at a gathering in Austin Street when he was told that 57 Austin Street was for sale. The connection with this house was immediate. The house was built by Harry Davidson (WW1 veteran) and funded by a War Services Loan. Harry Davidson was a former president of the Lane Cove RSL Sub-Branch. Harvey and Janet purchased the house from Harry’s widow and funded the purchase by a War Services Loan.

Harvey and Janet have two daughters who both attended Lane Cove Public School. Harvey was actively involved in the P&C and Janet was involved in the Netball club. Their girls were part of the first female soccer team in Lane Cove. During his time on the P&C, Harvey was responsible for promoting the Reading Recovery Program and ensuring it was part of the curriculum in NSW.

Harvey’s Life After Leaving the RAN

In 1978 Harvey was told that his position was to be relocated to Nowra, Harvey did not want to leave Lane Cove so he resigned from the Navy. Within weeks, he was employed by the public service and started a career with the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine located at the University of Sydney. He worked on some international biomedical experiments including helping service men and woman to acclimatize to heat and cold.   The Department of Defence then head hunted Harvey and he returned to North Sydney and worked in the Avionics field, doing the same thing he did in the RAN, but now as a civilian. Harvey finished his career working at the ATO in Chatswood (he was recruited due to his skill with electronics and he was worked on some of the first computer networks in the ATO).

Harvey finally retired in 1999 (after two heart attacks and two bypasses). However you can’t keep a good man down, his doctor told him to be active and get involved. In 2000, he became active in the Lane Cove RSL Sub-Branch. Harvey had joined the sub-branch before but had not regularly attended meetings as it took some time for Vietnam Vets to be embraced by the RSL. By 2000, this attitude had changed and within two meetings he was the Vice President and in 2001 he became President (a position he still holds).

Lane Cove RSL Sub-Branch

The Lane Cove RSL Sub-Branch has around 28 active members (including vets from WW11, Vietnam Vets and Reservists).   Harvey (and fellow members of the RSL Sub Branch) work with the Lane Cove Council for six months on the Lane Cove ANZAC Day Service. Harvey is adamant that the Service should include Lane Cove’s community groups. There will be wreaths laid by the Scouts, Guides, Lane Cove Junior Rugby Union Club, Lane Cove West Primary School, Lane Cove Rotary and St Ignatius College Riverview.

Harvey’s Vision for Lane Cove

Harvey would love to see Lane Cove have a facility like a town hall where events and concerts could be held. Harvey is not the only one who would like to see this; the Lane Cove Theatre Company would like an event space that could be used by community groups. Harvey is also very concerned about the impact of council amalgamations on Lane Cove.

Harvey and Janet with twins

Things you need to know about this year’s ANZAC Day Service

  • The Lane Cove RSL Sub-Branch will be selling badges in the plaza on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Proceeds from selling these badges go to help supporting Veterans who need assistance.
  • The Lane Cove ANZAC Day Service commences on the dot at 7.30am. It’s a good idea to be there by 7.25 am. The service runs for an hour and finishes around 8.30am. This allows Veterans to go to the city to march in the parade.
  • From 10am Friday 22nd April the Plaza noticeboard will be showing photos of local serviceman from years gone by. This will run until 10am on Tuesday.

  • This year the Lane Cove RSL Sub-Branch is encouraging the local community to consider marching with the medals of family members who have served their country. Family representatives should wear the medals on the right hand side of the chest and gather near the Unwined Bar/ Birdwood Avenue at 7.10am and await instructions from the RSL.

  • This year we will hear from members of the Dettmann family. G.R. (Paddy) Dettmann served during WWI. There is a street named after the family in Longuevillle (see map below)
  • If it’s raining, the service will be held in the Library.
Dettman Avenue Longueville
Dettman Avenue Longueville (Image Copyright Google Maps)
Do you have a question about Lane Cove you are dying to have answered? Please send us an email at [email protected]


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