Visitors to the town are often surprised that Narrogin should have such a unique and impressive war memorial building, considering that the population here in the early 1920s was still quite small. This came about because the Narrogin district had the highest rate of voluntary enlistment in the whole of the British Empire during World War 1.
However, the memorial you see is not actually the one that was intended. While the war was still on, the Council asked Mr Lavater, the local architect who designed the Town Hall, to design another equally impressive building as a Soldiers’ Memorial Institute. However, after the war the Council had very little money. The institute wasn’t built; in fact, no memorial at all was set up. The returned Diggers got very angry, so they made plans to erect their own institute in Egerton Street – the present RSL Hall. The Council had to do something quickly. They approached Mr Lavater again, and this was the result.
The Lt-Col. Olden who laid the foundation stone in 1922 had been the Narrogin dentist before the war. Branded as a coward by some people he left Narrogin in November 1914 to enlist as a lowly trooper in the cavalry, but when he returned on a visit in 1920 he was a celebrated war hero, in command of the illustrious 10th Light Horse Regiment!