World War One – Parramatta Soldiers – Private Alfred George Jessop

World War One – Parramatta Soldiers – Private Alfred George Jessop

Private Alfred George Jessop was born in Parramatta.  According to the Cumberland Argus he attended Pitt Row School, now Parramatta West Public School.

However, his place of association at the time of his enlistment was Tweed Heads near Murwillumbah in New South Wales.

He was a labourer and enlisted for service at the age of twenty two, in Brisbane Queensland on 23 January 1916.

He named his mother Hannah who lived in Tumbulgum on the Tweed River as his next of kin.  He had a brother Ray who lived in Seville Street, Parramatta.

Private Alfred George Jessop embarked for service overseas with 31 Australian Infantry Battalion on 14 April 1916.

Following treatment in hospital for frost bite to his feet and a subsequent foot infection, he re-joined his unit in August 1917.

 Sadly, Private Alfred Jessop was killed in action in the field on 28 September 1917 in Belgium.  His war service record states that he is buried in the vicinity of Polygon Wood near Ypres.

This suggests he was involved in the Battle of Polygon Wood which commenced on 26 September 1917 and which was staged as part of the third battle of Ypres.  The battle cost 5,770 Australian casualties.

His name is engraved on the Menin Gate in Ypres Flanders Belgium.  The British War Medal, Victory Medal, Memorial Scroll and Memorial Plaque were given to his mother.  His name is located on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial.


“Our Brave Boys on the Battle Fields” The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (Parramatta, NSW: 1888-1950), 8 December 1917, page 10.

Australian War Memorial Website Battle of Polygon Wood


Janet Britton, Volunteer Research Assistant, City of Parramatta, Parramatta Heritage Centre, 2016


The Parramatta Eels

The Parramatta Eels


‘Go the Eels’ banners adorn the Town Hall, 2001, City of Parramatta Cultural Collections, 2002.127

The connections between Parramatta and eels are strong and historic. [1] The word ‘eel’ derives from Old English and German, with similar pronunciations appearing in early Dutch and Norse languages.[2] Stories of these fascinating and enigmatic creatures weave through early European folklore [3]. When Europeans first arrived in the Parramatta area in 1788, finding eels in the local river was an important and welcome discovery. Indeed, the significance of the eels for the early colonists is reflected in the very name of our city: ‘Parramatta’, selected by Governor Phillip in 1791, is derived from the term for the area used by the traditional custodians meaning “the place where the eels lie”.[4] The eels of Parramatta River have been significant to the Darug people for tens of thousands of years, and are the totem of the local Burramattagal clan.[5] In more recent years, the eels have also given their name, and imagery, to the popular and successful local rugby league football club.

Support of the Parramatta rugby league football club is evident across the city, and the eel depicted on the club’s logo winds its way through the city’s streets: An Eels flag draped in the doorway of a takeaway restaurant; a sign in a hotel window delineating ‘Eels territory’; and the eel motif jostling its way through crowds on the caps and jackets of supporters as they navigate the city. The mascot is now unmistakably entwined with the identity of the club. However, the team was not always known as the Eels. Casual use of the nickname only began in the 1960s, and the name was not formally adopted until the late 1970s.[6]

‘Eels territory’ declared in a Parramatta hotel window, Michelle Goodman, 2017

The early days of rugby league in Parramatta

Rugby league was first played in the Parramatta district in the early part of last century. The local side, then known as ‘Cumberland’, joined the Sydney league in 1908.[7] The fledgling sport suffered a significant and tragic setback in the years that followed shortly after, as the early teams lost many of their young players on the battlefields of World War 1. One such player was George “Horrie” Thorpe of North Parramatta, described decades later by a fellow team member as a “nippy five-eight”, who enlisted in 1915 and was killed in action in France in 1916, at the age of 23.[8]

George “Horrie” Thorpe, an early Parramatta rugby league player, killed in action in WW1, ’The Argus’ War Book”. The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrower’s Advocate, 20/11/1920

The Parramatta District Rugby League Football Club

The Parramatta District Rugby League Football Club was formally admitted to the New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) Premiership in 1947. The vibrant team colours of blue and gold were selected to reflect those of the local secondary school, now known as Arthur Philip High School.[9] During these early days, there was little marketing or promotion of the clubs, and Parramatta jerseys did not feature the names of sponsors or a team logo.[10] When the first Parramatta club logo was introduced in the early-1960s, its imagery was based on the official crest of the Parramatta City Council (which features two Burramattagal fishermen in the Parramatta River, with a European paddle steamer passing nearby).[11] The original, colourful logo was replaced in the 1970s by a more stylised version, depicting only one fisherman, with the club’s name on a scroll below. Over the following years, as the NSWRL premiership became increasingly professionalised, overt marketing of the brand identities of clubs in the competition became more prominent. In 1980, the Parramatta club’s logo was changed again to a design featuring a coiling eel. Further adaptations of the eel logo have been introduced subsequently, with a return to the iconic 1980 design being implemented in 2009.

Fan clothing, featuring the iconic Eels logo, for sale in Parramatta, Michelle Goodman, 2017

 The introduction of the eel logo in 1980 coincided with the most successful period for rugby league in Parramatta to date, with the club earning five Grand Final appearances and four Premierships from 1981 to 1986.[12] The club were also Minor Premiers in 1977, 1982 and 1986.[13] Many of the talented and famous players of this era including Peter Stirling, Mick Cronin, Steve Ella, Eric Grothe, Brett Kenny, Peter Wynn and Dundas-born Ray Price, have since been inducted into club’s Hall of Fame.[14]

Resolution for a Civic reception for the Parramatta rugby league football teams, Minutes of the Meeting of the Parramatta City Council held on 28 September 1981

 Cumberland Oval and beyond

The great Eels teams of the 1980s trained and played home games on the same site that had been used since the earliest days of the Premiership.[15] Originally known as Parramatta Oval then for a long period as Cumberland Oval the grounds have, like so much of Parramatta in recent years, undergone a significant amount of change and redevelopment over recent decades.[16] Rebuilt as Parramatta Stadium in 1986, and most recently known as Ptirtek Stadium, the space is transforming again, and it will soon house a new multi-purpose, 30,000 seat stadium.

Parramatta Eels playing at Cumberland Oval, c. early-1980s, City of Parramatta Cultural Collections, ACC002/074/013

The Mighty Eels

The importance of recognising, recording and reflecting on the import history of district sporting clubs, as well as many other aspects of popular culture, is becoming increasingly recognised. Formal administrative records and histories are, of course, vital in framing the structure of evidence that underpins our society. Now, however, the personal and detailed memories and stories of communities and neighbourhoods are beginning to supplement and enhance the historic Civic narratives.

When the world-class Western Sydney Stadium opens in 2019, it will stand on ancient Darug land, in a space already saturated with stories from the past.[17] The history of The Parramatta Eels rugby league club is now entwined in the memories of this special place: The early competitions, the talented players, the exciting games, the Grand Finals, the heartbreaks and the triumphs. Next to the newly-built stadium, Parramatta River will continue to flow slowly by, and under the surface the mighty eels will weave their way through the city, as they have done for countless generations.

Eel imagery on The Riverside Walk, Parramatta, Michelle Goodman, 2017


Michelle Goodman, Archivist, City of Parramatta, Parramatta Heritage Centre, 2017

[1], retrieved 28/07/2017

[2], retrieved 28/07/2017

[3] Tsukamoto, K. and Kuroki, M. (2014). Humans and Eels. Japan: Springer.

[4] Jervis, J. (1961) The Cradle City of Australia: Parramatta 1788-1961. Sydney: Halstead Press, p. 8.

[5], retrieved 28/07/2017

[6] Whiticker, A. & Collins, I. (2004) The History of Rugby League Clubs. Sydney: New Holland Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd

[7] Cadigan, N. (1986) Parramatta: The Quest for Glory. Sydney: Lester-Townsend Publishing Pty Ltd, p.8.

[8] Vertical File ‘Rugby League’ (VF00958), retrieved on 11/08/2017 from Heritage Centre Research Library

[9] Cadigan, N. (1986) Parramatta: The Quest for Glory. Sydney: Lester-Townsend Publishing Pty Ltd, p

[10], retrieved 07/08/2017

[11] City of Parramatta Council Archives [Ref: A2005/03]

[12], retrieved 09/08/2017

[13] Cadigan, N. (1986) Parramatta: The Quest for Glory. Sydney: Lester-Townsend Publishing Pty Ltd, p. 153

[14], accessed 07/08/2017

[15] Cadigan, N. (1986) Parramatta: The Quest for Glory. Sydney: Lester-Townsend Publishing Pty Ltd, p.

[16] Cadigan, N. (1986) Parramatta: The Quest for Glory. Sydney: Lester-Townsend Publishing Pty Ltd, p. 19.

[17], retrieved 07/08/2017

World War One – Parramatta Soldiers – Victor Earle Brinkman

World War One – Parramatta Soldiers – Victor Earle Brinkman

Victor was the eldest son of Mrs J. Brinkman of Guidlford New South Wales (Myrtle Cottage, Albert Parade, and later “Le Roy” Calliope Street). He was born in Cabramatta and was a Railway Porter when he joined the forces on 7 May 1915 at 22 years of age. He served with the 18th Battalion, Australian Imperial Forces in Gallipoli. Victor died in service in August 1915, and his death was reported in the Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (31 March 1917): “His death in action on August 27 1915, was communicated to his mother, after he had been reported missing ever since that date. Private Brinkman was a single man and enlisted on May 18, 1915, went into encampment three days later and sailed in the Kanowna (A.61) on June 19, 1915. He had only eight days in Egypt when he was sent direct to Gallipoli. His diary states that he left the base for the firing-line on August 22, 1915.

After fighting for only five days he was reported missing, a cable to this effort reaching his mother on October 13, 1915. The Red Cross Society has been making numerous inquiries since for the anxious mother, and reported to her that her son had been seen lying wounded on the parapet of his trench on the night of August 27, 1915 by another Australian named Private Smee. The next news Mrs Brinkman got was the receipt of her son’s identification disc and diary, which reached her in August last, but the atmosphere was finally cleared, though not in the way the relatives would have wished, by a cable sent to Rev. F. Reed. of Guidlford, on the 5th instant requesting him to inform Mrs Brinkman that her son was now as a result of the court of inquiry, reported killed in action on August 27, 1915. His brother, Private Roy Brinkman who left here when he was 17 years old with the Engineers is now fighting in France with the 5th Division of the Pioneers.”


Chrissie Crispin – Volunteer Research Assistant – City of Parramatta – Parramatta Heritage Centre – 2016

World War One – Parramatta Soldiers – Private Wallace R. McKenzie

World War One – Parramatta Soldiers – Private Wallace R. McKenzie

Private Wallace McKenzie was a 20 year old shipwright from Sydney. He was the son of Mr J McKenzie and Mrs Jane McKenzie from Granville, New South Wales. He and his family were part of the Church of England. He enlisted on 17 August 1914. He was appointed as Corporal of a platoon on 19 October 1914. He embarked with his unit from Sydney aboard the HMAT Euripides A14 on 20 October 1914. He was promoted to Sergeant on 11 March 1915. He was wounded in action on 6 August 1915. He rejoined his unit on 14 August 1915. He was promoted to second lieutenant on 8 December 1915. He embarked for Alexandria on 23 March 1916. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 22 April 1916. On 24 July 1916 he suffered gunshot wounds to the head and shoulder while in France. He was transferred to England on 27 July 1916 and admitted to an Auxiliary Hospital in Harefield. He was discharged on 22 September 1916. On 17 October 1916 he rejoined his battalion in France. On 13 November 1916 he was mentioned in despatches for distinguished and gallant services by Commander Sir Douglas Haig in the field. On 2 March 1917 he suffered a gunshot wound to the right ankle, and was transferred to England on 5 March 1917 aboard the HS Panama. He was admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital on 6 March 1917. On 28 August 1917 he was admitted to Latchmere House Hospital, England, suffering delusional insanity. On 12 November 1917 he embarked for Australia aboard Themistocles A32 from England suffering from acute mania. He was struck off strength the next day and his appointment was terminated in Australia on 21 March 1918.

Kimberly Russell – Volunteer Research Assistant, City of Parramatta, Parramatta Heritage Centre, 2017

World War One – Parramatta Soldiers – Private Walter Lawrence Murray

World War One – Parramatta Soldiers – Private Walter Lawrence Murray

Private Walter Lawrence Murray was a 19 year old electrician living with his family in Phillip Street, Parramatta. He was the son of Mr and Mrs E. J. Murray. He and his family were of the Church of England. He enlisted at Randwick, New South Wales, on 17 August 1914. He embarked with his infantry from Sydney aboard the HMAT Afric A19 on 18 October 1914. He suffered a gunshot wound on 18 April 1915, and was admitted to Ras-el-tin, near Alexandria, Egypt before being transferred to England on 2 June 1915. He was taken on strength on 8 June 1916. He was charged with being illegally absent on 22 April 1917. He was fitted with a glass eye in Harefield, England, on 3 August 1917. He was charged with overstaying his leave in England from 14 September 1917 to 16 September 1917, and was force to forfeit three days pay. He returned to Australia for discharge on 21 December 1917.


Kimberly Russell – Volunteer Research Assistant, City of Parramatta, Parramatta Heritage Centre, 2017



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