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The meaning of the Eels' Anzac jersey

To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the establishment of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) base Darwin on June 1, Parramatta Eels will be wearing the new Anzac jersey this week which features an image of a RAAF Spitfire fighter aircraft and aircrew.

Due to unprecedented circumstances, NRL was not played for ANZAC Day round where the Eels had planned to wear the Anzac jersey during their annual match in Northern Territory, followed by a special dawn service in Darwin.

Parramatta Eels CEO Jim Sarantinos said, “Anzac Day is a momentous occasion for Australians, and we had hoped our Club would play a special part in the commemorations in Darwin. Unfortunately this year was not to be, however we hope we can still honour the Anzac spirit by wearing the Anzac jersey designed by an Air Force veteran.”

This year, our Anzac jersey was designed by Squadron Leader Kathy Turner CSM, a permanent Air Force Veteran Engineering Officer and Active Reservist with 25 plus years’ service. Kathy is now a freelance Graphic Designer and owner of Graphite Design Coal Coast. The jersey commemorates the men and women involved in the Pacific War in with the image of a RAAF Spitfire fighter aircraft and aircrew.

“I wanted to focus on the Eels’ special link to the Northern Territory. The RAAF Spitfire is an unmistakable aircraft from World War II, which saw more victories than any other aircraft and directly defended the Northern Territory and beyond. Post the initial Darwin bombing in Feb 1942, there were many raids on the Northern Territory from 1942 to 1945, which saw air combat directly over Australian soil both day and night.

“The colours are of course representative of the Parramatta Eels – marine blue and gold and symbolise sunrise and sunset, providing a link to the Anzac Ode "at the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them...LEST WE FORGET". The southern cross from the Northern Territory state flag  has been added to the design and symbolises the RAAF motto "per ardua ad astra" or "through adversity to the stars"

“It is also important to acknowledge the Indigenous and the traditional owners of Darwin, known as the Larrakia Nation - Saltwater People. Australia was extremely dependent on the support of the Northern Territory communities, who provided labour, transport on the many Northern Territory airfields and radar stations, as well as coastal surveillance and search and rescue for downed aircrew”, added Kathy. 

Kathy is a supporter of Veteran Sport Australia, a program of RSL NSW that encourages veterans and their families from around Australia to become involved in sport to improve health and wellbeing. 

Michael Hartung, General Manager of Veteran Sport Australia said, “We see tremendous value in working with Parramatta Eels. It’s important for all Australians to commemorate those who served our nation and I’m so pleased a Veteran was asked to design a jersey in honour of Anzac Day”.

The limited edition 2020 Parramatta Eels Anzac Day jersey has already sold out.

Many thanks to the Australian War Memorial (AWM) for use of the WWII images, which were created by John Harrison and William Martin, which feature Flying Officer N Vidler Sydney, Pilot Officer D Yates Sydney, Flight Lieutenant J Bell Sydney, Flight Lieutenant N Rankin Grafton and Flight Lieutenant G Campbell Sydney.