Fire and Rescue NSW to take on the Australian Defence Force in Anzac Day football match to honour veterans - Allianz Stadium

Published: 20 Apr 2023 09:08am

The sparks will fly next Tuesday when Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) takes on a combined Australian Defence Force side in a curtain raiser to the NRL ANZAC Day match at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium.

FRNSW has welcomed the opportunity of playing before the traditional Sydney Roosters – St George Illawarra game, in honour of the nation’s past and present servicemen and women.

FRNSW has a long association with the ADF, through the military service of hundreds of firefighters in conflicts, ranging back to the Sudan War.

Private Richard Isaac Barratt of “D” Company, NSW Infantry, joined the then-Metropolitan Fire Brigades less than a month after returning from the Sudanese expedition in 1885.

NSW firefighters have served their country in every conflict since, including the 1900 Boxer Rebellion, the Boer War, the World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and modern-day conflicts.

Over the course of World War I, no fewer than 325 firefighters or 23% of the then-NSW Fire Brigades enlisted, with almost 10% of them killed on Active Duty.

One of the firefighters who answered the call to arms was William Stuart Kilpatrick from Marrickville.

As a 20-year-old, the First Class Fireman resigned from the Fire Brigades in August 1914 and left Sydney to defeat German forces in Rabaul, then part of New Guinea.

Kilpatrick then enlisted in the 6th Australian Light Horse, serving in Gallipoli, where he was commended for his good work in aiding the Australian withdrawal from Anzac Cove.

In March 1918, Sergeant Kilpatrick led his men through ‘murderous’ machine gun fire in Amman (then part of Syria) to carry wounded Australians from Turkish trenches to safety.

For this he was awarded the prestigious Military Medal for gallantry.

Sgt Kilpatrick, at age 49, later served at Milne Bay, New Guinea, during World War II and had to abandon ship in October 1943, swimming to shore whilst being strafed by Japanese Zero aircraft.

William Kilpatrick MM, who passed away in 1966 at age 72, had served at Headquarters, George Street West, Marrickville and Granville Fire Stations.

It is also fitting to recognise that a former Roosters champion was the Chief Officer (Commissioner) of the NSW Fire Brigades and a Gallipoli veteran.

Eddie Griffiths won three premierships with Eastern Suburbs in 1911, 1912 and 1913, playing alongside the brilliant ‘Dally’ Messenger, and was appointed NSWFB Chief Officer in 1948.

He was described by one of his early commanders as “Our greatest firefighter…a legend in the true sense of the word.”

A 40-year firefighter, Mr Griffiths served as an artilleryman in Egypt and Türkeye during World War I.

FRNSW Commissioner Paul Baxter has embraced the opportunity for firefighters to acknowledge the service and sacrifices of their colleagues and forebears.

“These firefighters answered the call when their country needed them, at times when the world they knew was under threat,” Commissioner Baxter said.

“Many of them paid the ultimate price,” he added, “Others continued to serve their communities by joining the brigades upon their return home from the wars.

“I would also like to highlight that three-thousand women joined the Fire Brigades as ‘Auxiliary’ firefighters in World War II, ready to respond to air raids and emergencies on home soil.

“We are very proud of the service provided by our firefighters and it’s a terrific honour to represent them on the sporting field for this Anzac Day clash.”

The public can learn more about firefighters’ service in the Australian military by visiting the Museum of Fire website: [external link]

The ANZAC Day curtain raiser will kick off at 2pm.

(Images courtesy of the Australian War Memorial, FRNSW and the Museum of Fire. In the Roosters team photo, Mr Griffiths is bottom row, fourth from the left)

Updated: 20 Apr 2023 09:18am

listView more incidents

Related safety topics

Smoke alarms

It“s the law to have at least one working smoke alarm installed on every level of your home.

Details about this incident may change and should not be used as emergency information and/or advice.

For all life threatening emergencies, call Triple Zero (000)

For flood information, warnings or requests for non-life threatening assistance, call the SES on 132 500 or visit the NSW State Emergency Service website here. [external link].

For information directly relating to bushfires please call the Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737 or visit the NSW Rural Fire Service Website here. [external link]