Rugby League & the Rabbitohs Pause to Reflect
As Australia pauses to reflect on the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipoli Landings, so too does the game of Rugby League.
Director of the Australian War Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson has spoken of the important legacy left by the ANZAC’s.
“No group of Australians has given more nor worked harder to shape our sense of being Australian than these men and women,” said Dr Nelson of those who selflessly gave us a ‘legacy of belief in ourselves and support of one another’.
“We call it mateship. We see it in the great game of Rugby League and we see it every day in the volunteers and all of those throughout our country that stand up for these ANZAC values.”
This week, we remember those from our Rugby League and Rabbitohs Family who served us in war. Today we commemorate South Sydney player and Kangaroo, Second Lietenant Steve ‘Tracker’ Darmody, as well as local Surry Hills player and Military Cross recipient, Company Sergeant Major George Morris MC.
Second Lieutenant Steve ‘Tracker’ Darmody, RAF
Unconfirmed reports suggest that Steve ‘Tracker’ Darmody made his top-grade debut during the 1908 season. What isn’t disputed though is that he was an inclusion in the 1911 Kangaroos side following the withdrawal of the great Dally Messenger.
A champion hurdler in his youth, the young Darmody became a South Sydney utility who played in the forwards but also often found himself in the backs. His career at Souths spanned three seasons between 1910 and 1912, during which time he appeared on 20 occasions, scoring six tries and 22 goals before moving to the UK to play with Hull – a club that was welcoming fellow Souths players Herb Gilbert at the time.
Upon the outbreak of war, Darmody enlisted with the British Army in the Motor Transport Division. It was during this time while serving in Flanders, ‘Tracker’ lost a foot in an accident.
The loss of a limb though proved to be a small obstacle for Darmody, who had an artificial limb fitted before re-enlisting, this time in the RAF. Darmody survived the war, dying in Scotland in 1968.
Company Sergeant Major George Morris MC, 3rd Battalion
Having enlisted in Sydney in August 1914, George Morris embarked for the fighting in Europe as an original member of the 3rd Battalion. Once Ottoman Turkey entered the war on the side of the Central Powers, Morris spent the following months training at Mena Camp near Cairo in Egypt before proceeding to the fighting in the Dardanelles.
He landed on Gallipoli in the second wave attack on 25 April 1915, and participated in the bitter fighting that took place in the following days. Promoted to sergeant, Morris spent a brief period in hospital on Gallipoli suffering from a septic wound to his elbow but returned to the battalion before taking part in the fighting at Lone Pine during the August offensive.
Throughout the fighting on 6 August 1915, Morris showed ‘exceptional bravery in the defence of a dangerous “dead-end”’ in the captured Turkish trenches, where his ‘determination in throwing bombs was a most inspiring example to his men’. Morris was promoted to Company Sergeant Major in September and later awarded the Military Cross for his actions. Morris remained with the battalion after the withdrawal from Gallipoli and the ‘doubling up’ of the AIF, and proceeded to France in March 1916. He took part in the bitter fighting for Pozières, where he was killed during the 1st Division’s assault on the village on the night of 22/23 July 1916. Morris was buried at the Pozières British Cemetery at Ovilliers-La Boiselle and rests there today.
Rabbitohs.com.au will this week feature the stories of a number of South Sydney men who proudly served their country.