Spotlight on Parramatta War Memorial

The Parramatta War Memorial was erected in the early 1920s in honour of those who served in the First World War. For almost 100 years it has stood in Prince Alfred Park, providing a sacred space for remembrance and commemorative services within the district.

The memorial is an obelisk made of polished trachyte, which stands on a rectangular base made of the same material. The imposing monument is more than five metres tall and is positioned on a wide platform, consisting of three levels.

A meaningful design

The memorial was designed by architect Mr Roscoe J. Collins, who was also a returned soldier. While the structure itself is quite traditional and minimalist, its beauty comes from its golden inscriptions and ornate dedication plaque. 

The obelisk bears the names of the principal locations Australians served at during the war, including Gallipoli, France, and Egypt. The base includes an honour roll of the fallen, also highlighted in precious and reflective gold. 

The eastern side of the base features the original bronze dedication plaque. It is a substantial and elegant panel, decorated with the Rising Sun emblem of the Australian Commonwealth Military Forces. It proudly reads:

Erected to perpetuate the spirit of those who served their country in the cause of freedom 1914–1919

"Pass not on till thou hast blessed their memory and paid those thanks which god appointed the reward of public virtue" 

On the opposite western side of the base, another golden inscription identifies the special cavity inside the memorial, which houses a parchment scroll containing the names of all who enlisted in the war from the town.

An important decision

Planning for a memorial for Parramatta first began in 1919, with strong grass-roots support and successful fundraising efforts. However, the foundation stone of the obelisk was not laid until 25 November 1922. The project unfortunately encountered delays from decision-making and bureaucratic processes at local and state level, including what form the memorial would take and where it would be located.

The unveiling ceremony was held on 12 May 1923. The Daily Telegraph, 14 May, estimated between 5,000 and 6,000 people attended the event, which was led by Mayor Alderman L. A. Simpson. Governor-General Lord Forster officially unveiled the monument, saying:

These memorials do not inspire the spirit of war. They represent, not a spirit of triumph or victory or vain-glorious boasting, but the tribute of warm and loving hearts to the splendid services rendered by Australia's glorious sons. 

A community gathering place

The memorial remains at the heart of commemorative services in the City of Parramatta, including Anzac Day and Remembrance Day. It has been updated and added to over the years, to include plaques in honour of later conflicts in which Australians have served. In 2019, a life-sized bronze ‘Digger’ statue was unveiled on site. He was commissioned by the City of Parramatta Council and Parramatta RSL sub-Branch to commemorate the Centenary of Armistice in 2018.

Help us record history

Do you know more about a war memorial in Parramatta? Find out how you can contribute to the NSW War Memorials Register


Photographs taken by Andrew Phelps, 2020. Image captions:

  1. Parramatta War Memorial (western side) and Digger statue. 
  2. Close-up of dedication plaque on Parramatta War Memorial (eastern side). 

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