Red kangaroos donated to Australia War Memorial

EIGHTY years to the day since HMAS Parramatta (II) was lost, the red kangaroo funnel insignia from successor ship Parramatta (IV) was donated to the Australian War Memorial (AWM).

CAPTION: (Australian War Memorial Director Mr Matt Anderson and Captain Anita Nemarich, RAN, with one of the donated red kangaroo funnel insignia from HMAS Parramatta at the Treloar Technology Centre, ACT. Story and photo by Leading Seaman Kylie Jagiello.

Former Commanding Officer HMAS Parramatta (IV) Captain Anita Nemarich presented the kangaroos at the AWM’s Treloar Centre in Canberra on November 27.

“After being contacted by Commander Andy Schroder, it started a 12-month process of getting them off the ship and donated to the memorial,” Captain Nemarich said.

“To be able to donate the insignia on such an important day for Parramatta makes it even more significant.”

WWI torpedo boat destroyer Parramatta (I) was the first RAN ship recorded to sport a bronze kangaroo at the top of its jackstaff, to help identify her as an Australian warship.

Since the mid-1950s, Australian ships used a red kangaroo on their funnel to distinguish them from ships of other nations.

The donated insignia, was on Parramatta (IV) during her deployment to the Middle East from 2011–2012.

AWM Director Matt Anderson was in the first meeting for the future Middle East exhibition, which will feature the kangaroos.

“To see what started as an idea on a piece of paper, to now have in the collection is fantastic,” Mr Anderson said.

“These things don’t happen overnight and it is testimony to the hard work of Commander Schroder and Captain Nemarich.

“It will be a significant inclusion to the memorial’s ability to tell the story of the RAN as part of the gallery’s redevelopment.”

Following the handover ceremony, a Last Post Ceremony was held to commemorate Parramatta (II) at the AWM.

The sinking of Parramatta (II) was a lesser-known tragedy of WWII, at the time she was serving in the Mediterranean assisting with supplying the Allied garrison.

The tribute and story of crew member Able Seaman Donald Menhenick was read by his great nephew Warrant Officer John Menhenick.

Able Seaman Menhenick joined the Navy in 1925 and after his 12-year contract, discharged and became a member of the Royal Australian Fleet Reserve.

With war looming, he signed on again in 1939 and posted to Parramatta (II) in April 1940.

In the early hours of November 27, 1941, while escorting a convoy, Parramatta (II) was hit by a torpedo fired from German submarine U559.

The torpedo caused the ship’s magazine to explode and she rolled rapidly to starboard and sank within minutes.

The remains of the 138 officers and sailors lost in Parramatta (II) that day still lay with the wreck and their names are listed on the Roll of Honour at the AWM.





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One thought on “Red kangaroos donated to Australia War Memorial

  • 26/03/2023 at 6:17 pm

    The ‘big red rat’ naval tradition was carried over to Vietnam, when trucks had it painted on their doors to help the locals identify Australian vehicles far from Saigon. They couldn’t understand however, why we had ‘big red rats’ as our ‘mascot’ – not being familiar with kangaroos.

    We also had to ‘explain’ to allied Vietnamese about what the ‘dragon in the sky’ – PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON – was all about. It terrified BOTH sides of Vietnamese.


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