About

This blog is being written as a record of the Coo-ee March, and a memorial to the 263 men who answered the call of “Coo-ee! Come and join us!”, and fell into line in the towns and villages along the route of the recruitment march from Gilgandra to Sydney in 1915.

This blog contains:

  • day by day newspaper reports on the route of the march
  • photographs of the march
  • other newspaper articles of interest about the Coo-ees
  • information on the individual men who joined the march
  • photos of the men where available
  • photos of the headstones on the graves of the Coo-ees who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country in the Great War
  • information on how we remember the Coo-ees, through museums, plaques, etc.
  • information about what sources we have consulted as part of our research

The march itself has entered the history books as the Gilgandra snowball march which lead to other recruitment marches being held in late 1915 and early 1916, but the names of the men who joined the Coo-ee March have not.

There is no official list of the names of these men.  Only the names of about 100 of them were known when John Meredith published his book The Coo-ee March : Gilgandra – Sydney 1915 (Dubbo : Macquarie Publications, 1981).

My interest in the 1915 Coo-ee March dates back to the 1987 re-enactment of the march, when as a spectator  with an interest in Australian history, I watched a group of men dressed in period clothing and carrying flags and a banner, calling “Coo-ee!”, march through the streets of my home town of Dubbo.  One young man carrying a banner caught my eye, and two years later we were married in his home town of Wellington.

Several years ago Brian Bywater and Kim Templeton, two of the three organisers of the 1987 Coo-ee March Re-enactment, decided to plan a 100 year  re-enactment march as part of the 2015 Centenary of Anzac commemorative events.

Once another re-enactment march had been planned, I began thinking about these unnamed shadowy “Coo-ees”, and thought it was important to try and research as many of them as possible, so that when people asked on the 2015 re-enactment march “Who joined in our town?” we would be able to give them an answer. More primary source material has become available in recent years, especially through access to digitised historical newspapers on Trove, and military service records on the National Archives of Australia website, which has assisted Stephen and I in our research on the “Coo-ees”.

My husband Stephen and I were  members of the Coo-ee March 2015 Inc. (Gilgandra Sub-Committee) which organised the Coo-ee March 2015 Re-enactment, which was held from 17th October to 11th November 2015.  Commemorative services were held with representatives from local communities in each town and village  on the route.  Stephen was the Route Coordinator on the Re-enactment March, and participated in these services as a marcher (and also as a speaker at several places).   I provided information about the 1915 Coo-ee March, and the men who joined the Coo-ees, for each town and village at these commemorative services.

During a holiday to England, France and Belgium in September 2012, and in August-September 2014, Stephen and I visited the graves and memorials of those fallen Coo-ees who did not return to Australia after the end of the Great War.

In August-September 2016 we re-visited the graves and memorials of the fallen Coo-ees in England, France, and Belgium, to lay a wreath that travelled with us, and to leave a commemorative information card, and an Australian flag, on each grave.  We will create a separate page as a Roll of Honour for the fallen Coo-ees on this website in the near future.

If anyone has photographs of the 1915 march, family photographs of the individual men who joined, or information about their Coo-ee relative, or any information on anyone you believe may have a member of the Coo-ee March, we would very much like to hear from you.

My contact email is CooeeMarch1915@gmail.com.

Helen Thompson
BA(Lib&InfoSc)
GradDipLocFamAppHist

22 responses to “About

  1. Great site Helen, will send some photos of William Howard and add others as we gather them. Margo

  2. My 16 year old great aunt rode with the march for a short time. Her name was Nelly Smirthwaite.

  3. Nerida Althofer nee Markey

    Great site.i rode in an earlier reenactment parade back in the late 1970s as the you lady riding out with the recruits

  4. Hi Helen, my late father’s brother was Charles Alfred Hampson, was so interesting to read more information on him and his father Lightfoot Hampson. My father was born 2 years after Charles was killed and his mother died the day he was born so a lot of contact and information was lost with the family. Thank you for your efforts. Roz

  5. I am the granddaughter of William Lawrence Hunt and my great Uncle was John Hunt (Jack) both original closes. Their father Charles Hunt rode his horse from Coonamble to Bathurst where he joined his sons and enlisted by putting his age done.

  6. Iain and Judy Macdonald (Byrne, Hunt)

    Hi Helen,
    Last year my wife and I dropped into the Gilgandra Coo-ee centre and by chance we had with us original photos of the two Hunt boys and Syd Bennet in uniform. Kylie took copies of these. I have subsequently found another original photo/portrait of the two Hunt boys together in uniform and have scanned this for Kylie. Have you seen any of these or received copies?
    My wife is the great granddaughter of Hunt senior (Charles Henry / Harry /Da)who joined the his two sons in the march near Bathurst. We also have faded photos of their troopship leaving Sydney.
    Let me know if you are interested in scans of any of these.
    Iain Macdonald

  7. My great great uncle is Bill Hitchen and Richard Hitchen is my great great grandfather. My sister will be doing this entire march as a celebration to them. I can’t wait to hug her when she makes it into Sydney. I am so proud of her and everyone completing this special journey.

  8. Went out to Gilgandra for start of march ball and church service it was wonderful and very moving came down from Brisbane my friend Pam Gribben has written Answering the Coo-ee Call launched at G’Gandra based on Lesley Greenleaf it’s excellent and what a buzz to meet the families of Coo-ees the book is avail for anyone interested at Megalong Book Store , The Turning Page Springwood & Dymocks Penrith congrats to all involved proud to be an Aussie. Janette Johnson Brisbane.

  9. I have a friend marching this year from our Town Roma Old . I wish you all well and happy marching ! Jim Allen

  10. Thank you for this wonderful blog, Helen.

  11. I was excited to See my great grand father James Dawson mentioned in the Fromelles section , please contact me if you would like more info on Jim

  12. James Birrell Dawson was my mothers uncle. He joined The Cooee March at Lithgow.
    He was wounded at Fromelles on 19/20 July 1916.

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