Blue dungarees and white hats


The blue dungaree suits and white hats issued to the Coo-ee recruits at Lithgow were not unique to the 1915 Coo-ee March.

Following Australian Imperial Force (AIF) Order No. 2 on 26 August 1914, which ‘prescribed the uniform, kit, and necessaries to be issued to each member of the AIF’, enrolling recruits in the AIF were to be issued with a dungaree jacket, a pair of dungaree trousers, and a white hat. [1] This hat was described as a ‘white linen hat’ in The Sydney Morning Herald.[2]

“Marmalades” – the new raw recruits in the military camps – were issued with the blue dungaree suits and white hats as their initial uniform, which, according to an article in the National Advocate, if not washed before being worn for the first time, gave a ‘blue tint’ to the mens’ skins, ‘a tinge which gradually deepens upon further acquaintance’ with the unwashed suits.[3]

The Minister for Defence had instructed that dungarees were to be issued to the recruits on the Coo-ee March at Lithgow or Wallerawang, ‘so that the men may finish their march in some approach to uniform’.[4]

Coo-ees on Victoria Pass (Sydney Mail 17/11/1915)

Coo-ees in their crisp new dungaree suits and white hats climbing Berghofers Pass on their way to Mt. Victoria (Sydney Mail 17/11/1915)

Following the issue of the blue dungarees and white hats to the Coo-ees at Lithgow, The Farmer and Settler noted that when the Coo-ees were welcomed at Mount Victoria the men looked ‘more soldierly than they had done, with their new uniform, dungarees and white hats – the recruits’ dress of the training camps’.[5]

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on their arrival and triumphant procession into the city of Sydney that they ‘wore blue dungarees which didn’t always fit them, and they were somewhat travel-stained and weary after five weeks’ march – somewhat slouchy, in fact; but the city never gave a more enthusiastic welcome to any body of men that it gave to these 263 men from the country.’[6]

The start and the finish (Sydney Morning Herald 13/11/1915)

The start and the finish (Sydney Morning Herald 13/11/1915)

[1]Australian War Memorial, ‘Soldier’s kit, First World War (1914),

[2] ‘Our troops. Enrolling recruits. The equipment’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 September 1914, p. 8,

[3] ‘Liverpool Camp’, National Advocate, 2 October 1915, p. 7,

[4] Great Route March. Gilgandra to the coast : the “snowball” growing as it rolls’, The Farmer and Settler, 29 October 1915, p. 3. Retrieved June 27, 2015, from

[5] ‘The Route March through the mountains. The column reviewed by the Governor-General’, The Farmer and Settler, 9 November 1915, p. 3,

[6] ‘The Coo-ees. Gilgandra men in Sydney. A Great Welcome. Stirring scenes’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 November 1915, p. 19,


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