Monthly Archives: August 2015

Samuel CLARK

Samuel CLARK

Per his initial military service record (Depot), Samuel Clark was born at Coonabarabran, N.S.W. He gave his age as 33 years and 1 month, his marital status as single, and his occupation as labourer. His description on his medical was height 5 feet 2 ½ inches tall, weight 118 pounds, with a medium complexion, grey eyes, and dark brown hair. His religious denomination was Church of England. He completed his medical examination at Dubbo on 8th November 1915, and was attested by at Dubbo on 8th November 1915. He claimed to have 3 months previous service in the Australia Light Horse, then was discharged due to illness.

His next of kin in his service record was listed as his mother, Mrs Josephine McDonald, Frederick Street, Dudley, near Newcastle.

The postal address he gave on his initial Application to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force form at Dubbo on 22nd October 1915 was ‘Coonamble’. He did a preliminary medical examination at Coonamble on 22nd October 1915.

A Statutory Declaration in his service record stated that he ‘joined the Route March of recruits marching from Gilgandra to Sydney’.  Although he enlisted at Dubbo on 8th November 1915, the Coo-ees were marching from Lawson to Springwood in the Blue Mountains on that date. He would have had to have caught up by train to join the Coo-ee March as it neared Sydney.

A letter from The Council of the Municipality of Penrith dated 3rd May 1916 stated that S. Clark ‘joined the Coo-ees at Penrith’, so he must have been one of the two recruits referred to in the Nepean Times as ‘not residents’ who joined the Coo-ee March during the Coo-ees’ overnight stay at Penrith on the 9th November 1915.[1]

After the Coo-ee March, Private Clark went before a Medical Board at Liverpool Camp on 17th November 1915, and was found medically unfit with Varicole, and was discharged on 29th November 1915.

[1] Alex Halden (Joe) Miller papers mainly relating to the Gilgandra Coo-ee Recruitment March, New South Wales, 1912-1921, 1939. Gilgandra Coo-ee Recruitment March correspondence and papers, 1915-1939 ; ‘Coo-ees at Penrith’, Nepean Times, 13 November 1915, p. 3,

Selby George MEGARRITY

Selby George MEGARRITY

Per his military service record (regimental no. 4841), Selby George Megarrity was born at Luddenham near Penrith N.S.W. (He was the son of Robert George Megarrity, a dairyman at Wallacia, and Kate Megarrity nee Vicary). He gave his age as 19 years and 9 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as labourer. His description on his medical was 5 feet 8 ½ inches tall, weight 146 lbs., with a fair complexion, blue eyes, and sandy hair. His religious denomination was Church of England. He claimed that he had no previous military service. He did his medical examination on 10th November when the Coo-ees were at Penrith, however he was not attested until the Coo-ees were at Ashfield on 11th November 1915.

A note signed by his father R. G. Megarrity dated 16th November 1915 is in his service record, stating: ‘This is to certify that I give my consent to my son Selby George to enlist with the Gilgandra Coo-ees’.

Selby George Megarrity (along with A. Easterbrook and W. A. Sutton) was one of the three Penrith men reported as stepping forward to join the Coo-ees ‘amidst the cheers of the audience’, in response to Mr Blacket’s recruitment speech and call of “What do we want, Coo-ees?” and their response of “We want men – men, and plenty of them!”, during the open-air Concert held for the Coo-ees at Penrith on the evening of Tuesday, 9th November, 2015.[1]

He was given a sendoff at Wallacia on Saturday 11th December 1915, which was attended by over 150 people, where he was presented with a leather vest, wristlet watch and money belt from the residents, and a parcel from Mulgoa Red Cross Society containing two pairs socks, two undershirts, two pairs pyjamas and a muffler.[2]

On Selby George Megarrity’s embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Wallacia, via Penrith, N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as his father, R. G. Megarrity, Wallacia via Penrith, N.S.W. His date of joining is recorded as 9th November 1915 (the day the Coo-ees arrived in Penrith).

On 8th March 1916 Private Megarrity departed Sydney on the HMAT A15 Star of England, along with many of the other Coo-ees, as part of the 15th reinforcements for the 13th Battalion. He arrived in Egypt on 11th April 1916.

On 16th April 1916 he was transferred to the 5th Division Cyclist’s Company.

On 18th April 1916 he was sent to the 15th Field Ambulance suffering from influenza. On 19th April 1916 he was transferred to Hospital at Ferry Post, Egypt. He was discharged and rejoined his unit on 21st April 1916.

On [17]h June 1916 Private Megarrity departed Alexandra, Egypt, bound for England. He arrived at Marseilles, France, on 25th June 1916.

On 12th July 1916 Private Megarrity was admitted to the 50th Casualty Clearing Station suffering from Chicken Pox. On 15th July 1916 he was transferred to the 7th General Hospital. He was discharged and returned to his unit on 23rd July 1916.

On 23rd May 1916 Private Megarrity was detached for duty as an escort to the 2nd ANZAC Corps Commander. On 29th September 1916 he rejoined the Corps Cyclist Battalion.

On 10th October 1916 Private Megarrity was detached to the Signals School.

Private Megarrity went on leave in France from 20th January 1917 until 10th February 1917, when he returned to the Cyclist Battalion.

On 18th May 1917 Private Megarrity was detached for duty with the Corps Anti Aircraft Section. He rejoined the Battalion on 25th May 1917.

On 2nd July 1917 Private Megarrity was detached to the Signalling School. He rejoined the Battalion on 6th July 1917.

On 23rd July 1917 Private Megarrity was detached to the Power Buzzer School. He rejoined the Battalion on 1st August 1917.

On 20th November 1917 Private Megarrity was detached for duty with the New Zealand 5th Otago Battalion. He returned from the detachment on 25th November 1917.

On 16th January 1918 Private Megarrity was taken on strength of the Australian Corps Cyclist Battalion.

On 9th March 1918 Private Megarrity went on leave to England. He returned to the Cyclist Battalion on 26th March 1918.

On 1st November 1918 Private Megarrity went on leave again to England, where he was still on leave at the time of the Armistice. He returned to the Cyclist Battalion on 19th November 1918.

On 7th February 1919 Private Megarrity was transferred to the Australian Corps Signal Company and his rank designation was changed to Sapper.

On 24th April 1919 Sapper Megarrity departed Havre in France to commence his return to Australia. He arrived at Southampton on 25th April 1919 and marched into the Number 1 Group at Sutton Veny, England.

On 16th June 1919 Sapper Megarrity departed England aboard the Transport Ormonde bound for Australia. He arrived in Australia on 4th August 1919, and was discharged Termination of Period of Enlistment on 26th September 1919.

His name is listed (under McGarrity, J.) as one who served on the Penrith 1914-1918 Roll of Honour at Penrith City Memory Park war memorial.

[1] ‘Coo-ees at Penrith’, Nepean Times, 13 November 1915, p. 3,

[2] ‘Soldier’s send-off’, (1915, December 18). Nepean Times, 18 December 1915, p. 6,


Badges worn by the Coo-ees

Badges worn by the Coo-ees (purple ribbons with silver writing)

I was fascinated to read about the ‘purple badges’ worn by the Coo-ees in the following paragraph published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 13th November, 1915:

‘Thus had the little army grown since it started out from Gilgandra on October 10 twenty-five strong. Ten more men from the little western town, set in a district where bug hearts are, joined the original twenty-five on the way; and from Dubbo, Wongarbon, Geurie, Wellington, Stuart Town, Molong, Orange, Blayney, Bathurst, Yetholme, Wallerawang, Lithgow, and the towns along the mountains, and, indeed, all the way down to Sydney, other batches joined in, and were supplied with dungarees and white hats – and the purple badges with the silver lettering, “Gilgandra Coo-ees—Hitchens’ Own,” with which the contingent set out.’[1]

What were these “purple badges” that the Coo-ees had worn on the Coo-ee March?

I recently visited the State Library of New South Wales to view one of these “badges”, after learning that one of them was in the Alex Halden (Joe) Miller papers in the Mitchell Library Collection. I obtained permission to take the following photograph:

Coo-ee badge (purple ribbon). Part of the Mitchell Library Collection at the State Library of NSW (Photograph: H. Thompson 22/5/2015)

Coo-ee badge (purple ribbon). Part of the Mitchell Library Collection at the State Library of NSW (Photograph: H. Thompson 22/5/2015)

It was amazing to see the purple ribbon in such pristine condition – I could still see the sprinkles of the silver paint used for the lettering on the ribbon.

Researching the purple badges worn by the Coo-ees further, I found that at Euchareena the ‘school children ran races for Hitchen’s “Coo-ee” badge’.[2]

At Molong over a pound’s worth of “Coo-ees” ribbons were sold for a shilling each to raise money for the march.[3]

The Leader reported that the Coo-ees wore their purple badges pinned to their shoulders when they marched through Orange.[4]

The rolls of ribbon for the Coo-ee badges had been supplied by Wises’, Ltd., in Sydney.[5]

So, along with the ones worn by the Coo-ees, and these additional ribbons that were sold and given away during the march, there were hundreds of them in people’s possessions at the conclusion of the Coo-ee March in 1915.

I wonder how many other Coo-ee badge ribbons are still in existence 100 years after they were worn on the Coo-ee March, hidden away in a family member’s First World War memorabilia tin or box, or in a photo album or scrapbook?

[1] ‘The Coo-ees. Gilgandra Men in Sydney’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 November, 1915, p. 19.

[2] ‘With the “Coo-ees.”’, Gilgandra Weekly, 29 October 1915, p. 2.

[3] ‘The Route March’, The Farmer and Settler, 26 October, 1915, p. 3.

[4] ‘Hitchen’s March to the Sea’, Leader, 25 October, p. 4.

[5] ‘Gilgandra Recruiting Association’, Gilgandra Weekly, 26 November, 1915, p. 4.


Updated photo of the Coo-ees at Orange

Macquarie Regional Library has kindly supplied me with a higher resolution view copy of the photograph of the Coo-ees at Orange for this website.  I have replaced the photo on the page with this better image.

For those who follow my blog posts by email you might like to revisit this page and click twice on the photo to increase its size. They quality of the photograph is quite remarkable.

See if you can find the two little dogs in the photograph.  Harder to spot is a little black kitten!

Included in this photograph are the men who enlisted in the Coo-ee Recruitment March as they marched from Gilgandra to Dubbo, Wongarbon, Geurie, Wellington, Stuart Town, Euchareena, Molong, through to Orange, where the photograph was taken. (Some may be missing, including the 5 in Orange Hospital sick at the time).

If you have a photograph of a Coo-ee in your family photo collection that joined  the Coo-ee March between Gilgandra to Orange, please take a moment and see if you can find him in this group photograph.

Please send an email to me at if anyone can identify any of the people in this photograph.