Monthly Archives: September 2015

Bible in Blue Mountains City Library Local Studies Collection

Bible at Springwood Library

On 16th September 2015 I visited Springwood Library to meet with the Local Studies Librarian John Merriman, to view the bible on which the five Springwood Cooees recruits were sworn in, which is part of the Blue Mountains City Library Local Studies Collection.

Bible at Springwood Library (Photograph: H. Thompson 16/9/2015)

Bible at Springwood Library (Photograph: H. Thompson 16/9/2015)

Inscribed inside this small bible are the words: “This bible was used for swearing in recruits for Capt. Hitchen’s “Coo-ees” from Gilgandra, Springwood 8th Nov 1915”.

Inscription inside bible at Springwood Library (Photograph: H. Thompson 16/9/2015)

Inscription inside bible at Springwood Library (Photograph: H. Thompson 16/9/2015)

According to Shirley Evans & Pamela Smith in their book Remembrance : Springwood District Honor Roll 1914-1919, the men were sworn in at the ‘now demolished Springwood School of Arts’.[1]

Two photographs of the Coo-ees marching past the Springwood School of Arts building in 1915 can be seen on Blue Mountains Local Studies blog ‘’The Coo-ee March, 1915, “The biggest wash-up I ever heard of!” http://bmlocalstudies.blogspot.com.au/2010/09/coo-ee-march-1915-biggest-wash-up-i.html

This building, which was opened in 1913, was demolished in 1969, but the Foundation Stone still remains in the School of Arts Town Square in Springwood today.

[1] Evans, Shirley & Smith, Pamela, Remembrance : Springwood District Honor Roll 1914-1919, [Springwood] : Springwood Historians, 2008, p. 43.

Launch of new ‘Gilgandra’s Coo-ees’ museum display at Gilgandra Coo-ee Heritage & Visitor Information Centre

Launch of ‘Gilgandra’s Coo-ees’ new museum display in the Coo-ee March Gallery at Coo-ee Heritage & Visitor Information Centre

On Tuesday 25th August 2015 I attended the launch of a new museum display about the 35 men from Gilgandra who enlisted in the Gilgandra to Sydney Coo-ee March, at the Coo-ee Heritage & Visitor Information Centre at Coo-ee Memorial Park, Gilgandra.

The new display was officially opened by Mark Coulton MP, Federal Member for Parkes.

Gilgandra Shire Council Cultural Officer Kylie Moppett, Acting Mayor Cr. Ashley Walker, Gilgandra Museum & Historical Society curator Shirley Marks, Gilgandra Museum & Historical Society member Margo Piggott, Member for Parkes Mark Coulton, and Graeme Hosken and Mrs Imelda Silva. (Photograph: H. Thompson)

Gilgandra Shire Council Cultural Officer Kylie Moppett, Acting Mayor Cr. Ashley Walker, Gilgandra Museum & Historical Society curator Shirley Marks, Gilgandra Museum & Historical Society member Margo Piggott, Member for Parkes Mark Coulton, and Graeme Hosken and Mrs Imelda Silva. (Photograph: H. Thompson)

Pictured from left to right in front of the new display panels, which feature information on each of the 35 Gilgandra Coo-ees,  is Gilgandra Shire Council Cultural Officer Kylie Moppett, Acting Mayor Cr. Ashley Walker, Gilgandra Museum & Historical Society curator Shirley Marks, Gilgandra Museum & Historical Society member Margo Piggott, Member for Parkes Mark Coulton, and Graeme Hosken and Mrs Imelda Silva.

A book titled ‘Gilgandra’s Coo-ees’ that was compiled by Margo Piggott to support the new display, which provides information about each of the 35 Gilgandra Coo-ees, including a photograph of many of them, was provided to the large number of people who attended the launch.

Family autograph book belonging to Mrs I. Silva, showing Bill Hitchen’s and officers’ signatures collected at Eastern Creek on 10/11/1915, and a purple Coo-ee ribbon. (Photograph courtesy of Graeme Hosken)

Family autograph book belonging to Mrs I. Silva, showing Bill Hitchen’s and officers’ signatures collected at Eastern Creek on 10/11/1915, and a purple Coo-ee ribbon. (Photograph courtesy of Graeme Hosken)

Also during the launch, Mrs Imelda Silva, with her nephew Graeme Hosken, donated an original purple “Coo-ee badge” ribbon to the Coo-ee March Gallery collection, which will make a valuable addition to the collection. This ribbon had been obtained by the family at the time the Coo-ees stopped at Eastern Creek in Sydney on 10th November 1915 during the Coo-ee March and was kept in the family’s autograph book.  A photocopy of the signatures that were written in this autograph book on this same day, which includes Bill Hitchen’s signature, was also donated to the Coo-ee March Gallery collection.

Joe BILLING

Joe BILLING

Per his military service record (regimental no. 2160), Joe Billing was born at Derby, England. He gave his age as 22 years and 6 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as farm labourer. His description on his medical was height 5 feet 8 ½ inches tall, weight 11 stone 3 lbs., with a fair complexion, blue eyes, and light brown hair. His religious denomination was Church of England. He claimed that he had no previous military service.

He gave his address on his Application to Enlist in the Australian Imperial Force form as “Tallwood via Blayney”, and there is a note at the top of this form stating that “This man presented himself at Millthorpe on the night of 25/10/15”. He had completed his medical several days before on the 21st October 1915 at Orange. He was attested by Captain Nicholas at Millthorpe on 26th October 1915. Joe Billing was one of two recruits who joined the Coo-ee March at Millthorpe.

After completing the march he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 7th Light Horse Regiment.

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was 54 Junction Street, North Sydney N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as his father, William Billing, Hathtop, Forston, Derbyshire, England.

On 11th March 1916 Trooper Billing departed Sydney on the HMAT A67 Orsova, arriving in Egypt on the 14th April 1916, where he was taken on strength in the 2nd Light Horse Training Regiment at Tel El Kebir.

On 26th April 1916 Trooper Billing was hospitalised at the Number 2 Stationary Hospital with Influenza. On 16th May 1916 he was discharged from hospital and marched into the 2nd Light Horse Training Regiment at Tel El Kebir, Egypt.

On 13th June 1916 Trooper Billing was admitted to the 2nd Australian Stationary Hospital suffering from Bronchitis. On 17th June 1916 he was transferred to the 3rd Australian General Hospital. On 18th June 1916 he was transferred to the British Red Cross Hospital. On 21st June 1916 he was transferred to the 19th General Hospital. He was discharged on 11th July 1916 and sent back to the 2nd Light Horse Training Regiment.

On 28th July 1916 Trooper Billing was transfered to the 7th Light Horse Regiment.

On 4th May 1917 Trooper Billing was sent to the 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance suffering from Conjunctivitis. On 5th May he was moved back to the 54th Casualty Clearing Station. On 6th May 1917 he moved by Hospital Train to the 26th Casualty Clearing Station at El Arish, arriving later that day. On 7th May 1917 he was transferred to the 24th Stationary Hospital at Kantara, Egypt, arriving on 8th May 1917. Later that day he was transferred to the 14th Australian General Hospital at Abbassia, Egypt.

On 13th May 1917 Trooper Billing was discharged from hospital and reported to the 2nd Light Horse Training Regiment at Moascar, Egypt.

On 1st July 1917 Trooper Billing was sent to the School of Instruction. He returned to the 2nd Light Horse Training Regiment on 15th September 1917.

On 1st October 1917 Trooper Billing was sent to the School of Instruction (Hotchkiss Gun Course). He returned to the 2nd Light Horse Training Regiment on 16th October 1917.

On 18th November 1917 Trooper Billing left the 2nd Light Horse Training Regiment for return to the 7th Light Horse Regiment, which he rejoined on 11th December 1917.

On 9th February 1918 Trooper Billing was sent to the 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance sick. He was discharged and rejoined the 7th Light Horse Regiment on 16th February 1918.

On 20th May 1918 Trooper Billing was sent to the Australian Rest Station at Jericho, Palestine, suffering Malaria. On 21st May 1918 he was moved back to the 65th Casualty Clearing Station, then the 75th Casualty Clearing Station at Jerusalem. On 23rd May 1918 he was moved back by Hospital Train to the 47th Stationary Hospital at Gaza. On 29th May 1918 he transferred to the 24th Stationary Hospital at Kantara, Egypt. On 30th May 1918 he was transferred to the 14th Australian General Hospital. He was discharged on 21st August and sent to the 2nd Light Horse Training Regiment. He rejoined the 7th Light Horse Regiment on 15th September 1918.

On 8th October 1918 Trooper Billing was sent to the 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance. On 15th of October 1918 he was moved back to the 76th Casualty Clearing Station. On 16th October 1918 he was admitted to the 31st General Hospital. On 18th October 1918 he was discharged and sent to a Convalescent Depot. He rejoined the Regiment on 3rd November 1918.

Following Turkey’s surrender on 30th October 1918 and the Armistice on 11th November 1918, on 27th November 1918 Trooper Billing was sent to the Dardanelles with the 7th Light Horse Regiment. He returned to Egypt on 22nd January 1919.

On 18th February 1919 Trooper Billing was admitted to the 24th Stationary Hospital with Malaria. He was transferred to the 14th Australian General Hospital on 28th February 1919.

On 15th March 1919 Trooper Billing departed Suez, Egypt, aboard the H.T. Euripides bound for Australia.

He arrived in Australia on 20th April 1919, and was discharged as medically unfit on 3rd August 1919.

Henry John KING

Henry John KING

Per his military service record (regimental no. 2822), Henry John King was born at Sydney, N.S.W. He gave his age as 25 years, his marital status as single, and his occupation as wool classer. His description on his medical was height 5 feet 4 1/2 inches tall, weight 8 stone 13 lbs., with a dark complexion, gray eyes, and dark hair. His religious denomination was Church of England. He claimed that he had no previous military service. He completed his medical on the 25th October 1915 at Millthorpe (the day the Coo-ees arrived and stayed overnight at Millthorpe), and was attested by Captain Nicholas at Millthorpe on the 26th October 1915.

After completing the march he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 7th Light Horse Regiment.

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Clyde Street, Croydon Park, Croydon N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as his mother, Mrs Mary Kritzmer, Mulgoa, via Penrith N.S.W.

On 8th July 1916 Trooper King departed Sydney on the RMS Mongolia. After his arrival in Egypt, on 12th August 1916 he was taken on strength of the 2nd Light Horse Training Regiment at Moascar.

On 12th of November 1916 Trooper King was admitted to the 14th General Hospital at Cairo sick. He was discharged on 5th January 1917 and rejoined the 2nd Light Horse Regiment on 13th January 1917.

On 3rd February 1917 Trooper King was sent to the School of Instruction. He returned to the 2nd Light Horse Training Regiment on the 17th March 1917.

On 9th April 1917 Trooper King was sent to the Signal Depot at Alexandria. On 21st April 1917 whilst undergoing a course at the Signal School he was admitted to the 19th General Hospital suffering Piles. He was discharged to Cleopatra Camp on 18th May 1917.

On 24th July 1917 Trooper King was detached for duty with the ANZAC Mounted Division Signal Squadron.

On 24th December 1917 Trooper King was sent to the 146th Field Ambulance with Debility. On 5th January 1918 he was moved back to the 35th Casualty Clearing Station. On 9th January 1918 he was admitted to the 45th Stationary Hospital. On 12th January 1918 he was transferred to the 44th Stationary Hospital. On 27th January 1918 he was transferred to the 14th Australian General Hospital. He was discharged on 1st April 1918 and sent to a Rest Camp. On 17th April 1918 he was sent to the Signal Training Unit. On 26th April 1918 he was sent to the Base Signal Depot.

On 7th May 1918 Trooper King was admitted to the 19th General Hospital suffering Gastritis. On the 27th of July 1918 he was transferred to the 24th Stationary Hospital. Later that day he was transferred to the 14th Australian General Hospital. On 28th October 1918 he was sent to a Rest Camp.

On 15th November 1918 Trooper King commenced his return to Australia from Suez, Egypt aboard the HMT Port Darwin.

He arrived in Australia on the 26th of December 1918 and was discharged as medically unfit on 27th January 1919.

Walter James GOODLET

Walter James GOODLET

Coo-ees Walter Goodlet (left) and James Birrell Dawson (right), both amputees. Photograph courtesy of James Dawson's great grandson Jamie Stacey.

Coo-ees Walter Goodlet (left) and James Birrell Dawson (right), both amputees. Photograph courtesy of James Dawson’s great grandson Jamie Stacey.

Per his military service record (regimental no. 4780), Walter James Goodlet was born at Sofala, N.S.W. He gave his age as 21 years, his marital status as single, and his occupation as miner. His description on his medical was height 5feet 9 inches tall, weight 123 lbs., with a medium complexion, grey eyes, and brown hair. His religious denomination was Presbyterian. He claimed that he had 6 months previous military service with the 41st Infantry (Militia).

He was one of three men who stepped forward at the recruiting meeting in Yetholme around a bonfire in the school ground, and ‘arranged to join the “Coo-ees” at Lithgow’.[1]

He caught the train to Lithgow where he joined the Coo-ees.[2]

He completed his medical on the 2nd November 1915 at Lithgow, and was attested by Captain Eade at Lithgow on 2nd November 1915.

After completing the march he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion.

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Glanmire, via Bathurst, N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as his father, J. Goodlet, Glanmire, via Bathurst, N.S.W.

He was given a send off at Glanmire shortly before leaving Australia, where there was dancing, and he was presented with a wristlet watch, a pocket wallet, a £1 note from friends, ten shillings from the Walang school children, and two pairs of socks. The Bathurst Times reported that he ‘briefly thanked those present for their handsome presents, and hoped that some day he would have the pleasure of meeting them all again’.[3]

On 8th March 1916 Private Goodlet departed Sydney on the HMAT A15 Star of England, along with many of the other Coo-ees, arriving in Egypt on 11th April 1916.

On 27th May 1916 he was transferred to the 4th Pioneer Battalion at Tel El Kebir, Egypt.

On 4th June 1916 Private Goodlet left Alexandria aboard the Scotian bound for France, arriving at Marseilles on 11th of June 1916.

Two months later, on 3rd August 1916, the 4th Pioneer Battalion was constructing communication trenches in Becourt Wood, France, when Private Goodlet was wounded in action, being struck by a the blast of a high explosive shell that shattered his the left arm. He was evacuated to the 4th Field Ambulance. On 6th August 1916 he was moved to the 1st General Hospital at Rouen, France. On 28th August 1916 he was transferred to England by the Hospital Ship Mahons, where he was admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital at Wandsworth, and his arm was amputated.

On 24th November 1916 Private Goodlet was transferred to the 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Southall, England.

On 21st December 1916 Private Goodlet was granted leave. He reported back on 5th April 1917.

On 4th May 1917 Private Goodlet departed England bound for Australia aboard the Transport Themistocles (along with fellow Coo-ee Private James Dawson, who had also lost an arm).

H.T. Thermistocles arrived at Sydney on 4th July 1917.

He was discharged medically unfit, with a disability of an amputated left arm, on 4th January 1918.

[1] ‘The Coo-ees along the route at Glanmire and Yetholme’, The Bathurst Times, 1 November 1915, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article111237023

[2] ‘Personal’, The Bathurst Times, 8 March 1916, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article109949686

[3] ‘Personal’, The Bathurst Times, 8 March 1916, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article109949686

 

Coo-ees at Penrith – article in the Nepean Times

COO-EES AT PENRITH : ARTICLE FROM THE NEPEAN TIMES

This is a transcription of an article titled ‘Coo-ees at Penrith’ that was published in The Nepean Times on 13 November 1915 (p. 3).

It gives a detailed description of the Coo-ees welcome to Emu Plains and Penrith on 9th November 1915, and evening open-air concert and recruiting speeches. It describes the piper and kettle drummer that marched them into Emu Plains, where they were greeted by the local people, and the local school children that supplied the Coo-ees with 40 dozen cordials and aerated waters. It describes the Light Horse, Infantry, Boy Scouts, Rifle Club, and local recruits that paraded with them into Penrith and through High Street, which was decorated in bunting. It describes the ladies of Penrith who had volunteered their time and resources to feed the Coo-ees, and the efforts of the organising committee that had prepared the Coo-ees welcome to Penrith. It describes the banners on the support wagons. It also describes Mr Harley Blacket’s role in supporting the Coo-ee March, who had volunteered his time and the service of his motor car, and reports on his recruiting speech at Penrith.

COO-EES AT PENRITH

The war has evoked many notable scenes and manifestations of ardent patriotism at Penrith, but it is safe to say that the outburst of Australian loyalty, and the fervor of the enthusiastic greeting of the multitude which welcomed the Gilgandra Coo-ees to Penrith on Tuesday afternoon last transcended all out experiences of stirring movement and interesting spectacle called up in connection with various phases and developments consequent on the war.

And properly so; for the coming of the Coo-ees was an historic, and unique happening; it represented in concrete personal form, so to speak, the patriotic appeal of the backblocks to the loyal heart of all Australia; and naturally, adduced the intense admiration and support of the people on the line of the route traversed by the column, and in the quotas of stalwart prospective heroes that it gathered to its ranks at various centres, gave, like beauty, “its own excuse for being,” and in the gaining of those recruits received the sort of practical appreciation it (the column) most desired.

The Coo-ees, who had “bivouacked” at Springwood on Monday night, reached Emu Plains about noon. Along the Mountain route from Lawson to Springwood they had been accompanied by the excellent Leura Brass Band, under Bandmaster Rumph (instructor of the band of the 26th Regiment), and at Springwood were met by the Penrith Brass Band, which played at the fete given in honour of the Coo-ees at the Holmedale Estate on Monday night.

At Springwood the services of Piper R. Mackay were secured, and it was to the stirring “skirling” of the “Cock of the North” played by the redoubtable piper, assisted by the kettle drummer of the column, that the Coo-ees marched into Penrith territory proper, coming over the Nepean Bridge about 4 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon, in gallant style, flanked and followed by a cheering “rearguard” of, it seemed, nearly the whole population of Emu Plains. At Emu, en passant, the Coo-ees were cordially entertained (and in this connection it may be mentioned the local school children of Emu supplied 40 dozen cordials and aerated waters) and at Emu also they made the acquaintance of Senators Grant and McDougall, who had come up specially from Sydney to greet the men.

In accordance with the arrangements the Coo-ees were received at the West End boundary, opposite Mr Bennett’s residence by the various local military units, comprising Light Horse, to number of 42, under command of Staff-Sergt-Major Owens; Infantry (40), under Lieut Plunkett officer in charge of parade); Cadets (100), under charge of Lieut (Rev) M G Hinsby; and Boy Scouts to the number of about 40, in charge of Mr Strang, assistant Master Sup Pub School; the Rifle club; and last but not least a detachment of district recruits (headed by two returned heroes from the front — Privates Geo Taylor and Geo Primmer) in training at Liverpool camp, under the command of Sergt Lane, with whom were Sergts G Baker and Earp; Corporals F H Haylen, H V Towne, and R Sullivan; the Privates were P Baker; W J Starling, V Colless, C Miller, H Stafford, E Ausburn, J Delahunty, J McLachlan, W Fryer, F Newman, W Potter, T Cummins, J H Gardiner, E Hope, J Boots, J Hackett, I Tennant, R Henry, T Eaton, J Rumgay, B Evans, J Evans, B Hair. The splendid, alert soldierly appearance of this detachment, and, in fact, that of the whole local military show, was commented upon with marked appreciation by the public. During the intermediate halt at the bridge end our representative, in taking a “bird’s eye-view” of the Coo-ees was greatly struck by their robust appearance, and generally fine physique, their keen soldierly spirit, and good discipline.

The transport waggons which had severally “trekked” with the column from each distant centre at which large units fell in, added to the “army in being” impress of the contingent, each wagon being “labelled” in typically Australian style thus were the “Bathurst Boomerangs,” the “Gilgandra Coo-ees,” the “Geurie Unit,” the “Wellington Emus,” the “Dubbo Lads,” while another was painted “Through to Belin,” each waggon flying a special flag of its own, one showing the Union Jack, another the Australian banner, and another the Irish flag, etc; the column also displaying large banners at the head of each unit. The horses were in splendid condition, and a good serviceable lot, and are to be sold on the column reaching its destination.

After formal introductions of the  Mayor and Aldermen, Clergy and prominent citizens to Capt Hitchen, Major Wynne, Capt Eade, and other officers, by Cr Riches, who had accompanied the Coo-ees throughout the Blue Mountains Shire, the Mayor briefly announced that Senators Macdougall and Grant would address a few words to the column, prior to the continuing of the march to Penrith.

Senator Macdougall congratulated Capt Hitchen, officers and men on the soldierly appearance of the column, and said the inspiration which led to the organisation of the Coo-ees, and   to the march, was one that thrilled Australia. He congratulated them on their putting the sacred duty of the defence of the Empire and human liberty before every other consideration. The war was now at a critical period. Lord Kitchener said great additions were required to the forces of the Allies, for keeping up the supply of men and munitions was essential to win the victory. He wished the men God-speed on their way to the front, and a safe return and a glorious victory over the enemy. He thanked the Mayor for the opportunity granted of addressing “that band of Australia’s prospective warriors.”

Senator Grant said, so far as he could judge such a movement as that of the Coo-ees was the best sort of reply to the nay voiced in some quarters for Conscription. Speaking as a member of the Commonwealth Parliament he considered the Defence Department had done wonderfully well to equip and transport so many troops and to adopt such efficient measures. He was understood to say that there were scarcely more than 200,000 men remaining of “fighting ages” in the State, and had no doubt that as many drafts as necessary would avail without having to resort to Conscription. He realised the men in the firing line and those in training for the front were risking their lives for their country, and felt that the Government and State would loyally stand by the men and could not do less in the circumstances. (Cheers).

Capt Wynne, a splendid type of the professional British soldier, in reply, said that from the marching point of view they had come from a district of bad roads to one a bit worse (laughter), but he was glad to have made the acquaintance of the Mayor and civic body, and people of Penrith despite the rough marching road thereto. (Laughter). He was sure Capt Hitchen and the men appreciated the commendatory speeches they had heard, but would be better pleased if they scored a lot of recruits at Penrith.

After a great outburst of cheering for the Coo-ees, to which the latter replied by a thrilling (and “shrilling”) edition of the Australian war-cry— “Coo-eeing” in true bushland fashion—the route was resumed, headed by the Penrith Brass Band, followed by Light Horse Detachment, Cadets, Citizen Forces Boy Scouts, War Reinforcements, etc., the Coo-ees and the general public, which almost to a man,woman and child followed in the wake of the procession, or “kept up” along the side-walks.

Along decorated High Street, bunting streaming from various points of vantage; and extending across the street, the march, greeted by a vociferous and continuous salvo of cheering that was voluminous enough to have silenced the biggest battery manufactured by Krupps, if cheers could accomplish such a feat; continued, till in the vicinity of the central block (from the Federal Hotel to Mrs Voyce’s establishment) a halt was called, to permit of the vocal welcome of the school children being given to the Coo-ees. Under the baton of Mr J A Maloney, B.A., Head Master, the children sang the patriotic song, “Coo-ee,” in fine style, the column giving their “hereditary” acknowledgement—the locality resounding to the shrillily accented vibration of the Coo-ees’ acclaim. Arrived at the Town Hall, via Evans Steet, the Mayor, from the steps of the civic forum, briefly welcomed the Coo-ees to Penrith in the name of the civic fathers and citizens. His Worship said, inter alia, that he knew the men would comport themselves with true pluck and endurance on the battlefield when they gained the war zone, and he urged them to “give the enemy a special one, good and hard” when they got into holts with that atrocious entity, in memory of Nurse Cavell so cruelly and unjustly done to death by German brutality. He then called for three more cheers for Captain Hitchen and the Coo-ees, which were given with a will, and replied to in their own genial, familiar fashion by the Coo-ees.

At the Showground.

The Showground was reached about 5 p.m. and soon after “stacking arms” for the time being a welcome interlude, came o’er the scene for the Coo-ees, with the arrival of the mail. A number of letters and papers were distributed to their addressees, only one or two not getting a word from “the Old Farm in the Bush.” One Coo-ee somewhat disconsolately remarked to our reporter— “I think I’ll go and write a lonely letter to myself if I don’t get one to-morrow.” In converse with Capt Hitchen, a fine open hearted and well set-up bushman of much inland experience, we learned that the Coo-ees embraced a wide clientele of men belonging to various callings and orders, several wealthy privates, a number of farmers, including a father and three sons (Messrs Hunt), stockmen, tradesmen, dam-sinkers, and shearers, general labourers, etc., being included. It will be remembered that Capt Hitchen was rescued by his son, then a lad of 16 years, some two years ago after falling down a deep well, while in the act of effecting some repairs. That son is now sailing amongst recent reinforcements for the front, another brother having preceded him. Capt Hitchen hopes to meet his two boys over at the front, and be with them at the fall of Constantinople. Needless to say, we heartily voice his patriotic desire.

The arrangements for supplying the men’s gastronomic needs reflects vast credit on the committee, more especially on the ladies, who in the most commendable and gracious manner attended to the cooking and setting out of the viands, the laying of tables, and ministering to the entertainment of the men with that kindly assiduity which it is only fair to say is a proverbial characteristic of the patriotic ladies of Penrith. The “mere men” folk of the committee, however, were not idle spectators of the energies and courtesies of the ladies, and seconded those efforts with considerable effect. At the dinner — the   menu of which was excellent in quality and variety— the local civic fathers, clergy, and members of committee sat down with the Coo-ees, the four esteemed and popular clerics of Penrith— viz, Revs (Lieut) M G Hinsby, Father Barlow, J Tarn, and J McKee —thorough patriots and democrats of the noblest type— fraternising very cordially with the brave and true “soldiers in making,” who have come so far to prove the quality of their patriotism. The ready compliance on the part of the public of Penrith, and outlying districts to meet the request of the committee in the matter of supplying cooked provender for the men cannot be too warmly appreciated. The kindness also of Mrs Voyce and Mrs F Horstmann, in supplying nearly all the crockery, dishes, and cutlery required in the festive section helped the committee in a very important phase, and the sub-committee of management (Ald Jones and Fitch and Mr H Morris) desire to accord their best thanks to those and the other ladies.

The Concert.

The Coo-ees welcome open-air concert, which had been organised chiefly by Miss Elsie Thorncroft, who, happily, had obtained assistance of some of the leading metropolitan artists, including the world-famed Mr Malcolm McEachern, formerly associated with Madame Melba, in operatic and concert work, was held in the grandstand enclosure at the Showground, and it was unanimously agreed that in point of quality, in every phase, vocal, recitative, and instrumental, the performance excelled any open-air concert ever held in Penrith. Mr Polkinghorn, who had accompanied the concert party from Sydney, the artists travelling in Mr Alex Watts’ motor car (Mr Watts having, we understand, patriotically financed the “delegation”), acted as announcer of the items. In the case of the efforts of such a famed vocalist as Mr. McEachern such an infliction as casual criticism would be both impertinent  and superfluous, especially at a patriotic concert, and the same remark applies as emphatically to the other contributors to the concert, every item of which was artistically rendered, while the accompaniments left nothing to be desired. The accompanists, by the way, were Misses Hazel Doyle and B Stanton, and Mr Lindley Evans, and the piano— a well-tuned instrument was kindly lent by Mr Hill, High Street, Penrith. Mr McEachern in his opening number, “A Hero of the Dardanelles,” thrilled the gathering, his enunciation, tone and phrasing, being, of course, that of a great artist. The eminent basso achieved a similar success in the encore number, “Boys of the Bulldog Breed,” evincing the temperamental geniality and enthusiasm essential in the true exponent of martial and patriotic song. Miss Dorrie Newman next gave a tuneful rendering of the pretty ballad —”The Little Grey Home in the West”; and Miss Elsie Thorncroft, previous to reciting “The Roll Call,” asked the audience to stand during the playing of the anthem “Abide With Me,” in reverence of the memory of Nurse Cavell, the victim of Hunnish barbarity, and whose fiendish execution is another indeliable blot on the escutcheon of the German nation. Miss Thorncroft’s dramatic recital of “The Roll Call” pleased the audience, and the popular elocutionist responded, to the insistent recall with the spirited declamation of Harold Bybie’s searching verses, “How Will You Feel, Sonny?” particularly addressed to the shirkers, who, however well-fitted for the ranks, refrain from answering the “call to arms” in the true patriotic spirit. Mr Smythe then gave a most amusing, though none the less cultured rendering of “Down in Zomerset, Where the Cider Apples Grow,” and in reply to a clamorous encore sang with great force and expression the stirring martial apostrophe— “Long Live the King.”

A break was made at this stage in the vocally harmonic section of the concert, Mayor Walker introducing to the audience Mr Harley Blacket, the “guide, philosopher and friend” of the Coo-ees, who had accompanied the contingent all the way from Dubbo in his motor-car, carrying the invalided or wearied, acting as courier, lecturer, adviser-in-general, etc., to the column; and as Capt Hitchen said feelingly, “Harley Blacket was a credit to the Australian nation, and the Coo-ees would be lost without him.” In passing it may be remarked here that Q.M.S. Lee (ex-Methodist Minister), who had spoken frequently along the route, urging enlistment on the young fellows at various centres, was recuperating at Mt Victoria for a few days, having felt somewhat “run down” after his exertions.

Mr Blackett, who was received with a great ovation— the cheering lasting several minutes — made a very earnest and forcible appeal for recruits. The Coo-ees, he said, greatly appreciated the splendid reception they had received at Penrith, which, he hoped, would be an augury of the whole-hearted resolve of the Penrith men of “fighting age,” to join the column. En passant, he paid a feeling tribute to Capt Hitchen and the men of the column, saying that if the men of the backblocks were always rough and ready as regards speech and manners they were rough diamonds— men with hearts of gold and thews of iron.   “They were not out on a holiday jaunt; they were out for fighting men —men every time — to strive for victory of Liberty over the accursed foe of Justice, Right and Human Weal” (Cheers). Appealing to the Coo-ees he said — “What do we want, Coo-ees?” and the cry came back instantly— “We want men— men, and plenty of them!”   If Miss Thorncroft’s thrilling words and the call of the ladies generally, so brightly voiced, could not move the young men of Penrith he felt his words would fall on barren soil. “Loyalty did not consist in singing ‘God Save the King,’ but was synonymous with the spirit of patriotic pride, and readiness to serve the Empire,” and to sally forth in defence of their hearth and homes, for,” said Mr Blacket, “the frontiers of Australia today are being menaced at Gallipoli and in the Balkans; our coastline, as it were, by exigencies of war, figuratively, and actually in the sense of the extremity of affairs, has been translated across the ocean to the seat of war; and there our brave compatriots are fighting and falling in defence of our country as surely as if the battle was being waged on our own soil.” He made a touching reference to the fate of Nurse Cavell, and dwelt upon the hideous treatment of females by the Teutons, as verified during the war, in France, Belgium, Poland and Servia ; and asked how, in face of the atrocious nature of the German Menace, young men eligible in every way could turn a deaf ear to the appeal to enlist in such bodies as the Coo-ees. Mr Blacket concluded an inspiriting and fervent address, which covered almost every phase of the patriotic issues, with a vehement appeal to the men of Penrith, pointing his utterances with an anecdote of the man who seemed to fall, and yet maintained his position, while skating one day on very thin ice. Presently a rescue party went out, and when they came near the man sang out, “Don’t bother about me, boys, I’m standing on Jim– he’s keeping me up.” He hoped the young men of Penrith were not also “standing on Jim” (their brave fellows) in this awful crisis, and that they would come forward— those who had no incumbrances— and join the Coo-ees on their march to the training camp (Loud applause). As a part- ing shot, Mr Blacket said the Coo-ees did not want cheers; they wanted men. The speaker’s utterances were punctuated by several pointed and pungent references to the “cold -feet,” etc., of the men who were not ready to enlist, by the Coo-ees.

At the end of Mr Blackett’s address, which pressure of space obliges us to curtain, three Penrith men, viz., J Megarrity, Allen Easterbrook and W A Sutton came forward, amidst the cheers of the audience. We understand that two more recruits (not residents) joined here, bringing the Coo-ees’ aggregate up to about 230.

The remaining items of the concert programme were then proceeded with, as follows:— Recitation, “Bandy Jim” (a thrilling tale of the American Civil War), by Mr Wright; encore, patriotic appeal, entitled, “You”— both efforts being given in first-class form.   “En passant,” Mr Wright stated he   had made three efforts to enlist at the outset of war in England, and so was above the “shirker” category. Duet, Messrs E J Fulton and A Honey, rendered in fine unison and harmony.

Mrs Costello then mounted the concert platform, and read the following letter of welcome to Captain Hitchen and the Coo-ees from the local branch of the W.C.T.U.:— “On behalf of the members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Penrith Branch, we give you a hearty welcome to our town, and pray God will bless your efforts for the cause of righteousness. We are proud of the stand you have taken for God, Home, and Humanity, and will pray that you may be spared, with your noble band of volunteers, to return with honor to our sunny land when the fight for your King and Country is over. There is a great need for united efforts being put forth to fight the foe within our gates, “Kaiser King Alcohol,” who is destroying so many of our brave sons, who express willingness to serve their King, with their lives, if needs be; but the pro-Germans serve the drink, shouting goes on, the dreadful foe is taken to kill the brain, and so many are sent away disgraced. The number of drunken soldiers seen in the streets is a positive reproach to the community. We are doing our part, you have taken your noble stand, and we must work united in the interest of National efficiency, and bar the drink curse. Is it the right thing to have this temptation placed in the way of our young manhood, who are going out to fight our battles. If Germany wins we would be virtually slaves. The thing to be done is to end it. You are nobly doing your part, and have set an example worthy of our military authorities and politicians, following during this national crisis. Every hotel bar is a recruiting agency for the Germans, because alcohol contributed largely to inefficiency in the Australian forces, in rendering men unfit for service. There is no doubt that alcohol is a great ally for the Germans. Let it not be said our men so far forgot they were British men, as to be conquered by the foe within our gates— alcohol. We hope that your stay here will be mutually pleasant and profitable, and that your influence will live in the hearts of the people long after you leave our shore, and that your noble self-sacrificing example will be followed by others who take their stand to, Follow the King. God Save the King., Yours respectfully (Mrs) E J Costello, hon sec W.C.T.U., Penrith Branch.”

Capt Hitchen briefly expressed the thanks of the Coo-ees and himself for the ”nice letter” of the W.C.T.U. Miss Nita Colless then gave a much appreciated rendition of the popular patriotic solo, “Motherland,” with her usual artistic appraisement of the theme; and Mr McEachern again delighted the audience with his incomparable singing of “Land of Hope and Glory,” followed by “Till the Boys Come Home” (an Australian patriotic lyric) as an encore. A collection for the Coo-ees was here taken up, and later Miss E Thorncroft announced the result as £11 10s 1od. The concert continued its “dulcet career,” Miss Mackel singing a solo with much sweetness and charm, receiving the plaudits of the crowd; while Mr Don Hattersley’s inimitible recitation of the “Country Curate” and the “Country J.P.” (encore) fairly, “convulsed” the audience. Mr F W Hearne gave an excellent rendering of “The Deathless Army,” his full and liquid notes ringing out with fine emphasis on the still night air; and Mr H S Pullen (baritone) next gave a finely phrased, and musical interpretation of the stirring air, “When the Boys in Khaki all Come Home.” The last item on the exhaustive Coo-ee concert bill— viz “Rule Britannia” was then sung   by Mr McEachern, the chorus being taken up with tremendous vim by the gathering. An “unrehearsed” item, viz, a patriotic address in aid of the sheep-skin vest purchase movement for war purposes, by Mr J R Gilmore, was then given; after which the audience sang the National Anthem, and with a parting cloud-splitting storm of cheering for the Coo-oes and all their plans, powers, and principalities; and an ear-piercing climax of “volleyed” cooeeing in reply from the Gilgandra lads, the citizens hied homewards (about 10 p.m.), and our last view of the Coo-ees was, to use an Hibernianism, listening to the somnolent snoring of some of them in the unconscious regions of the “Land of Nod.”

On Wednesday morning the Coo-ees having hastily made a matutinal snack were out of camp and on the route bright and early for St Marys, where they breakfasted, before setting out on their record march to Parramatta.’

To read this article on Trove click here: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86168730

Note: the official count for the number of recruits at Penrith was 4. Information on three of them can be found on this website:

Allen Easterbrook (spelt ‘Alan’ on his service record) https://cooeemarch1915.com/2015/07/26/alan-john-burnett-easterbrook/

Selby George Megarrity https://cooeemarch1915.com/2015/08/26/selby-george-megarrity/

Samuel Clark (one of the Coo-ees who caught up at Penrith) https://cooeemarch1915.com/2015/08/30/samuel-clark/