Procession that welcomed the Coo-ees to Bathurst 28 October 1915

Procession that welcomed the Coo-ees to Bathurst 28th October 1915

Procession welcoming the Coo-ees to Bathurst, 28/10/1915. Photograph courtesy Margaret Murden and Dorothy Clampett.

Procession welcoming the Coo-ees to Bathurst, 28/10/1915. Photograph courtesy Dorothy Clampett and  Margaret Murden.

This photograph of the procession that welcomed the Coo-ees to Bathurst on Thursday 28th October , was taken from the corner of Russell Street and William Street, looking towards to Bathurst Court House.

The photograph partly shows two mounted police in the foreground, on William Street, then a brass band, following by men carrying rifles, at the head of a procession marching along Russell Street, next to King’s Parade. Trees obscure the rest of the procession. Spectators line the street. Bunting hangs across the road. The majestic Bathurst Court House can be seen in the background.

This photograph is from the family album of Lieutenant Frank Middenway’s daughters, now held by his granddaughters, Dorothy Clampett and Margaret Murden. Lieutenant Middenway, from Lithgow Army Camp, assisted with recruitment on the Coo-ee March from Lithgow to Sydney.

This photograph was recently published in an article titled ‘Coo-ee’, written by Ann O’Connell, in ‘Ashfield Answers the Call’, Ashfield History No. 20, Journal of the Ashfield and District Historical Society Inc.[1]

A description of the procession that lead the Coo-ees through the streets of Bathurst to the Soldiers’ Memorial in King’s Parade, which was built in 1909 to honour the Bathurst men who served in the 1899-1902 South African War, is given in the following transcription of an article titled ‘Recruits’ published in the Bathurst Times on 29 October 1915: [2]






Down the hill along Lambert-street at about 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon came a procession unique in the history of Bathurst, and one which portended the serious manner in which the serious crisis in which the Empire is at present involved is taken by the males of the community. For the Gilgandra recruits— that gallant band of volunteers inaugurated by Captain T B. [sic] Hitchen — were entering the good old City of the Plains, and the Bathurst people had determined that the reception accorded them should be one worthy of the town and district.

Enough has been said of the commendable nature of the scheme of Captain Hitchen, and the arrival yesterday of the ever-increasing band of men that goes to prove the value of the captain’s recruiting effort was made the occasion of a gala day in Bathurst, the attendance in the streets and elsewhere, and the enthusiasm displayed being typical of the high esteem in which the marching recruits are held.


At the corner of Stewart and Lambert streets, where the procession entered the town proper, a sign was displayed on the balcony of the Hotel Dudley, which read: ‘Well done, Coo-ees! We welcome you, and wish you God-speed,’ and this formed a fitting word of welcome to the gallant little band. All along the streets to the King’s Parade, where the Union Jack and Australian ensign flew proudly aloft on the newly erected flagstaff, crowds of enthusiastic citizens lined the way, and united in the effort to make the welcome to the recruits a warm one.

The procession was headed by a section of mounted police, behind which marched the City and Salvation Army Bands, discoursing excellent martial music. The local cadets followed, marching in good time ahead of scholars of the various schools and convents of the district, wearing the dainty costumes aired on the Belgian Day and Australia Day celebrations. His Worship the Mayor came next in a conveyance, followed by Mr A. G. Chiplin, in solitary glory in a hansom cab. The Military Band, under Mr. Lewins preceded the Gilgandra and other recruits, who were accorded a royal reception all along the route. “First Stop— Berlin,” read the inscription on one of the transport waggons, and each of the conveyances of the various units bore some similar indication of the determined spirit of the volunteers. The Civilian Rifle Club members marched behind the recruits, and were followed by a number of motor cars and other vehicles. The appearance of the banner “Bathurst Boomerangs” was the signal for an out-burst of emphasised applause, and the local quota to the strength of the contingent was accorded a brilliant reception.

On the way to the King’s Parade the frequent call of “Coo-ee!” echoed in the air, punctuated by the musical clang of the bells of All Saints’ Cathedral and the cheers of the multitude. Bunting was prominent everywhere, and as the procession turned into Russell-street from George-street it passed beneath a string of flags and words of welcome.


The Soldiers’ Memorial (built 1909) at King’s Parade, Bathurst. Photograph: H. Thompson

The Soldiers’ Memorial (built 1909) at King’s Parade, Bathurst. Photograph: H. Thompson


The scene when the recruits and others assembled at the Soldiers’ Memorial was a memorable one, and the remarks of the Mayor when welcoming the recruits were lost on the ears of the majority of the big assemblage. Nevertheless there was no mistaking the enthusiastic spirit of the multitude, and Bathurst may well feel proud of the greeting it accorded the band of gallant Empire defenders on their arrival.

Mr Beavis, who was supported on the Memorial by Captain Hitchen, Major Wynne, Captain Eade, Sergeant Lea, Mr. Fern, M.L.A., Major Machattie, and others formally welcomed the recruits to Bathurst. He mentioned that the town had already spent £15,000 in contributing to the various war funds, and that 400 of its men had joined the colors, while doubtless from 500 to 1000 more would do so in the future.

Captain Hitchen returned thanks for the reception accorded the recruits, which had been most flattering to himself and all concerned.


Having been entertained at after-noon tea by the ladies’ committee, the recruits marched to the Show Ground, where an excellent evening meal was served, in order that they might attend the evening’s proceedings in Machattie Park refreshed and keen on the recruiting aspect of the fixture.’

To read this article on Trove click here:

[1] O’Connell, Ann, ‘Coo-ee’, ‘Ashfield Answers the Call’, Ashfield History No. 20, Journal of the Ashfield and District Historical Society Inc., p. 42.

[2] ‘Recruits’, The Bathurst Times, 29 October 1915, p. 2,


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