1987 and 2015 Coo-ee March Re-enactments Reunion and unveiling of Coo-ee March Roll of Honour Plaque
Marchers from the 1987 and 2015 Coo-ee March Re-enactments met in Gilgandra for a special reunion over the October Long Weekend, in memory of the 1915 Coo-ees, and to mark the 30th Anniversary of the 1987 Coo-ee March Re-enactment.
Around 40 former marchers and support people gathered at the Tattersalls Hotel in Gilgandra on Friday evening, 29th September 2017, to begin the weekend’s activities.
The main event was a street parade by the marchers on Saturday morning 30th September 2017 from Bridge Street along Miller Street (the main street), then, after a short stop for reflection at the Gilgandra War Memorial wall, the marchers marched along the Windmill Walk along the Castlereagh River to the Coo-ee March Memorial Gateway at the Coo-ee Heritage Centre, for a commemorative service.
The marchers formed up to begin the parade at the commemorative Cairn in Bridge Street at 10.45 am for a welcome by Gilgandra Shire Council Acting Mayor Ashley Walker.
This Cairn marks the spot where the Gilgandra to Sydney Coo-ee Recruitment March started 102 years ago, on 10th October 1915.
50 years later, in 1965 seven of the original Coo-ees reunited in Gilgandra, to unveil this commemorative Cairn.
The 1987 Coo-ee March Re-enactment and the 2015 Coo-ee March Re-enactment both started at this commemorative Cairn.
At the commemorative service held at the Coo-ee March Memorial Gateway, the names of the 35 Gilgandra Coo-ees were read out by Coo-ee descendant and 2015 Coo-ee March Re-enactment marcher Deborah Hitchen, and 2015 marchers Eric McCutcheon and Paul Mann.
A Coo-ee March Roll of Honour plaque, listing the name of the 41 Coo-ees who died while on active service overseas during the First World War, was then unveiled.
The plaque was prepared by Coo-ee March 2015 Inc. (Gilgandra Sub-Committee) in memory of the 41 fallen Coo-ees. It was unveiled by Gilgandra Shire Council Acting Mayor Ashley Walker, Gilgandra Historical Society President Graeme Purvis, Brian Bywater OAM, one of the organisers of both the 1987 and 2015 Coo-ee March Re-enactments, and President of Coo-ee March 2015 Inc., and myself (Helen Thompson, Researcher for Coo-ee March 2015 Inc. (Gilgandra Sub-Committee).
The plaque was blessed by 2015 marcher and local Anglican minister, Father Grahame Yager.
It was very moving when the MC Richard Salcole read out the names of the 41 fallen Coo-ees, and each marcher present from the 1987 and 2015 Re-enactments moved forward to lay a poppy in bowls of sand that were placed with the wreaths in remembrance of these men, as each name was read.
The red poppy wreath with the purple Coo-ee March 1915-2015 ribbon on it travelled with Stephen and me when we visited the graves of the fallen Coo-ees, or the memorials where their names are remembered, in France, Belgium and England last year.
This 1902 British Military Saddle, accompanied by an 1898 replica pattern bridle, on display at the service, was the type of saddle used by the Australian Light Horse during the First World War. It was donated to the Gilgandra Museum and Historical Society during the service. This saddle was used by Major Stewart Thompson (retired) OAM when he accompanied the marchers on his horse as an Australian Light Horse re-enactor on the 1987 Coo-ee March Re-enactment.
After the commemorative service, the marchers adjourned to the Gilgandra Bowling Club for a BBQ lunch. It was a great day to remember the 1915 Coo-ees, and catch up with the 1987 and 2015 marchers.
A special service was held at St Ambrose Church in Gilgandra, in memory of the Coo-ees, on Sunday morning 1st October, 2017.
The names of the 41 Coo-ees who died while on active service overseas during the First World War. Information about the 41 Coo-ees who died while on active service overseas during the First World War can be found on this website on the Honour Roll page https://cooeemarch1915.com/honour-roll/