Category Archives: Remembering the Coo-ees

Remembrance Day 2018

Remembrance Day 2018

100 years ago today, following the signing of the Armistice, the guns finally fell silent, and all fighting ceased on the Western Front at 11.00 am on the 11th of November, 1918, after four long years of continuous warfare.

Harold Brooks Davis’ headstone at St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson 11/9/2016)

By this time in 1918, 40 of the 263 men who had enlisted on the 1915 Gilgandra to Sydney Coo-ee Recruitment March had died overseas while on active service, with one more to die in France from the Influenza epidemic a few weeks later.  The youngest died the day before his 16th birthday. Their stories can be read on the Coo-ee March Roll of Honour https://cooeemarch1915.com/honour-roll/

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

At the time of the Armistice, many of the Coo-ees were still serving in their units along the Western Front. Five Coo-ees were prisoners of war behind the German lines. Many had been returned to Australia medically unfit, wounded and ill from their war service, some with missing limbs. Others were recovering in hospitals in France and England. Some were lucky enough to have been on leave at the time.

Private Roy McMillan (Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 11/5/1918)

Ex-prisoner of war Private Cyril Roy MCMILLAN (45th Battalion) wrote the following letter to The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate about his experience following the Armistice, dated 30th November 1918, which was published in the paper on 18th January 1919:

 I left Parramatta three years ago, with the Coo-ees … I was taken prisoner in that big stunt last March and April  … You can’t imagine how happy we are to-day, now that we are released. We were released about two weeks ago.  They just cast us adrift and told us to find our way back.  They never gave us any bread to start with, not even a bite.  Only for the Belgians we should have had hundreds of deaths along the road.  But the Belgians cared for us in every manner possible … We crossed the British lines on the 17th Nov., and we were heartily greeted by our own lads.  Several of us had to go to hospital through sickness.  I am in hospital at present, but will be across to England for Christmas, and hope to be home in Parramatta shortly afterwards.[1]

William Hilton Saunders (Photograph courtesy of Macquarie Regional Library)

Wongarbon Coo-ee Driver William Hilton SAUNDERS (4th Division Ammunition Column) was on leave in Scotland at the time of the Armistice, and recorded his experience of this day, and of making his way to London for several more days of celebrating, in his war diary:

11 November 1918: Went down to Stuart McDonalds in Argyle St. & heard that the Armistice has been signed. Went to the Glasgow Herald office & made certain. After that was nothing but excitement every where. The streets were crowded with shouting, singing, cheering crowds of people. Champagne was flying in all directions. Had a great day & never saw such scenes of rejoicing before.

12 November 1918: Processions still marching about the streets & the whole town is bedecked with flags of all the victorious allies … At 8 pm left Glasgow for London and felt very sorry to leave Bonnie Scotland.

13 November 1918: Arrived in London at Kings Cross at 9.30 about 1 ½ hours late … I had a good clean up & good breakfast, then turned in for a sleep … During the afternoon went to Buckingham Palace & saw King George & Queen Mary and Princess Mary come back from their drive in the East End.

14 November  1918: London has sure gone mad. Everywhere is Bunting & flowers & crowds of singing … & everyone is bent on having a ripping time in peace celebrations. Peace. The word is almost foreign to me after all those months, those years, amongst such slaughter & devastation. But after all what is a bit of blood & a few dead men. We are all so used to it.

15 November 1918: … Got in a military lorry with a crowd of girls & some soldiers & did a night tour of London. We went everywhere. I don’t really know where we did go but somehow we went all night. What a night.

16 November 1918: Had a great day … Here I am pinched by the MPs & in Warwick Square quite forgot that my pass is overdue & I should have gone back. Oh yes days ago … [2]

Lest we forget.

 

[1] ‘German Atrocities. A Parramatta Prisoner’s Story’, The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 18 January 1919, p. 10. Retrieved March 12, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article86118958

[2] Saunders, William Hilton, personal diary, 1918. Original dairy held by UNSW Canberra, Academy Library Special Collection. W. Hilton Saunders manuscript collection 1915-1965 MSS 64, Box 1, Folder 2, (no. 3) barcode 519825. State Library of NSW digital copy http://archival.sl.nsw.gov.au/Details/archive/110374600

 

Commemorative Projections in Parramatta ANZAC Day 2018

Commemorative Projections in Parramatta ANZAC Day 2018

After arriving in Parramatta on Anzac Day evening, a friend and I walking through Centenary Square came across St Johns Anglican Cathedral Memorial Arch, covered in a river of red felt poppies, and a fantastic commemorative Centenary of Anzac WWI light display being projected against the wall of St Johns Church.

Coo-ee Recruitment March at Parramatta, Centenary of ANZAC Commemorative Projection, artwork by Illuminart, presented by Parramatta City (Photograph: H. Thompson 26/4/2018)

Included in the featured images illuminating the church wall were some on the arrival of the 1915 Coo-ee Recruitment March in Parramatta, and individual photographs of two of the Parramatta Coo-ees Oliver James HARMON and Cyril Roy MCMILLAN.

Image of Oliver Harmon, Centenary of ANZAC Commemorative Projection, artwork by Illuminart, presented by Parramatta City (Photograph: H. Thompson 26/4/2018)

The animated projection installation, which had been prepared by Illuminart, was very well done, and amazingly, the eyes on the images of the individual men and women displayed blinked – several times!

We went back the following evening for a second look.

A Gallery of photographs from the commemorative projection, which was held from 16th to 27th April 2018, can be seen at https://illuminart.com.au/project/anzac-parramatta/

Fallen Coo-ees commemorated at Australian War Memorial Last Post Ceremonies

Fallen Coo-ees commemorated at Australian War Memorial Last Post Ceremonies

Last Post Ceremony at Australian War Memorial

The Last Post Ceremony is held in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. This ceremony commemorates the 102,000 Australians who gave their lives in war and other operations, and whose names are recorded on the Australian War Memorial’s Roll of Honour.  The story behind one of the names remembered on the Roll of Honour is told at each Last Post Ceremony.

Five of the 41 Coo-ees who died while overseas on active service during the First World War have been commemorated in a Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial during the Centenary period.

These services have been recorded, and can be viewed on the Australian War Memorial website:

Private Harold Brooks DAVIS (4759) – Last Post Ceremony held 2nd March 2016

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C2133669

Private James CRAWFORD (4753) – Last Post Ceremony held 8th August 2016

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/AWM2016.2.221/

Private Charles Arthur FINN (6289) – Last Post Ceremony held 6th April 2017

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C2278409

Private Harold BAXTER (4370) – Last Post Ceremony held 16th April 2017

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C2278419

Private Frank HUMPHREY (1887) – Last Post Ceremony held 23rd April 2017

https://www.awm.gov.au/index.php/collection/C2278426

Three more fallen Coo-ees will be remembered in a Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial this year:

Lance Corporal Laurence Leslie MAGUIRE – Last Post Ceremony to be held 2nd April 2018

Private Stanley Everard STEPHENS  – Last Post Ceremony to be held 11th April 2018

Private William Thomas HITCHEN – Last Post Ceremony to be held 3rd September 2018

If you are not able to attend these services at the Australian War Memorial, you can watch the Last Post Ceremonies live online from 4.55 pm AEST at https://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/last-post-ceremony

The web addresses for the archived videorecordings for these three Last Post Ceremonies will be added to this webpage at a later date this year.

1987 and 2015 Coo-ee March Re-enactments Reunion and unveiling of Coo-ee March Roll of Honour Plaque

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.

Marchers formed up at Cairn in Bridge Street, Gilgandra, 30/9/2017 (Photograph courtesy John Tibben)

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.

Parade along Miller Street, Gilgandra 30/9/2017 (Photograph courtesy of John Tibben)

Marchers stopped at Gilgandra War Memorial 30/9/2017 (Photograph courtesy of John Tibben)

Marchers on Windmill Walk next to the Castlereagh River Gilgandra 30/9/2017 (Photograph courtesy of John Tibben)

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.

Unveiling of the Coo-ee March Roll of Honour plaque at Gilgandra 30/9/2017 (Photograph courtesy of John Tibben)

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).

Coo-ee March Roll of Honour plaque (Photograph courtesy of John Tibben)

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.

Plaque, wreaths, and poppies at Gilgandra 30/9/2017 (Photograph courtesy of John Tibben)

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.

1902 British Military Saddle donated by Major Stewart Thompson to Giglandra Museum and Historical Society (Photograph courtesy of John Tibben)

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/

The Coo-ees part in the fray anniversary of the start

The Coo-ees. Part in the fray, anniversary of the start

Transcript of an article from The Bathurst Times, 10 October, 1916, p. 4.

”THE COO-EES.’
PART IN THE FRAY, ANNIVERSARY OF THE START.

It’s twelve months all but two days since the Coo-ees started their long march from Gilgandra to Berlin, and though they’re not there yet, most of them are still on the way. One is well beyond the borders of Germany — he is a prisoner of war, and is reported to be in a prison camp in Westphalia — several have been wounded, and two, including their famous leader, “Captain Bill” Hitchen, are dead.

The Coo-ees started on the first stage of their march, the 330 miles trip from Gilgandra to Sydney, on Tuesday, Oct. 10. There were 25 of them then; but before they had covered half the distance the home town had sent another ten hotfoot to join them. These 35 Gilgandra men were good recruiting agents, for before they reached Sydney they had gathered in seven more men for every one of the original troop. They arrived just about 270 strong. Their example was followed all over the country, and recruiting marches were conducted from several points. None of them, however, caused such interest as that of the Coo-ees, and although public memory is always short it is probable that Captain Bill Hitchen and his men will always be remembered when Australia’s part in the war is talked of, certainly they will never be forgotten in Gilgandra and the other country towns which they passed through.

SACRIFICES THEY MADE.

Every town and township on the line turned out to meet them as they approached, and they were feted out and fed until their leaders began to fear that they would he killed by the kindness. The enthusiasm of the volunteers, too, was infectious. All along the road men dropped their work and joined the ranks. From Gilgandra alone there were three men with families. There was Captain Hitchen (officially he was only a Corporal; but he will always be remembered as Captain Bill), who had a family of three sons and two daughters; there was Signaller A. J. McGregor, who left behind him a wife and five young children; and there was Corporal J. McKeown, who left wife and four small McKeowns.

Wee McGregor, as he was known all along the march, sold out a flourishing bakery business in Gilgandra to join the Coo-ees. He had three brothers at the front, and he wanted to follow them. On the way to Sydney another brother jumped into the ranks— five from one family. McKeown had also fought in the South African war, and had the soldiering blood in him. At Coonamble two young brothers named Hunt joined the ranks. Their father saw them start; but the thought of the parting was too much for him. A few days later he hurried after the boys, and at Bathurst he, too, joined the march.

MEN OF ALL AGES.

The Coo-ees were men of all ages. Captain Bill himself was 52, and though the rest all said they were under 45, the authorities in many cases had suspicions about them. On the other hand, there were three lads under the age of 18.

When they reached Sydney on March 8 [sic] a number of them were rejected as medically unfit; but 200 eventually set sail for Europe. They didn’t all go together. Some were taken into the Light Horse, and others into the Engineers and Artillery; but about 180 went away as the 15th Reinforcements of the 13th. Battalion. In Egypt they were again split up; but the majority went into the 45th. Battalion. Those who stayed in Egypt were under fire three weeks after their landing, and the men who went to France were in the trenches in June. It used to be a military axiom that it took three years to train a soldier. In the case of the Coo-ees, the time spent in training was a little over three months.

The people of Gilgandra are keeping up the anniversary of the start of the march on Tuesday by a social. They originally intended to devote the proceeds to purchasing Christmas hampers for the men; but the State War Council refused permission for this, and the money will now be devoted to the Repariation Fund. Numbers of private parcels are being made up, however, in the way of Christmas gifts, for the men. So far there have been but nine casualties among the Coo-ees.

COO-EES WHO HAVE FALLEN.

Corporal Hitchen died of diabetes in Harefield Hospital, in England, a few weeks ago. He was ill when he arrived in England, and went straight into hospital. He died two months later. When news of his death was received in Gilgandra, all the business houses closed their doors for two hours. Private Sid Houston, wounded, is a son of Mr. and Mrs. George Houston, of Wellington. He joined the Coo-ees there when he was only 17 years and three months of age. Private Dave Wagner, wounded, is a son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Wagner, of Valley Heights. He was only 16 years and 10 months old when he enlisted. Private D. S. Stewart was at first reported missing, but has since been traced to a prison camp in Westphalia, where he is a prisoner of war. He is the second son of Mr. and Mrs. A. Stewart, of Parkes-street, East Wellington, and was only 16 years and 9 months old when he enlisted. He was the youngest recruit with the Coo-ees. Another brother, who enlisted at 18, is in the trenches. Private Letcher, who has been killed in action, was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Letcher of Bathurst, and was only 17 years old when he joined the Coo-ees at Bathurst.

Private G. Seaman, who also joined the Coo-ees at Bathurst, has been reported wounded.

Private W. E. Hunter, Redfern, enlisted at Geurie, and when the Coo-ees were in Orange he received a letter from his mother stating that his two brothers had been killed at the Dardanelles. He is reported wounded.

Corporal W. Smith, who enlisted with the Coo-ees at Geurie, where he was employed as Shire Clerk, was taken to England from France to undergo an operation. From advices received by the last mail he was improving fast. He was a widower with a number of young children, whom he placed in a boarding-school before going to the front.’

Click here to view the article on Trove: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article109934579

 

Re-visiting the graves of the fallen Coo-ees in August-September 2016

Re-visiting the graves of the fallen Coo-ees in August-September 2016

When Stephen and I visited the graves of the fallen Coo-ees in France, Belgium and England in 2012 and 2014, we felt that it would have been a good idea to have left an Australian flag and a commemorative information card on each of their graves.

After our participation in the 2015 Coo-ee March Re-enactment, we spoke at a Coo-ee March 2015 Inc. (Gilgandra Sub-Committee) meeting about our plan to revisit the graves of the Coo-ees during the Centenary of Anzac period, and idea to also have a travelling wreath to rest on the grave of each Coo-ee.

The Committee provided one of the purple Coo-ee “badge” ribbons to go on our wreath, which had been created to be worn by the marchers during the Re-enactment in memory of the purple “badges” worn by the original Coo-ees during the 1915 Coo-ee March.

Wreath on Bill Hitchen's grave 26/8/2016 (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson)

Wreath on Bill Hitchen’s grave 26/8/2016 (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson)

After collecting our hire car at Heathrow Airport in London on 21st August 2016, we drove for 30 minutes to visit Bill Hitchen’s grave at Harefield (St. Mary) Churchyard. We laid the wreath against his headstone, and left an Australian flag and commemorative information card with a red poppy on his grave.

Commemorative card on Bill Hitchen's grave 26/8/2016 (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson)

Commemorative card on Bill Hitchen’s grave 26/8/2016 (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson)

 

Australian flag and commemorative card on Bill Hitchen's grave 26/8/2016 (Photograph S. & H.  Thompson)

Australian flag and commemorative card on Bill Hitchen’s grave 26/8/2016 (Photograph S. & H. Thompson)

Over the next few weeks we will be visiting the graves of all the fallen Coo-ees who are buried in France, Belgium and England, and also the Menin Gate, V.C. Corner Australian Memorial, and Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, where the names of those Coo-ees who have no known grave are remembered. (Unfortunately we are not able to visit the grave of the Coo-ee buried in the Jerusalem War Cemetery, at least at this time).

On our return to Australia we will create an Honor Roll in memory of the fallen Coo-ees on this website.

 

Coo-ee article in Journal of the Ashfield & District Historical Society Inc.

‘Coo-ee!’ article in Ashfield History No. 20, Journal of the Ashfield & District Historical Society Inc.

Ashfield History No 20, published by Ashfield & District Historical Society Inc., November 2015.

Ashfield History No 20, published by Ashfield & District Historical Society Inc., November 2015.

A very interesting 31 page article titled ‘Coo-ee’, written by Ann O’Connell, has been published in ‘Ashfield Answers the Call’, Ashfield History No. 20, Journal of the Ashfield and District Historical Society Inc.

Written from an Ashfield perspective, this provides a very informative overview of the 1915 Coo-ee March,  with information about the march from its beginning in Gilgandra to its end in Sydney, and the 22 recruits who joined the Coo-ee March at Ashfield.  The article also includes lots of very interesting illustrations, including some photographs which have not been published before being printed in this article.

These include photographs from the personal family albums of Lieutenant Frank Middenway’s daughters, now held by his granddaughters, Dorothy Clampett and Margaret Murden.  One of these photographs is of the Coo-ees marching in a procession in front of the Bathurst Court House, in Russell Street, Bathurst, and one of the ‘Coo-ees near Wang’, showing local people with pushbikes, horses and sulkies, greeting the Coo-ees on a country road near Wallerawang (both on page 42).

Lieutenant Middenway, from Lithgow Army Camp, accompanied Captain Eade and Staff Sergeant Major Scott from Lithgow to Sydney, to assist with recruitment on the Coo-ee March.[1] His signature as Attesting Officer is on many of the Coo-ees’ Attestation Papers in their service records.

This article also includes photographs of the Ashfield Drill Hall, where the Coo-ees stayed overnight on 11th November 1915.

There is also a photograph of one of the purple Coo-ee “badge” ribbons that has been kept in Lieutenant Middenway’s family album.

This journal issue is available from sale for $20.00 plus $10.00 postage and handling from the Ashfield & District Historical Society, PO Box 20, Ashfield, NSW 1800. See their publications page for further information:   http://users.tpg.com.au/adhsashfield1/ADHS-publications.htm

[1] ‘General’, Lithgow Mercury, 3 November 1915, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article218452406

 

Coo-ee March 2015 Re-enactment

Coo-ee March 2015 Re-enactment

The Gilgandra to Sydney Coo-ee March 2015 Re-enactment started on Saturday 17th October 2015, to retrace the steps of the Coo-ees in 1915.

The start of the Coo-ee March 2015 Re-enactment at Gilgandra 17/10/2015

The start of the Coo-ee March 2015 Re-enactment at Gilgandra 17/10/2015

Events leading up to the commencement of the Re-enactment March started with a Provisions night at the Royal Hotel on Thursday 8th October, in memory of the Tobacco night held in 1915,  where the 2015 marchers and support crew took the opportunity to meet one another, and descendants and family members of the original Coo-ees.  A great night was had by all, with a BBQ provided by the Lions Club, and a bush band provided the entertainment.

A Farewell Ball was held on the Friday night, in memory of the Farewell Ball held for the Coo-ees in 1915.  Everyone participated in a barn dance, sang God Save the King, and Auld Lang Syne when the marchers departed.

A special church service was held at St Ambrose Church, before the Re-enactment March commenced from the marker showing where the Coo-ee March started in Bridge Street on 10th October 1915, with a street parade to the Cooee March Memorial Park near the Coo-ee Heritage Centre, where a commemorative service was held, and a tree planted, before the marchers set off on their 26 day route to Sydney, visiting the villages and towns that the Coo-ees visited in 1915, to hold some parades, and commemorative services, in memory of the Coo-ees.  The Coo-ee March 2015 Re-enactment will finish with the parade and Remembrance Day memorial service at the cenotaph in Martin Place in Sydney on 11th November 2015.

I am writing a day by day account of the Coo-ee March 2015 Re-enactment at http://cooeemarch2015reenactment.com/

Royal Australian Mint produces commemorative 20c coin to mark centenary of the Coo-ee March

Commemorative 20c coin to mark centenary of the Coo-ee March

The Royal Australian Mint has worked with Gilgandra Shire Council to commemorate a centenary of the Coo-ee March with the inclusion of a 20c Uncirculated Coin as part of the Australia Remembers Coin Series. The Mint has created this special commemorative piece to represent all of the recruitment marches that took place during this time one hundred years ago.

Answer the call and remember with this piece now: https://eshop.ramint.gov.au/2015-20c-Coo-ee-March-Coin/310661.aspx

 

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.