Category Archives: Remembering the Coo-ees

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.

William Hilton Saunders war diaries available online

William Hilton Saunders war diaries

William Hilton Saunders (Photograph courtesy of Macquarie Regional Library)

William Hilton Saunders (Photograph courtesy of Macquarie Regional Library)

William Hilton Saunders joined the Coo-ee March at Wongarbon. Several of the many letters he wrote home were published in local newspapers. He also kept diaries from 1915 to 1919, which are now part of the UNSW Canberra Academy Library’s manuscripts collection.

Stephen and I visited the Academy Library at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra on 22nd August 2013 to view W. Hilton Saunders’ war diaries. There were 5 small fragile diaries, sealed in bags, which we were able to look at under supervision, wearing white gloves. There were many diary entries of interest in these diaries that I would have liked more time to read, but the time we had available to visit was limited, and it was difficult to write many notes in pencil, wearing gloves.

I was advised by the State Library of New South Wales last week that William Hilton Saunders’ war diaries (1916-1919) are now available online on this library’s website at http://www.acmssearch.sl.nsw.gov.au/search/itemDetailPaged.cgi?itemID=1323843. To access the digitised diaries, click on the Collection Hierarchy tab, then the title for each year’s diary, then click on ‘view images’.

This online access to W. Hilton Saunders’ diaries provides a wonderful opportunity to read through the wartime diary entries of one of the Coo-ees, following his experiences in the First World War, from his training at Liverpool Camp, to his voyage from Sydney to Egypt on the HMAT A15 Star of England, his experiences in the training camp at Egypt, and then on the Western Front, and on hearing of the Armistice that ended the war.

Unfortunately the 1915 diary has not been digitised, probably due to its limited number of entries, with none until the end of the year. The 1915 diary had an inscription inside it from a family member dated 8th October 1915 (the day W. Hilton Saunders did his medical and original attestation at Gilgandra before the march commenced). Unfortunately he did not make any entries for the period of the march, only a mention of arriving in Liverpool camp.   There were however lots of female names and addresses written in the back of this 1915 diary with addresses from many the towns and villages along the march, from Stuart Town onwards (where he re-signed his attestation form on 19th October 1915).

W. Hilton Saunders was one of the main contingent of Coo-ees that embarked from Sydney on HMAT A15 Star of England on 8th March 1916, which arrived in Egypt on 11th April 1916. He recorded daily entries in his diary for this period.

W. Hilton Saunders recorded the following details in his diary for the day the Coo-ees loaded onto the HMAT A15 Star of England, and left Sydney Harbour through the Heads:

W. H. Saunders diary entry 8/3/1916 (Image part of the State Library of NSW collection)

W. H. Saunders diary entry 8/3/1916 (Image from the State Library of NSW collection)

March 1916: 8 Ash Wednesday. “Up at 3 a.m. left Show Ground for wharf 4.57 a.m. & at 8.10 a.m. moved out from wharf amidst cheers from thousands to tune Auld Lang Syne Cleared Heads 2 p.m. water rough chopping seas fore deck”.

The Coo-ees when they joined the Coo-ee March and enlisted in the AIF had expected to be going as reinforcements to support the ANZAC troops on Gallipoli. That campaign finished while they were still in training in Liverpool Camp.

Yesterday as I attended the dawn service at the Dubbo War Memorial commemorating 100 years since the ANZAC troops had landed at Gallipoli, I had wondered what W. Hilton Saunders had wrote in his diares about his experience on the first Anzac Day held on 25th April 1916, where a sports day was held in the Australian camp in Egypt, where he and the other Coo-ees were in training. He wrote the following words:

W. H. Saunders diary entry 25/4/1916 (Image part of the State Library of NSW collection)

W. H. Saunders diary entry 25/4/1916 (Image from the State Library of NSW collection)

April 1916: 25 Easter Tuesday. “1st anniversary of landing at A.N.Z.A.C. Holiday for all troops in Egypt. Sports held on the Canal. Swimming etc. on the water. Did not go over myself felt too lazy. Stayed in camp & wrote home.”

He wrote no entry in his diary for Anzac Day in 1917, but in 1918 he wrote the following entry about his Anzac Day experience for that year:

W. H. Saunders diary entry 25/4/1918 (Image part of the State Library of NSW collection)

W. H. Saunders diary entry 25/4/1918 (Image from the State Library of NSW collection)

April 1918: 25 Thursday. “3rd Anniversary of the landing at Anzac. We were paid today & held sports in the afternoon. Had a good time. No. 1 Section won about 5 events out of 9 – including the officers race … 440 yds, kicking the football & Relay race. Most of the boys are celebrating the great day in “neck oil”. [aka beer].

 

Coo-ee March plinth at Dubbo War Memorial

Coo-ee March plinth at Dubbo War Memorial

After attending the dawn service at Dubbo War Memorial this morning along with a record size crowd, I took the opportunity to view the new Coo-ee March plinth on the Anzac Memorial Walk at Victoria Park, just near the cenotaph.

'The Coo-ee March' plinth near Dubbo War Memorial (Photograph: H. Thompson 25/4/2015)

‘The Coo-ee March’ plinth near Dubbo War Memorial (Photograph: H. Thompson 25/4/2015)

It is one of ten plinths recently erected by Dubbo City Council to commemorate different aspects of Dubbo’s involvement in the First World War, which was officially unveiled last Thursday, 23rd April 2015.

The Coo-ees had held a recruiting meeting in Dubbo, and stayed overnight at Dubbo Military Camp at Dubbo Showground on 13th October 1915.

Looking at the wreaths laid on the cenotaph I remembered reading a 1925 newspaper article in the Dubbo Liberal about the unveiling of this cenotaph and laying of the wreaths ceremony held 90 years ago today, on Anzac Day in 1925.

The wreaths included a ‘beautiful wreath nearly three foot in diameter, to the memory of the unknown soldier’, and ‘individual wreaths and those to battalions’ which ‘covered the whole of the base on one side of the monument’, and ‘above the wreaths was placed the historic flag which had been carried by “The Coo-ees” in their march from Gilgandra to Sydney’.[1]

Wreaths at Dubbo War Memorial in the same area where a flag from the Coo-ee March was displayed during the 1925 unveiling of the cenotaph (Photograph: H. Thompson, 25/4/2015)

Wreaths at Dubbo War Memorial in the same area where a flag from the Coo-ee March was displayed during the 1925 unveiling of the cenotaph (Photograph: H. Thompson, 25/4/2015)

Wilfred Ernest McDonald’s name is listed on the Dubbo War Memorial Roll of Honour, who was born in Dubbo, and had joined the Coo-ees at Wongarbon.  He was killed in action in France on 3rd May 1917 and has no known grave.

'MCDONALD W E' name on Dubbo War Memorial Roll of Honour (Photograph: H. Thompson, 25/4/2015)

‘McDONALD W E’ name on Dubbo War Memorial Roll of Honour (Photograph: H. Thompson, 25/4/2015)

[1] “Laying wreaths,” The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate, 28 Apr 1925, p. 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article76099146.

 

The 22 Ashfield recruits

Who were the 22 Ashfield recruits?

The Coo-ees held a recruiting meeting, and stayed the night at the Drill Hall at Ashfield on Thursday, 11th November, 1915 – their last night of the Coo-ee March on their long route from Gilgandra to Sydney.

This is now the site of the Ashfield Boys High School gymnasium, and a new car park named Coo-ee Car Park in memory of the 1915 Coo-ee March built recently by the Wests Ashfield Leagues Club.  A plaque about the Coo-ees at Ashfield was unveiled at the Coo-ee Car Park on 21st April 2015.

Plaque at Coo-ee Car Park, Ashfield (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson, 23/4/2015)

Plaque at Coo-ee Car Park, Ashfield (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson, 23/4/2015)

A plaque on an obelisk is situated in the grounds of the Ashfield Boys High School. It has been there for some time. On it are the words: “Celebrating Gilgandra Coo-ee Marchers 11 November 1915 22 Ashfield men joined with the Coo-ee marches here on this day”.

Coo-ee March obelisk at Ashfield Boys High School (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson 3/3/2014)

Coo-ee March obelisk at Ashfield Boys High School (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson 3/3/2014)

Although the “official” count for the total number of Coo-ees recruited on the 1915 Gilgandra to Sydney Coo-ee March per newspaper articles of the time was 263, with Ashfield having a total of 22 recruits, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on 13th November 1915 (p. 19) that ‘the contingent left the western suburb’ of Ashfield ‘about 263 strong, but there are others now to be sworn in – men who joined the little army yesterday.’ The Farmer and Settler reported about Coo-ees numbers on 21st December 1915 (p. 3) that ‘there were no fewer than 277 men on their last pay sheet in camp’.

We have found the following names of 23 men who were attested at Ashfield at the time the Coo-ees were recruiting at Ashfield. We note that one (Bert Kilduff) had paperwork dating only from 12th November 1915 in his service record, so perhaps the ”official” count of 22 recruits was taken the night before at Ashfield, and he was not included.  Although two others also completed their medical examination and signed their attestation paper at Ashfield on the 12th November 1915 (Thomas Edward Bow and Charles Seal), they had both signed the bottom of the first page in their ‘Attestation paper of persons enlisted for service abroad’ on the 11th November 1915.

Attested 11th November 1915 at Ashfield

Robert AYRES (service no. 4729)

Richard John CROCKER (no service no.)

Edward Lewis CUDDEFORD (service no. 5352)

Harold Brooks DAVIS (service no. 4759)

Edgar DAWSON (no service no.)

Thomas DELANEY (service no. 4764)

William ELLERY (service no. 4769)

Richard EVANS (service no. 5368)

Joseph Jacob John HERRINGE (service no. 5700)

Robert Michael HICKEY (service no. 5099)

Albert HULBERT (no service no.)

Hector LEE (service no. Depot)

Thomas LIPSCOMBE (service no. 4826)

Sam LUKE (service no. 4830)

Joseph Raymond MCGUIRE (service no. 4857)

Selby George MEGARRITY (service no. 4841)

William Allen Luther PHILPOT/PHILPOTT (service no. 5164)

William WEBBER (service no. 4917)

Jack Graham WIGGINS (service no. 4918)

Joseph John WILLIAMS (service no. 4912)

Attested 12th November 1915 at Ashfield the (the day the Coo-ees left Ashfield and the last day of the Coo-ee March)

Charles Edward BOW (service no. 4735)

Bert KILDUFF (service no. 4818)

Thomas SEAL (service no. 4895)

Not all of these men were local to the Ashfield area. Some were men who had joined the Coo-ees earlier in the march, or caught up with them at Ashfield, who signed their attestation paper to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force at Ashfield.

William Ellery was reported to be a long term resident of the Dunedoo area before he left to join the Coo-ees.  Edgar Dawson started filling out his paperwork in his service record in Bathurst.  Jack Wiggins was known as a Springwood recruit. Sam Luke joined the Coo-ees at St Marys. Selby Megarrity undertook his medical at Penrith, the day before the Coo-ees arrived at Ashfield.

Fourteen of the Ashfield recruits embarked overseas with the majority of the Coo-ees on the transport  HMAT A15 Star of England on the 8th March 1916.  Five more embarked on other ships soon after.

An individual blog entry will be added to this website for each of the above named Coo-ees.

The Cooee March : a special Anzac presentation in the Daily Telegraph

 The Cooee March : a special Anzac presentation in

the Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph has recently featured a twelve part presentation (published in issues from 31st March to 11th April 2015) prepared by Andrew Carswell and Warren Brown, based on their 12 day trek in the footsteps of the Coo-ee marchers from Gilgandra to Sydney in February this year, during which they unearthed some fascinating stories, and had some interesting experiences with the locals.

Andrew Carswell met with me on the 21st January and I spoke to him about our research on the 1915 Coo-ee march and the 263 individual Coo-ees. I talked about my blog cooeemarch1915.com, and showed him some entries, and told him I would send him some links to 1915 newspaper articles and some of my blog entries that might be of interest to his research, and suggested he might like to get in contact with some families of some of the Coo-ees, including Donald Stewart and Ernie May, which I am very pleased he was able to do.

The links below are to electronic versions of the articles. I am not sure how long the links will remain active.

I was very interested to read the article on Coo-ee Donald Stewart from Wellington, who became a prisoner of war following the Battle of Fromelles in France, and wrote letters home to a young woman he met when the Coo-ees were at Blayney, and who he was later to marry. I have transcribed several of his letters sent home from his family about his prisoner of war experiences on my blog that were published in the Wellington Times.  It is amazing what treasure troves some families have on their Coo-ees.

I might just note that in the last article listed below which has the words “For when the guns fell silent and the boats returned to Sydney Harbour, only 222 Cooees walked down that gangway, leaving 41 fallen behind”, the figure of 41 of the 263 Coo-ees dying on active service during the First World War is based on this being the number that I gave him that we have found in our research on the Coo-ees (and that not all of the remaining 222 went overseas).

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/meet-the-cooee-marchers-our-anzac-heroes-before-they-became-legends/story-fni0cx12-1227285265440

Meet the Cooee Marchers: Our Anzac heroes before they became legends by Andrew Carswell, The Daily Telegraph, March 31, 2015

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/cooee-march-kisses-from-eumungerie-stand-test-of-time/story-fni0cx12-1227286636831

Cooee March kisses from Eumungerie stand test of time by Warren Brown, The Daily Telegraph,  April 01, 2015

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/anzac-spirit-alive-and-well-in-wongarbon-100-years-after-cooee-march/story-fni0cx12-1227288118334

Anzac spirit alive and well in Wongarbon, 100 years after Cooee march by Warren Brown, The Daily Telegraph, April 02, 2015

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/brians-vision-keeps-step-with-spirit-of-the-cooee-marchers/story-fni0cx12-1227289687923

Brian’s vision keeps step with spirit of the Cooee Marchers by Warren Brown, The Daily Telegraph,  April 03, 2015

[No link available to ‘’River a relief after rigours of the road’’ by Warren Brown, The Daily Telegraph, April 04, 2015 p. 41]

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/wwi-diggers-love-letters-from-the-trenches-to-his-one-true-love-found-decades-after-death/story-fni0cx12-1227290333260

WWI digger’s love letters from the trenches to his one true love found decades after death by Andrew Carswell,  The Sunday Telegraph, April 05, 2015 [online version of article below]

http://www.pressreader.com/australia/the-sunday-telegraph-sydney/20150405/282226599235979/TextView

Mud, blood and his one true love by Andrew Carswell, The Daily Telegraph, April 05, 2015

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/the-cooee-march-shearing-sheds-full-of-willing-recruits/story-fni0cx12-1227292325544

Sheds full of willing recruits by Andrew Carswell, The Daily Telegraph, April 06, 2015

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/the-cooee-march-let-them-eat-cake-and-so-we-tucked-in/story-fni0cx12-1227293377704

The Cooee March: Let them eat cake … and so we tucked in by Warren Brown, The Daily Telegraph, April 07, 2015

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/the-cooee-march-woolshed-at-bathampton-estate-offered-troops-shear-relief/story-fni0cx12-1227294718652

The Cooee March: Woolshed at Bathampton Estate offered troops shear relief by Andrew Carswell, The Daily Telegraph, April 08, 2015

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/the-cooee-march-following-in-the-footsteps-of-our-finest/story-fni0cx12-1227296085779

The Cooee March: Following in the footsteps of our finest by Warren Brown, The Daily Telegraph, April 09, 2015

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/the-cooee-march-hitchen-family-proud-of-warrior-tradition/story-fni0cx12-1227297722551

The Cooee March: Hitchen family proud of warrior tradition by Andrew Carswell, The Daily Telegraph, April 10, 2015

http://www.pressreader.com/australia/the-daily-telegraph-sydney/20150411/282016145848164/TextView

Our long haul is over, theirs had just begun by Andrew Carswell, The Daily Telegraph, April 11, 2015

Visit to Australian War Memorial : Roll of Honour, name projections, and a photograph of the Coo-ees

Visit to Australian War Memorial 3rd-5th January 2015

Last weekend (3rd-5th January 2015) Stephen and I visited the Australian War Memorial. We attended the Last Post Ceremony on the Saturday evening, and listened to the story presented on a local WWI soldier from Wongarbon.

On Sunday morning we located and photographed the names of the fallen Coo-ees on the Roll of Honour bronze panels.

Leoville L. and Letcher S. J. names on the 45th Battalion AWM Roll of Honour (Photograph: H. Thompson 4/1/2015)

LEOVILLE L. and LETCHER S. J. names on the 45th Battalion Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour (Photograph: H. Thompson 4/1/2015)

I noted the names of Coo-ees Louis Leoville (who joined the Coo-ee March at Lithgow) and Spencer John Letcher (who joined at Bathurst) are next to each other on the Roll of Honour in the 45th Battalion section. We placed poppies next to their names in remembrance of them.

Researching their stories this week I was saddened to learn that they both died within three days of each other, while fighting in the front lines at Pozieres in France – Spencer  John Letcher being killed in action on the 6th August 1916, and Louis Leoville dying of wounds on the 8th August 1916.

Three more Coo-ees on the 45th Battalion Roll of Honour who also died while the Battalion was at Pozieres in this three day period are William Emerton Hunter (who joined at Geurie), Jack Morris (who joined at Parramatta), and Rowland John Wilson (who joined at Lawson). Jack Morris was killed on the 6th August 1916, William Emerton Hunter on the 7th August 1916, and Rowland John Wilson on the 8th August 1916.

The Australian War Memorial during the 2014-2018 centenary period is at night projecting the names of each of the 62,000 Australians who gave their lives during the Great War on the wall of the Hall of Memory, about 30 times over these four years. The names are visible for 30 seconds, and people can search the Roll of Honour database on the Australian War Memorial website to see when a particular name is planned to be projected.

In the early hours of Monday morning we visited the Australian War Memorial to view the Roll of Honour name projections for two of the fallen Coo-ees – Rowland John Wilson at 1.52 a.m., and William Emerton Hunter at 2.44 a.m. We saw only a mob of kangaroos near the entrance gate, a rabbit on the lawns, a friendly black cat who came up to us as we walked back to the car, and a lone security guard wandering around with a torch during our night time visit.

Hunter W E name projected on the the Hall of Memory wall at the AWM (Photograph: H. Thompson 5/1/2015)

HUNTER W E name projected on the the Hall of Memory wall at the Australian War Memorial (Photograph: H. Thompson 5/1/2015)

On Monday morning we met with a curator in the Research Centre to view a photograph of the Coo-ees entering Dubbo in October 1915 that is listed on the Australian War Memorial catalogue (with no image of the photograph). It has apparently only quite recently been donated to the Australian War Memorial collection. I have not seen this particular photograph before so was very excited to see it.

I have placed an order for a print copy of the photograph so I can have a closer look at it, and hopefully a digital image of the photograph will then be placed on the AWM catalogue.

Remembering the Coo-ees : Gilgandra Coo-ee Festival October Long Weekend 2014

The annual Gilgandra Coo-ee Festival was held on the long weekend in October to commemorate the 1915 Coo-ee March, which started 99 years ago on Sunday, 10th October, 1915. The events held included a street parade on Saturday 4th October 2014 lead by re-enactment Coo-ee marchers, and included the South Pacific Concert Band from Sydney, and a variety of vehicles and floats. Crowds lined both sides of the main street. The street parade started off at 11.30 am in Bridge Street near the Royal Hotel where the original march started in 1915.

Re-enactor Coo-ee Marchers leading the Street Parade (Photograph: H. Thompson, 4/10/2014)

Re-enactor Coo-ee Marchers leading the Street Parade (Photograph: H. Thompson, 4/10/2014)

The street parade ended with a memorial wreath-laying and flag raising ceremony at the memorial gates to Cooee March Memorial Park.

 Memorial wreath-laying and flag raising ceremony at Cooee March Memorial Park (Photograph: H. Thompson 4/10/2014)

Memorial wreath-laying and flag raising ceremony at Cooee March Memorial Park (Photograph: H. Thompson 4/10/2014)

Later in the afternoon outside Hitchen House I met an 88 year old son of Gilgandra Coo-ee William Howard, and a grand niece of Gilgandra Coo-ee Charles Finn.

On Sunday morning 5th October 2014 a Coo-ee Commemoration church service was held at St Ambrose Church in Gilgandra. Coo-ee re-enactment marchers, and the South Pacific Concert Band with local musicians, attended the service. The names of the 35 1915 Coo-ees from Gilgandra were read out as part of the service.   Having recently visited the graves of those Coo-ees in our recent holiday to England, France and Belgium who did not return from the First World War, including Coo-ees Charles Finn and Harold Baxter from Gilgandra, made this experience particularly moving for me.

Re-enactor Coo-ee marchers leaving the church service (Photograph: H. Thompson 5/10/2014)

Re-enactor Coo-ee marchers leaving the church service (Photograph: H. Thompson 5/10/2014)

The Coo-ee re-enactment marchers, and the band, then marched to the marker and plaque in Bridge Street, which was placed in 1965 in a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary after the march, and a short service was held there. A bugler played the last post.

Service at the marker and plaque where the Coo-ee March commenced in 1915 (Photograph: H. Thompson 5/10/2014)

Service at the marker and plaque where the Coo-ee March commenced in 1915 (Photograph: H. Thompson 5/10/2014)

The Coo-ee renenactor marchers and the band then marched round the corner into Miller Street and fell out in front of Hitchen House. The re-enactment Coo-ee marchers, wearing replicas of the distinctive white hats and blue jackets issued as the uniform of the Coo-ees on the original 1915 march, were lead by Brian Bywater, who is President of Coo-ee March 2015 Inc., which is organising a centenary 2015 Coo-ee March Re-enactment. Brian also owns the Hitchen House Military Museum, which was formerly owned by Bill Hitchen.

Re-enactor Coo-ee Marchers in front of Hitchen House (Photograph: H. Thompson 5/10/2014)

Re-enactor Coo-ee Marchers in front of Hitchen House (Photograph: H. Thompson 5/10/2014)

It was on this verandah 99 years ago where Bill Hitchen, a local plumber and Captain of the local rifle club, and his brother Dick, the local butcher, one evening over a pipe and a discussion about the casualty rates and falling recruiting numbers, and the call for more men to fight at the Dardanelles on the Gallipoli Peninsular, conceived the idea of the route march from Gilgandra to Sydney, stopping in the towns and villages along to way, as a means to raise recruits for the war effort during the First World War.