Tag Archives: C. A. Finn

Charles Arthur FINN

Charles Arthur FINN

Sapper C. A. Finn, of Gilgandra killed in action (Newspaper unknown, ca. 1917)

Sapper C. A. Finn, of Gilgandra killed in action (Newspaper unknown, ca. 1917)

Per his military service record (regimental no. 6289), Charles Arthur Finn was born at Mt McDonald, N.S.W.[1] He gave his age as 27 years and 3 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as Blacksmith. He completed his medical on 7th October 1915 at Gilgandra and was attested by Captain Nicholas on 9th October 1915 at Gilgandra. He claimed to have had no previous military service.

After completing the Coo-ee March he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the Engineers.

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Gilgandra, N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as mother, Mrs Eliza Finn, ‘Rosevale’, Everdon, Gilgandra N.S.W.

Sapper Finn departed Sydney on the HMAT A26 Armidale on 21st March 1916 with the 15th reinforcements for the 1st Field Company Engineers. He arrived in Egypt on 24th April 1916.

On the 28th May 1916 Sapper Finn left Alexandria aboard the SS Briton bound for England where he trained before being sent to France on 18th August 1916.

He marched into the 4th Division Base Depot at Etaples on 18th August 1916.

Sapper Finn was transferred to the 13th Field Company Engineers, and was one of 15 reinforcements who marched into the 13th Field Company Engineers on  27th August 1916, whilst it was resting at Pernois, France.

On the 29th November 1916 he was evacuated sick whilst the Company was conducting works in the forward area in the vicinity of Delville Wood, France

On the 1st December 1916 he was admitted to the 14th General Hospital at Boulogne, France, with Influenza. On the 9th of December 1916 he was transferred to the 1st Convalescent Depot at Boulogne. On the 16th of December 1916 he was sent to the 25th General Hospital suffering from piles. On the 3rd of January 1917 he was transferred to the 7th Convalescent Depot.

On the 14th February 1917 Sapper Finn was sent to the No.3 Large Rest Camp. On the 18th February 1917 whilst at the Number 3 Large Rest Camp Sapper Finn was charged with Whilst Being On Active Service Being in Bed One Hour after Reveille. He was awarded Five Days Confined to Barracks.

On the 26th February 1917 Sapper Finn marched into the Australian Engineers Base Depot at Etaples. On the 15th March 1917 he rejoined the 13th Field Company whilst it was in Reserve at Baizieux, France.

On the 7th April 1917 the 13th Field Company was conducting road maintenance, and locating and repairing wells and looking for mines, in the vicinity of Bapaume, France when he and another member of the Company were killed by a high explosive shell. According to his Red Cross Wounded and Missing report, Sapper Finn and another soldier ‘were taking detonators out of a German unexploded mine when a shell came over and killed them both’, and they were ‘both buried at Noreuil, where they were at the time’. [2]

His body was exhumed from this grave after the war, and he was then buried at the H.A.C. Cemetery, Ecoust-St. Mein, Arras, Nord Pas de Calais, France.


Charles Alfred Finn's headstone at H.A.C. Cemetery, France (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson, 6/9/2014)

Charles Arthur Finn’s headstone at H.A.C. Cemetery, France (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson, 6/9/2014)

Sapper Finn’s name is commemorated on panel 23 on the Australian War Memorial First World War Roll of Honour.

His name is also listed on the Gilgandra War Memorial, and the Cooee March Memorial Park Gateway at Gilgandra.


[1] NAA: B2455, FINN C A

[2] ‘6289 Sapper Charles Arthur Finn, 13th Field Company Engineers’, Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau Files, 1914-1918 War 1DRL/0428, https://www.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/R1486776/

Ernest SIMPSON (aka C. A. SIMPSON)

Ernest Simpson (aka C. A. Simpson)

One of the men who lined up to join the Coo-ee March at Gilgandra has been listed as “C. A. Simpson” on the Cooee March Memorial Park gateway in Gilgandra, and in the book The Coo-ee March by John Meredith (1981).

Simpson was incorrectly named as “C. Simpson” in a photo published in the Daily Telegraph (pictured on left below), which possibly lead to the incorrect initials being assigned to him.


Paraded for medical inspection … (left to right): Messrs. C. Simpson, C. Finn, C. Marchant, and J. R. Lee (Daily Telegraph, 11/10/1915)

An article in The Farmer and Settler (19 October 1915, p. 3) reported that ‘In addition to the men sworn in at Gilgandra and at towns en route, the great march column numbers: … Simpson, temporarily unfit, but hoping to pass the doctor in Sydney’.[1]  Further down the same page is reported: ‘One of the men marching to Sydney has failed to pass the doctor. He waited for three weeks in Gilgandra, paying his own hotel expenses, and then when he stripped off for the medical inspection he was “turned down” for hernia. He is physically the strongest man that has offered, and, is otherwise “as sound as a bell”. He intends to march to Sydney, undergo an operation upon arrival, and submit himself again’.[2]

A chance review last week of a document held in the official correspondence from the march held in the Mitchell Library, which lists an “E. Simpson” with a period of enlistment from “9/10 to 11/11/15” with other Coo-ees still waiting for payment for their period of service who had been rejected as medically unfit on arrival at Liverpool Camp,  has enabled his identity to be established.[3]

Knowing the correct initial for his first name, and that he had actually enlisted,  allowed for his service record to be located on the National Archives of Australia website. He is listed under the name Ernest Simpson, joining on 9th October 1915, at Gilgandra. He was born in Horsham, Victoria, and gave his age as 33 years, and his occupation as labourer. There are no details entered for his description on his medical certificate form in his service record papers.  His next of kin is listed as his father, Duncan Simpson, Renmark, South Australia.

On the ‘Detailed medical history of an invalid’ form in his service record dated 17th November 1915 at Liverpool, he was found by the medical board to have a double inguinal hernia, and to be unfit for military service.  He was medically discharged on 29th November 1915.

[1] ‘Route March notes’, The Farmer and Settler, 19 October, 1915, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116648915

[2] ‘Failed to pass the doctor’, The Farmer and Settler, 19 October, 1915, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116648912

[3] The Alex Halden (Joe) Miller papers mainly relating to the Gilgandra Coo-ee Recruitment March, New South Wales, 1912-1921, 1939, MLMSS 5081


Day 1, Sunday, 10th October, 1915, Gilgandra to Balladoran

The start at Gilgandra (Daily Telegraph 12/10/1915)

The start at Gilgandra (Daily Telegraph 12/10/1915)

Transcribed from The Farmer and Settler, 12 October, 1915, p. 3.


Gilgandra’s greatest of all events, the start of the route march, became a fact of history on Sunday last, when the contingent after a simple religious ceremony stepped out on its long march to the coast.

On Saturday, when the ‘Farmer and Settler’ special reporter, who will march to Sydney, arrived at Gilgandra, he found Captain Nicholas and Drs. Burkitt and Cooper, of Dubbo, on the ground. Captain Nicholas has been appointed to take charge of the contingent, and be will be their leader and instructor all the way through to Sydney.

On Saturday afternoon twenty-five recruits were sworn in. Two failed to pass the doctor, but they will march through to the coast nevertheless. The number of recruits would have been double if the recruiting association had not been compelled to wait so long for the permission of the military authorities, the result being that many men grew tired of waiting, and went into camp. The doctor said that the Gilgandra men were as fine a body of recruits as he had seen, with good feet and sound constitutions. On Saturday night a torchlight procession paraded the town, headed by the band. The recruits were followed by the rifle club and the boy scouts. In the interval of a picture show, Major Winn, of Sydney, and Private Lee, the ex-clergyman recruit, made special appeals to the young men to volunteer.

There were fully three thousand persons, almost the whole population of the district, at the open-air consecration service on Sunday morning, when the Rev. W. Jenkins commended the men to their Creator.

The shire president, Mr. Barden, said he was sure that the twenty-five starting out would be five hundred at the end of the long march. Almost the whole of the people, the largest gathering ever seen at Gilgandra, accompanied the march to Boberah, where a general programme of hand-shaking took place. A guard of honor of young horsewomen   rode at the head of the procession, and the local recruiting association and shire councillors took part. Captain Nicholas formed up his little force — grown already to thirty-one men; and Mr. W. T. Hitchens had the honor of giving the first words of command–‘Quick march.’ Amid resounding cheers the route march had begun, and it was followed for several miles of its long journey, by a great cavalcade of horses and vehicles. Then there was a halt, with more good-byes, more cheers, and the rifle club fired a parting volley.

The heat was intense, and the dust hung over the troops like a pillar of cloud — a fiery cloud, so that when the first stop, Marthaguy, was reached, all were grateful for the lunch spread by the residents, and not less for the facilities provided for a wash and a freshen up. At Marthaguy one new recruit fell in. Many of the Gilgandra folk still followed the column. The young daughter of a prominent citizen left her car and marched alongside the men for some distance; she announced her intention of being present in Martin Place at the finish, and declared that if she had been a boy she would have marched all the way, and gone to the front with the contingent. It is a pity that some of the boys have not the spirit of the girls.

Patriotic sons of the West. A 320 mile march (Sydney Mail 20/10/1915)

‘Patriotic sons of the West. A 320 mile march’ – Coo-ees on the road to Balladoran (Sydney Mail 20/10/1915)

At Balladoran the townspeople met the column a mile out of town and escorted them to their camp with banners, and gave them a hearty welcome. The camp was reached at five o’clock, and here another recruit joined the column.

Following are the names of the first twenty-five to enlist:–

John Quinn, John Macnamara, Stanley E. Stephens, Jack Hunt, William L. Hunt, Albert W. Pearce, Leslie W. Greenleaf, Arthur C. Finn, Francis N. White, Alfred Wardroffe, Victor Quinton, William Alston, Sidney Bennett, John R. Lee, Harold Baxter, Charles R. Wheeler, E. T. Hitchen, James McKeown, James Crowford, Charles E. Marchant, Andrew J. MacGregor, Lawrence L. McGuire, Robert C. Campbell, Peter Wilson, and Frank Humphrey.’

Click here to view the article on Trove: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116668904