The Coo-ees at Colyton (on their way from Penrith to Parramatta)
On Wednesday 10th November 1915, the Coo-ees left Penrith to march the four miles to St. Marys, arriving at about 8.30 am. There they ate an elaborate breakfast on tables under the shade of the trees in Victoria Park, prepared by the ladies of St. Marys. Here they gained another recruit, Samuel Luke, a 38 year old single labourer who had lived on Mamre Road with his mother and stepfather. (His name is listed on the St. Marys War Memorial in Victoria Park in St. Marys).
At 10 am the Coo-ees left St. Marys and travelled down the historic Western Road (now the Great Western Highway) to the village of Colyton, where they were presented with a sum of money which had been collected by the Colyton school children, and presented with a tanned sheepskin vest which the headmaster Mr Aston had arranged.
The Nepean Times reported that at Colyton ‘another recruit, viz Mr J Barnett, joined’. I found no service record for a J. Barnett joining the Coo-ees at Colyton, but did find a 1919 article in the Nepean Times which reports on a welcome home speech for a returned soldier – Driver Clarrie Barnett – given by Mr J Aston, headmaster of Colyton Public School where the returned soldier had been a student, whom he described as having ‘linked up with the Coo-ees when they passed through Colyton’. Clarrie (Clarence Roy) Barnett, who had been a 21 year old bank teller from Mount Druitt, had signed his attestation paper in his service record at Liverpool on the 10th November 1915. So it appears he was a Coo-ee “for a day”, marching out of Colyton with the Coo-ees when they left that village, then making his own way further down the road to Liverpool Camp to enlist that same day.
The Farmer and Settler reported that a recruit that joined at Colyton ‘was one of the family of McGregors that has already given five sons to the Empire, and that ‘as the family said their brave but tearful farewells to the sixth McGregor, all that witnessed the incident realised the fine loyalty of the McGregors’.
I have only found service records for five of these six McGregor brothers, who were the sons of Andrew and Alice M. McGregor. The photograph below shows the five sons who enlisted.Two of these brothers joined the Coo-ee March – Arthur Ernest McGregor who signed his attestation paper at Springwood on the 8th November 1915 (when the Coo-ees were at Springwood), and Andrew James McGregor (the eldest), who joined the Coo-ees at the start of the march at Gilgandra. Both were married, and both their families were living in Sydney at the time, so it appears that one of them left the march temporarily and then rejoined the march at Colyton, accompanied by some family members to see them off.
After leaving Colyton the Coo-ees marched to Eastern Creek, where they were met by the President of Blacktown Shire Council, Col. Pringle, and Cr. James Angus, who was president of the local recruiting committee, and had lunch provided by the ladies of Rooty Hill and Eastern Creek in the Walgrove school grounds.
The Coo-ees then proceeded to Prospect and on to Parramatta.