William “Bill” Thomas HITCHEN
Per his military service record (regimental no. 1677), William “Bill” Thomas Hitchen was born at Mudgee, N.S.W. Lowering his actual age of 51 years by several years, he gave his age as 44 years and 2 months, and his address as Bridge Street, Gilgandra, N.S.W. He gave his occupation as plumber. His description on his medical was height 5 feet 7 ½ inches tall, weight 180 lbs., with a medium complexion, light brown eyes, and fair hair. His religious denomination was Roman Catholic. He claimed to have no previous military experience.
He was known as Captain Bill Hitchen on the Coo-ee March as he was the Captain of the Gilgandra Rifle Club before enlisting.
Bill Hitchen was one of the main organisers of the Coo-ee March (along with his brother Richard G. Hitchen), and he joined the Coo-ees at Gilgandra at the beginning of the march. His official enlistment date is the 10th October 1915. However, per his service record he did not complete his medical and attestation until the 24th February 1916 at Bathurst, after he assisted in organising the Kookaburra March from Tooraweenah to Bathurst in early 1916.
After the Kookaburra March he was allocated to the 2nd reinforcements to the 45th Battalion as a Corporal.
Corporal Hitchen departed Sydney on the HMAT A40 Ceramic on the 14th April 1916. He embarked from Alexandria on 6th June 1916, and disembarked at Plymouth, England, on the 16th June 1916.
He was admitted to the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield Park on 21st June 1916 sick with Melanotic Sarcoma. He also had Diabetes.
Corporal Hitchen died of his illness on the 3rd September 1916, and was buried at the nearby Saint Mary’s Churchyard at Harefield, England.
His name is also listed on the Gilgandra War Memorial, Cooee March Memorial Park Gateway (Gilgandra), and the Gulargambone War Memorial.