Tag Archives: John McNamara



Coo-ees on the road to Balladoran (Sydney Mail 20/10/1915)

Coo-ees on the road to Balladoran – John McNamara is in the front row second from the right, next to Captain Nicholas on far right (Sydney Mail 20/10/1915)

Per his military service record, John McNamara was born at Sydney, N.S.W. His WWI service record shows that he initially tried to enlist on 14th December 1914 at Traralgon in Victoria, where he gave his age as 47 years. (Based on his age given in his entry in the Sudan Nominal Roll on the Australian War Memorial website, it is likely he was even older). On his enlistment papers when he joined the Coo-ees at Gilgandra, he miraculously lost two years, giving his age as 45 years and 2 months. He listed his marital status as single, and his occupation as a butcher. His description on his medical was height 5 feet 11 inches tall, weight 160 ½ lbs., with a medium complexion, grey eyes, and light brown hair. His religious denomination was Roman Catholic. He completed his medical on the 9th October 1915 at Gilgandra, and was attested by Captain Nicholas on the 9th October 1915 at Gilgandra. He claimed to have 5 years in the Regular Forces of New South Wales throughout the Boer War, and a total of 15 years’ previous military service. He gave his address as c/- H. Burns, Exhibition Dairy, Botany Road, Sydney. He listed his next of kin as his nephew, Valentine McNamara, Exhibition Dairy, Botany Road, Sydney.

After completing the march he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion.

After two periods of being absent without leave (17th to 24th January 1916, and 3rd to 11th February 1916), on the 16th February 1916 Private McNamara was discharged with his services no longer being required.

The veteran of the Coo-ees : John McNamara

Transcript of an article titled “The Veteran of the “Coo-ees” from The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate, November 16, 1915, p. 2.


As long as ever he can remember, John McNamara, the grizzled old veteran, who marched in the front rank of the “Coo-ees” all the way down to the coast, has had a hankering after a military life. He first enlisted during the early eighties in the New South Wales Artillery, which was then under the control of the State Government. On the outbreak of the Soudan campaign he volunteered, for service, and secured a place in the field battery. At the conclusion of the campaign he was awarded the Soudan medal and clasp and the Khedive’s bronze star. His next experience of active service was under Major Forbes in the Matabele campaign, for which he holds the medal.

On the outbreak of hostilities in South Africa McNamara joined Brabant’s Horse, and went right through the war, gaining the Queen’s Medal and four clasps, the Kings Medal and two clasps, and also the Distinguished Conduct Medal. During the same campaign he also served in the Imperial Light Horse under Colonel Duncan McKenzie, and in the Western Province Mounted Rifles. At the conclusion of hostilities he enlisted in the Transvaal Mounted Police as a trooper, and during the Cape Colony rebellion a mounted patrol in which he was had a brush with the famous rebel leader Maritz at Toutlebosch Kop. Later as he resigned from the mounted police, and secured employment on the Cape-Cairo railway, being stationed at Wankas, a town 60 miles north of Buluwayo. Here he contracted black-water fever, and on his recovery he went to New Zealand. He remained there for some years, but the call of the bush was too strong, and six years ago he came over to New South Wales. He attempted to enlist at the beginning of the present war, but was rejected owing to the fact that he was over 35. Now things are changed. He is going to the front, and his heart’s desire being satisfied, there is no happier man in the “Coo-ees” than John McNamara.

Click here to view the article on Trove: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77602239

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