Transcription of an article titled ‘Route Marches : Gathering of the Clans : The “Cooees” winning praise in camp’ in The Farmer and Settler, 5 January, 1916, p. 3.
Gathering of the Clans
THE “COOEES” WINNING PRAISE IN CAMP.
The lying rumors that have been spread — maliciously by enemy sympathisers, without a doubt — concerning the men that took part in the Gilgandra route march render it expedient that a few definite facts should be published to nail the lies like vermin on a barn door.
When the Inspector-General (General McCay) reviewed the troops in training at Liverpool camp the other day, he did the job thoroughly, taking them battalion by battalion, and company by company, criticising severely when the facts called for it, and giving a little carefully measured praise where it was due. When he had seen E company of the 13th Battalion he complimented the commanding officer on the appearance of his men, and said that they were “the steadiest on parade that day.” He did not know until later that E company was the present regimental name of our old friends, the “Coo-ees.” These men from the west had been in camp little more than a month, and the companies they were so flatteringly compared with consisted in some cases of men that had been drilling for three months or more; so the compliment was something for the “Coo-ees” to be proud of.
Another fact suggesting that the time spent in marching to the seaboard is not wasted: On the day of the great “round up” in Sydney, when every man in uniform outside the camps was called upon “to show cause,” the whole force at Liverpool was taken for a fourteen miles forced march over rough roads, on a stifling day under a broiling sun. “The Coo-ees did it smiling, while nearly all the rest were nearer tears” is the way in which an observer illustrates the contrast in condition between the men that had marched over the Blue Mountains and the others. So route marches not only bring the young men of the rural settlements face to face with their duty, but they have some definite value also in fitting men for soldiering.
Now for some statistics: The Coo-ees marched into camp 273 strong, and seven men were added from other units, because of technical knowledge or for other reasons. Of this number, unfortunately, twenty-one failed to pass the severe Liverpool medical test, and sixteen, for medical or disciplinary reasons, have since been transferred to the home defence forces, or have been discharged — not a large proportion to lose in comparison with the camp experience of other units. And although thirty men, at their own request, have been transferred to the Light Horse, it will be seen that the “Coo-ees” column is still substantially intact, an assertion that is further supported by the fact that every non-com. but one in the present E company marched with the column from the west. The company sergeant-major is S. E. Stephens, who, since his service with the first expeditionary force in New Guinea, has been on the “Farmer and Settler” editorial staff; he went to Gilgandra to report the route march for this journal, re-enlisted there, and marched into camp with the column. The platoon sergeants are: H. Davenport, of Wongarbon; L. R. Anlezark, of Orange; T. W. Dowd. of Wongarbon; and E. S. Taylour, of Wentworthville. Corporals: C. H. Maidens, of Molong; W. W. Smith, of Geurie; J. E. L. Hourigan of Parramatta; J. G. Cameron, of Gilgandra; J. McKeown, of Gilgandra; and Pay Corporal J. C. Gilmour, of Coonamble. Others of the men gathered in on that first route march are qualifying for the non-com. class; but unfortunately, as the “Coo-ees” are reinforcements for a battalion already at the front, and not part of a new battalion, these ranks may be only temporary. How well, on the whole, the “Coo-ees” are behaving, and how quickly they are assimilating the lessons to be learned at Liverpool is evidenced by the fact, that although they only marched into camp on November 14th, a fairly big draft has already been made upon E company to make up the 14th reinforcements for the battalion at the front.
The next time that the story is whispered that the “Coo-ees” proved to be a bad lot, the readers of the “Farmer and Settler” will be able to say that they know better; that the “Coo-ees” are the pride of their company officers, have been complimented by General McCay, came smiling out of a forced march, have lost very few men through misbehavior, and are getting fit so rapidly that they will very shortly all be in Europe putting fresh battle names on the proud colors of the “Fighting Thirteenth.”’
Click here to access the article on Trove: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116676486