Who were the 22 Ashfield recruits?
The Coo-ees held a recruiting meeting, and stayed the night at the Drill Hall at Ashfield on Thursday, 11th November, 1915 – their last night of the Coo-ee March on their long route from Gilgandra to Sydney.
This is now the site of the Ashfield Boys High School gymnasium, and a new car park named Coo-ee Car Park in memory of the 1915 Coo-ee March built recently by the Wests Ashfield Leagues Club. A plaque about the Coo-ees at Ashfield was unveiled at the Coo-ee Car Park on 21st April 2015.
A plaque on an obelisk is situated in the grounds of the Ashfield Boys High School. It has been there for some time. On it are the words: “Celebrating Gilgandra Coo-ee Marchers 11 November 1915 22 Ashfield men joined with the Coo-ee marches here on this day”.
Although the “official” count for the total number of Coo-ees recruited on the 1915 Gilgandra to Sydney Coo-ee March per newspaper articles of the time was 263, with Ashfield having a total of 22 recruits, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on 13th November 1915 (p. 19) that ‘the contingent left the western suburb’ of Ashfield ‘about 263 strong, but there are others now to be sworn in – men who joined the little army yesterday.’ The Farmer and Settler reported about Coo-ees numbers on 21st December 1915 (p. 3) that ‘there were no fewer than 277 men on their last pay sheet in camp’.
We have found the following names of 23 men who were attested at Ashfield at the time the Coo-ees were recruiting at Ashfield. We note that one (Bert Kilduff) had paperwork dating only from 12th November 1915 in his service record, so perhaps the ”official” count of 22 recruits was taken the night before at Ashfield, and he was not included. Although two others also completed their medical examination and signed their attestation paper at Ashfield on the 12th November 1915 (Thomas Edward Bow and Charles Seal), they had both signed the bottom of the first page in their ‘Attestation paper of persons enlisted for service abroad’ on the 11th November 1915.
Attested 11th November 1915 at Ashfield
Robert AYRES (service no. 4729)
Richard John CROCKER (no service no.)
Edward Lewis CUDDEFORD (service no. 5352)
Harold Brooks DAVIS (service no. 4759)
Edgar DAWSON (no service no.)
Thomas DELANEY (service no. 4764)
William ELLERY (service no. 4769)
Richard EVANS (service no. 5368)
Joseph Jacob John HERRINGE (service no. 5700)
Robert Michael HICKEY (service no. 5099)
Albert HULBERT (no service no.)
Hector LEE (service no. Depot)
Thomas LIPSCOMBE (service no. 4826)
Sam LUKE (service no. 4830)
Joseph Raymond MCGUIRE (service no. 4857)
Selby George MEGARRITY (service no. 4841)
William Allen Luther PHILPOT/PHILPOTT (service no. 5164)
William WEBBER (service no. 4917)
Jack Graham WIGGINS (service no. 4918)
Joseph John WILLIAMS (service no. 4912)
Attested 12th November 1915 at Ashfield the (the day the Coo-ees left Ashfield and the last day of the Coo-ee March)
Charles Edward BOW (service no. 4735)
Bert KILDUFF (service no. 4818)
Thomas SEAL (service no. 4895)
Not all of these men were local to the Ashfield area. Some were men who had joined the Coo-ees earlier in the march, or caught up with them at Ashfield, who signed their attestation paper to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force at Ashfield.
William Ellery was reported to be a long term resident of the Dunedoo area before he left to join the Coo-ees. Edgar Dawson started filling out his paperwork in his service record in Bathurst. Jack Wiggins was known as a Springwood recruit. Sam Luke joined the Coo-ees at St Marys. Selby Megarrity undertook his medical at Penrith, the day before the Coo-ees arrived at Ashfield.
Fourteen of the Ashfield recruits embarked overseas with the majority of the Coo-ees on the transport HMAT A15 Star of England on the 8th March 1916. Five more embarked on other ships soon after.
An individual blog entry will be added to this website for each of the above named Coo-ees.