Tag Archives: Lawson



Per his military service record (regimental no. 25628), Walter Cavill was born at Bulli, N.S.W.[1] He gave his age as 22 years and 4 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as electric crane driver. He claimed to have no previous military experience.

His description on his Certificate of Medical Examination was height 5 feet 8 inches tall, weight 146 lbs., with a ruddy complexion, grey eyes, and dark brown hair. His religious denomination was Church of England. He was attested by Captain Eade at Lithgow on 3rd November 1915 (the day the Coo-ees marched from Lithgow to Hartley).  He completed his medical at Lawson on 6th November 1915 (the day the Coo-ees marched from Katoomba to Lawson).

After completing the Coo-ee March he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion.

On 5th January 1916 he was transferred to the reinforcements for the Field Artillery Brigade.

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Main Street, Lithgow, N.S.W.[2] His next of kin was listed as his father, J. [John] Cavill, P.O. Clifton, N.S.W.

On 29th July 1916 Driver Cavill departed Sydney on the H.M.A.T. Orsova  A67 with the 4th Reinforcements for the 4th Divisional Ammunition Column.

HMAT Orsova A67 leaving Melbourne 1 August 1916. Part of the Australian War Memorial collection. PB0663.

He arrived at Plymouth in England on 14th September 1916. 

On 9th October 1916 Driver Cavill was charged with overstaying his leave from midnight on 8th October 1916 till 0930 on 9th October 1916 from No. 1 Camp at Parkhouse. He was fined one day pay.

On 24th October 1916 Driver Cavill transferred to the 55th Battalion at Hurdcott, England.

On  4th December 1916 Private Cavill was charged with being absent without leave from 0630 on 22nd November 1916 till 0630 on 1st December 1916. He was awarded 21 days Field Punishment No. 2 and fined 33 days pay.

On 11th December 1916 Driver Cavill was admitted to the 1st Australian Dermatological Hospital at Bulford, England, sick. He was discharged on 12th January 1917.

On 24th January 1917 Driver Cavill departed Folkestone, England, aboard the S.S.  Princess Clementine, bound for France.

He arrived at the 5th Division Base Depot at Etaples, France, on 25th January 1917.

On 8th February 1917 Driver Cavill was taken on strength of the 55th Battalion when it was resting at Trones Wood Camp, France.[3]

On 10th September 1917 Driver Cavill was charged with being absent without leave from 1400 parade on 5th September 1917, and being absent without leave from all parades on 6th September 1917. He was awarded 2 days Field Punishment No. 2.

On 22nd October 1917 the 55th Battalion was resting at Dickebusch Camp in Belgium, after moving back from frontline support east of Westhoek, Belgium, the day before.  On this day Driver Cavill was sent to the 8th Australian Field Ambulance sick.[4] He was moved back to the 5th Division Rest Camp.

On 28th October 1917 he was placed aboard an Ambulance Train and transferred to the 8th Stationary Hospital at Wimereux, France, where he was admitted with Myalgia.

On 16th November 1917 Driver Cavill was placed aboard the Hospital Ship St Andrew for evacuation to England. He was admitted to the 1st Western General Hospital at Liverpool, England, on 17th November 1917, suffering from Trench Fever (serious).

On 2nd January 1918 Driver Cavill was discharged from hospital and granted leave, to report to the No. 3 Command Depot at Hurdcott, England on 18th January 1918.

On 27th March 1918 he was transferred to the No. 3 Command Depot at Weymouth, England.

Driver Cavill departed  England on 21st April 1918 aboard the H.M.A.T. Suevic for return to Australia, suffering Trench Fever .

He arrived in Australia on 7th June 1918.

He was discharged Medically Unfit on 7th December 1918.


[1] NAA: B2455, CAVILL W

[2] First World War Embarkation Roll Walter Cavill, https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/R1989523

[3] Australian Imperial Force unit war diaries, 1914-18 War – AWM4 Subclass 23/72 – 55th Infantry Battalion, February 1917.

[4] Australian Imperial Force unit war diaries, 1914-18 War – AWM4 Subclass 23/72 – 55th Infantry Battalion, October 1917.

Day 30, Monday, 8 November, 1915, Lawson to Springwood

Transcription of an extract from an article titled ‘The Route March : In the Suburbs of Sydney’ in The Farmer and Settler, 12 November, 1915, p. 3 [1 of 3 parts]

In the Suburbs of Sydney

Before this issue of the “Farmer and Settler” reaches the great majority of its readers, the Great Western Route March will have ended, the “Coo-ees” will have been welcomed in the heart of Sydney by assembled thousands of the people, and will have gone into camp to complete their training.

In many respects the last week on the road was the roughest of the whole thirty two days’ march, and the greatest test of the physical stamina and the temper of the men.

When the column left Lawson on Monday morning, the mountains were swathed in the smoke of bush fires, and as the miles brought them nearer the capital the men found the roads growing rougher and dustier, the humid heat more oppressive, and the flies and the smoke twin plagues to complete their discomfort. The other side of the picture was the cheery courage of the men themselves, and the enthusiasm and generosity of the people at every wayside town and hamlet.

As the army approached Hazelbrook it was met by the school children and practically the whole population. Gifts of cigarettes and other comforts were made, the children sang the National Anthem, and the troops marched through, cheered by the “motto” that had been stretched across the road: “God-speed, and a safe return — Hazelbrook to the Coo-ees.”

One of the interesting episodes of the Hazelbrook welcome was the presence of an Afghanistan and South African veteran, Lieut. E. G. Facey, who could not resist the impulse to step it out to the martial music of the Leura band.

A warm welcome awaited the column at Woodford. Under the trees a cold luncheon had been spread, and while the men refreshed themselves, Captain Dakin and Mr. G. J. Waterhouse voiced the good wishes of the people.

Australian Ensign flag donated to the Coo-ees at Woodford, now on display at the Coo-ee Heritage Centre, Gilgandra (Photograph: H. Thompson)

Australian Ensign flag given to the Coo-ees by wounded soldiers at Woodford, now on display at the Coo-ee Heritage Centre, Gilgandra. Donated by the family of Ernie May, a Coo-ee from Wongarbon who kept the flag after the Coo-ee March (Photograph: H. Thompson)

A ceremony that touched the boys was the presentation of an Australian flag by Private Nutting, on behalf of his comrades of the local military convalescent home, Professor David’s house, lent to the Government for the use of the returned soldiers. A contingent of the wounded soldiers assembled and cheered the “Coo-ees,” and this was a compliment that went to the hearts of all; they carried that Anzac-Australian flag in the place of honor through townships passed through later.

Linden and Faulconbridge.
From Woodford to Linden was down hill, on a road that twisted between blackened patches of recently burned timber. Linden was a non-stop station, so, helped along by the cheers of the residents, the column forged ahead.

Soon after noon the hamlet of Faulconbridge, the last resting place of Sir Henry Parkes, came into view. An escort of mounted troopers joined the column here, but there was no halt until Springwood was reached.

Coo-ees nearing Springwood (Photograph courtesy of Gilgandra Historical Society)

Coo-ees nearing Springwood (Photograph courtesy of Gilgandra Historical Society)

The procession that entered Springwood consisted of the “Coo-ees,” Leura band, mounted troopers, a squad of local riflemen and a piper specially sent by the Highland Society. Springwood was en fete, flags flew everywhere, and banners of welcome hung across the road. A charming tableau was presented by the school children, the boys dressed in khaki as soldiers and tho girls garbed as nurses. After a parade of the township the army camped at Homedale estate, dined and rested — all except a squad ordered out at the double to take a bridge head of the enemy, an advancing tongue of bush fire.

At night a thousand persons attended a promenade concert and listened to fine recruiting speeches by Mr. H. Blackett and the local clergy.’

… [Cont.]

Click here to access the article on Trove: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116652489

Day 29, Sunday, 7 November, 1915, Lawson

Transcription of an article titled ‘”Coo-ees” at Lawson’ in The Blue Mountain Echo, 12 November, 1915, p. 6.


“Give the boys a good time”‘ was the keynote of Lawson’s welcome to the “Coo-ees,” and that note was sustained from their first approach to the town on Saturday afternoon until they were farewelled, about half way to Hazelbrook. Half a dozen gaily-decorated motor cars, with a full compliment of fair passengers, tho Public School children, and half the population of Lawson; the President of the Shire Council (Cr. J. T. Wall), with Councillors Geggie and Staples and the members of the Recruiting Association, met the little army on Vickery’s Hill, and were formally welcomed by President Wall to the Blue Mountains Shire, after which a procession was formed, headed by the Recruiting Association and the Leura Brass Band, with the motor cars bringing up the rear. On their arrival at Bellevue Hill Park, each was presented with a packet of cigarettes from the students of Stratford School for Girls. Cr. Geggie, as the oldest resident, extended a welcome to Major Wynne, Capt. Eade, other officers and men. The formal reception over, the men at once availed themselves of the opportunity for a swim, and it did one good to see the evident enjoyment of a swim in one of the finest swimming baths on the Mountains. The ladies of Lawson and Hazelbrook, in the meantime, had all preparations made for a rush on the tea tables, but there was enough and to spare, and both officers and men expressed themselves as delighted with the meal provided.

In the evening a recruiting meeting was held in front of the post office; and, in view of the fact that so many men have already enlisted from this town, it was a surprise to find six more who were ready to serve their King and Country.

Governor-General inspects the Coo-ees at Lawson (Mirror of Australia 13/11/1915)

Governor-General inspects the Coo-ees at Lawson (Mirror of Australia 13/11/1915)

Sunday morning was a surprise packet. It was known that Colonel Ramacciotti would probably be up to inspect the troops. The Colonel arrived about 11 o’clock, and soon after the Governor-General arrived, accompanied by Capt.  Hosketh-Smith, of the naval establishment at Garden Island. His Excellency has evinced the keenest interest in the march, and inspected the contingent when it was much smaller, at Geurie and Dripstone. The men were drawn up in preparation of an inspection by the State   Commandant, Colonel Ramacciotti, who, accompanied by Major Edwards, of the Headquarters Staff, arrived about noon by motor from Sydney. It wan announced by the Commandant that the Governor-General was coming, and was on the road. On arrival his Excellency was met by the State Commandant, Major Edwards, Major Wynne and Capt. Eade. His Excellency, addressing the men, referred to the pleasure he had already had in meeting those who had first joined, but expressed regret that he would not be able to meet them on their arrival in Sydney. Her Excellency would be there, however, and she would give him a good description of it. They had not only shown endurance but military virtues on the march. They had shown their initiative in being able to provide for themselves. Self-help was the greatest of all military virtues on the battlefield. He hoped that when in camp they would show the same high standard of excellence. The movement had created a great interest throughout Australia and the Empire. He would have pleasure in reporting it to his Majesty.

Colonel Ramacciotti said they had put up a record of which they all might be proud. They had to live up to it, and let nothing tarnish it. He intended to put them into a battalion formed of country men — and the men in it had to be the best.

On Sunday afternoon a united religious service was held in the Bellevue Hill Park. There was a great muster of residents and visitors from all the towns, from Katoomba to Springwood. Addresses were delivered by the. local clergymen. In the evening, a song service was held in the Institute hall. A united choir from all the churches occupied the stage, and rendered the anthem, “King of Kings,” and members of the choir rendered quartettes, duets and solos. The hall was packed with men of tho “Coo-ees” and residents. Cr. W. G. Staples presided, and, in his opening remarks, stated that the service had been arranged for the men of the “Coo-ees,” and that doubtless many of them had often gathered round the piano in the old home and had a “sing-song,” and he wanted the men to realise that the meeting was for them. Right heartily they followed the conductor, Mr. T. Savage, who had the men and tho audience singing the old Gospel hymns and choruses as they had never sung them before.

A big gathering assembled to bid fare well to the boys on Monday morning. Prior to their departure, Mr. W. Lowden expressed the satisfaction of the residents on the excellent conduct of the men during Sunday. Cheers were given for the people of Lawson, for the “Coo-ees,” and the Lawson recruits.

The officers were entertained by Miss Barlow, of the Grand Hotel, to dinner on Sunday, a hospitality which was much appreciated.’

Click here to access the article on Trove: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108042178

Day 28, Saturday, 6 November, 1915, Katoomba to Lawson

Transcription of an extract from an article titled ‘The Route March : Through the Mountains’ in The Farmer and Settler, 9 November, 1915, p. 3 [2 of 3]
… [Continued]

Katoomba’s send-off on Saturday morning will not readily be forgotten by the men of the column. Mr A. J. Craig gave the Katoomba recruits a flag, the presentation being made by Ald. J. F. Tabrett. Then amid great cheering the column took the road for Leura, at which pretty town it was met by the president of the local recruiting association (Mr. J. H. Bloome) and the Leura Band. A halt of only fifteen minutes was made at Leura, but two recruits joined, and Captain-chaplain Fielding made a vigorous speech that cheered the men on.

Coo-ees marching between Leura and Wentworth Falls (The Sun 7/11/1915)

Coo-ees marching between Leura and Wentworth Falls (The Sun 7/11/1915)

Wentworth Falls.
Leura Band played the column into Wentworth Falls, where there was more enthusiastic welcoming, and yet more wholesale feeding. Mr. H. A. Hickman, at the School of Arts, voiced the citizens’ welcome. A contingent of wounded soldiers paraded here, and were warmly welcomed by the “Coo-ees.” One of them, Private O’Connor, said he was glad to see them hurrying along to the front. “Not only you boys are wanted,” he said, “but all the lads in the country should come along, I am now on the way to recovery, but I hope to have another go. I have had two already.”

Mrs Thorne with her son Thomas Thorne who joined at Lawson (Mirror of Australia 13/11/1915)

Mrs Thorne with her son Thomas Thorne who joined at Lawson (Mirror of Australia 13/11/1915)

With the Leura Band still giving the step, the “Coo-ees” stepped out briskly toward Lawson, where the week-end was to be spent. The president of the Blue Mountains Shire, Cr. J. T. Wall, came out some distance to meet the column, and further along a line of decorated motor cars came into sight, and a corps of boy scouts, with a welcome banner. It was a long procession that found its way to Lawson Park, where Cr. Geggie, made the men welcome on behalf of the townspeople of Lawson and Hazelbrook. The men were entertained at dinner at the School of Arts, and at night a recruiting meeting was held, at which five recruits joined the force.’

[N.B. remainder of this article is not included in blog].

Click here to access the article on Trove: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116669569

Coo-ee March: Introduction

Gilgandra Route March (Daily Telegraph, 16 Oct. 1915)

Route of the March (Daily Telegraph 16/10/1915)

The  320 miles (515 km) “Coo-ee” recruitment march left Gilgandra with 25 marchers on Sunday, 10th October, 1915, stopping in each town and village along the route to be welcomed by local officials and members of each community, and to hold recruiting speeches to increase their ranks, and arrived in Sydney on Friday, 12th November, 1915 with its numbers increased to 263 marchers.  This march started a snowball of other similar recruitment marches in late 1915 and early 1916.

The Sydney Morning Herald  (13 November 1915, p. 20) reported the following official figures ‘of the men who actually signed on (after medical examination), between Gilgandra and Sydney:- Gilgandra, 35; Dubbo, 13; Wongarbon, 12; Geurie, 6; Wellington, 31; Stuart Town, 1; Euchareena, 1; Molong, 4; Parkes, 5; Orange, 19; Millthorpe, 2; Blayney, 11; Bathurst, 17; Glanmire, 1; Yetholme, 1; Wallerawang, 3; Lithgow, 19; Blackheath, 2; Katoomba, 11; Leura, 1; Lawson, 10; Springwood, 5; Penrith, 4; Parramatta, 27; Ashfield, 22; total, 263’.

Following is the route and timetable of the march: Sunday, Oct. 10,  Balladoran ; Monday, Oct. 11,  Eumungerie ; Tuesday, Oct. 12,  Mogriguy ; Wednesday, Oct. 13,  Dubbo ; Thursday, Oct. 14,  Wongarbon ; Friday, Oct. 15,  Geurie ; Saturday, Oct. 16-Sunday, Oct. 17,  Wellington ; Monday, Oct. 18,  Dripstone ; Tuesday, Oct. 19,  Stuart Town ; Wednesday, Oct. 20,  Euchareena ; Thursday, Oct. 21,  Boomey ; Friday, Oct. 22,  Molong ; Saturday, Oct. 23-Sunday, Oct. 24,  Orange ; Monday, Oct. 25,  Milthorpe ; Tuesday, Oct. 26,  Blayney ; Wednesday, Oct. 27,  Bathampton ; Thursday, Oct. 28,  Bathurst ; Friday, Oct. 29,  Yetholme ; Saturday, Oct. 30-Sunday, Oct. 31, Wallerawang ; Monday, Nov. 1-Tuesday, Nov. 2,  Lithgow ; Wednesday Nov. 3, Little Hartley ; Thursday, Nov. 4,  Mt. Victoria ; Friday, Nov. 5,  Katoomba ; Saturday, Nov. 6-Sunday, Nov. 7,  Lawson, Monday, Nov. 8,  Springwood ; Tuesday, Nov. 9,   Penrith ; Wednesday, Nov. 10, Parramatta ; Thursday, Nov. 11, Ashfield ; Friday, Nov. 12, Sydney.

An account of the march on a day by day basis will follow initially in this blog.  It will be based mostly on articles from The Farmer and Settler, which were provided by Stanley E. Stephens, who was the son of the editor of this newspaper sent to be the official correspondent to cover the march, and who also joined the Coo-ees as a recruit at Gilgandra.