Tag Archives: Richard John Crocker

Richard John CROCKER

Richard John CROCKER

Per his military service record (Depot), Richard John Crocker was born at Croydon, N.S.W.[1]  He gave his age as 18 years and 4 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as brickmaker.  His description on his Certificate of medical examination was height 5 feet 8 inches tall, weight 128 lbs, with a fair complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair.  His religious denomination was Church of England.  His next of kin on his Attestation paper was listed as his mother, Mrs Alice W. Crocker, Brighton Avenue, Croydon, N.S.W.  He completed his medical examination and was attested by Lieutenant Edward  J. Shaw at Ashfield, on 11th November 1915.  He claimed to have four years previous military experience with the 39th Regiment.

After joining the Coo-ee March at Ashfield, he went to Liverpool Camp.  However, his time with the Coo-ees would be short, as he was underage.

A letter from Lieutenant Stanley Stilling from the Ashfield Drill Hall dated 16th November 1915 in his file states that ‘Mrs Crocker … called at this Office this evening, and states that she will not consent to her son Richard Crocker, 16 ½ years old, and who is a Trainee of the Area – going with the A.I.F. and asks for his discharge. Crocker volunteered here, and was duly Medically examined, etc., in connection with the Gilgandra Recruits’.[2]

A letter from his mother Alice Crocker dated 18th November 1915 is also in his file, in which she states ‘My son Richard Crocker enlisted with the Gilgandra Coo-ees last Thursday night against my wish as he is only 16 last May and I think far too young, I want you to send him home at once, please’.[3]

He was discharged parents request, being underage, on 25th November 1915.

Less than a year later, Richard John Crocker re-enlisted in the A.I.F.  He completed his Certificate of medical examination at Victoria Barracks on 20th September 1916, and was attested at the Show Ground Camp at Sydney on 25th September 1916.

A letter dated 19th September 1916 in his file signed by both his parents gave consent for their son to enlist. However he was still underage.  He had stated that he was 18 years and 3 months of age in this application to enlist, but this was later changed to 17 years and 4 months on his Certificate of medical examination. A copy of his Birth Certificate in his service record dated 20th March 1917 shows that his date of birth was 13th May 1899.

Private Crocker was allocated to the 7th reinforcements for the 60th Battalion.

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Ashfield, N.S.W.  His next of kin was listed as his father, Edwin Crocker, 53 Arthur Street, Ashfield, N.S.W.

Private Crocker (regimental no. 2873) embarked from Sydney on the HMAT Afriq A19 on 3rd November 1916.  He disembarked at Plymouth on 9th January 1917.

He marched into the 15th Training Battalion at Hurdcott, England on 10th January 1917.

On 10th May 1917 Private Crocker was transferred to the Australian Army Medical Corps, and he marched into the Medical Corps Training Depot at Parkhouse, England.

He later wrote in a letter to the O.C., Victoria Barracks: ‘I went away in 1916 but was under age so I was transferred from the 7/60th to the A.M.C. I was constantly in Hospital work and I volunteered 3 times to go up to the line but I was in the operating theatre & did not get shifted’.[4]

On 4th September 1917 he went to Parkhouse Hospital with a headache.  He returned to the A.M.C. Training Depot on 10th September 1917.

On 29th September 1917 Private Crocker was taken on the staff of the 1st Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Harefield, England.

On 13th June 1918 Private Crocker was admitted to the Hospital suffering Influenza. He was discharged on 16th June 1918.

On 27th January 1919 Private Crocker was detached for duty at the 1st Australian General Hospital at Sutton Veny, England.

On 23rd March 1919 he was admitted to the Hospital suffering Influenza. He was discharged on 4th April 1919, and sent to the Training Depot.

On 13th of May 1919 [his 20th birthday], Private Crocker was granted leave, to report back on 25th  May 1919.

Private Crocker commenced his return to Australia on  2nd July 1919, aboard the H.T.  Karmala.  He disembarked at Sydney on 17th August 1919.

He was discharged Termination of Period of Enlistment on 6th October 1919.

[1] NAA: B2455, CROCKER R J

[2] NAA: B2455, CROCKER R J, letter to Headquarters, A.I.F.Camp, Liverpool, from Lieut. Stanley Stilling, Area Officer, 39th Infantry, 16 November 1915

[3] NAA: B2455, CROCKER R J, letter from Alice Crocker, 18 November 1915

[4] NAA: B2455, CROCKER R J, letter to O.C., Victoria Barracks, from Richard John Crocker, [1936].

The 22 Ashfield recruits

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.

Plaque at Coo-ee Car Park, Ashfield (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson, 23/4/2015)

Plaque at Coo-ee Car Park, Ashfield (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson, 23/4/2015)

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”.

Coo-ee March obelisk at Ashfield Boys High School (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson 3/3/2014)

Coo-ee March obelisk at Ashfield Boys High School (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson 3/3/2014)

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.