Tag Archives: Thomas Walter Dowd

Stanley Everard STEPHENS

Stanley Everard STEPHENS

Stanley Everard Stephens (Photograph courtesy of M. Stephens)

Stanley Everard Stephens (Photograph courtesy of M. Stephens)

Per his military service record (regimental no. 6320), Stanley Everard Stephens was born at Melbourne, Victoria. He gave his age as 24 years and 11 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as journalist. His description on his medical was height 5 feet 7 inches tall, weight 136 lbs., with a fair complexion, brown eyes, and brown hair. His religious denomination was Church of England. He claimed to have previous military service with the Naval Reserve and the New Guinea Expeditionary Force. He completed his medical on the 9th October 1915 at Gilgandra (the day before the commencement of the Coo-ee March), and was attested by Captain Nicholas at Gilgandra on the 9th October 1915.

Stanley Stephens joined the Coo-ee March as both a recruit, and as a special reporter to The Farmer and Settler, of which his father Harry J. Stephens was the editor.

On the march he was given the rank of Acting Sergeant, and was appointed Secretary of the travelling committee of control appointed for the Coo-ee March at Stuart Town, with Major Wynne as chairman, Captain Hitchen, Q.M.S. Lee, and Mr H. T. Blacket, during a visit by A. H. Miller (Secretary), and C. H. Richards and P. J. MacManus, from the Gilgandra Recruiting Committee.[1] In this role he assisted with the day to day running of the march, and maintained the accounts.[2]

After completing the march he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion. He was made Acting Company Sergeant Major on 16th November 2015.

On 7th February 1916 Acting Company Sergeant Major Stephens was sent to the Depot School for NCO’s, then on 18th March 1916 he was sent to the Officer School at Duntroon.

His father Harry Stephens wrote in a letter to A. H. Miller (Secretary of the Gilgandra Recruiting Committee) dated 9th March 1916 (the day after most of the Coo-ees embarked for Egypt on the HMAT A15 Star of England) : ‘Stan is now at the officers’ school, which this week is at the show ground, Sydney, but next week should be at Duntroon. The Coo-ees sailed on Wednesday morning. They spent the previous night at the show ground and Stan was with them right through and saw them off. He would have liked to go with them, but I thought he ought not to miss the greater opportunity offered in the officers’ school. He speaks of them as the finest of all the reinforcements that were reviewed the other afternoon. They have done well so far, and there need be no doubt of the record they will put up when they join the 13th. in Egypt – one of the battalions that has done excellently in the Gallipoli fighting.’[3]

He returned to the 13th Battalion on the 10th of May 1916 as Acting Company Sergeant Major.

On his embarkation roll his rank was Acting Sergeant, and his address at time of enrolment was 25 Roslyn Gardens, Darlinghurst, N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as his mother, Mrs E. [Effie] Stephens, 19 Roslyn Gardens, Darlinghurst, N.S.W.

Acting Sergeant Stephens departed Sydney on the HMAT A14 Euripides on 9th September 1916 as 20th reinforcement for the 13th Battalion, and arrived in Plymouth, England, on 26th October 1916. With him travelled fellow Coo-ees Acting Sergeant Thomas W. Dowd, and Acting Corporal Francis Charles Finlayson.

On 4rd November 1916 Acting Sergeant Stephens marched into the 4th Training Battalion at Codford, England.

On 20th December 1916 Acting Sergeant Stephens departed Folkestone aboard the SS Princess Clementine bound for France. On 22nd December 1916 he arrived at the 4th Australian Division Base Depot at Etaples, France, where he reverted to the rank of Private.

The Farmer and Settler reported that ‘Stan E. Stephens, of the “Farmer and Settler” staff, who left Sydney as sergeant-major of a reinforcement company of the 13th Battalion, lost his n.c.o. rank as soon as he set foot in France, because the Australian army there has a healthy regulation that gives precedence to men that have earned their stripes’.[4]

On 2nd January 1917 Private Stephens joined at the 13th Battalion at Ribemont, France, to undergo training.

Private Stephens described his first “baptism of fire” going “over the top” on a raid on a German trench in the front line in the vicinity of Guedecourt, France, on the night of 4th February 1917, in a letter home that was published in The Farmer and Settler on 17th August 1917.[5]  He wrote:

… “Some one said: ‘Get ready’, and I was just wishing I was at home, or anywhere else in the wide world, when a fervent ‘Ah!’ in the vicinity made me look around. A mess-tin full of rum was being passed along. Everyone took a swig, and passed it on. There was plenty in it when it came to me, and I just gulped down a couple of mouthfuls and handed it to Fin [Finlayson], when, ‘bang,’ ‘bang,’ ‘screech,’ ‘screech,’ over our heads came some shells. Many men involuntarily ‘ducked,’ but were reassured by someone saying: ‘They’re ours.’ So they were. The barrage had started — only a minute to go! Thank Heaven for that rum. It pulled me together, stopped the nervous trembling that made me afraid that everybody would notice me and think I was going to ‘squib’ it. I was cool enough to notice things then, but still I glanced hatefully now and then at the top of the bank above me.

“Somebody said: ‘Now!’ There was a bustle, and I found myself up in No Man’s Land jostling someone to get around a shell-hole. The order had come simultaneously from both ends of our line, so that we at the centre were a bit behind — a sag in the middle. Everything could be seen as clear as day; the line stretched out to right and left. We crouched in our advance, moving slowly, picking our way, with the shells shrieking over us, and bursting only a few yards in front of us. I thought about the ‘backwash.’ Why weren’t some of us killed. Would they knock our heads off if we stood up straight? We were in semi-open order, perhaps five or six deep, and advancing slowly. Oh!, the weight on my back from the heavy kit and the stooping. Yet I felt amused at the struggles of a chap that was sitting down, softly cursing a piece of barbed wire— such silly, meaningless curses. Another stumbled in front of me, and I nearly jabbed him with my bayonet. Then I looked around smartly, to see if any one was close enough behind me to treat me likewise.

“The wire! We were up to it already. But the shells weren’t finished. They had made a good mess of it, I saw as I stepped through from loop to loop. A piece caught me somewhere, but something gave way and I was free again. No; the shells weren’t finished yet. ‘They are bursting behind me.’ I exclaimed to myself, ‘Why on earth don’t I get killed? Are they charmed, so as to kill only Fritzes.’ I caught the flash of another out of the tail of my eye, and then there was a straight line of intermittent flashes in front. What’s this? At that moment I slid and scrambled down a steep, bank and found myself in the German trench!

“Our barrage was just lifting. A Fritz officer afterwards said: ‘I knew you were  Australians; you come in with your barrage; you are too quick for us.’ Yes, we went in with the barrage, instead of a few moments after it— and without a casualty!

“The details of this, my first hop-over, my baptism of fire, are indelibly printed on my memory. I shall always remember the impressions made on me, down to the most trivial incident of the hop-over. Thinking over it afterwards, I have tried to reason out why we got in with our barrage. It’s a good fault, for it prevents the Germans from getting ready for us when the barrage lifts. The Germans reckon that the Australians are always too quick for them that way. I certainly believe that a spirit of ‘don’t-care-a-damn’ was abroad; or, maybe, it was hereditary bloodthirstiness that came out in the excitement, and made us, for the time being, all ‘hogs for stoush.’ I think only the fear that we would be killed by our own curtain of fire kept us from actually running. It wasn’t the rum, anyhow, as the slanderous have asserted. The rum, I found out afterwards, was our first casualty, being broken in the coming up, so that the only rum issued was half a demi-john to a small section of trench that I happened to be in. The jar was found by a chap taking German prisoners back half an hour later, still  nearly half full.’… [Click here to read a full transcription of this article:  https://cooeemarch1915.com/2015/03/19/stanley-e-stephens-letter-about-his-baptism-of-fire-in-the-trenches]

Three days later, on 7th February 1917 Private Stephens was slightly wounded in action whilst the Battalion was in action near Guedecourt, France. He was one of 51 wounded this day another 21 members of the Battalion were killed. He re-joined the Battalion on 15th February 1917 whilst it was training and conducting fatigues at Mametz, France.

Just over two months later, on 11th April 1917 Private Stephens was reported Missing in Action during an attack on the Hindenburg Line near Bullecourt, France. He was one of 367 men from the Battalion reported missing this day, and another 25 were killed and 118 wounded.

After a Court of Enquiry was held by the Battalion on 8th October 1917 Private Stephens was officially listed as Killed in Action.

Private Stephens has no known grave, and his name is commemorated on the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, France.

Private Stephen’s name on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson 7/9/2014)

Private Stephens’ name on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France (Photograph: S. & H. Thompson 7/9/2014)

Private Stephens’ name is also commemorated on panel 71 on the Australian War Memorial First World War Roll of Honour.

[1] ‘Our soldiers’, The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate, 26 October 1915, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77601552

[2] ‘Gilgandra Recruiting Association’, Gilgandra Weekly, 10 December 1915, p. 6, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119922432

[3] Letter from H. J. Stephens to A. H. Miller dated 9th March 1915 in: Alex Halden (Joe) Miller papers mainly relating to the Gilgandra Coo-ee Recruitment March, New South Wales, 1912-1921, 1939. Gilgandra Coo-ee Recruitment March correspondence and papers, 1915-1939.

[4] ‘The soldiers that voted “No”’, The Farmer and Settler, April 1917, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116643546

[5] ‘A baptism of fire’, The Farmer and Settler, 17 August, 1917, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116642518



The “Gilgandra barber” and the Coo-ees welcomed in Lithgow

Article titled “Coo-ees Welcomed” from the Democrat, 6th November 1915, p. 2.

‘“Coo-ees” Welcomed.

The Gilgandra braves — the “Coo-ees” — were accorded an enthusiastic reception on Monday last. They left Wallerawang at 9.30 a.m., and marched to Middle River, where they halted. They were met there by the men of the Lithgow camp and a right royal time was spent. It is an offence to have long hair, and as the laws of the Medes and Persians altereth not, neither do the laws according to the Gilgandra recruits alter. At least six of the Lithgow boys needed tonsorial attention and the “Gilgandra barber,” who sat as judge, declared them guilty and sentenced them to be shorn of their curly locks. Despite protests, the chief executioner carried out his duties to the satisfaction of all but the six. These latter have now cool heads — it will prevent them from becoming hot-headed.

“’Fall in” was then sounded, and the two squads of soldiers marched to Bowenfels, where they halted to await the welcome ceremonies.

An Al Fresco lunch at Bowenfels (Sydney Mail 10/11/1915)

An Al Fresco lunch at Bowenfels (Sydney Mail, 10/11/1915)

The visitors looked in the pink of condition and were as hard as nails. They had increased their number by five at Wallerawang.  

The welcome arrangements were admirably carried out by the chief marshals (Messrs. A. E. Roper and Saunderson). There was not a hitch anywhere. This is as it should be and the gentlemen concerned are to be congratulated.


The Cooerwull school children sang “Advance Australia Fair” capitally, while the Lithgow children also did well.     


The Town Band played at the meeting place, and played beautifully.

The Mayor (Ald. Pillans) then welcomed the “Coo-ees” to Lithgow in a speech admirably suited to the occasion — being short, concise, and good. Major Wynne responded on behalf of the visitors. 

The procession was then formed, the mounted police in front, then the aldermen, the Progress Association and prominent townspeople, then came the Lithgow recruits, followed the Town Band, and then came the “Coo-ees,”‘ each town being represented by their respective units — a flag with the name or the town being the line of demarkation. Then we had our own cadets, with trumpeters playing smartly and briskly. Patrols of Boy Scouts, under Scout-master Lamb, were also in evidence and added considerably to the success of the procession. The civilians also joined in as well as scores of motor cars, buggies, ‘busses, etc. The procession wended its way along Main-street, across Eskbank bridge, up Railway Parade, and into the Trades Hall, which had been kindly loaned for the occasion.


At six o’clock the braves were entertained at luncheon at the Town Hall. This over, it had been intended to have a smoke social, but as the Oddfellows Hall proprietary had kindly granted a free pass for their picture show to the men, they all preferred that, and a splendid programme was screened to the enjoyment of the vast audience present.


On Tuesday advantage was taken of having squad drill, after which general leave was granted. The men were also given white hats and dungarees and they looked more like soldiers than they did in civilian costume.


The squad has two mascots — a young cattle dog and a fox. The young recruit who had charge of them said, “Now I’ve got them over the worst of their trouble, all the others want to collar them, but they won’t get them. They’re mine.”’

Click here to access the article on Trove:http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article103569195

The Coo-ee mascots [cropped photograph] (Daily Telegraph, 30/10/1915)

The Coo-ee mascots [cropped photograph] (Daily Telegraph, 30/10/1915)

Note: According to a docket in the official correspondence of the march, Thomas Dowd, a recruit from Wongarbon, was paid for 21 days barbering services on the march, so he appears to have been the “Gilgandra barber” in the above article.

Thomas Walter DOWD

Thomas Walter DOWD

Per his military service record (regimental no. 6244), Thomas Walter Dowd was born at Wellington, N.S.W. He gave his age as 31 years and 11 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as farmer. His description on his medical was height 5 feet 8 3/8 inches tall, weight 150 lbs., with a fair complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair. His religious denomination was Roman Catholic. He claimed that he had no previous military service.

He was one of the thirteen men who stepped forward and gave his name, ‘either to march under Captain Nicholas, or to come after harvest’, when the Coo-ees recruited in Wongarbon on 14th October 1915.[1]  It is not clear where he joined the Coo-ee March, but written on the top of the first page in his service record is that he ‘Presented at Orange 24/10/15’. He completed his medical on the 24th October 1915 at Orange, and was attested at Orange on 24th October 1915.

There is a docket in the official correspondence of the march dated 24th November 1915, for “T. Dowd, barbering for Coo-ees 21 days @5/- £5-0-0”. This was the profession he was to undertake later in his life after the end of the First World War.

After completing the remainder of the march he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion, where he was Acting Sergeant.

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Wongarbon, N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as his father, T. Dowd, Maryvale, N.S.W.

Acting Sergeant Dowd departed Sydney on the HMAT Euripides A14 on the 9th September 1916, and arrived at Plymouth, England, on the 26th October 1916.   On the 4th November 1916 he marched into the 4th Training Battalion.

On the 28th December 1916 Acting Sergeant Dowd departed Folkestone aboard the Princess Clementine bound for France. On the 29th December 1916 he marched into the 4th Australian Division Base Depot at Etaples where he reverted to the rank of Private.

On the 5th February 1917 Private Dowd was taken on strength of the 19th Battalion. On the 27th April 1917 he was promoted to Lance Corporal. On the 20th May 1917 Lance Corporal Dowd was detached for duty with the 20th Battalion, then on the 16th June 1917 he was detached for duty with the 5th Australian Machine Gun Company.

On the 24th October 1917 Lance Corporal Dowd attended the 6th Officer Cadet Training Battalion at Oxford.

A Confidential Report in his service record dated 27th March 1918 (while he still had the rank of Lance Corporal) had the following remarks: “A very fine character, with any amount of common-sense, grit and determination, also a certain amount of originality. Will lead men anywhere, and win affection and confidence”.

He qualified for a commission on the 30th April 1918. He then attended a Machine Gun course.

On the 1st June 1918 he was appointed a Second Lieutenant and on the 31st July 1918 was taken on strength of the 2nd Australian Machine Gun Battalion.

On the 3rd September 1918 Second Lieutenant Dowd was wounded in action, and admitted to the 5th Field Ambulance suffering shrapnel wounds to the face and hand. He was moved back to the 53rd Casualty Clearing Station, then to the 20th General Hospital, where he remained until the 20th September 1918.

Second Lieutenant Dowd rejoined his unit on 2nd November 1918. He was promoted to Lieutenant on the 8th November 1918

On the 2nd January 1919 Lieutenant Dowd went to the United Kingdom on leave. He returned to his unit on the 18th January 1919.

Lieutenant Dowd departed England on the 19th April 1919 aboard the H.T. Sardinia for return to Australia. He arrived at Sydney on the 8th June 1919. He was discharged on the 21st July 1919.

[1] ‘The Route March’, The Farmer and Settler, 19 October 1915, p. 3.



The Coo-ees in Liverpool Camp

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 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