Tag Archives: Wallerawang



Per his military service record (Depot), Robert Gilchrist was born at Millthorpe, N.S.W.[1]  He gave his age as 40 years, his marital status as single, and his occupation as labourer. His description on his Certificate of medical examination was height 5 feet 9 ½ inches tall, weight 10 stone 8 lbs, with a fair complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair.  His religious denomination was Roman Catholic.  He claimed to have 4 weeks previous military experience at Holsworthy Camp, and that he had left through sickness.

His next of kin on his Attestation paper was his mother, Mrs Mary Gilchrist, McLaughlan Street, Orange N.S.W. (His younger brother Arthur Gilchrist joined the Coo-ees at Orange on 24th October 1915).

The Molong Argus reported that Robert Gilchrist stepped forward to join the Coo-ees at an open air recruiting meeting held at Euchareena on 20th October 1915.[2]

He completed his medical examination at Molong on 22nd October 1915, and was attested by Captain Nicholas at ‘Molong (8 miles east)’, along with several other Coo-ees, on 22nd October 1915.

On 31st October 1915 when the Coo-ees were having a rest day at Wallerawang, Private Gilchrist was charged  by Captain Eade with drunkenness. He was fined 30 shillings.

After completing the march he went to Liverpool Camp as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion.

On 19th November 1915 Private Gilchrist was charged with attempting to break guard. He was reprimanded.

On 7th December 1915 Private Gilchrist was charged with being absent without leave from Liverpool Camp from 3rd to 7th December 1915. He was recommended to be discharged.

Private Gilchrist was discharged on 10th December 1915 unlikely to become an efficient soldier.



[2] ‘The “Coo-ees” at Euchareena’, Molong Argus,  29 October 1915, p. 1. Retrieved August 7, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105660892



Per his military service record (regimental no. 4760), George Davidson was born at Morpeth, Northumberland, England.[1]  He gave his age as 44 years and 2 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as miner.  His description on his Certificate of Medical Examination form was height 5 feet 5 inches tall, with a medium complexion, blue eyes, and grey brown hair.  His religious denomination was Church of England.  He claimed that he had no previous military experience.

He completed his medical examination, and was attested by Captain A. C. Eade, at Lithgow, on 2nd November 1915.

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

The Lithgow Mercury reported that ‘Geordie Davidson’ along with fellow Coo-ee ‘Ern King’, who had both joined the Coo-ees from Cullen Bullen, ‘were farewelled at a smoke concert in the Cullen Hall’ in early January 1916, and Private Davidson was ‘presented with a pipe and tobacco pouch’.[2]

Private G. Davidson was also given a send off ‘by his many friends’ at ‘the house of Mr. F. Maddy’ in Bathurst [who was listed as his next of kin on his Attestation Paper] in early January 1916, where he was ‘presented with a wristlet watch and also a pocket bible from his friends’.[3]

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Cullen Bullen, Mudgee Line, N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as his friend, F. [Fred] Muddy [i.e. Maddy], 265 Russell Street, Bathurst, N.S.W.

The ‘Date of joining’ on the HMAT Star of England A15 embarkation roll for both Private George Davidson and Private Ernest Henry King was recorded as 31st October 1915.[4]  The Coo-ees arrived at Wallerawang and held a recruiting meeting there on 30th October 1915.  According to Mr H. T. Blacket who accompanied the Coo-ees in his motor car, seven men presented themselves to join the Coo-ees that evening.[5]  The Coo-ees had a rest day at Wallerawang on 31st October 1915, before marching on to Lithgow on 1st November 1915.  Both George Davidson and Ernest Henry King completed their medical examinations, and were attested by Captain Eade, at Lithgow on 2nd November 1915.  Captain Eade stated that ‘Private King joined the Coo-ees at Wallerawang’ in an article published in the National Advocate on 7th January 1916.  So it appears possible that George Davidson may also have been present at the recruiting meeting held at Wallerawang on the evening of 30th October 1915.[6]

On 8th March 1916 Private Davidson, along with many of the other Coo-ees, departed Sydney on the HMAT A15 Star of England, with the 15th reinforcements for the 13th Battalion.  He arrived in Egypt on 11th April 1916.

On 16th April 1916 Private Davidson was transferred to the 4th Pioneer Battalion at Tel-el-Kebir, Egypt.

On 4th June 1916 Private Davidson left Alexandria aboard the Transport Scotian bound for France.  He arrived at Marseilles on 11th June 1916.

On 29th August 1916 the 4th Pioneer Battalion was conducting maintenance on trenches in the vicinity of Mouquet Farm, France, when Private Davidson was struck by a the blast of a high explosive shell in the left arm.

On 31st August 1916 Private Davidson was admitted to the 3rd Canadian Field Ambulance with a fracture of left scapula [shoulder blade].

His movements for the next year while he recovered from his wounds are not clear on his service record.

On 27th August 1917 he was transferred to England from the 4th Australian Division Base Depot at Le Havre, France.

He arrived at Weymouth, England, on 29th August 1917, where he marched into the No. 2 Command Depot, with classification “C1” [fit for home service only].

On 26th September 1917 Private Davidson departed England bound for Australia aboard the HMAT Borda for medical discharge, with a deformity to the left elbow.

Private Davidson arrived at Sydney on 25th November 1917.  He was discharged medically unfit on 27th December 1917.


[1] NAA: B2455, DAVIDSON G

[2] ‘Cullen Bullen Recruiting’, Lithgow Mercury, 7 January 1916, p. 3. Retrieved June 18, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article218730509

[3] ‘Personal’, National Advocate, 7 January 1916, p. 5. Retrieved June 18, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article158051548

[4] Australia War Memorial. ‘First World War Embarkation Rolls, George Davidson’, HMAT Star of England A15, https://oldsite.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/R1834299/

[5] ‘The Great Route March … Yetholme to Wallerawang’, The Farmer and Settler, 2 November 1915, p. 3. Retrieved June 19, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116674770

[6] ‘Privates Jack Rigby and E. King’, National Advocate, 7 January 1916, p. 5. Retrieved June 18, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article158051490


Day 23, Monday, 1 November, 1915, Wallerawang to Lithgow

Transcription of an extract from an article titled ‘The Route March : Through Lithgow District’ in The Farmer and Settler, 5 November, 1915, p. 3 [part 1 of 4]

Through Lithgow District.

Last Monday morning the Great Western Route March passed on from hospitable Wallerawang, a large number of the people assembling to wish the men “God-speed.” There were volleys of hurrahs in the place of votes of thanks and other expressions of goodwill, and the order “quick march,” and Wallerawang’s reception was over, and Lithgow’s almost begun.


The first mile of the journey up the hill in the sunshine made warm going, but good time was made to Marrangarroo, where lunch was prepared on the banks of Middle River. A company of recruits from the Lithgow camp, numbering about 100 men, under their own officers, met their Gilgandra comrades here. They were on their mettle, and they presented a fine appearance as they marched. When the Coo-ees have been uniformed in the dungarees and hats that are ready for them in Lithgow, however, there will not be much to choose between them, notwithstanding the Lithgow lads’ longer training. The two contingents were paraded, and cheers exchanged.


After dinner and a smoke-ho the road was taken once more, with the Lithgow boys in the lead. Dunn’s Comer was reached at 4 p.m.; where a large crowd had assembled to greet the column. The mayor, Ald. Pillans, in his brief welcome speech, said that it was a working man’s welcome to working men that were going to do the work of the Empire, he trusted, like men. Equipped with flags, the school children sang patriotic songs, and then, headed by the Lithgow Town Band, the town was entered, and the main street, lined by thousands of people, was paraded by the force.

The setting was like that of a play, the road winding down the valley to the town with the great blast furnaces silhouetting against the sky and covering the valley with a pall of smoke. The small arms factory guard turned out to the salute, and whistles from the factory and from the near-by railway yards cock-a-doodle-dooed like the ferry steamers on Sydney Harbor when a transport is sailing. All tho population of the country-side was here to welcome the growing army, and they cheered and cheered again.

The march, which included the town band, the local militia, and the boy scouts, concluded at the Trades Hall, where the men camped during their two nights’ stay in Lithgow, and after still more cheers the “dismiss” was given and the quarters were occupied.

Later the “Coo-ees” were the guests of the recruiting association at dinner in the Town Hall, and, general leave having been granted, a free picture show was provided in the Oddfellows’ Hall. During the intermission Captain Hitchens on behalf of the force was given £20, donated by the workmen of the Lithgow Small Arms Factory for the purpose of providing comforts.’

Click here to access the article on Trove: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116680017

Day 22, Sunday, 31 October, 1915, Wallerawang

There is no account of this day in The Farmer and Settler reports, as it was a rest day on the march. 

 Following is an account which includes this day in a letter from Mr. H. T. Blackett, from Dubbo, to his wife, who accompanied the march in his Ford motor car. 

Note that there does not appear to be any surviving copies of the ‘moving picture’ film taken of the Coo-ees that is mentioned in it.

With the Coo-ees at Evans Plains (Daily Telegraph 30/10/1915)

With the Coo-ees at Evans’ Plains (Daily Telegraph 30/10/1915)

Transcription of an article titled ‘The “Coo-ees” : a day by day account’, from The Dubbo Liberal and Macquarie Advocate, 2 November 1915, p. 3.

‘Mr. H. T. Blacket, writing on 31st October from Wallerawang to Mrs. Blacket, gives some interesting particulars of the route march of the “Coo-ees.”

”After leaving Millthorpe,” he says, we made for Blayney, and when within two miles of that town we were met by Captain Eade, who took command of the men, and is still with us. He is a fine soldier, and is enforcing discipline very rigidly, especially in regard to drink. We had a great time at Blayney. I stayed with Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Heane, and enjoyed a good rest, feeling a bit tired, as I am going pretty solidly. What with transport, sick men, advance and rear work, I have covered over 700 miles. The Blayney people bought all our requirements. The night after leaving Blayney we camped at Bathampton wool-shed. Mr. Gilmour, the owner of the station (which is a pretty place, with lovely house and gardens), invited Major Wynne, Captain Eade and myself to stay with him for the night. He is a bachelor, but most hospitable and attentive. Next morning I went to Bathurst and brought the mails back to our midday camp at Evans’ Plains. I had a good load of stuff, besides sick men. The procession into Bathurst was one of the finest seen. Hundreds of children were in fancy dress, mounted police, Mayor and aldermen, wounded soldiers, cadets, and people by the thousands. The march to Bathurst was most imposing, and a moving picture was taken. If it is on at Dubbo you should see it. Ask the picture men to let you know if any of the “Coo-ee” pictures are to be shown. We left Bathurst, and had mid-day rest at Glanmire. After that we went to Yetholme, and camped at the school, having meals in the big dining room at “Brooklands,” and a camp-fire concert. Four recruits joined here. We left Yetholme yesterday morning, and did 20 miles to Wallerawang, where we arrived yesterday afternoon, after camping at Meadow Flat for lunch. The Wallerawang and Portland people met us by hundreds three miles from ‘Wang, and a band headed a very long procession all the way to the town. The people here are supplying all meals. Last night Mr. Carmichael addressed a meeting here, and we got seven recruits. We are now about 170 strong.

“We leave for Lithgow to-morrow, and will arrive there about 5 p.m. We understand there is to be a big reception at Lithgow-bands, soldiers from the camp (700), etc., are meeting us a mile out of town. Cigarettes are being excluded. We remain at Lithgow till the morning of the 3rd November, and then move on and camp at Hartley, at the foot of Victoria Pass. The people are very kind to us along the route. We have a cattle pup, a young fox, and a retriever. I hear that Mr. Fern, of Cobar, is bringing 100 recruits from Cobar to join us at Penrith, and from all we can hear Sydney is going balmy. It is a grand thing, and will be handed down in history as the first route march in the British Empire. A representative from Lithgow, and also from Mount Victoria, have just come to confer about arrangements there. We now have a member of the Army Medical Corps with the camp. Dungarees and white hats were issued to-day to the men, who are in the pink of condition, and marching strongly. All the talk about them being bootless and ill-clothed, etc., is a pack of lies. The men have but to ask for anything at all in the shape of boots, socks, clothing, braces, tobacco, haircuts and medicine, and they are obtained at the first opportunity. There have been no desertions. We now have a lorry, three waggonettes, a light spring cart, a sulky, and the car, and 10 horses and 170 men, as against the 28 men, one waggonette and two horses which left Gilgandra originally. The men are being well drilled by the Captain and Staff Sergeant-Major Scott, and the last three days have gone a long way towards making soldiers of them. Pay started from time of swearing-in. Amongst our men are a father and two sons.”’

Click here to access the article on Trove: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77601738

Day 21, Saturday, 30 October, 1915, Yetholme to Wallerawang

Transcription of an article titled ‘The Great Route March : the tremendous Bathurst welcome’ from The Farmer and Settler, 2 November, 1915, p. 3, [part 3 of 3].
… [Continued]

 ‘Yetholme to Wallerawang.

The track from Yetholme to Wallerawang was mostly down hill, by the route, we took on Saturday, via Meadow Flat and Thompson’s Creek.

Sunny Corner again co-operated, this time with Meadow Flat, to provide luncheon for the recruits, the meal being laid out on the grass by tho school house. Bouquets and cigarettes were supplied to each man, and after an excellent “lunch,” which might well have been called a dinner, the remainder of the nineteen miles was tackled to “‘Wang,” as the local people prefer to call the junction town of Wallerawang.

Three miles from the day’s destination the school children at Thompson’s Creek presented bouquets to the “Coo-ees,” and a little further on, at the cross roads the entire population of Portland assembles  to greet the boys from the west.

Mr. Carmichael, M.L.A., who had arrived by the mid-day mail, was also there having travelled out in the Portland coach, together with a large number of Wallerawang townspeople. Speeches were made, and by request of the officers they were made short, as the men are finding “spruiking” the most tiresome part of the march. The Portland Town Band then took the lead, and the journey was resumed to Wallerawang, which town was entered about five o’clock.

Camp was pitched at once in the school grounds, and preparations made to attack the dinner that had been prepared by the good ladies, assisted by a contingent of enthusiasts from Portland.

As experience has shown that men can not march on cakes and trifles, the committee of management has taken upon it-self the responsibility of issuing directions as to what food shall be given the men. The ladies of the west seem to think that the only way to give the men a good time is to fill them up with pastry. No fault can be found with the cooking, as every “Coo-ee” can testify, but it is not marching food. On this occasion, however, the officer’s advice was followed, and the men “bogged into”‘ plates heaped with gold old corned beef and piled high with carrots in a manner that fully justified the demand for “plain food.”

Another matter in which official intervention has been found necessary was that of smoking materials. All along the route tobacco and cigarettes have been provided, generously, usually handed out at meal times by the ladies. As a number or the boys have colds hanging to them still, medical advice was sought, and they were told that the colds would never be shaken off while they continued to smoke such excessive quantities of cigarettes. Therefore only a limited quantity is now allowed, and any surplus is taken charge of by the quartermaster-sergeant and changed by obliging store-keepers for pipes and tobacco.

It is a tall order to ask a small place like Wallerawang to cater for a hundred and fifty men for five meals, and it takes three men nearly an hour to carve the meat. The ladies have gone to it with a will, and with the invaluable assistance of Mr. Sean (in whose hall the meals are prepared), together with other assistants, ‘Wang did well.’

Click here to access the article on Trove: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116674770

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.