Tag Archives: William L. Hunt

William Laurence HUNT

William Laurence HUNT

Per his military service record (regimental no. 4805), William Laurence Hunt was born at Coonabarabran, N.S.W. He gave his age as 20 years and 3 months, his marital status as single, and his occupation as labourer. His description on his medical was height 5 feet 10 inches tall, weight 10 stone 12 lbs., with a dark complexion, hazel eyes, and dark hair. His religious denomination was Roman Catholic. He claimed that he had no previous military service. Along with his brother Jack Henry Hunt, he completed his medical on the 9th October 1915 at Gilgandra, and was attested at Gilgandra on the same day by Captain Nicholas – the day before the commencement of the Coo-ee March. His service record includes a consent form signed by his father C. H. Hunt (for persons under 21 years of age).

After completing the march he went to Liverpool Camp, together with his father Charles Henry Hunt (who had caught up with the Coo-ees between Bathurst and Yetholme) and brother Jack Henry Hunt, as reinforcement for the 13th Battalion.

On his embarkation roll his address at time of enrolment was Wingadee, Coonamble, N.S.W., and his next of kin is listed as sister, Miss P. O. Hunt, St. Patrick’s Convent, Dubbo, N.S.W.

On 8th March 1916 Private Hunt along, with his father and brother, and many of the other Coo-ees, departed Sydney on the HMAT A15 Star of England, and arrived in Egypt on the 11th April 1916.

On the 19th April 1916 Private Hunt was transferred to the 45th Battalion.

On the 1st June 1916 Private Hunt left Alexandria aboard the Transport Kinfauns Castle bound for France, arriving at Marseilles on the 7th June 1916.

Private Hunt served with the 45th Battalion through its first action at Fleurbaix, France, in July 1916. He then moved with the Battalion to Pozieres in early August 1916. On the 14th August 1916 the 45th Battalion was relieving the 46th Battalion in trenches between Pozieres and Martinpuich, France. During this relief Private Hunt was one of 15 members of the Battalion wounded. His wound was slight and he returned to the unit on the 16th August 1916.

On the 7th September 1916 Private Hunt was with the 45th Battalion at Beauval, France, refitting and reorganising. On this day Private Hunt was charged with Eating Reserve Iron Ration without permission (on the same day his brother Jack Henry Hunt was charged for the same offence). He was awarded Forfeiture of One Day’’ pay.

On the 24th November 1916 the 45th Battalion was holding the front line in front of Guedecourt, France. Private Hunt was evacuated to the 38th Casualty Clearing Station with trench feet. On the 25th November 1916 he was placed aboard the 7th Ambulance Train and moved to the 6th General Hospital at Rouen, France, arriving on the 26th November 1916. On the 29th November 1916 Private Hunt boarded the Hospital Ship Formosa at Le Harve for journey to England. On the 30th November 1916 he was admitted to the War Hospital at Stratford Upon Avon, England. On the 13th February 1917 he was transferred to the 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital at Dartford, England.

On the 19th February 1917 Private Hunt was granted leave to report to the Number One Command Depot at Pernham Downs, England, on the 6th of March 1917.

On the 8th March 1917 Private Hunt was charged for Being Absent Without Leave from 3.30 pm on the 6th March 1917 till 4.00 pm on the 7th March 1917. He was awarded three days confined to camp and fined two days pay.

On the 16th March 1917 Private Hunt was transferred to the Number Two command Depot at Weymouth, England. On the 2nd June 1917 he was sent to the Overseas Training Depot. On the 25th June 1917 Private Hunt departed Southampton, England, bound for France. He arrived at Le Harve on the 26th June 1917, and marched into the 4th Australian Division Base Depot. On the 29th June 1917 he went before a Medical Board and was classified PB (Permanent Base).

On the 9th July 1917 Private Hunt was sent back to England, arriving at Southampton on the 10th July 1917. He was sent to the Number Two Command Depot at Weymouth that same day. On the 22nd November 1917 Private Hunt commenced a course of instruction at the Winchester Engineering Works.

On the 23rd September 1918 Private Hunt began his return to Australia, departing England on board the HMAT Runic. He arrived in Australia on the 27th November 1918, and was discharged medically unfit on the 31st January 1919.

Anniversary of their start

Transcript of an article from The Sunday Times, October 8, 1916, p. 9.

THE COO-EES
EN ROUTE FOR BERLIN
ANNIVERSARY OF THEIR START
It’s 12 months all but two days since the Coo-ees started on their long march from Gilgandra to Berlin, and thought they’re not there yet, most of them are still on the way. One is well beyond the borders of Germany – he is a prisoner of war, and is reported to be in a prison camp in Westphalia – several have been wounded, and two, including their famous leader, “Captain Bill” Hitchen, are dead.
The Coo-ees started on the first stage of their march, the 330 miles trip from Gilgandra to Sydney, on Tuesday, Oct 10. There were 25 of them then ; but before they had covered half the distance the home town had sent another ten hotfoot to join them. These 35 Gilgandra men were good recruiting agents, for before they reached Sydney they had gathered in seven more men for every one of the original troop. They arrived just about 270 strong. Their example was followed all over the country, and recruiting marches were conducted from several points. None of them, however, captured such interest as that of the Coo-ees , and although public memory is always short, it is probable that Captain Bill Hitchen and his men will always be remembered when Australia’s part in the war is talked of. Certainly they will never be forgotten in Gilgandra and the other country towns they passed through.

SACRIFICES THEY MADE
Every town and township on the line turned out to meet them as they approached, and they were feted and fed until their leaders began to fear they would be killed by kindness. The enthusiasm of the volunteers, too, was infectious. All along the road men dropped their work and joined the ranks. From Gilgandra alone there were three men with families. There was Captain Hitchen (officially he was only a Corporal ; but he will always be remembered as Captain Bill), who had a family of three sons and two daughters ; there was Signaller A. J. McGregor, who left behind him a wife and five young children ; and there was Corporal J. McKeown, who left a wife and four small McKeowns. Wee McGregor, as he was known all along the march, sold out a flourishing bakery business in Gilgandra to join the Coo-ees. He had three brothers at the front, and he wanted to follow them. On the way to Sydney another brother jumped into the ranks – five from one family. McKeown had fought in the South African war, and had soldiering in his blood. At Coonamble two young brothers named Hunt joined the ranks. Their father saw them start ; but the thought of the parting was too much for him. A few days later he hurried after the boys, and at Bathurst he, too, joint the march.

MEN OF ALL AGES
The Coo-ees were men of all ages. Captain Bill himself was 52, and though the rest all said they were under 45 the authorities in many cases had their suspicions about them. On the other hand there were three lads under the age of 18.
When they reached Sydney on March 8 [sic] a number of them were rejected as medically unfit ; but 220 eventually sailed for Europe. They didn’t all go together. Some were taken into the Light Horse and others into the Engineers and Artillery ; but about 180 went away as the 15th Reinforcements of the 13th Battalion. In Egypt they were again split up ; but the majority went into the 45th Battalion. Those who stayed in Egypt were under fire three weeks after their landing, and the men who went to France were in the trenches in June. It used to be a military axiom that it took three years to train a soldier. In the case of the Coo-ees, the time spent in training was a little over three months.
A record of their doings is being kept by Mr. A. H. Miller, of Gilgandra, who took part a leading part in organising the march. He is still collecting details, keeping a list of those who have fallen, and the experiences the men have met with. He also communicates with their relatives, whenever news of any of the men arrives.
The people of Gilgandra are keeping up the anniversary of the start of the march on Tuesday by a social. They originally intended to devote the proceeds to purchasing Christmas hampers for the men ; but the State War Council refused permission for this, and the money will now be devoted to the Repatriation Fund. Numbers of private parcels are being made up, however, for Christmas gifts, for the men. So far there have been but nine casualties among the Coo-ees.

COO-EES WHO HAVE FALLEN
Corporal Hitchen died of diabetes in Harefield Hospital, in England, a few weeks ago. He was ill when he arrived in England and went straight into hospital. He died two months later. When news of his death was received in Gilgandra, all the business houses closed their doors for two hours.
Private Victor Quinton, of Gilgandra, is wounded, though he was at first reported missing. He is a son of Mrs. A. Lumsey, of Gilgandra.
Private Sid Heuston, wounded, is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Heuston, of Wellington. He joined the Coo-ees there when he was only 17 years and three months of age.
Private Dave Wagner, wounded, is a son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Wagner, of Valley Heights. He was only 16 years and 10 months old when he enlisted.
Private J. Wiggins, wounded, is a son of Mr. E. Wiggins, of Springwood. He and his mate, Dave Wagner, both enlisted from Springwood, the only recruits in the march from the township.
Private C. Crease, wounded, joined the Coo-ees in the mountains. He is a brother of Mrs. P. Letham, of Simmons-street, Enmore.
Sgt. T. Thorne, who died of illness in England, was 23 years of age. He was the only son of Mrs. and the late Mr. G. Thorne, of Thorneycroft, Lawson. His father died suddenly from heart failure a month after the boy left for the front.
Private D. S. Stewart was at first reported missing, but has since been traced to a prison camp in Westphalia, where he is a prisoner of war. He is the second son of Mr. and Mrs. A Stewart, of Parkes-street, East Wellington, and was only 16 years and 9 months old when he enlisted. He was the youngest recruit with the Coo-ees. Another brother, who enlisted at 18, is in the trenches.
Private Oliver James Harmon, of Granville, killed in action, was a son of Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Harmon, of Alfred-street, Granville. He joined the Coo-ees, many of whom he had known out West, at Parramatta. His younger brother, Percy, is on H.M.S. Phantom, and another is in camp at Liverpool.
Private C. Marchant, accidentally wounded in Egypt and invalided home, is a son of Mr. and Mrs. E. Marchant, of Gilgandra, at which township he joined the Coo-ees. He was prominent in boxing circles in the West, and also a member of the Gilgandra Waratah Football Club and the League of Wheelmen.
Private Albert Nelson, wounded (second occasion), is the son of Mr. and Mrs. R. Nelson, of Gilgandra. He joined the Coo-ees at Liverpool Camp, and sailed for the front with them on March 8. When he was wounded on the first occasion he remained on duty. This time he was wounded in three places – knee, back and foot.
Private Borton, Lawson (wounded).
Private R. Uhr (invalided home).
Private J. Morris, Parramatta (killed in action).
Private G. Seaman, Bathurst (wounded).
Private W. E. Hunter, Redfern (wounded), enlisted at Geurie, and when the Coo-ees were in Orange he received a letter from his mother stating that his two brothers had been killed at the Dardanelles.
Cpl. W. Smith, who enlisted with the Coo-ees at Geurie, where he was employed as Shire Clerk, was taken from France to England to undergo an operation. From advices received by the last mail he was improving fast. He was a widower with a number of young children, whom he placed in boarding-school before going to the front.’

 

Day 1, Sunday, 10th October, 1915, Gilgandra to Balladoran

The start at Gilgandra (Daily Telegraph 12/10/1915)

The start at Gilgandra (Daily Telegraph 12/10/1915)

Transcribed from The Farmer and Settler, 12 October, 1915, p. 3.

‘THE ROUTE MARCH. Gilgandra to the Coast TRIUMPHANT SEND-OFF BY THE PEOPLE.

Gilgandra’s greatest of all events, the start of the route march, became a fact of history on Sunday last, when the contingent after a simple religious ceremony stepped out on its long march to the coast.

On Saturday, when the ‘Farmer and Settler’ special reporter, who will march to Sydney, arrived at Gilgandra, he found Captain Nicholas and Drs. Burkitt and Cooper, of Dubbo, on the ground. Captain Nicholas has been appointed to take charge of the contingent, and be will be their leader and instructor all the way through to Sydney.

On Saturday afternoon twenty-five recruits were sworn in. Two failed to pass the doctor, but they will march through to the coast nevertheless. The number of recruits would have been double if the recruiting association had not been compelled to wait so long for the permission of the military authorities, the result being that many men grew tired of waiting, and went into camp. The doctor said that the Gilgandra men were as fine a body of recruits as he had seen, with good feet and sound constitutions. On Saturday night a torchlight procession paraded the town, headed by the band. The recruits were followed by the rifle club and the boy scouts. In the interval of a picture show, Major Winn, of Sydney, and Private Lee, the ex-clergyman recruit, made special appeals to the young men to volunteer.

There were fully three thousand persons, almost the whole population of the district, at the open-air consecration service on Sunday morning, when the Rev. W. Jenkins commended the men to their Creator.

The shire president, Mr. Barden, said he was sure that the twenty-five starting out would be five hundred at the end of the long march. Almost the whole of the people, the largest gathering ever seen at Gilgandra, accompanied the march to Boberah, where a general programme of hand-shaking took place. A guard of honor of young horsewomen   rode at the head of the procession, and the local recruiting association and shire councillors took part. Captain Nicholas formed up his little force — grown already to thirty-one men; and Mr. W. T. Hitchens had the honor of giving the first words of command–‘Quick march.’ Amid resounding cheers the route march had begun, and it was followed for several miles of its long journey, by a great cavalcade of horses and vehicles. Then there was a halt, with more good-byes, more cheers, and the rifle club fired a parting volley.

The heat was intense, and the dust hung over the troops like a pillar of cloud — a fiery cloud, so that when the first stop, Marthaguy, was reached, all were grateful for the lunch spread by the residents, and not less for the facilities provided for a wash and a freshen up. At Marthaguy one new recruit fell in. Many of the Gilgandra folk still followed the column. The young daughter of a prominent citizen left her car and marched alongside the men for some distance; she announced her intention of being present in Martin Place at the finish, and declared that if she had been a boy she would have marched all the way, and gone to the front with the contingent. It is a pity that some of the boys have not the spirit of the girls.

Patriotic sons of the West. A 320 mile march (Sydney Mail 20/10/1915)

‘Patriotic sons of the West. A 320 mile march’ – Coo-ees on the road to Balladoran (Sydney Mail 20/10/1915)

At Balladoran the townspeople met the column a mile out of town and escorted them to their camp with banners, and gave them a hearty welcome. The camp was reached at five o’clock, and here another recruit joined the column.

Following are the names of the first twenty-five to enlist:–

John Quinn, John Macnamara, Stanley E. Stephens, Jack Hunt, William L. Hunt, Albert W. Pearce, Leslie W. Greenleaf, Arthur C. Finn, Francis N. White, Alfred Wardroffe, Victor Quinton, William Alston, Sidney Bennett, John R. Lee, Harold Baxter, Charles R. Wheeler, E. T. Hitchen, James McKeown, James Crowford, Charles E. Marchant, Andrew J. MacGregor, Lawrence L. McGuire, Robert C. Campbell, Peter Wilson, and Frank Humphrey.’

Click here to view the article on Trove: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116668904