Two Cobar locals were part of a group of 41 marchers who set off from Gilgandra last week to re-enact the World War I 1915 recruitment Coo-ee March to Sydney.
Brothers Leighton and Morgan Trudgett are retracing the steps of the original 515 km (320 miles) Coo-ee marchers who left Gilgandra with 26 marchers on October 10, 1915 in an effort to recruit more men to sign up for World War I. Morgan said he heard about the planned re-enactment march more than a year ago from a family member who was living in Gilgandra at the time and decided it was something he’d like to do.
“It’s one of those once in a life experiences.” Morgan told The Cobar Weekly.
He said while he did a bit of training for the march he and many others were suffering with lots of blisters at the start.
“The first day was really hard. It was really hot and we didn’t set off until about 1pm after all the celebrations and we had to walk 19km. It’s getting easier now,” he said on Sunday.
The 2015 re-enactment marchers will be on the road for 26 days, walking an average of 25-30km per day.
Morgan said as they are not permitted to walk on highways they have to take a longer route and will have covered 640km by the time they march into Sydney on Remembrance Day.
Along with the blisters from walking in boots as the original marchers would have done (not sneakers), they are also camping out at night.
“We roll out our swags, sometimes there’s been halls for us to stay in,” Morgan said.
He said like the original 1915 march and the 1987 re-enactment march, they too have been gaining support from all the towns they have travelled through.
“The support has been really great,” Morgan said.
By the time the 1915 march had arrived in Sydney on November 12, its numbers had increased from 24 to 263 marchers.
“The success of this route recruiting march started a snowball of other similar recruitment marches in late 1915 and early 1916 in New South Wales and Queensland: the Waratahs, Kangaroos, Wallabies, Dungarees, Men from Snowy River, Kurrajongs, Kookaburras, North Coast Boomerangs, and Central West Boomerangs,” according to the Coo-ee March 2015 Re-enactment website.
Following the success of the 1987 Coo-ee March Re-enactment this year the Coo-ee March 2015 Inc. (Gilgandra Sub-Committee) organised another as part of the 2015 Anzac centenary commemorations. The first march had been planned and executed by Bill Hitchen and others, as a means of increasing recruits to fight for King and Country in the Great War, following the devastating casualties of the Gallipoli Campaign.
The 2015 re-enactment is significant to every community in which the march passed through, to remember all of the young men who stepped into the ranks of the “Coo-ees” following the recruiting speeches and calls of “Who will join us?”, and the support that their local community provided during the march.
The 2015 Coo-ee re-enactment march will end in Sydney on Remembrance Day.