We will remember them: Parkes prepares for centenary of the end of World War I on Sunday

1916: The Boomerang March, a WWI recruitment march, began at Parkes and came through Forbes, onto Orange. In white are Mr and Mrs Andrew Stewart, Mayor and Mayoress.
1916: The Boomerang March, a WWI recruitment march, began at Parkes and came through Forbes, onto Orange. In white are Mr and Mrs Andrew Stewart, Mayor and Mayoress.

At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month 1918, the guns fell silent, the killing stopped and the Armistice that ended the Great War, the “War To End All Wars” or World War I, came into effect.  

With the silence of the guns, the silence was palpable.

Although the killing stopped, the dying went on for decades. In those pre-antibiotic times, the wounded succumbed to infections and continued to die, those with lungs seared by poison gases quickly succumbed to the virulent Spanish Flu that spread through the troop concentrations and also killed the relatively healthy soldier and civilian alike.

Those who came back with broken bodies and ruined minds died before their time and the rest lived in a world of nightmares and pain from their physical and mental wounds for the remainder of their lives.

Australian troops were low on the repatriation lists and most did not return until late 1919. In the Middle East, the Light Horse were re-armed and remounted in 1919 to put down uprisings in Egypt and the Levante.

According to the Australian War Memorial, the First World War remains the costliest conflict in terms of deaths and casualties. From a population of fewer than five million, 416,809 men and women enlisted, of whom more than 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner.

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Data obtained from Emeritus Professor of History Peter Dennis, AM, from the UNSW Canberra, Australian Defence Force Academy, the AIF Project, show that 189 sons of the Parkes Districts paid the supreme sacrifice during the Great War and over 1000 sons and daughters of the Parkes Districts enlisted in the Great War.  

That is around one in five who enlisted were killed or died. Around 4000 men of the Parkes Districts were of a suitable age and eligible to volunteer and around one in four enlisted.

To commemorate the centenary of the end of the Great War this Sunday, a list of those who paid the supreme sacrifice that was taken from that database has been compiled (by Mr Knowles). These appear on pages 18-21 of the Parkes Champion Post’s November 9, 2018 edition. It lists those who associated with the Parkes Districts by having been born in the Parkes Districts, enlisted in the Parkes Districts, had next of kin in the Parkes Districts and/or gave their place of association as the Parkes Districts.  

A list of those from Parkes Districts who volunteered and served in the Great War also appears on pages 16-17 of the same November 9 issue.

Names were cross referenced with other data sources such as Mapping Our Anzac, DVA Nominal WWI Rolls, RSL Virtual War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, the Cenotaph in Cooke Park, Parkes, etc.

Some names appear in this list that do not appear on the Parkes Cenotaph for unknown reasons, some names are absent in this list that are listed on the Cenotaph. There are a number of reasons for this, the main ones being that the person returned to Australia, there is no record of their enlistment, they did not have an actual association with the Parkes Districts, etc. The names listed on the Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour Plaques were taken as the final arbiter in the list.

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The photo above is that of the Central West Boomerangs recruitment march, courtesy of the Parkes Historical Society.

According to the Australian War Memorial, the route began from Parkes, the Boomerangs took the train to Daroobalgie then marched to Donaghey’s Hill, Forbes, Yamma Station, Eugowra, Gooloogong, Canowindra, Billimari, Cowra, Woodstock, Lyndhurst, Carcoar, Blayney, Newbridge (to Georges Plains by train), Perthville, Bathurst.

They arrived in Bathurst almost at the same time as the Kookaburras and were given a combined reception. They entered the new Bathurst Showground Military Camp for training.

Each original Boomerang marcher was presented with a medallion brooch in the shape of a boomerang, etched with the name of the volunteer, his town and the words ‘Come back’.

The list of the Boomerangs who left Parkes on January 19, 1916, who appear in the photograph are: B.C. Bartlett, E.C. Baker, S.H. Barnes, F. Card, G. Chandler, W.T. Clarke, T. Close, V.G. Connell, H.H. Cooke, T.H. Cooke (Farriers Unit), W.Collison, A.W. Dixon, W.E. Denman, G. Dodd, C.H. Edwards, A.S. Goodworth, S.F. Graham, V.C. Giblet, O.A. Griffin, H. Hewitt, J.E. Halls, E.L. Hill, J.W. Homer, E. Henrys, H. Hoffman, J.H. Hughton, W.C. Hulbert, F.W. Harrington, H. Inglis, H.J. Jelbart, J.C. Jarret, C. Kable, H. Kable, J.P. Keenan, J. Kelly, H. Lathan, G.W. Loftus, D. Maitland, G.E. Murphy, J. Murphy, F.G. Matthews, J. McGrouther, H. McCormick, D.W. McLean, R.B. Nash, M.G. O'Malley, E.F. Pett, J. Peckham, H.T. Pritchard, C.L. Reake, J. Reed, G. Robinson, R.J. Runchell, R.See, R.W.A. Spicer, R.C. Spicer, A. Shine, C.K. Thrupp, G.J. Webb, C.E White, H.F White.

Others who joined later: W.G. Cason, A. Cason, F. Daley, J.B. Davis, E.E. Davis, J. Dunnett, R. Ellis, W.H. Tinman, W. Whitlock.