“I didn’t enter to win the prize,” Shirley said. “I just love the story of the Coo-ee March and wanted to spread the story around.” She also stated that her prize would most likely go to her grandson. Shirley was chuffed to win the prize valued at over $250.

The Argus wishes to thank everyone that entered the competition and wishes them luck in future competitions.

Shirley Flack was the winner of the recent Sands of Gallipoli giveaway. She is pictured with her prizes valued at over $250.
Shirley Flack was the winner of the recent Sands of Gallipoli giveaway. She is pictured with her prizes valued at over $250.

The following is Shirley’s winning entry.

My name is Tom and I sit and think, waiting for something to happen, I do not know what, but I know that I am feeling a sense of apprehension, for I am a soldier in 1916.

At home my wife Elsie is alone with our small daughter, Betty, and soon she will have another baby – I think this will be a boy. I can’t wait to get a letter from home.

What lies ahead for us if we survive this terrible war I do not know, it just seems to go on and on.

I hope that the British and their allies have success in the never ending battles that are going on so we can go home and start again.

I dream the years have passed and that the war is over. I hope when I awake it is true. I dream that life will be good in Australia and that it will offer opportunities for, not only the soldiers returning fit and looking for work, but for those maimed during their time fighting for their country.

Some days, there are rare quiet moments – just waiting. At such times, I slip into a silent reverie, but not remembering, more like forecasting or a premonition I can see my life unfold before my eyes. It’s what keeps me going sometimes.

The boat has docked and I am beside myself to be back in Melbourne, still in uniform but no longer fighting the war. It is over. Will Elsie, Betty and Tom be there to meet me? Yes they are.

I will remain in the Army for a period and be allocated a small farm under the soldier settlement scheme at Tongala. We will move there upon my discharge and life can to return to normal. In the following years Bill, Jack, Alice, Les and Ted will be born into our family. When we are not working on the farm, we will go fishing. In Tongala an RSL Hall will be built as a great meeting place for all the returned men – and there will be plenty of them in the area.

When the war of 1939-45 begins my sons Tom, Bill and Jack will enlist in the Navy and Airforce and set off to do their bit for the country. Betty and Alice will both marry soldiers. Betty’s husband, Sandy, will be standing on the wharf in Darwin when it is bombed by the Japanese.

Our family men will bravely fight for Australia. They will not be high ranking officers but will do us proud and that will make them heroes for me. Tom will be on the Sydney when it goes down off the Western Australian coast.

After the war Bill will be a postman and Jack an accountant. Betty and Alice’s husbands will be allocated soldier settlement farms, one at Drung near Horsham and the other on King Island.

I look forward to Anzac Days where I can meet up with mates not seen for years, and remember the rare good times we had. Our friendships will never die.

Anzac Day makes us all think of those who fought for us. Keep its importance alive. When my great-great-granddaughter is 16 she will speak at the Anzac Day ceremony in Horsham.

I hope you visit the Rainbow RSL and look at the photos, and other memorabilia and try to imagine what their lives were like. I believe you are lucky to have some returned servicemen and women still surviving in the area, and they are fortunate that there are men who are carrying on the important work of Legacy.

COO EE – COME AND JOIN US

October 2015

I am sitting, talking to my brother in Gilgandra in Central West New South Wales. I am a butcher and he is a plumber.

News has filtered through of the terrible situation in the war. The landing at Gallipoli, the loss of lives and the injuries sustained.

What can we do? We are healthy and fit, how can we help? Gilgandra is so far away from everything. We kept on thinking and then talking to other young men in the district about what our contribution to the war effort could be.

We decided that we could replace the soldiers lost at Gallipoli. The only way to get to Sydney from Gilgandra was to walk. It was 320 miles.

Twenty-six of us set off for Sydney – walking. As we came to a town we called out “Coo-ee – Come and join us”. Our numbers swelled and by the time we reached Sydney there were about 300 men, all ready to do their best  for our country.

This was the first of many “freedom” marches. The longest was from Wagga Wagga 350 miles.

In Sydney we enlisted and did our training before being sent in all directions.

It was so good to catch up with other marchers at different places throughout the war and in later life.