Military Gear & Army Surplus Gear Blog

Sound Collection Online: Recruitment Recalls

Sound Collection Online: Recruitment Recalls


What prompted me to enlist? Well at that stage, that was in 1915 there were huge recruiting campaigns. Of course, in those days there was no conscription. The whole of the men who went to World War One went as volunteers on their own accord. They sent men all over the country, trying to explain how things were bad at Gallipoli, and they were getting bad at Gallipoli because it was only in December 1915 that the ANZACs had to walk away from Gallipoli, they had to give it away. You know that part of history. And anyhow, things were looking pretty bad but the recruiting campaign they started off in Gilgandra, where there was a handful of men and they finished up in Sydney with 250 recruits. Gathering at towns as they marched down towards Sydney. There were two or three of those, there was the Wallaby’s, the Cooee’s and I think about three lots altogether marched into Sydney like that and they just enlisted as a main body, marching in from the countryside. There
was only my brother and I and he wanted to go and I wanted to go, volunteer, things were bad and of course Mother had one child by the second
marriage Vera, she was about 12 then I suppose and Mother didn’t have the best of health, so I said to Perc, well I’ll go I’m the eldest Oh no, he said, I’ll go I’m the youngest. So we tossed a penny up, we tossed a penny up and when it came down, before it came down, he said – What will you call? I said, I’ll call heads to win. We tossed the penny up and it came down heads. I said, well Perc that’s fair enough. I said you’ve got to look after Mum in the meantime and I enlist. Alright, he said, alright he said. Perc didn’t keep his word, he enlisted about aw some months after anyhow, we both went away. I had listened to the Prime Minister and his last man and the last shilling to defend the
Empire and the Premier of NSW and the Archbishop and I did what they said to do and I enlisted. They’d started a route march recruiting, or a method of
recruiting that became fairly popular then. They started a route march from Wagga to Sydney on 1 December 1915 and I thought, now this is an opportunity, so without telling me Father or anybody I was sent into
Coolamen to get a spare part for the machinery that had broken down on the farm, I suppose it was the reaper and binder I had to ride a horse 13 miles into town and I went to the local police station and saw the Sergeant there who knew my father very well, Sergeant Kale [spelling?], he was an Irishman and he wasn’t in favour of the war. And I wanted the necessary papers, they call them ‘At the station’ papers, I wanted these papers, and he said to me – What do you want to go to the war for? I said, I want to go. He said – are you sure? I said, yes, I am. Well, he said, if that’s the case here’s the papers and he rather reluctantly gave me the papers so I went over to the doctor then and all this was done with a, I was, you know, not very sure of meself because
I’d never done any of this sort of thing on the farm. And the doctor said – you’re not 21, he said, you got your parents consent? The doctor was greatly in favour of the war, Dr Duncan Buchanan. I said, no well, he said, I can’t examine you until you get your parent’s consent So of course, that finished that part of the business. So anyway, I went home, I took the papers home, rode home I had to go back into Coolamen again the next day to get this spare part and I got my Father to sign the papers, I didn’t tell my Mother. It is a strange thing, er when I got to Sydney a chap said, any tram you like Jack with the red on the front will take you past the barracks. Being a hillbilly, I said, okay. And the only tram I could have taken that was wrong, was one with a little red triangle, Clovelly. And I was going for a long while, I said to the ticket conductor, I said how am I getting close to Victoria barracks? He said, God, he said well he said, if it’s true that the earth
is round you’ll be there in about two thousand years. So, he, at the first stop he stopped the tram and the driver signalled another tram and he took me back, with the promise that he’d let me off at [indistinct] Square and direct me, which they did. Very fine fellows. Well I got to Victoria Barracks and it was getting late and when I got up to the desk, the fellow said, what are you here for? [indistinct] and they were big man in those days. I said I came to enlist, he said God Blimey, he said, you’re not big enough
to pick strawberries. Anyhow, the chap put me through as 5’4′ and three-quarters and some weight was okay. Ah, I was in employed as a backer, backs you see as a clicker apprenticed as a clicker in the boot trade. While I was there, the first war it was going back to the [indistinct] a military parade, a big order for military boots, it was all boots then you know well, even the sailors, it was all boots and shoes you see and it was a military order, they’d just completed one I believe, a big order. This was the First World War and as the boys come 21 they finish their time, you see. But I never come out of me time until September 1916, I come out of me time. Well, there was a crowd, the Snowy River crowd was coming through and they were on route [indistinct] and everybody went out to see the Snowy River mob and of course I wasn’t finished me time, it was a very important job, this one you know, this military order and I just give me apron to the [indistinct] to one of the boys, take it back into the shop and got me hat and marched up to camp with them cos I wasn’t 21, I never had me parent’s consent at the time but anyhow, I got me parent’s consent and lo and behold [indistinct] I joined the Snowy River mob and they marched for miles and miles they started way up in Temora or somewhere, marched for a week, wet and cold, slept out and all the rest of it. I was only in a feather bed the night before and I marched into camp and joined the mob so I got a [indistinct] but I wasn’t there long, they drove me go back and made me finish me time so I had to [indistinct] and then when I finished me time at 21, I went away and enlisted. But I missed the mob, the Snowy River mob that I should have been with [indistinct] [indistinct] I took the credit of being one of the Snowy River mob! By 1917, recruiting for reinforcements for the AIF were, were becoming
increasingly difficult draw was mostly from the young men who
were coming on in, the war had already been in in operation for 3 full years by this time so we were really depending on the younger men
who were becoming of army service age. In order to
intensify the recruiting the campaigns and various stunts, if you
like to call them such were engaged in methods of inducement of men to, to join up in the in the army. For instance, throughout
Perth they had a band parading the streets
during lunch time Hay Street in those days, where the Mall is now, used to be a parade ground for the lunch hour crowds and it was thickly packed with
people spending their lunch hour so that the the band used to be there sometime marching and sometime just
merely standing in order to catch the the possible recruit. Meanwhile,
recruiting sergeants would go around amongst the crowd there endeavoring to the get their converts so, “Keep the
home fires burning” was a was a popular song and it also had a bit
of a a it also had bit of a jag[indistinct] in it, in as much as the the “Keep the home fires burning” because
there, girls used to go along in amongst the crowd with with their white feathers giving it to
the boys who hadn’t, who were in civilians. It was rather mindless and rather cruel
thing because everybody couldn’t enlist, a lot of them
weren’t allowed to enlist for instance if they’re engaged in what was known as as essential services and there were also family considerations, where perhaps the only son out of a family of four stayed behind to look after the family
where perhaps the three or four brothers were overseas serving so the white feather business was a very
mindless, unthinking sort of a thing, but still it happened. Another arrangement they had was to
induce recruits was, they had a horse with a vacant saddle on it and the recruiting sergeant would induce any young fella to hop up onto the
saddle and ride through the crowds and up to the
recruiting center where you was duly enlisted.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *