Recruitment Marches

Prior to the outbreak of World War One, the Australian Government pledged 20,000 men as an initial response to support the allied forces. At the declaration of war in August 1914, the First AIF was committed as reinforcements at the rate of 3,000 per month. From the beginning, there was a recruitment rush of men offering to defend the honour of their country and the principles of the British Empire. Following alarming losses in Gallipoli, enlistment continued to grow as young men were anxious to help their mates overseas and were swayed by an effective government advertising campaign. However, after early heavy losses on the Western Front enlistment slowed. Prime Minister Hughes called for 50,000 volunteers above the quota.

The idea of recruitment marches originated in Gilgandra, NSW with the Cooee March. The Queensland State Recruiting Committee organised the only ‘snowball’ recruitment march outside New South Wales. It began at Warwick on 16th November 1915 with 28 recruits. The route followed the old highway and much of the way on the railway line to Toowoomba and via Gatton and Ipswich to Brisbane. Meals and accommodation were provided by communities along the way.

Final Day (15) Tuesday 30 November 1915

On the final day of the march, the recruits departed Oxley at an early hour and rested at the Moorooka Railway Station at 8am. The final recruit [NAME UNKNOWN] joined making a total of 125 men. The parade included cadets, military bands, school children and mounted light horsemen continued up Ipswich Road to Junction Park State School and were welcomed by Cr WR Juster, Chairman of the Stephens Shire Council which provided breakfast (City of Greater Brisbane formed 1925).

The Mayor and Aldermen of South Brisbane Council and the Railway Band greeted them at Woolloongabba. The Governor, Sir Hamilton Gould-Adams met the recruits at the Municipal Baths (now Kurilpa Point) where the men enjoyed a refreshing swim. Marching over the Victoria Bridge, they were welcomed to the City of Brisbane by the Mayor, Ald J Downes. A large contingent of Regular Army soldiers joined the recruits down Queen Street to Albert Square (now King George Square) for welcome speeches by the Premier, Hon TJ Ryan and others. After lunch at the Government Domain, the recruits proceeded by train to Bell’s Paddock at Enoggera.

Over 400,000 men and women served in WW1 from an Australian population of 4.5 million.

Source: The Dungarees compiled by Nat McCaughey.

Two re-enactments will be held in Brisbane on Sunday 29/11/2015 and Saturday 19/12/2015 by separate groups.