Snowy River Men – Slideshow

Have you ever heard of the “SNOWY RIVER MEN” Recruitment march? This was one of many recruitment drives which took place around Australia circa 1916 to boost the number of enlistments into the AIF during World War One. The march was organised by a Captain by the name of F.R. WEDD and started on the 6th of January, 1916. A small group of 14 men proceeded to walk from the small country town of Delegate in southern New South Wales. Their route would take them through many other localities within the Monaro District – to conclude at the AIF Training Depot in Goulburn. A distance of roughly 350 kilometres. It was hoped that at least 200 men would join up as a result, but to the dismay of Captain WEDD, this number fell well short.


PHOTO RIGHT:  The war memorial at Delegate in New South Wales, where the march originated.

The route took the marchers through many small towns and localities:- from Delegate through to Craigie, Mila, Bombala, Bibbenluke, Holt’s Flat, Nimmitabel, Summer Hill, Rock’s Flat, Cooma, Bunyan, Numerella, Billylingera, Bredbo, Colinton, Michelago, Williamsdale, Queanbeyan, Bungendore, Deep Creek, Tarago, Inveralochy, Tiranna and finally through to Goulburn after 23 days of marching.

They marched under a banner, made by the women of Delegate. By they time they reached Goulburn on the 29th of January, 1916 – one hundred and forty-four (144) men had joined the procession. The majority were then enlisted into the 55th Infantry Battalion, Australian Imperial Forces and sadly – many would later loose their lives in the bloody battles which occurred between 1916 to 1918.


PHOTO LEFT:  The actual banner which was made by the women of Delegate. This banner has survived and is now displayed in the Western Front Gallery of the Australian War Memorial. As a point of interest, this flag was used for another recruitment drive along a similar route during the Second World War; however on this occasion the recruits travelled by motor vehicle and lorry instead of on foot. Taking just five (5) days instead of the original 23.

Perhaps the most famous of the marchers, was Private Ernest Albert COREY who, as a stretcher bearer – was to be awarded the Military Medal a total of 4 times. He was born and bred in the small town of Numerella but he is said to have enlisted from Nimmitabel. It was from this town, that the war would take him to the other side of the world. His first award of the M.M. was for his actions in rescuing wounded comrades at Queant near Bullecourt during the horrific fighting on the 15th of May of 1917. He would be awarded his first ‘bar’ to the Military Medal for similar actions on the 26th of September, 1917 at Polygon Wood. The second ‘bar’ would be won at Peronne roughly twelve months later, for his work as a stretcher bearer on the 1st & 2nd of September, 1918. His third ‘bar’ being awarded for his actions at the Hindenburg Line north of Bellicourt on the 30th of September, 1918. One may consider it unique – that all of his awards were given as a result of “saving life” and not “taking life”.


PHOTO RIGHT:  2143 Private Ernest Albert COREY.

The song by Kevin BAKER is in my opinion – one of the most moving songs to be composed with regards to the First World War. His voice is very ‘Australian’ and lends itself to the subject matter. It is hard not to feel the emotion that would have been behind the letter written by Private Hal ARCHER (2121 Private Halloran ‘Hal’ ARCHER from Tarcutta). His mate, 2124 Private Samuel Leslie ‘Les’ ALLEN of Bibbenluke had been fatally wounded by artillery fire on the 19th of May, 1917. Les had been a school teacher and was 27 years of age. During the actual march; when the volunteers approached the town of Bibbenluke, Les and the school children had travelled out to meet them. When the two groups met, the children “fell in” behind the marchers and joined the procession into the village. Les later accompanied the group when he joined them at Holt’s Flat. So after his mate’s death, Hal Archer takes it upon himself to write the letter to Mrs Elizabeth ALLEN – the mother of Les. I believe that Kevin BAKER was inspired to write this song, so many years later after reading this letter – which would lead one to believe that this letter still survives. I have made numerous attempts to contact Kevin, with a negative result. If any reader may be able to assist – I would like to ascertain from Kevin his motivation and sentiment in composing this song which I believe, is exceptional.

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About gary

Gary Traynor is the volunteer Administrator of the Militaria based website MEDALSGONEMISSING. The aim of this "NOT FOR PROFIT" website is to reunite families, with lost War Medals and other items of militaria. Anything from medals to items of uniform. What Gary refers to as their "lost heritage". He has been actively involved in the Militaria world and researching of Military History for well over 30 years. As a result, Gary also conducts valuations and offers advice on all items of militaria. He has acted as advisor to a number of television and Foxtel productions; including Sir Tony Robinson's "Tour of Duty" series which featured on the History Channel. Gary is a field historian and conducts tours to Gallipoli, The Western Front, Kokoda and many other major battle sites around the world. He was a member of the Australian Army Reserve (UNSWR & 4/3 RNSWR) and served for 23 years with the New South Wales Police Force. He is perhaps the only person who has been employed at the Australian War Memorial in all three capacities .... as a volunteer, part time and full time employee .... starting as a qualified tour guide, working in the public galleries as an Information Assistant and finally Assistant Curator in Military Heraldry & Technology. Medalsgonemissing is a website that will assist you in locating your family's lost war medals and other awards. If you have an ancestor who served in any of the British Commonwealth Armed Services at any time - and whose medals are lost/stolen or simply missing....then so long as the medals are out there - this site will help you to locate them. However the site also contains articles of interest in relation to Military History, War Memorials & Uniforms / kit. Please explore our website as there is sure to be something of interest to you.
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11 Responses to Snowy River Men – Slideshow

  1. Stephen Baragry says:

    Hi Gary,

    Thank you so much for this. It is such a fantastic thing that you have put together here. My father’s uncles, my great uncles actually started the Men From Snowy River March. The story goes that William Baragry was so overwhelmed by the return of William Dudley (Delegate’s own Gallipoli hero who was wounded and invalidated home) that at a special celebration for Dudley, William Baragry jumped up on stage and appealed for volunteers to join him to “fill the gaps made at Gallipoli”. Williams younger brother Edmund (who had only one eye due to a childhood incident) joined William also.
    William unfortunately passed away in Goulburn Base Hospital from pneumonia on 22nd August 1916, two weeks before they were due to embark from Sydney. Edmund was killed in action on 9th May 1917 during the second battle of Bullecourt. I have a couple photo’s of both William and Edmund that I would happily send you if you would like.

    I actually attended the 90th anniversary in Delegate in 2006 with my mother and father as well as a few siblings. It was incredible to see the many people who attended and it was quite an emotional time. Many relatives are still in the area.

    Kind regards,

    Stephen Baragry

  2. Michelle Noonan (nee Kavanagh) says:

    Hello, Thank you for the Snowy River Men Slideshow. I have just watched it with amazement. I have been doing some research on two of my great uncles who served in ww1. One of them Thomas Patrick KAVANAGH 5919 (served as Welsh) was also one of the original men who started the Snowy River recruitment march in Delegate. Unfortunately Thomas never came home. He fought and died in the third battle of Ypres, on 3rd October 1917. Of all the research I have done on him and his brother John Walter KAVANAGH 5120. I have not been able to find any photos of either of the brothers. If anyone who sees this and maybe has something that may be of interest to me. I would love it if you could please contact me. Thanks for this site and the snowy river men slide. Its fantastic.
    Cheers Michelle

  3. gary says:

    Hello there Stephen. Please accept my apology that I did not formally respond to your message. I would be honored if you were to give us permission to publish William and Edmund’s photos with the Snowy River Men posting and on the “Snowy River Men Centenary” facebook page. And it would be great if you would consider returning to Delegate in 2016 for the Centenary commemoration? I will contact you via email. Yours gratefully. Gary Traynor (Administrator)

  4. gary says:

    Hello Michelle,
    Thank you for your posting. Would you like me to post your request into the “Snowy River Men Centenary Commemoration” facebook page? It just may be that we can locate an image containing Thomas and John? Kind regards Gary Traynor (Administrator)

  5. Suzannah says:

    Well done Gary!I did know about the march as I come from Berridale and would like to add that men marched from Berridale and joined the SRM in Cooma. Of the 48 elegible men from the district 46 volunteered which was considiered to be a record proportional number in the Commonwealth.

  6. Thanks for posting this. I have just watched the slideshow with tears. My grandfather Edgar Percy Wright of Tombong near Delegate was already serving overseas (53rd Battalion) when the Snowy River march started in Delegate. His brothers Albert E Wright & Theo Wright also fought in WW1. All returned but Theo died as a result of war injuries 3 years later. My grandfather had been blown up & buried. A second bomb blew him up to the surface. His body riddled with shrapnel and one eye gone, he lay on the ground covered in debris. He heard the stretcher bearers pass. “This one’s had it”. Edgar managed to move one finger. After a long convalescence in England he returned to Australia, built a house and worked 2 large, wild sheep properties: Knockalong & Tombong. The original family property Tombong, runs down to the Quidong & Snowy Rivers. These three bothers were all born in a remote homestead, in steep wild country, within 3 miles of the Snowy River. I plan to be at the 2016 Snowy River Men Centenary in Delegate.

  7. gary says:

    Thank you for taking an interest in the 2016 Snowy River Men Centenary Commemoration. It is stories such as yours, when need to be remembered. I hope to see you there in 2016 Bronwyn !!!

  8. Mark Carson says:

    Gary: Wow! Moving to say the least. I am researching a history of the 55th Bn trying to answer questions about a great uncle ( Arthur Herbert Burton). My grandmother always maintained “he went away with the Snowy River boys”. Would love to correspond & compare notes. Arthur was fatally wounded 26 Sep 1917 at Polygon Wood. Somehow the family received the details “he was machine gunned through the face & took four days to die”. This is reflected in his service record. How the information got back is unknown.

    BTW nice to contact someone else “who did their years before the mast”. I was in 4 Bn for a short time back in 70’s


  9. gary says:

    Hello there Mark, Thanks for the positive feedback. Yes, it is definately moving along. Will you be attending the Australian War Memorial at all during your research period? I am working there as an Assistant Curator at the moment and would like to catch up with you. The Centenary for the Snowy River March will certainly be worth attending and it would be great for all of the ‘gaps’ in the stories of the march participants are filled in. I will be completing a booklet for the Centenary, so any input regarding Arthur would be appreciated. I will endeavour to confirm that he was a marcher, once we have compiled the final list. So we have alot to talk about. Thanks again for your interest and I look forward to meeting you. I can be contacted on email Gary.Traynor@awm

  10. Phil Pope says:

    Hi Garry,
    I was just reading the entries on the Snowy River March and upcoming centenary. I thought you may be interested to know that the Delegate Sub Branch of the RSL now has an email contact address
    We also hope to get a sub branch website up and running in the near future.
    2016 will be a busy time for Delegate.
    You have created a fantastic resource and service with this website.
    Phil Pope
    Treasurer, Delegate RSL.
    Phil Pope

  11. Kate Wilson says:

    Hi Garry,

    This is just great. I am on the organising committee for the Men from Snowy River March 2016 re enactment. I was hoping we could post this on our facebook site for all to see. The Delegate Progress association is responsible for the organising of this amazing event as with the 90 year re enactment in 2006. Please feel free to contact me if you have any other information or images we could use.

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