IT has been 100 years since the South Coast Waratah Recruitment March walked from Nowra Showground to Sydney’s Macquarie Street.
Led by captain Ernest Alfred Blow of Gerringong the 50 men who left from Nowra to be World War I soldiers will have their memories and actions brought to life on Sunday, November 29.
Nowra’s Clyde Poulton has taken on the role of captain Blow and is about to embark on a commemorative journey with 20 other men to Sydney in period clothing carrying the famous Waratah flag.
He said the re-enactment’s authenticity would not have been achieved without the help of Allen Clark, who wrote the historical book South Coast Waratah’s Recruiting March 1915 Centenary Edition and the support of Nowra’s Bendigo Bank.
“It’s updated history of 103 people of the 120 who met in Sydney has given us so much information into their lives,” he said.
“They marched along the Princes Highway, which was a gravel road then. It took them 18 days.
“We have a great history of who was there and what groups met them including the Red Cross, school children, town bands and clergymen.”
Mr Poulton and his marchers won’t be walking the whole way, they will be commuting by a historical steam train to Kiama then a a regular train, stopping along the way.
“We are marching through 14 towns and conducting services,” he said.
Mr Poulton said the men who signed up with the Waratah march were everyday people.
“They came from fields, from offices, haberdasheries, and farms. They were farriers, ship builders from Huskisson, fishermen from Sanctuary Point and cattlemen from Kangaroo Valley,” he said.
“This is living history and it has stuck with people because we still have relatives and descendants living in this area of those who were a part of this march.”
On November 30, 1915 the recruitment march left Nowra Showground shortly before 9.30am they made their way to the Nowra Post Office, now Postman’s Tavern. Most of the shops were closed so the town could attend. There was a huge crowd gathered from all parts of the district with estimates ranging from 2000 to 4000 people.
At 8.30am on Sunday, November 29 will assemble at Nowra Showground before a service at the Soldiers’ Memorial Gates. The march through Nowra, over Nowra Bridge to Bomaderry will begin at 9am.
The steam train will leave Bomaderry for Berry at 11.20am where another march and service will be held before the train leaves for Gerringong and Kiama.
Captain Ernest Alfred Blow was born in Gerringong and fought in the Boer War.
He was too old to fight in the First World War and was therefore employed as a recruitment officer for the South Coast Waratahs aged 42.
He toured on his horse and before the war worked on his farm as a horse breaker.
He tragically died in 1920 as a 46-year-old on his farm.