Descendants will gather at Nowra RSL Hall on June 1 to celebrate 100 years since the return from World War I of John Stronach ("Jack") Coulthart and his brother William Burgess ("Bill") Coulthart, along with their brother-in-law John ("Jack") Mackay, and close friend James Varney ("Jim") Wilson.
The four were welcomed home during a function held at Numbaa.
David Wright, of Kiama, the grandson of Bill Coulthart, said the gathering at the RSL Hall was opened to everyone.
"It's our way of marking the return of these Numbaa boys, which ultimately led to us all being here today," he said.
"We will also remember Ken Hyam, another Numbaa boy who never made it home. He was great mates with the four other lads.
"We had struggled to find any of his family but found John Morley, Ken's great nephew - I had almost given up on finding the Hyams.
"Ken will also be acknowledged on the day.
"He was wounded at the Battle of the Windmill at Pozieres in France, a battle in which more Australians were killed than any other.
"He died a couple of weeks after the battle due to his injuries - he was just 23."
The first and third sons of Numbaa blacksmith George Coulthart, Jack and Bill both enlisted on June 28, 1915 to be given consecutive regimental numbers.
They left Australia (with Wilson) as part of the 18th Battalion, 4th Reinforcement on September 30 aboard the HMAT A8 Argyllshire, and returned to Australia aboard the Tras-os-Montes on April 8, 1919.
Before leaving for the war zone, three of the men were farewelled at Nowra School of Arts on Monday evening, August 2 1915.
Jim Wilson, Jack and Bill Coulthart were presented with gifts on behalf of the assemblage by the local state MP, Mark Morton, although it is not known whether they received wristlet watches, wallets or smoking outfits which were distributed to the large group.
Additional presentations were made to the Coultharts and Fraser Armstrong, all employed at Woodhills, by manager Charles Woodhill who assured the trio that their jobs would be kept open for them.
After 15 months in the trenches, Jack Coulthart was reported to have spent a day in early 1917 with Armstrong, "in one of France's largest cities", although the city was not identified in Armstrong's letter home.
Later in the year Jack was able to visit Scotland and meet relatives that his father had left behind when he migrated some 34 years earlier.
Catching up with other folk in London, he was accompanied by Wilson.
The welcome home was held in the hall at the Coulthart property on Friday evening, May 29, 1919.
The Coulthart brothers and Wilson who had all been discharged with the rank of corporal, were presented with suitably inscribed gold pendants given by the Numbaa people, that were pinned to their clothing by Misses Maggie Coulthart, Muriel Bennie and H.Kennedy.
Private Mackay accepted a silver cigarette holder, and his wife Millie was given a silver vase and entrée dish.
[Fraser Armstrong, who had returned home on the same day as the others, was among the large crowd in attendance.]
The first speaker was South Shoalhaven Mayor, William Watts who mentioned the decoration received by Cpl Wilson, that Bill Coulthart had been the first Numbaa boy to be wounded in the conflict, and that Pte Mackay had endured 21/2 years as a prisoner of war.
Having attended their farewell, George Piper was pleased to see the Coultharts and Wilson safely back, and hoped to see them settle in the district.
[He did not see the need to mention that his eldest son had been killed at Pozieres.]
Other speakers included Rev. Thomas Jamieson-Williams (of the Nowra Presbyterian Church), Messrs Peter Hall, Martin O'Keeffe and Alan McLean.
In a lengthy response, Jack Coulthart thanked the gathering for his presentation and paid tribute to the Red Cross, Salvation Army, YMCA and the women of Australia generally.
He was supported by his brother and Jim Wilson who spoke of the treat it was to receive a clean change of shirts and socks from the Red Cross.
It was a similar theme from Jack Mackay who told of his time as a PoW, and that he had been almost starving when the Red Cross parcels arrived.
After supper had been enjoyed, the hall was cleared for dancing to conclude a memorable evening.
Bill Coulthart married Kathleen Amy ("Katie") Aldous at Manly on May 29, 1921.
He worked at Woodhills in Nowra, and the family home was in Berry Street.
They had five children - Mary, Betty, Jean, Billy and Kathleen.
He died at Nowra on June 23, 1964, aged 75 years.
When honoured with life membership of Nowra RSL in April 1950, it was stated that Bill had been a member of the sub-branch since 1919, and had served as secretary for 18 years.
Jack Coulthart married Annie Marguerite ("Pearl") Lamond at Manly on November 5, 1922.
They also had five children - George, Josie, John, Doug and Barbara.
Jack was a builder and carpenter, who lived in Jervis Street, Nowra.
He died at Goulburn on 22 April 1963, aged 76 years.
Jack Mackay married Amelia ("Milly") Coulthart at Numbaa on July 26, 1915.
They had four children - Angus, John, Ken and Nancy.
Previously a farmer, Jack took up building after the war, and lived in Kinghorne Street, Nowra. Also an original member of the RSL sub-branch, he was active on its building committee and took a leading part in construction of the Diggers' Hall.
He died at Nowra on September 24, 1947, aged 63 years.
Jim Wilson married Dorothy May Arnol at North Sydney in 1940.
They had two children - Errol and Lorraine.
Jim, who lived in Berry Street and worked as a builder, died at Nowra on September 29, 1972, aged 78 years.
The Nowra RSL Hall will open at 11am on June 1 for the reunion, with a number of exhibitions on display.
The commemoration event will be held at 2pm.
For further information about the gathering contact David Wright on 0409 360 744.
- Sources: David Wright; The Soldiers' Memorial Gates, Nowra, by Alan Clark, Robyn Florance and Keith Paterson - Shoalhaven Historical Society, 2011; Nowra Leader - Fridays, April 21 and July 27, 1917; Shoalhaven Telegraph - Wednesdays, August 4 1915 and June 4 1919; The Shoalhaven and Nowra News - Wednesday, October 1 1947, Tuesday, April 18 1950 and Wednesday, October 11 1972; News Leader - Friday, October 5 1979; With Hearts of Steel They Came in Wooden Ships - William George Lamond, 2013.
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