Ralph Coote, 1914. Image courtesy Lorraine Stammers.
Ralph Coote was born in Sydney in 1896, the first son of Alice and Frederick Coote. At the time Ralph’s father, Fred, worked for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company as a blacksmith and farrier. In the following years another son, Leonard, was born, and two girls, Ruth and Beulah. In 1905 the family relocated to Orange and Fred opened a blacksmithing business in Summer Street where the Orange Arcade is currently located.
Ralph was educated in Orange and was working in his father’s business when he enlisted, aged 19. He served in the First Light Horse Regiment in Egypt and Palestine and participated in the battles at Romani and Beersheba. Ralph served for a total of 1,484 days, 1,269 days of which were overseas.
Ralph was invalided home in early 1918 and took up work on the family orchard in Lone Pine Avenue alongside his father and brother, Len.
As a returned soldier, Ralph was bestowed with the honour of delivering the official address on Children’s Peace Day at the Pinnacle Road School in July 1919.
On 3 May 1923 Ralph married Ethel Maude Bowers. The couple had two daughters, Elaine, born in 1928, and Margaret, born in 1932. Ralph became prominent in the fruit industry as a director of the Cool Stores and the Orange Producers’ Rural Co-operative. He was also an active committeeman and steward of the Diggers’ Mechanical Coursing Club at Wade Park.
Ethel passed away in 1949, and in 1955 Ralph married Hilda May Hillary. Following Ralph’s retirement in 1973 the couple relocated to Drummoyne.
Ralph died in Drummoyne in August 1989, aged 93. Ralph is commemorated on the Holy Trinity Church Orange Honour Roll.
Charles Stuart Taylor was born in Molong in 1883 to John Stuart and Margaret Hunter Taylor. Charles’ father was a long-time alderman of Molong Council, serving as Mayor for three terms. The family was active in the Presbyterian Church where John was an Elder.
Charles and his siblings attended Molong Public School. By 1909 Charles had moved to Mosman where he worked at Noakes’ butchery.
During 1914 Charles and his brother Ernest served in the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (ANMEF) in New Guinea. Ernest returned to Molong in early 1915, describing his time in New Guinea as “a real good holiday”, despite the extreme heat and humidity. Charles retuned to Australia in March 1915 suffering from malaria, having served for 206 days.
Following his recovery Charles enlisted in the AIF, embarking for overseas service in April 1915. A Private in the 2nd Battalion, 4th Reinforcement, he proceeded to Gallipoli, where, in August, he sustained a gunshot wound to the shoulder. Private Taylor described the events surrounding his injury in a letter to the family written from the Luna Park Hospital in Egypt. Charles spent two months recovering at the Australian and New Zealand Convalescent Home at Helouan, Egypt, rejoining his Battalion in October.
In February 1916 Private Taylor was assigned to the 54th Australian Infantry Battalion in Tel-el-Kebir. Four months later he joined the British Expeditionary Force in France.
In March 1916 the Molong Express and Western District Advertiser published a letter from Private Taylor in which he described the Australian retreat from the Gallipoli Peninsula and mentioned that now he is a driver he is paid an extra seven shillings a week.
In August 1916 Charles was promoted to Sergeant. Less than three months later – on 30 October 1916 – Sergeant Taylor was he was hit by an exploding shell in the trenches at Flers. He was transported to 8th Australian Field Ambulance where he later died of his wounds. Charles is buried at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery at Longueval in France.
On 11 March 1917 the Church of England in Molong paid tribute to Charles in the evening service, and on 25 March the Reverend J Smith of the Presbyterian Church held a memorial service in his honour.
Read more about Charles and Ernest’s time in the ANMEF in New Guinea
The fortress of Przemysl 1915. Public domain image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
After a battle lasting almost six months, the siege of the Austro-Hungarian garrison at Przemysl ends. The Russian army captures the fortress, seizing 126,000 prisoners and 700 big guns. By securing the strategic Carpathian Mountain passes the Russians have opened the way for an invasion of Hungary.
Allied operations in the Dardanelles remain suspended due to a violent storm
The South African 2nd Mounted Brigade under the command of Colonel WR Collins cuts the railway line just west of Jakkalswater in German South-West Africa. A skirmish with the German reserve ensues. 43 horses are killed by artillery fire; their riders taken prisoner.
Russian soldiers launch an attack near Smolnik on the Eastern front, capturing 2400 allied prisoners
The British government signs a secret agreement with Russia regarding the hypothetical post-World War I division of the former Ottoman Empire
The Leader publishes a humorous letter from Corporal Bert Bowling written from Mena Camp. Bowling describes the recent attack on the Suez Canal, desert mirages and the art of trenching – “as an exercise it is a fine thing…as an amusement it fails miserably.”
Allied operations in the Dardanelles are suspended due to bad weather
Sir John Nixon, 1915. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
General Sir John Nixon is appointed Commander-in-Chief of British and Indian Forces in Mesopotamia
Allied naval forces attempt to secure a passage through the Narrows at the Dardanelles for a second time. Six British and four French battleships bombard Turkish defences on the shore destroying two of them. Minesweepers successfully clear a path in front of the fleet until the leading battleships reach a line of undetected mines. HMS Ocean, HMS Irresistible and the French warship Bouvet are sunk, with the loss of 620 French sailors on one vessel.
In Turkey March 18 is observed as Martyrs’ Day, in remembrance of Turkish soldiers fallen in action
The Leader reports that Australian troops at the military hospital in Mena are suffering from pneumonia and disease. Those in camp are battling boredom and are anxious to get to the front line:
Nurse King, daughter of Ald. and Mrs. King, of Orange, is at present engaged in the strenuous task of nursing our sick Tommies in Egypt. This estimable lady is attached to the military hospital at Mena, which is under the supervision of Colonel Surgeon N. R. Howse, V.C. There is a deal of sickness amongst the troops, mostly pneumonia cases, and Nurse King is attending to fourteen tents, each containing fourteen patients. She is in good health herself, which news will be received with pleasure by her legion of friends in Orange.
A private letter received in Orange from an artilleryman at Mena, Egypt, says that deaths are of more than weekly occurrence in camp from pneumonia and disease. All the men are anxious to go to the fighting line. The monotony is depressive, and relief is found in hilarity and chorussing in camp. They expected to be on their way to actual service destination by the middle of this month.
The Leader urges young men to enlist in an article entitled More Men!
Boys from the Mulga, from the saltbush plains beyond Bourke, boys from the farms in the wheat belt, from the dairies and sugar plantations in the north, we want as many of you as can be spared to shoulder arms…show the German hordes and Turkish fanatics what the lion’s cubs are made of… Save your mothers, wives and sisters from being ground under the heel of the brutal German.
SS Blonde becomes first British ship to be attacked from the air. An aircraft approaches the ship from the east and drops five bombs, just missing the ship. The Blonde goes to full speed, zigzags and sounds her whistle. An armed trawler nearby fires a single shot and the plane disappears.