THE CROWD at the South Grafton Anzac Day Service learnt about a little-known piece of Grafton World War One history courtesy of local historian and poet Darin Carter.

Mr Carter, speaking in front of the soon to be moved South Grafton cenotaph, told the little known tale of the North Coast Boomerangs Coo-ee March, which left Grafton on January 18, 1916.

He also read out a poem he had written about the exploits of the young men from the region and how their heroics fitted into Australian military history.

FLY THE FLAG: President of the South Grafton RSL Sub-Branch Damien Carter shines through an Australian Flag at the South Grafton Anzac Day service.
FLY THE FLAG: President of the South Grafton RSL Sub-Branch Damien Carter shines through an Australian Flag at the South Grafton Anzac Day service. Adam Hourigan

His research revealed the recruiting march which left South Grafton Railway Station with 27 men grew to nearly 10 times that number by the time it wound up in Maitland a month later.

He said the men march through Skinner, Spring Wharf and Through streets.

"They marched the same streets as the procession marched today," he said.

"Then they board a train and to the cheers of the crowd left for their first stop, at Glenreagh."

Mr Carter said the band had grown to 130 by the time they reached Coffs Harbour.

The recruits they gathered largely made up D company of the 36th battalion and went on to fight in some of the bloodiest battles in on the Western Front in 1917 and 1918.

The unit fought at Messines, Passchendaele and at Villers Bretonneux, but by April 1918 the unit was disbanded and the surviving troops used to reinforce other units.

Mr Carter said the North Coast Boomerangs or North Coasters as they were called later proved to be the second most successful Coo-ee recruiting marches.

As in other Clarence Valley centres, crowds turned out in force for the 2016 service.

The Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis, who recently announced a grant of more than $8000 to help pay for a planned move of the cenotaph, spoke about the importance of the monument as a symbol.



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