Recruitment Associations

Significantly, local enlistment drives were achieved through the development of Recruitment Associations. These groups popped up in Campbelltown and Camden, with smaller branches in Mt Hunter, The Oaks and Bringelly. There were so many willing members that a Campbelltown Local Lads Committee was also created. Aimed at looking after those going off to war, the Recruitment Associations’ main role was to bolster enlistment numbers. They organised rallies, speeches and placed articles in the newspaper to convince men to volunteer. At a meeting of the Camden Recruitment Association, Mr Dunn gave a speech, which went as follows:


Nothing we can do is too great…we are asked to do more- give our sons. [I believe] parents who stand in the way of their sons enlisting are selfish…The Empire [is] up against a stiff problem, and it [is] up to every one of us, parents and boys, to do every possible thing that can be done.

The Associations also made it possible for some men to sign up in the local area, and gave advice to those interested in joining the forces. A sub-committee of the Campbelltown Recruitment Association which included Mr Sheather, Mr Hardwich, Mr Klein and a Mr Murray was tasked with calling lads to join up. In 1915, they published a letter of general appeal. At the same time, the Camden Association was organising a deal with recruitment groups in Wagga Wagga and Yass.27 Throughout the war, various recruitment marches occurred across NSW, becoming an integral part of enlistment drives. Men marched from town to town spreading news of the Allied cause and carrying banners on their way to recruitment depots. In late 1915, the Kangaroos commenced their march from Wagga Wagga, and through previous negotiations, made their way to the Macarthur area.

They worked their way through Yass, Goulburn, Wingello, Bundanoon, Moss Vale, Mittagong, to Picton, Camden, and Campbelltown, and then continued on into Sydney. When they reached the area, locals came out to greet them, providing snacks and entertainment. On the 4th of January 1916, the Kangaroo contingent reached Picton. Welcomed by the Recruitment Association and the Red Cross, they were given a luncheon by Mr F. G. Walley of Mowbray Park. After a dip in the Camden River, they headed out to Campbelltown for a parade en route to Bankstown. Similar undertakings were conducted via rail lines. The Werriwa Recruiting Train, made comparable progress, stopping at various stations across the Macarthur Region to entice enlistments in 1917.