Dayboro RemembersLance Corporal Martin Coohey:

Martin Coohey – Xmas 1912 .

Martin Coohey – Xmas 1912 .

Gravesite in Belgium – provided by AIF Administrative Headquarters London.

Gravesite in Belgium – provided by AIF Administrative Headquarters London.

Martin Coohey was born at Walgett, NSW on 2nd February 1887, the sixth of nine children of James Ah Que and Martha Gannon.  Three of his sisters died in infancy.  At the age of 5, on Christmas Day 1892, Martin was orphaned when his father shot and killed his mother, wounded his oldest brother James and then killed himself.  The children were placed in care.  Martin was “apprenticed” to Owen Cawley at Clunes, NSW.  At the age of 16 Martin was sentenced to 6 months hard labour in Grafton Gaol for stealing Owen Cawley’s mare, saddle and bridle, valued at £12.  Martin, referred to as a “State School lad”, had been arrested in Brisbane.  By November 1905 Martin Coohey was residing at Terrors Creek as he went dressed as a Jockey to the first fancy dress ball held in the district.  He was also a keen sportsman competing in the junior wood chopping competition at the Brisbane Exhibition in 1907 coming third in his heat.  He also competed in sprints at Athletics Carnivals in Rockhampton, May 1909 and the Brisbane Cricket Ground, December 1911.

Martin Coohey first appears on the Queensland Electoral Roll on 9th September 1911 as a labourer at Terrors Creek.  He was employed by Cruice Bros. Butchers as a butcher and bookkeeper.  Martin was the owner of a race horse Messidor which ran second in the Park Handicap at Kedron on 30th July 1915.  It would appear that he was also a bookmaker as one of the items mentioned in his will dated 2nd August 1916 and witnessed by J.T. Cruice and Allan Boyle, was his betting bag.  Races were held regularly at Terrors Creek and also at North Pine (Petrie).  Other items mentioned were his gold watch, silver watch, gold medal, gold sleeve links, violin and bow in case, tin trunk, portmanteau, books and clothing.

Martin enlisted in Brisbane on 17th April 1916, aged 29 years, listing his next of kin as his friend William Cruice.  He was a short stocky man standing 5ft 4½in (163cm) and weighing 11 stone (70kg).  After five months of training he embarked aboard the “HMAT A29 Seang Choon” on 19th September 1916.  Joseph Boyle (see August Grapevine) embarked on the same transport ship.  Whilst on board Martin ran a book for bets on the Melbourne Cup.  The Cup that year was run on Saturday 11th November, having to be postponed from the first Tuesday in November because of rain, and was won by a New Zealand horse Sasanof at 12:1.  The winner of Martin Coohey’s sweepstakes is unknown.

He arrived in England on 9th December 1916 and received more training before heading to France on 1st March 1917 to join his unit the 4th Australian Pioneer Battalion.  Their role was to build and maintain railways, fortifications, camps, bridges and roads often in and near the front line.  For three months Martin was appointed to the 4th Australian Brigade as a Lewis Gunner before returning to his battalion.  On 11th September 1917 he was appointed Lance Corporal.  During October his battalion was working on roads from Zonnebeke to Broodseinde when their campsite was shelled.  Martin was hit by a H.E. (high explosive) shell on 20th October 1917 receiving wounds to his chest, right knee and left thigh.  He later died at the 17th Casualty Clearing Station, Remy Siding, Poperinge.  He is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinge, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

100 Years Ago – Accident During a Race:  It was reported in The Brisbane Courier of Wednesday 29th December 1915 that “John Thomas Bond, 32 years of age, married, a farmer residing at King’s Scrub, Terrors Creek, was riding in a race at Terror’s Creek on Monday, when he fell off his horse and sustained fractured ribs on the left side and injuries to his head.  The Ambulance Brigade went out from Brisbane and brought him to the Brisbane Hospital for treatment.”

Carmel Bond, President – Ph: 3425 1717 (h) or 3425 2032 (Dayboro Cottage)

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