From the Mudgee Guardian comes this rather unusual story regarding a crime, a war and a somewhat more joyous reunion.
After 43 years Dubbo police saw justice done at Eumungerie, when on a recent Saturday afternoon they arrived at the scene of a World War II army unit reunion to investigate the disappearance of the fabled ‘Eumungerie Bell’.
Two constables drove their paddy wagon up to the Drovers Dog Hotel where a reunion of some forty members of the 2/1st Corps Troops Ammunition Company was in full swing.
After consulting with licensees of the hotel, John and Pat Hay*, the police established that a crime had been committed, in that following a similar gathering of the same army unit in 1940 one brass bell was found to be missing from the hotel.
Two organisers of the reunion, Sydney supermarket proprietor and shopping complex developer, Vince Cahill, and retired bus driver, Roy Nash were duly charged with the offence.
However, after further questioning, police persuaded Mr Hay to drop charges against Cahill and Nash in view of their contribution to the war effort, their occasional good behaviour, and scanty evidence as to exactly which member of the 450 strong unit actually 'woged the bell'.
Publican Hay, noticing the presence of Superintendent Gossage and Inspector Bruce Loton, who were guests at the reunion, decided to comply with the request in a manner more befitting his ancient occupation.
Nash and Cahill were duly released and rejoined their mates exactly one and a quarter middies behind schedule.
The 2/1st Australian Corps Ammunition Company were one of the first army units to enter Dubbo Military Camp in 1940.
For the party of some 40 ex-servicement who attended the company's reunion at the Drovers Dog Tavern, Eumungerie on October 15, it was like turning the clock back to one of their most memorable occasions.
Proprietor of the Drovers Dog Tavern and a number of citizens, a large number of whom remembered the night when 450 troops descended on the small village pub 43 years ago, turned it on for the visitors.
A local grazier donated a couple of lambs for the barbeque, another citizen dressed them, while another acted as cook.
Not to be outdone, the visitors donated more than $100 to the Eumungerie School library fund.
Such was the welcome that the 'amo' men decided to repeat the performance next year when they are hoping to bring more of the original company's 450 men back to the ‘site of the crime’.
The first stop for the company at the Drovers Dog Tavern was after a big one day march in 1940, which was carried out with full pack, steel helmet, respirator, water bottle and rifle - a severe test, particularly for the smaller men.
The march left from Dubbo Military Camp (which is now Western Plains Zoo) and finished in Eumungerie.
Word quickly spread of the arrival of the troops and a ball was staged to the local hall that night.
Girls and others came from nearby farms and the towns of Gilgandra and Dubbo and further afield.
It was on this night that the incident of the Eumungerie Bell occurred, which lead to the following history compiled by Lieutenant Hugh Fairclough.
SPOILS OF WAR. The famous "Eumungerie Bell" captured in the "Ammo" Company's first "Major Engagement" in the wilds of Western NSW on that never to be forgotten route march and Bivouac in 1940.
The bell has occupied pride of place in the dining room of the Eumungerie Hotel for many years. At the conclusion of the “Eumungerie Engagement” the bell was discovered mysteriously attached to the front axle of Lieutenant Hugh Fairclough’s vehicle, placed there by person or person unknown.
From that day onwards the Bell became part of the 2-1 “Ammo” Company history, reposing in the tender care of Hugh Fairclough and sas active serve on various oceans. In various Troopships in Palestine, Syria, Egypt, most of the island in the Pacific Theatre of War and finally in Jan with the Occupation Force. Hugh presented the Bell to the Unit Reunion Association on Anzac Day, 1953. The Bell suitably inscribed and is an integral part of our Annual Reunions.
* John and Pat Hay were the publicans of the Drovers Dog Tavern between 1981-1984