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General Birdwood visits soldiers at Kentucky.

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Friday 30 April 1920, The Sydney Morning Herald




ARMIDALE, Thursday.

The Diggers on the soldiers’ settlement at Kentucky will not easily forget their day with General Birdwood. It was an occasion which permitted the chief Digger to make himself quite at home.

When the mail train to which the General’s carriage was attached left Wollun the track lay through the heart of settlement. The visitors saw vigorous signs of pioneering on every hand – timber cut and stacked ready for firing, brand new weatherboards standing in clearings, rows of young fruit trees and yellowing fields of potatoes ready for digging.

General Birdwood received a hearty welcome on his arrival at Kentucky. A guard of honour composed of returned soldier settlers was drawn up outside the little station. The General had words of encouragement for every soldier, and chatted for a few minutes with Sergeant Freame on old Gallipoli days. Sergeant Freame was one of the General’s scouts on the peninsula, and was the first Australian to receive the D.C.M.

The soldiers recounted their experiences to the General, who was keenly interested in the progress made on their farms. The settlement comprises 5842 acres, subdivided into 114 farms, devoted to fruitgrowing and cultivation of vegetable crops. Arrangements are in hand for the acquirement of additional land to bring the total number of settlers up to 200. This land originally supported six graziers. The settlement is 3347ft above sea level, and has an average annual rainfall of over 32 inches. There are about 40 settlers now on their blocks, and each farm is fenced and fully equipped with house and outbuildings. There are also a general store, post-office, and provision for cool store. Settlers’ crops are marketed by the department without commission, and all operations are supervised by an expert manager and inspectors.

The visitors and soldiers made a tour of inspection of the settlement, and the General was keenly interested in the crops and stock seen on the farms. Piper Smith, an original soldier settler, told the General that he hoped to clear the whole of his liabilities this year that is, within two years of his taking up the block.

Major Evans, on behalf of the Minister for Lands, presented General Birdwood with an album of photographs of Kentucky. Replying, the General wished the settlers and their families every possible happiness in their new homes.

The party, motoring thence to Armidale, made a brief halt on the main road, where a little group of pupils from the Arding Public School lined up with their flag to greet the General.

The General and party reached Armidale by cars this afternoon, and were met opposite the New England Girls’ School by a guard of honour composed of the pupils, under Miss Lyons (principal). The welcome in the Town Hall was wholehearted and enthusiastic.

The Mayor of Armidale (Alderman Curtis) extended a hearty welcome to General Birdwood.

General Birdwood expressed his warm appreciation of their welcome. He said he was a country man himself, and the beauty of their district had appealed to him.

General Birdwood afterwards presented the Military Cross to Captain Bootle.

Written by macalba

April 27, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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