March to Freedom

march-to-freedomThe "Rat-a-tat-tat" of the side drum and the "skirl" of the pipes announced the khaki passengers of the three train on Saturday afternoon and lining the station was a big crowd to welcome them as the advancing column of the South Coast "March to Freedom" and incidently the guests of Kiama for the week-end.

They were met by the Mayor, Town Clerk, and Aldermen, and heading the procession, on which the little folk of the various schools in the district, took part , with a number of the town folk, marched via Terralong Street to the Town Hall, where an official welcome was given, the men lining up, in front of the steps, our bright-faced company of the boys and girls of to-day, and citizens to be surrounding them as a worthy guard of honour with a fine display of waving flags.

The Mayor (Ald Cornford) said in welcome: "Lieut. Healy, officers and men – Our comrades all – of the South Coast March to Freedom. We extend to you to-day the heartiest welcome to Kiama – glad to have you as our guests at the prettiest place you will admit, visited since you started on your tour. We sincerely hope your stay will be enjoyable and profitable in the object of your visit, and glad to hear of your success in gaining recruits, tha twe all know are badly wanted – such success must be gratifying to you all."

He was glad to know abusive methods were not practised, but in kind and reasonable terms, the duty and responsibility was pointed out in service to the Empire in this her time of need and it was left with the men that heard to decide, whether they were in duty bound to enlist or in duty bound to stay at home.

In conclusion, the Mayor again assured the Column of the hearty welcome the townspeople accorded them, and expressed his best wishes for a happy and profitable stay in their midst. The ladies of Kiama wished to entertain them at afternoon tea in the School of Arts, and the townspeople had provided accommodation during their stay.

The Federal Member, Mr. Hector Lamond, was then asked to "Break the Flag" and as he did so the band played the National Anthem after which "Advance Australia Fair" was sung by the school children.

march-to-freedom1Lieut. Healey, who relinquished command of the Column at Kiama, was greeted with cheers by the lads in khaki, and it was evident he had found favour in their sight. He, on behalf of the Column, extended sincere thanks for the courtesy shown and welcome given by Kiama.

As for the men he was indeed proud of them. They had started out in three or four feet of snow at Ninnitybelle in adverse conditions, but there had never been a growl from one of them – the whole time they had played the game to a man they had made a lasting impression by their conduct and the recruiting figures left behind them.

The Mayor had laid claim to Kiama being the loveliest spot on the coast, but as the recruiting officer for the Eden Manaro district, he must uphold the beauty belonging to it. He spoke of the pleasant comradeship of the Parliamentary representatives that accompanied them. Mr McGarry had got such an adept in the marching he could change step in the air. He was sorry to leave the lads of the Column, a finer lot he had never met. He only wished he could go the "whole hog" with them, go back to the other side and help in the work they were setting out to do for their country.

Taken from The Kiama Independent, and Shoalhaven Advertiser. 21 August, 1918.

More information about the Freedom and Waratah marches is available