The Hon Jason Clare MP, the then Federal Minister for Defence Materiel, attended to officially unveil the centenary plaque. Other notable guests came from Steyr in Austria and from the Australian Army. For me the most important person there was Ted Ferguson, who had worked for the Lithgow factory for 50 years, and had served as a very young man in WWII.
Ted is pictured above talking with local media during the centenary event about the Small Magazine Lee-Enfield rifle, the first weapon ever manufactured at Lithgow. The rifle on display during the celebration was one of the original batch of riles manufactured at Lithgow and was donated for the event. The Enfield was used by Australian soldiers in all major WWI battles except Gallipoli.
Between August 1913 and July 1918 almost 100,000 Short Magazine Lee-Enfield rifles and accessories were produced at Lithgow.
After retirement Ted volunteered at the Lithgow Small Arms Museum, located in the grounds of the factory, where I’m sure he had many wonderful memories and stories to share of his long service with the factory. Ted’s greatest disappointment though was that his 50 year tenure of employment was not officially recognised due to the changes from being a government owned factory, then a government enterprise that was then sold into private ownership.
Sadly I learned while researching Ted’s story for this project that he had passed away about 2 years ago. Lest we forget!
Ted is pictured below at the celebration holding the factory’s latest concept rifle the F90, known by the Australian Army as EF88.