|NAME||John Thomas BENTLEY|
|MILITARY SERIAL NO.||664|
|ENLISTED||Casino September 1914|
|DISCHARGED||Sydney 24 February 1919 – DCM & MM|
I have had a hard struggle to clear and develop my property. I have an unblemished record.
John Bentley’s block was in the County of Drake, Parish of Sandilands, Land District of Casino. It was a Homestead Farm No. 1917/10 and consisted of 269 acres. There were initial problems with the transfer of the property to Bentley and as the previous owner had died and so the transaction was to be carried out by the Public Trustee. The land was finally transferred to Bentley by 11 September 1920. His loan was approved on 23 September 1920.
The Local Repatriation Committee reported on 21 March 1922 that Bentley’s circumstance was ‘somewhat different to the usual settler’ because his land was all standing dense shrub. Before he could not put stock in Bentley was obliged to clear the land and grass the area. It was back breaking work but in March 1922 he reported that he had ‘fair success so far’. Bentley however needed money to carry on as he had made improvements outside of his Advance. It was decided by the RSS Branch that as he was a deserving settler as reported by the Local Repatriation Committee, that the balance of the loan could be used for improvements and not for the purchase of more stock.
By the end of 1923 Bentley was in arrears to the amount of £58.0.11. By February 1924, Bentley had cleared 180 acres, built a four room cottage, bails and dairy and put in place three miles of 3 & 4 wire fences. Bentley intended obtaining a loan from the Rural bank to pay his outstanding debts to the Department and it was also suggested that if he failed to do this, that he be given an extension of four months to pay up. Bentley obtained a loan of £1100 from the Government Savings Bank with the bank’s valuation for security amounting to £2571.00.
Toward the end of 1926, Bentley applied for and was given an additional Advance of £300 as an overdraft. For this to go ahead Bentley had to agree to various conditions including that all of his business in future be undertaken by the Rural Bank, that all his arrears on his long term loan be paid out before the second loan was completed and that he agreed to convert the holding offered as security into a Conditional Purchase or Lease. These he agreed to. One condition that Bentley was not happy about was the Department’s decision not to grant a postponement of its original mortgage to him. Even after Bentley wrote to Mr. McClelland MLA asking that he intervene, The Under-Secretary for Lands would not change its decision. The reason given was that ‘on the recent valuation of the farm there was not the usual security for the advance of £1100 which has been allowed to take precedence over the RSS Advance.
Bentley applied for a revision of his indebtedness on 27 September 1926 which was approved. Because the Department of Lands’ earlier decision not to postpone their loan, he stated on 3 November 1927 that ‘it was impossible to carry on’. In January 1928 the Department refused to consider further postponements of the Dept of Lands mortgage because the valuation of his block was too low. He persisted in this without success for much of 1928 although his repayments of the land and the advance arrears were deferred until 30 October 1928.
Because his arrears were excessive, Bentley was advised that, in keeping with present Department policy ‘it was required that settlers on dairy farms who were seriously in arrears be required to execute orders on their butter factories for payment of a proportion of their proceeds to the Department of Lands’. This he objected to strongly,
I have had a hard struggle to clear and develop my property. I have an unblemished record. Never at any time have I been convicted for anything. My military history is clear, The Distinguished conduct medal, the military medal for bravery in the field, also mentioned in brigade despatches on more than one occasion. I think ½ of the cream could have safely been left in my hands.
In another letter of 21 January 1930, ‘I would be pleased if you could give me a little consideration so as I am able to carry on’.
The file ends without any indication if he was successful in this.
 SRNSW: Lands Department; NRS 8058, Returned Soldiers Settlement loan files; [12/6855 No. 1275], Application for Loan 17 April 1919.
 Ibid, Acting Chairman T.W. Hewitson, Mallanganee Repatriation Sub-Committee to Director SS 17 June 1919.
 Ibid, Mallanganee Repatriation Sub-Committee to Director of SS, 11 September 1920.
 Ibid, Application for Advance, Approval 23 September 1920.
 Ibid, Acting Chairman P. Carey Mallanganee Repatriation Committee to the Director RSSIL Branch 21 March 1922.
 Ibid, SS Branch Report 7 April 1922.
 Ibid, RSS Branch Office Memorandum 30 October 1923.
 Ibid, R.O. Johnston to the District Officer Murwillumbah abt 23 Feb 1924.
 Ibid, Ibid.
 Ibid, RSS Branch Office Memorandum 3 October 1924.
 Ibid, Government Savings Bank to the Under-Secretary for Lands 18 November 1926.
 Ibid, Manager of Government Savings Bank of NSW to John Bentley 20 November 1926.
 Ibid, Department of Lands Memorandum 20 January 1927.
 Ibid, Application for Revision of Indebtedness
 Ibid, Bentley to Mr M. Bruxner, Minister for Local Government 3 November 1927.
 Ibid, Under Secretary for Lands to the Secretary Government Savings Bank of NSW 24 January 1928.
 Ibid, Under Secretary for Lands Report 5 September 1928.
 Ibid, Under Secretary for Lands to J.T. Bentley 16 October 1929.
 Ibid, J.T. Bentley to the Under Secretary for Lands 8 October 1929.
 Ibid, 21 January 1930.
Sources used to compile this entry:
State Records NSW: Lands Department; NRS 8058, Returned Soldiers Settlement loan files; [12/6855 No. 1275] John Thomas Bentley
National Archives of Australia: B2455, First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers (John Thomas Bentley) online: http://naa12.naa.gov.au/scripts/imagine.asp?B=3074473&I=1&SE=1