Bunbury streets will beat to the sound of bass drums and military music as soldiers from the Army Reserve’s 11th/28th Battalion, the Royal Western Australia Regiment (11/28 RWAR) march through the City this Saturday (21 October).
With swords drawn and bayonets fixed the soldiers will exercise their freedom of entry to the City of Bunbury for the first time since this privilege was first conferred on the Battalion nearly fifteen years ago.
The Commanding Officer of 11/28 RWAR, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Colligan said the honour is the highest a city can bestow on a military unit.
“The Freedom of Entry to the City of Bunbury is a mark of trust, respect and confidence between the city leaders, its people and the Army, and we have the responsibility to uphold the values and traditions it symbolises,” he said.
The granting of the Freedom of the City dates back to Europe in the 1600s when fortress walls protected cities from outlaws and hostile armies. The city leaders wisely refused to allow entry by any armed men unless they were completely sure that their weapons would not be used against them.
The Battalion will enter the City of Bunbury with the authority of His Worship the Mayor of Bunbury, Gary Brennan and the City Council.
Lieutenant Colonel Colligan said 2017 has particular significance for the battalion and strengthens the already close ties with the City.
“The Parade marks 30 years since the 11th and 28th Battalions amalgamated and it is a privilege for the unit to be allowed to exercise its Freedom of Entry into the City of Bunbury to commemorate the occasion,” he said.
The soldiers on parade are the successors to two of Western Australia’s iconic infantry battalions whose soldiers fought in the great battles of the First and Second World Wars.
“We owe a debt to those who have served. We are the custodians of the traditions they created and the embodiment of the spirit they forged in war,” Lieutenant Colonel Colligan said.
Today, troops from 11/28 RWAR contribute to operational tasks such as border protection, regional stabilisation missions, active service in the Middle-East, domestic security and aid to the civil community in times of natural disasters.
“Our soldiers are Army Reservists drawn across WA from metropolitan Perth to Rockingham, Bunbury and the South West, the Great Southern, and south to Albany,” Lieutenant Colonel Colligan said.
Bunbury-based soldiers from 11/28 RWAR are located at a depot in Proffit Street, Bunbury.
Bunbury Mayor Gary Brennan said the Freedom of Entry parade would continue the close connection between the City and Australia's defence forces.
"This historic event will further enhance Bunbury's proud military tradition and strengthen the link between the 11th/28th Battalion and the local community," Mr Brennan said.
"I encourage our community to line the streets and show their support for the men and women of the Battalion who give up their time to serve our country."
The parade is one of the few occasions when the people of Bunbury can see armed soldiers marching in public with rifles and the Battalion’s Colours on display.
The Colours are flag insignia that commemorates the 11th and 28th Battalions past battles and victories. Previously, Colours were used by armies to keep formations and rally the troops. Now they are used for ceremonial purposes.
Royal Western Australia Regiment battle honours include some of the most significant actions carried out by Australian forces during the First and Second World Wars, including Gallipoli, the Somme, Bullecourt, Hamel, the Hindenburg Line, Mont St Quentin, Tobruk, El Alamein, Greece and Crete, and Borneo.