A LOCAL military captain will be one of 14 West Australian Army Reserve soldiers to represent the country in Belgium and France this week for the centenary commemoration of the WWI battles of Fromelles and Pozieres.
Australia’s most significant achievements in The Great War were fought in the Western Front battles.
But, solemnly, the Australian contribution also proved the most deadly.
War historian Peter FitzSimons recently labelled the beginning of the Battle of Fromelles as “the most appalling night in Australian history”, in a comment piece for the Sydney Morning Herald.
He said 1900 Australians were killed with close to 7000 more slaughtered in the six-week Battle of Pozieres that followed.
Captain Brad Pearce (49), of Gidgegannup, will honour the sacrifices made by those thousands of soldiers in a weeklong schedule of events beginning Thursday in Paris.
Cpt Pearce will be wearing the colours of the 11th/28th Battalion for all ceremonial occasions.
The 11th and 28th Battalions were awarded the Battle Honour for their efforts in Pozieres, a small village in the Somme valley of France.
Australian soldiers captured the village on July 23, 1916, defending it against repeated German counter-attacks and continuous artillery fire.
Cpt Pearce will also participate in the burial of recently discovered Australian soldiers, whose identities are unknown.
“I’m looking forward mostly to putting these men in their final resting place somewhere that befits their service and more importantly close to their mates as I think this is the least we can do for these men and their families, no matter how long it has taken,” he said.
Cpt Pearce is a former member of the primary army, which he joined in 1985 as a gunner, later becoming an artillery officer.