ARMY Reserve Warrant Officer Rob Wilson is a fourth-generation soldier selected to represent his unit in centenary commemorative services for the Battles of Fromelles and Pozières.
He is one of 14 WA soldiers from the Army Reserve who will travel to France and Belgium. The troops leave for Sydney on Saturday and then fly to France on July 7.
Australia’s most significant contribution to the Allied victory in World War I was on the Western Front, which resulted in Australia’s greatest achievements and most substantial losses.
Warrant Officer Wilson, who is also a Rockingham Detective Sergeant with the WA Police, is from 16 Battalion, the Royal Western Australia Regiment and will be marching with his unit colours symbolically protecting during all ceremonial occasions which will include marching through Paris during the Bastille Day parade.
“To date this is the single greatest honour of my army career,” he said.
The colours are flag insignia that commemorate the Regiment’s past battles and victories.
“These colours speak for those who have gone before us and for those who didn’t come home, who made the ultimate sacrifice,’’ he said.
The 11th and 28 Battalions fought at Pozières and were awarded the battle honour now displayed on the Battalion Colours.
They were two of WA’s iconic infantry battalions and their battle honours include some of the most significant actions carried out by Australian forces during WWI and WWII.
A small village in the Somme valley in France, Pozières was the scene of bitter fighting in mid-1916.
The village was captured initially by Australians on July 23, 1916 and defended against repeated German counter-attacks and continuous artillery fire.
Being part of the contingent to the Western Front has a personal connection for Warrant Officer Wilson.
His great great grandfather served in the Australian Colonial Military Forces in Victoria prior to Federation.
His great grandfather John “Jock” Wilson was wounded at the Somme when serving with a Scottish Highland regiment.
“This is not about me personally, it’s about presenting those who didn’t return, those who earned the battle honours,” he said.