Page 272 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
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The 112/28 Battalion West Australia Regiment – A Rifleman Down Under
It’s not very often that I volunteer to write articles or have pictures taken because it normally means having to pay for other peoples beers and having it brought up just when you think everyone has forgotten about it and you can relax. However when I was ‘voluntold’ that I was writing this one, I was actually pretty happy. I’m an ex-Rifleman having served 18 years with 5, 1 and finally 3 Rifles before moving across to Australia under the lateral transfer scheme. Therefore being given the chance to get my face in The Bugle wasn’t something I was going to fight. My rationale was “I would run with it” and because nobody over in Australia would see it, I wouldn’t have to fork out for the beers. The offer to write an article for the bugle wasn’t just coincidence. The Rifles and my current battalion the 11th/28th Battalion the Royal Western Australia Regiment have close ties from fighting alongside each other during the Gallipoli landings and subsequent ill-fated Dardanelles campaign during the First World War.
I left the British Army in May 2015 and was unemployed for a whole weekend before travelling to London to sign on the dotted line and swear my second oath of allegiance to the Queen and Australia. The package they have to get
from the UK to Australia is amazing
and we were flown business class with a two-day stopover in Hong Kong to Darwin, which in the Northern Territory of Australia (or NT as it is known). I was expecting it to be hot, but nothing can prepare you for the first few days in the tropical Darwin heat in the middle of the summer. 100% humidity and unbelievable heat really is a shock to the system after an Edinburgh winter with 3 Rifles.
There was no time to settle though and once my feet were on the ground I was given my platoon in the Fifth Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment and was straight into it. I was told before I got here that it’s exactly the same but completely different and that’s exactly as I have found it. It wasn’t hard to settle in and get up to speed, and I was surprised just how many ex British Army guys there are out here. The Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) had a constant battle in the mess to stop us getting together in the corner and just talking shop. Although Australia is an amazing place and the work is just the same it’s good to get together over a beer and talk about the “old times” when our knees worked.
I spent two years as a Platoon Sergeant (SGT) in which I spent time on exercises all over Australia and deployed to Indonesia as part of a training team. There is so much opportunity to get out and experience a complete new part of the world, and the Australian Army really delivers which is great for me. At the end of my second year, I was selected to deploy to Afghanistan as a mentor for nine months. This was great as I got to travel back to UK to meet up with the rest of the mentors from the other coalition countries and do the training course at Sandhurst. I had actually been an instructor there from 2012-2014 so it was a real trip down memory lane.
I returned from Afghanistan and did one further year in Support Company as the Signals platoon SGT, which was difficult as all of the soldiers were more qualified than I was. A further different aspect between the two armies is that all soldiers in the Australian Infantry spend time in Support Company. The logic is to get the soldiers the experience and then have the ability to rotate them back through the rifle companies as they gain qualifications and in most cases rank.
At the end of my fourth year as part of the Australian career management cycle, I was told
The sporting tradition, and inter-unit rivalry, is the same in Australia
 SGT Wainwright outside the Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan with members of the Afghan National Army

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