Page 277 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
P. 277

  They were young, adventure seeking men who wanted to better themselves through their service. Like some of my own diggers though they had become restless, both in the sense that they’d already spent a week in the same waiting shed and also in their careers, as some had already put in for a discharge and were simply finishing up their last year. Another observation I made was that the British tongue in cheek sense of humour was near identical to Australian larrikinism and goes a long way in explaining how our forces can work together so well.
After a brief trip into London I found myself in Aldershot with 4 Rifles, getting myself up to speed on exactly what a Specialised Infantry Battalion looks like and how they operate. The rough under- standing I came up sounded something like this. 4 Rifles, along with 1 SCOTS, 2 PWRR, and 2 LANCS form the Specialised Infantry Group, the British Army’s new training capability that aims to develop partner forces through the delivery of highly profes- sional ‘specialised’ training. After getting that down pat and a night in Aldershot I joined B Company on their weeklong cadre with their colleagues from the three other Regiments at Kendrew Barracks in Cottesmore. This cadre saw the members of 4 Rifles work through everything from training development to logistics estimates and Medical Planning. I was duly informed that the Rifles were one of the first Regiments to have a specialised infantry battalion and it appeared to me that they were in most areas leaps and bound in front of their colleagues. The team I was with had worked hard to develop their skills and procedures from the lessons they’d learnt from previous deployments and appeared well placed for their trip to Africa later this year. My visit to 4 Rifles was capped off with a quick visit to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst before I travelled to Arras France to begin my tour of the Western Front.
The enormity of the Commonwealth sacrifice and the gratitude of the French and Belgium people are the two lasting impressions I have from my three day tour. The moment that spoke to me most profoundly on my tour was the last post ceremony performed at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres. The last post is played at the site every night by the town’s fire fighters and can attract over a thousand people, all wanting to pay their respects to the soldiers and officers of Commonwealth nations who lost their lives during the war. It was a powerful moment as even though I was on the other side of the world I felt like I was back home at an Anzac Day service in the heart of Melbourne, such was the similarity of the occasion.
While my tour was focused on battlefields signif- icant to Australia’s involvement in the Great War it was symbolic and very moving to find soldiers of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the UK laid to rest side by side. The Commonwealth cemeteries were beautifully cared for and this almost random intertwinement of our nations reinforced for me our deep rooted fighting spirit and mateship that still carries on to this day.
While I have only provided a brief summary of the wonderful experiences I enjoyed during my short- lived attachment to the Regiment, I will undoubtedly have memories to cherish and share for a life time. My thanks, as well as those of MUR’s Commanding Officer, go to the Colonel Commandant and to all members of the Rifles who so graciously welcomed me into the fold.
Lieutenant Matthew Taylor

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