Parade for freedom

The original HMAS Perth visits Fremantle on August 6, 1941.

AN ancient tradition dating back to the Roman republic plays out in the CBD this weekend as the crew of HMAS Perth (III) is granted Freedom of Entry into the City of Perth.

It’s the highest accolade a local government can confer on a military unit. It stems from Rome’s strict rules against armed soldiers crossing into the city for fear they’d topple the civilian leadership. They could only enter as soldiers when their actions had earned them a “Triumph” parade.  

HMAS Perth’s commanding officer Tony Nagle said “it’ll be a case of us marching through the streets with the full pomp and circumstances of ceremony, with our swords drawn, with our drums beating and the band playing”.

And lord mayor Basil Zempilas is getting out the old school mayoral chains, made in 1886 and featuring 16 silver swans.

“The lord mayor of today doesn’t always wear the traditional robes and the original chain,” he said. “I’m delighted to be able to put it on for this very important and ceremonial occasion.”

The HMAS Perth (III) is the third ship to bear the city’s name, with the first sunk near Java in  World War II and survivors taken as prisoners of war by Japan. 

The current HMAS Perth is dotted with memorabilia of the original, including red paw prints commemorating the original ship’s cat “Red Lead”, lost in its sinking.

The parade is on August 28 10.30am to 12pm starting from Stirling Gardens and marching down Barrack Street. 

by DAVID BELL

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