City salute to Light Horse

The 10th was re-raised in October 2021, having long since traded horses for vehicles. Photo by Sgt Gary Dixon

PERTH lord mayor Basil Zempilas wants to bring more troops into the CBD, by giving the 10th Light Horse Regiment ‘freedom of entry’ for an honour march.

Granting freedom of entry is a rare honour and the highest accolade a local government can confer on a military unit. 

The convention against armies entering towns stems from the days when Rome had strict rules against soldiers crossing the river Rubicon into the city, for fear they’d topple the civilian leadership.

The freedom of entry has no legal basis today but remains a symbol of great trust and respect, and Perth council’s honorary awards policy says it “may be granted to units of the Defence Force which have a significant attachment to the City of Perth”.

Previous recipients have beenthe 16th Batallion of the Royal WA Regiment in 1960, the HMAS Perth (II) in 1966, and the RAAF No 25 (City of Perth) Auxiliary Squadron in 1976. The HMAS Perth (III), successor to HMAS Perth (II), exercised its Freedom of Entry in October 2021, and Mr Zempilas enthusiastically donned the rarely-seen 1886 mayoral chain and old school robe traditionally worn for those occasions to welcome Commander Tony Nagle and crew. 

Now Mr Zempilas has nominated the 10th Light Horse for the honour. 

He crossed paths with some of the regiments’ members at this year’s Anzac Day and previously at the re-raising of the regiment in October 2021, a ceremony marking the 10th being restored from a single squadron to full regimental status. 

He said “the 10th Light Horse Regiment is steeped in Western Australian history” and the 10th were “eager to share the next chapter of their proud history with the City of Perth”.

They were the only AIF light cavalry unit raised in WA, officially designated the 10th in 1914. They served at Gallipoli (their fatal and futile charge is depicted in Peter Weir’s 1981 film) and in the middle east.

Perth councillors will vote on whether to award the privilege when they meet September 27.

by DAVID BELL

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