Three generations of service

Private Oliver Atkinson Perillo in front of protected mobility vehicles at Australia's main operating base in the Middle East. Photo: Petty Officer Yuri Ramsey

Three generations of service

Private Oliver Atkinson Perillo grew up listening to heroic stories of his great grandfather, a veteran of both World Wars, as well as a few stories from his grandad who also served in WWII. 

Now on his first deployment to the Middle East region, where he will spend Anzac Day, Private Atkinson Perillo said he will be thinking about the impressive legacy they left behind. 

“My great grandfather Acting Major Cecil Hewitt Atkinson served in WWI and WWII. He is also one of the few people with a Military Cross with two bars,” Private Atkinson Perillo said. 

“My granddad Tony Atkinson also served in WWII. He actually served with his dad Cecil at one point during the war. 

“My grandad tells a story that at one point Cecil lost sight in one eye so grandad had to drive him around at night, to and from the field hospital, as they weren’t allowed to drive with lights on.

“It’s a pretty funny coincidence that my grandad drove my great-grandfather around during WWII and now I’m here in the Middle East as a driver as well.”

The story about how his great-grandfather received his Military Cross citation was something Private Atkinson Perillo was very proud of. 

“The Military Cross is awarded for gallantry under incredibly difficult circumstances. To have two bars attached to that is pretty significant,” he said. 

“He received his first citation from an act of bravey in August 1918 at Moriancourt, when he brought his battery into action and kept them there on the gunline for 36 hours straight under heavy shell fire. He went forward himself with the attack and was able to send back valuable information to his commanders.

“The second bar was for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty at Le Cateau in October 1918. Two guns were out of action at the commencement of the barrage by hostile fire and the remaining were struggling due to casualities. He went up to the battery’s position and assisted them until more gunners came, all the while under heavy fire.

“It’s incredible to think about what they went through. I think my grandad still looks up to him quite a bit.”

Private Atkinson Perillo said this year’s Anzac Day commemorations will hold a special meaning to him. 

“An Anzac Day on operations will be special because you get to do your part,” he said.

“I will definitely be thinking of both grandad and his dad while overseas this year.”

Private Atkinson Perillo is deployed to Australia’s main operating base in the Middle East region as part of Operation Accordion, as a driver with Force Support Element – Rotation 12.

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