Keen to feed their 10-year-old son’s interest in the two world wars and all things history, William Meave's family recently set off on a road trip to Canberra.
“I really wanted to go. I kept saying to my mum that I want to go to the [Australian] War Memorial,” said William.
Over the years, William has immersed himself in books, documentaries, podcasts and even taken roleplay to a whole new level. His mother, Kellie Floyd, recounts how William dug out trenches in the backyard to emulate scenes from World War One.
“At one stage he even constructed duckboards with old fence palings, so they really felt like World War One trenches and added long sharpened sticks poking out as enemy protection,” she said.
Wanting to foster William’s passion, his parents thought it was time to make the journey to the nation’s capital. They stopped at war memorials and museums along the way, including the Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk in Seymour, and the Holbrook Submarine Museum.
Even with some appreciation for the devastating loss of life through war, William was still shocked by the Australian War Memorial's ’s Roll of Honour, where poppies are placed as a tribute.
“When I was there, I was just horrified seeing all the names and how many people didn’t come home.”
The personal touch was placing a poppy next to the name of a family member killed in action during World War One.
“His name was Coutts. He died on the Western Front, and I just felt so proud putting a poppy next to his name. I’m proud, very proud, a bit sad as well because of all the casualties.”’
"I feel really safe but life back then would have been really tough – constant bombings in some parts, food shortages, sometimes children were sent away from their families so they could be safer."
His proud mum said his interest has opened so many avenues.
“It’s expanded his knowledge about so many things, so much has stemmed from it, from geography to his knowledge about flags and general history.”
Like many ANZAC Days so far in William’s life, April 25 2023 will be no different, with plans to commemorate the day in a meaningful way.
William hopes more children will attend a Dawn Service to pay their respects.
“Last year, I wondered, ‘Where are they all, did they sleep in?’ This is not the time to sleep in, everyone should be up early.”
Preparing for another Dawn Service, William's commitment to ANZAC Day remains strong. With his sights set on joining the cadets and his ongoing commitment to ANZAC Day, William is a fine example of the next generation keeping the ANZAC Spirit alive.