Williamstown children pay homage on Remembrance Day

Bruce O'Brien with his grandsons Sam, Harry and Charley. Photo: Joe Mastroianni

Hundreds of schoolchildren will honour our Diggers on Remembrance Day, including three grandsons of Williamstown RSL president Bruce O’Brien who will wear their grandfather’s war medals.

Conscripted in the draft, Mr O’Brien entered the army in 1967 and after a tour of duty in South Vietnam was discharged in 1969.

Bruce’s father, Keith O’Brien, served in New Guinea during World War II, and his great uncle, Harold Carter, was killed during the Battle of the Somme.

Two other uncles enlisted from Williamstown – Lloyd Meehan, who served in the Pacific with the RAAF, and Bruce Meehan, who went down on HMAS Perth during the Battle of the Sunda Strait.

“We have all been prepared to put our hands up when needs present,” Mr O’Brien said.

“We are here to remember the sacrifice of our service men and women – not to glorify war or praise victors, but to remember those who have served our country during times of conflict and crisis, and to reflect upon their selfless sacrifice.

“It is the anniversary of the day the armistice was signed between our Commonwealth and allied forces and the German invaders.”

In the lead-up to November 11, Mr O’Brien has hand-delivered invitations to all Williamstown primary schools to attend the club’s commemorative ceremony at the cenotaph.

“This year, one of the schools asked if it would be OK if the children wore their relatives’ medals,” Mr O’Brien said. “It is something that is encouraged. The left breast is reserved for serving and former serving veterans and the right-hand breast is where relatives wear their relations’ medals.”

Mr O’Brien’s grandsons attend St Mary’s Primary School – the same primary school he went to as a boy.

He said that each year more members of younger generations attended Williamstown’s Remembrance Day event, with about 400 paying their respects last year.