Phil's 60th Anzac Day march is a family tradition

A walk with history: Jannali band leader Phil Mead is taking part in his 60th consecutive Anzac Day march. Picture: John Veage
A walk with history: Jannali band leader Phil Mead is taking part in his 60th consecutive Anzac Day march. Picture: John Veage

The tradition of Sydney's annual Anzac Day march is embodied in Drum Major Phil Mead and his family.

This will be the 60th consecutive Anzac Day march through the city for Mr Mead, 71, of Jannali who is Drum Major of the Yagoona District Brass Band.

His first city Anzac Day was in 1959 as an 11-year-old drummer, marching with the St George-Sutherland Shire Brass Band which became the Sutherland Shire Silver Band in 1973.

He marched with the Sutherland band for 33 years and then in 1992 joined the Yagoona District Brass Band.

Over the years, his three sons joined the band and then three of his grandchildren and now three generations of the Mead family march together.

"I've certainly seen some changes over the years," Mr Mead said.

"When we first started in 1959 they formed up in Macquarie Street and marched down to Martin Place.

"Then they came in off Pitt Street and then out along George Street.

"The last three years with the light rail, they feed-in off Elizabeth Street and do the Act of Remembrance and later march past the War Memorial in Hyde Park.

"There's a lot more younger people in recent years. I think there is a bigger explanation of the significance of Anzac Day at schools.

"Obviously there are a lot less veterans."

"My father, Victor was a WWII veteran in the 2nd/6th Armoured Regiment. I marched with him on Anzac Day for many years, though not together.

"I always used to go down to his unit and say hello before the start of the march," he said.

"My sons David, Steven and Jeffrey started marching with me in the Sutherland band and they now march with me in the Yagoona District Brass Band.

"Three of my grandkids, Keiley (17), Ryan (13) and Connor (14) also march with us. My brother, Ron, who turns 70 on Anzac Day, also marched with the band but won't be marching this year due to a back operation.

"It's a great atmosphere. It's good to see the veterans. Their numbers are dwindling which is a bit sad.

"'It's good to see all the young people turning up.

"My three sons all have been steeped in the Anzac tradition and they have passed this onto their children.

"My grandkids wear their great-grandfather's medals when they march."

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