Are you worried children will be bored by stories of events that took pace ages ago? A little self-conscious that you might start to sound like an old person, a know-it-all? You wouldn’t be the first parent or grown up stuck with the challenge of making history sound, well, current for children. Talking about war is an even trickier proposition. Trust in your child’s intelligence, imagination and empathy. Then do some research, because the facts are already written. Then, all you have to do is tell the story in a way that relates to here and now.
Take for instance, the story of Momčilo Gavrić (pronounced, Momchillo Gavrich), the youngest soldier in the First World War, which started one hundred hers ago in July, 1914. He was the eighth child of eleven. His mum and dad were Alimpije and Jelena Gavrić. With 10 brothers and sisters, imagine the house they all lived in. Life must have been quite full and loud and happy. In the middle of summer, August 1914, one hundred years ago, Austro-Hungarian soldiers attacked. His dad, mom, grandmother, his three sisters, and four of his brothers were killed. The happy house was burnt to the ground. Momčilo was at his uncle’s house at the time. His life changed forever.
Momčilo found the Serbian army nearby and told them what had happened. The soldier in charge, Major Stevan Tucović, ordered someone in the unit to look after Momčilo, as he lead the unit to where the Austro-Hungarian soldiers were.
When he was 10 years old, he was promoted to the rank of Corporal by his commander. The unit was sent to Thessaloniki, in Greece. Major Tucović sent him to Sorovits where he was sent to school for a while.
Back in Serbia, the commander of the Serbian army was shocked when he saw an eleven year-old boy in uniform. Momčilo’s commander, Major Tucović told him the story; that the boy had been with them since the Battle of Cer, and that he had both been taught discipline and had even been wounded during his time in the unit. The commander promoted Momčilo again, to Lance Sergeant.
He was sent to England and finished his education at Henry Wreight school in Faversham, Kent. In 1921 he went back to his country after Serbian Prime Minister Nikola Pašić ordered the return of all children to Serbia. Back in Trbušnica he found his three surviving brothers. He died in 1993 at the grand old age of 93.
What a story! There is so much to discuss…