Anzac spirit

The Anzac spirit or Anzac legend is a concept which suggests that Australian and New Zealand soldiers possess shared characteristics, specifically the qualities those soldiers allegedly exemplified on the battlefields of World War I.[1][2] These perceived qualities include endurance, courage, ingenuity, good humour, larrikinism, and mateship. According to this concept, the soldiers are perceived to have been innocent and fit, stoical and laconic, irreverent in the face of authority, naturally egalitarian and disdainful of British class differences.[3]

The Anzac spirit also tends to capture the idea of an Australian and New Zealand "national character", with the Gallipoli Campaign sometimes described as the moment of birth of the nationhood both of Australia[3] and of New Zealand.[4][5][6] It was first expressed in the reporting of the landing at Anzac Cove by Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett; as well as later on and much more extensively by Charles Bean. It is regarded as an Australian legend, although its critics refer to it as the Anzac myth.[3][7][8][9][10]

CanberraSimpsonMemorial
Simpson and his donkey statue by Peter Corlett outside the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

Historical development of the concept

The British war correspondent Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett provided the first reports of the landing at Anzac Cove by the newly formed Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). His report was published in Australia on 8 May 1915:

They waited neither for orders nor for the boats to reach the beach, but, springing out into the sea, they waded ashore, and, forming some sort of rough line, rushed straight on the flashes of the enemy's rifles.[11]

Ashmead-Bartlett's account of the soldiers was unashamedly heroic:

There has been no finer feat in this war than this sudden landing in the dark and the storming of the heights... General Birdwood told the writer that he couldn't sufficiently praise the courage, endurance and the soldierly qualities of the Colonials (The Australians) were happy because they had been tried for the first time and not found wanting.[3]

Also in 1915, in response to the reporting of the efforts of the great Australian troops, the Australian poet Banjo Paterson wrote "We're All Australians Now", including the verse:

The mettle that a race can show

Is proved with shot and steel,
And now we know what nations know

And feel what nations feel.[12]

The Anzac spirit was particularly popularised by Charles Bean, Australia's official war historian. For the soldiers at Battle of Gallipoli, Bean argued, life would not have been worth living if they had betrayed the ideal of mateship.[3] Despite the loss at Gallipoli, Australian and New Zealand soldiers were seen to have displayed great courage, endurance, initiative and discipline. The stereotype developed that the Anzac rejected unnecessary restrictions, possessed a sardonic sense of humour, was contemptuous of danger, and proved himself the equal of anyone on the battlefield.[13] Bean encapsulated the meaning of Anzac in his publication Anzac to Amiens:

Anzac stood, and still stands, for reckless valor in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship, and endurance that will never own defeat.[14]

1958 saw the publication of Russel Ward's The Australian Legend. Promoting the egalitarianism of the Australian bush and its permutation into the Anzac soldiers as the Australian Legend, it soon became a landmark book in Australian historical writing.[15] During the 1960s and 1970s, due to lack of observance of Anzac Day in general society, the idea of a unique Anzac spirit began to fade. Especially among baby boomers, interest in Anzac Day reached its lowest point in the aftermath of the anti-war demonstrations over Australian involvement in the Vietnam War.[16] A resurgence in popular commemoration of Anzac Day in the 1980s (possibly linked to the release of the film Gallipoli) brought the idea of an Anzac spirit back into prominence in Australian political discourse. There has been an increase in people, especially youth, attending Anzac Day Dawn Services in Australia and New Zealand,[17] where the Anzac spirit is often invoked.[18][19]

National identity

Coming just fourteen years after the Federation of Australia, the Gallipoli campaign was one of the first international events that saw Australians taking part as Australians. As such, it has been seen as a key event in forging a sense of national identity.[20] According to history professor Dr Frank Bongiorno:

The Gallipoli campaign was the beginning of true Australian nationhood. When Australia went to war in 1914, many white Australians believed that their Commonwealth had no history, that it was not yet a true nation, that its most glorious days still lay ahead of it. In this sense the Gallipoli campaign was a defining moment for Australia as a new nation.[21]

ANZAC Day at Manly, 1922
Anzac Day at Manly, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia (1922)

Ernest Scott's influential A Short History of Australia, which remained a standard school text for nearly four decades from 1916 and went through six editions in its author's lifetime, clearly enunciated this concept. In the preface to the book's first edition, Scott linked the European settlement of Australia with the idea of Australia becoming a nation on the battlefields of Gallipoli:

This Short History of Australia begins with a blank space on the map and ends with the record of a new name on the map, that of Anzac.[15]

Charles Bean also propagated this view, extending the notion to suggest that New Zealand nationhood was also born in the First World War. In 1924 Bean wrote that:

Anzac Day now belongs to the past and during the war all energy was concentrated on the future but the influence of the Gallipoli Campaign upon the national life of Australia and New Zealand has been far too deep to fade… it was on the 25th of April 1915 that the consciousness of nationhood was born.[17]

The popular belief that the Anzacs, through their spirit, forged Australia's national character, is still today frequently expressed.[18] For example, in 2006 the Governor-General of Australia, Michael Jeffery gave an address in which he said that although the Anzacs lost the campaign they created a lasting identity for Australia:

We are summoned to recall the battle sacrifices of Australian farmers and tally clerks, teachers and labourers and to commemorate outstanding courage and strength of character in the face of sustained adversity... [The campaign] won for us an enduring sense of national identity based on those iconic traits of mateship, courage, compassion and nous.[18]

An extension of this belief is the idea that the Anzacs set an example for future generations of Australians to follow, laying the bedrock of 'Australian values'. In 2007 the Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson articulated this view, stating that the Anzacs "forged values that are ours and make us who we are, reminding us that there are some truths by which we live."[19] Nelson had earlier argued that the story of Simpson and his donkey rescuing wounded men at Gallipoli "represents everything that's at the heart of what it means to be an Australian".[22]

The Anzac spirit is also sometimes said to be exhibited during Australian civilian crises. For example, the Returned and Services League of Australia states:

The Spirit of the ANZAC continues today in times of hardship such as cyclones, floods and bush fires. At those times Australians come together to rescue one another, to ease suffering, to provide food and shelter, to look after one another, and to let the victims of these disasters know they are not alone.[2]

In New Zealand, the Anzac spirit is similarly pointed to in some quarters as forming an important component of New Zealand national identity. The New Zealand Government's Ministry of Culture and Heritage states:

New Zealand soldiers distinguished themselves with their courage and skill, establishing an enduring bond with the Australians they fought alongside ... Great suffering was caused to a small country by the loss of so many of its young men. But the Gallipoli campaign showcased attitudes and attributes - bravery, tenacity, practicality, ingenuity, loyalty to King and comrades - that helped New Zealand define itself as a nation, even as it fought unquestioningly on the other side of the world in the name of the British Empire. After Gallipoli, New Zealand had a greater confidence in its distinct identity, and a greater pride in the international contribution it could make. And the mutual respect earned during the fighting formed the basis of the close ties with Australia that continue today.[23]

Criticism

Professor Manning Clark, in his influential work A History of Australia, suggested a contrasting image of the innocent and honourable Anzac soldier. From a range of sources he provided evidence of the soldiers' bad behaviour. For example, he documented that, as recruits, some indulged in sex orgies with an 18-year-old girl at the Broadmeadows camp before being shipped to war.[21] Others confronted police in violent scuffles on the streets of Melbourne.[21] Clark also recorded that in Egypt some soldiers burned the belongings of local people, brawled, got drunk and rioted, and spent sufficient time in the local brothels for many of them to contract venereal disease.[21]

Other scholars such as professor of politics at La Trobe University, Robert Manne, have also questioned the veracity of the Anzac legend, arguing that it is more accurate to describe the concept as a mythology.[3] Dr Dale Blair of Deakin University suggests that:

While traits such as egalitarianism, resourcefulness and initiative are assumed and maintained in the nation's popular memory as a truthful representation, not only of Australia's First World War soldiers, but also, of the national character, they were not sufficiently evident in the experience of the 1st Battalion [at Gallipoli] to justify their advancement as characteristics general to Australian soldiers or the nation.[24]

According to Blair, the official war historian Charles Bean "advanced an idealised view of sacrifice to provide the nation with higher meaning and comfort as compensation for the death of its soldiers".[24] Bean wrote in his diary that the "rule of censorship forbids criticism", and that the war correspondent should avoid "needlessly distressing their families at home". Professor Verity Burgmann of the University of Melbourne argues that the prevailing picture of Anzac and later battles on the Western Front as the highest representation of national unity and shared sacrifice is a misrepresentation, because two conscription referenda were defeated in Australia, and many Australians were totally opposed to any participation in the war.[25] Conflicting reports on the factual events of the landing at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, continue to surface with conflicting eye-witness reporting. [26] Other skeptics have questioned the idea that Australia's "national character" was forged on the beaches of Gallipoli. In 2008 an editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald stated:

But why should Australians now, 90 years later, be still so eager for some stereotypical reaffirmation of their character? Why the self-doubt? The danger in the transformation - as remembrance replaces memory, and nationalism replaces remembrance - is that the solemnity and the serious purpose of Anzac Day will be lost in an irrelevant search for some kind of essence of Australianness.[27]

Similarly, historian Mark McKenna disputes the notion that the character traits that supposedly define the Anzac spirit are uniquely and demonstrably Australian, arguing that these virtues are in fact universal, being "found in Palestine and Iraq, in Darfur and East Timor, in Afghanistan and Zimbabwe."[28]

Alan Young, a World War II veteran and film maker, presents a different view of the origins of the Anzac tradition in his film Forging the Anzac Tradition, The Untold Story. Young argues that "If Gallipoli is the birthplace of the Anzac acronym, then the Western Front is where the Anzac legend grew up, stood tall and cemented their place in international history; and in our hearts". He points out that five times the number of men died in the "real war" at the Western Front than at the disastrous Gallipoli diversion, yet many Australians know very little of this sacrifice.

Some have also critiqued the masculine underpinnings of the Anzac legend. According to popular notions of the Anzac spirit, the male bonding or mateship becomes the main characteristic in the description of Australianess, yet these characteristics are seen to imply that the true Australian is inevitably and only male.[29] Some feminists have therefore described this notion as being exclusionary and discriminatory, and contend that, as a result, it cannot possibly define what it means to be Australian.[29][30][31] Professor Joy Damousi has questioned a view of an Australian national character which relies exclusively on militarism and heroism, arguing that this obscures a more complex, diverse and inclusive understanding of identity.[32]

More broadly, Dr Martin Ball of the University of Melbourne argues that conflating the Anzac spirit with a collective Australian national character exposes an uncritically narrow understanding of Australian history:

The Anzac tradition holds many values for us all to celebrate, but the myth also suppresses parts of Australian history that are difficult to deal with. Anzac is a means of forgetting the origins of Australia. The Aboriginal population is conveniently absent. The convict stain is wiped clean. Postwar immigration is yet to broaden the cultural identity of the population.[33]

See also

References

  1. ^ "'ANZAC Day' in London; King, and General Birdwood at Services in Abbey," New York Times. 26 April 1916.
  2. ^ a b "The ANZAC Spirit". Returned and Services League of Australia Western Australian Branch. 2003. Archived from the original on 19 August 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-10.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Robert Manne, The war myth that made us, The Age, 25 April 2007
  4. ^ Andrew Leach, The Myth of the Nation Archived 19 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Why is Anzac Day so special? NZ History On Line
  6. ^ "Baris Askin, The Troy Guide". Archived from the original on 30 March 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2010.
  7. ^ Tony Smith, Conscripting the Anzac myth to silence dissent, Australian Review of Public Affairs, 11 September 2006.
  8. ^ Ben Knight, Breaking through our Gallipoli 'myth', ABC news, 2 November 2008
  9. ^ Matt McDonald, 'Lest We Forget': Invoking the Anzac myth and the memory of sacrifice in Australian military intervention, Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association's 50th Annual Convention "Exploring the Past, Anticipating the Future", New York Marriott Marquis, New York City, NY, USA, 15 February 2009.
  10. ^ Graham Seal, Inventing Anzac: The Digger and National Mythology, St Lucia: API Network and UQP, 2004.
  11. ^ "The dawn of the legend: Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett". Australian War Memorial. Archived from the original on 8 September 2006. Retrieved 10 November 2006.
  12. ^ Paterson, A. B. (1915). "We're All Australians Now". Oldpoetry. allpoetry.com. Retrieved 10 November 2006.
  13. ^ "The ANZAC Spirit". Australian War Memorial. Archived from the original on 16 June 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
  14. ^ National Library of Australia, "Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean"
  15. ^ a b John Arnold, "Australian History in Print: a bibliographical survey of influential twentieth-century texts" Archived 6 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine, National Inquiry into School History, Government of Australia
  16. ^ "The Anzac Spirit, The Australian, 25 April 2006". Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2008.
  17. ^ a b Anne-Marie Hede and John Hall, "Anzac Day and Australian nationalism: assessing the marketing lifecycle of this cultural phenomenon", Deakin University: www.deakin.edu.au/research/stories/hede/anzac-vietnam.doc
  18. ^ a b c "Anzac Day remembered across the globe". ABC News Online. 25 April 2006. Archived from the original on 29 April 2007. Retrieved 10 May 2007.
  19. ^ a b "Thousands mark Anzac Day at Gallipoli", Sydney Morning Herald, 25 April 2007
  20. ^ "Anzac Day: remembering Australians who served". ABC News Online. 24 April 2008. Archived from the original on 29 May 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  21. ^ a b c d "ANZAC Day", Australian Government Culture and Recreation Portal
  22. ^ 'Teach Australian values or "clear off", says Nelson', PM, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 24 August 2005.
  23. ^ Government of New Zealand, Anzac Day
  24. ^ a b Peter Edgar, "Review of Dinkum Diggers: an Australian battalion at war" by Dale Blair Archived 9 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Australian War Memorial Journal
  25. ^ Shane Cahill "Don't mention the anti-war feeling" Archived 8 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine, The University of Melbourne Voice, Vol. 3, No. 1, 14 April - 12 May 2008
  26. ^ B-General Aspinall-Oglander
  27. ^ "Anzac: a day to quell the ardour for desperate glory". Sydney Morning Herald. 25 April 2008. Retrieved 26 April 2008.
  28. ^ Mark McKenna, Patriot Act Archived 20 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine, The Australian, 6 June 2007. Accessed 16 June 2007.
  29. ^ a b "National Identity" Archived 18 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine Australian Studies Centre, Petra Christian University
  30. ^ ABC Radio National/Open Learning, "The Good Citizen." Program Two: Imagining Australia Archived 11 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1998.
  31. ^ Patricia Grimshaw, Marilyn Lake, Ann McGrath and Marian Quartly, Creating a Nation, McPhee/Gribble/Penguin, 1994, (reprinted 1996, 2000).
  32. ^ "Gallipoli – remembering and learning" Archived 8 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine, The University of Melbourne Voice Vol. 3, No. 1, 14 April - 12 May 2008
  33. ^ Martin Ball, What the Anzac Revival means, The Age, 24 April 2004
  34. ^ "Alec Campbell, Last Anzac at Gallipoli, Dies at 103," New York Times. 20 May 2002.

Sources

Anzac Day

Anzac Day () is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders "who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations" and "the contribution and suffering of all those who have served". Observed on 25 April each year, Anzac Day was originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, their first engagement in the First World War (1914–1918).

Anzac Day match

The Anzac Day match is an annual Australian rules football match between Collingwood and Essendon, held on Anzac Day (25 April) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

Anzac railway station

Anzac railway station (originally known by the working title of Domain) is a railway station planned to be built as part of the Melbourne Metro Rail Project. The station is named for the nearby Shrine of Remembrance and in honour of the ANZAC spirit of service and sacrifice.Anzac Station will be built below St Kilda Road in the suburb of South Yarra, and is planned to feature four entrances. It will be built using the cut-and-cover method and construction has commenced in 2018. The station will open as part of the wider Metro Rail Project in 2025.The station has been designed as a ‘pavilion in the park’, being a sympathetic building and landmark that connects seamlessly with surrounding green areas of the Shrine of Remembrance Reserve, Kings Domain and Royal Botanic Gardens. The station will also feature the first platform-to-platform connection between trains and trams in Melbourne, as half of all passengers are expected to interchange between the two modes of transport.During the construction period the Domain Road tram line, St Kilda tram line and Domain Interchange tram stop will close and experience short term closures.

Anzacs (TV series)

Anzacs (named for members of the all volunteer ANZAC army formations) is a 1985 Australian five-part television miniseries set in World War I. The series follows the lives of a group of young Australian men who enlist in the 8th Battalion (Australia) of the First Australian Imperial Force in 1914, fighting first at Gallipoli in 1915, and then on the Western Front for the remainder of the war.

It follows in the wake of Australian New Wave war films such as Breaker Morant (1980), Gallipoli (1981), and precedes The Lighthorsemen (1987). Recurring themes of these films include the Australian identity, such as mateship and larrikinism, the loss of innocence in war, and also the continued coming of age of the Australian nation and its soldiers (the ANZAC spirit).

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Country Women's Association

The Country Women’s Association of Australia (CWA or CWAA) is the largest women's organisation in Australia. It has 44,000 members across 1855 branches. Its aims are to improve the conditions for country women and children and to try to make life better for women and their families, especially those women living in rural and remote Australia. The organisation is self-funded, nonpartisan and nonsectarian.

Digger (soldier)

Digger is a military slang term for soldiers from Australia and New Zealand. Evidence of its use has been found in those countries as early as the 1850s, but its current usage in a military context did not become prominent until World War I, when Australian and New Zealand troops began using it on the Western Front around 1916–17. Evolving out of its usage during the war, the term has been linked to the concept of the Anzac legend, but within a wider social context, it is linked to the concept of "egalitarian mateship".

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Gallipoli provides a faithful portrayal of life in Australia in the 1910s—reminiscent of Weir's 1975 film Picnic at Hanging Rock set in 1900—and captures the ideals and character of the Australians who joined up to fight, as well as the conditions they endured on the battlefield, although its portrayal of British forces has been criticised as inaccurate. It followed the Australian New Wave war film Breaker Morant (1980) and preceded the 5-part TV series ANZACs (1985), and The Lighthorsemen (1987). Recurring themes of these films include the Australian identity, such as mateship and larrikinism, the loss of innocence in war, and the continued coming of age of the Australian nation and its soldiers (later called the ANZAC spirit).

Mary Grant Bruce

Mary Grant Bruce (24 May 1878 – 2 July 1958), also known as Minnie Bruce, was an Australian children's author and journalist. While all her thirty-seven books enjoyed popular success in Australia and overseas, particularly in the United Kingdom, she was most famous for the Billabong series, focussing on the adventures of the Linton family on Billabong Station in Victoria and in England and Ireland during World War I.

Her writing was considered influential in forming concepts of Australian national identity, especially in relation to visions of the Bush. It was characterised by fierce patriotism, vivid descriptions of the beauties and dangers of the Australian landscape, and humorous, colloquial dialogue celebrating the art of yarning. Her books were also notable and influential through championing of what Bruce held up as the quintessentially Australian Bush values of independence, hard physical labour (for women and children as well as men), mateship, the ANZAC spirit and Bush hospitality against more decadent, self-centred or stolid urban and British values. Her books simultaneously celebrated and mourned the gradual settlement, clearing and development of the Australian wilderness by Europeans.

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As British offshoots, the Australian colonies participated in Britain's small wars of the 19th century, while later as a federated dominion, and then an independent nation, Australia fought in the First World War and Second World War, as well as in the wars in Korea, Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam during the Cold War. In the Post-Vietnam era Australian forces have been involved in numerous international peacekeeping missions, through the United Nations and other agencies, including in the Sinai, Persian Gulf, Rwanda, Somalia, East Timor and the Solomon Islands, as well as many overseas humanitarian relief operations, while more recently they have also fought as part of multi-lateral forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In total, nearly 103,000 Australians died during the course of these conflicts.

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It follows in the wake of other Australian New Wave war films such as Breaker Morant (1980), Gallipoli (1981), and the 5-part TV series Anzacs (1985). Recurring themes of these films include the Australian identity, such as mateship and larrikinism, the loss of innocence in war, and also the continued coming of age of the Australian nation and its soldiers (the ANZAC spirit).

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Charles Walter Harper (27 January 1880 – 1 July 1956) was an Australian agriculturalist who was prominent in the cooperative movement in Western Australia. He was one of the founders of Wesfarmers, serving as its chairman from 1921 to 1953, and also helped establish what is now CBH Group.

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The Post Office opened on 3 September 1917 as Brown Coal Mine and was renamed Yallourn North in 1947.This tiny hilltop town contains many churches, including the only Serbian Orthodox Church and Mosque in the region. Sports available are Australian rules football, cricket, lawn bowls and carpet bowls, netball and angling. There is a Social Golf Club, and pistol club. The town has an Australian Rules football team, Yallourn-Yallourn North, which competes in the Mid Gippsland Football League.

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