Even though the Gallipoli Campaign was deemed a disaster in terms of the loss of life suffered there and the failure to achieve a military victory, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (or ANZACs as they have become known as) became a legend. What happened at Gallipoli made them an important part of Australian culture at a time when the newly-federated nation of Australia had not yet established herself at an international level.
What is the legend?
In theory, the legend is that the Australian and New Zealand troops helped to establish their countries' reputations in the world through qualities of strength and bravery when faced with adversity. In fact, it is much more than that. The legend of these men who endured so much has given something of which Australians can be proud. It put Australia's mark on the world as something other than a nation descended from convicts.
How was it created?
It is not uncommon for the characteristics of soldiers to mirror the characteristics commonly found in the society from which they come. This has resulted in the emergence of a number of stereotypes for soldiers from each nation. The Australian soldiers, who had not had a chance to prove themselves on an international front prior to Gallipoli, found that their strong characteristics were revealed in the most challenging of times. It was through events such as the landing at Anzac Cove and the battle at The Nek (where ANZACs were slaughtered in their masses), that they acquired the image that has become synonymous with the word 'digger.' Digger has come to embody the stereotype of a patriotic Australian family man who has temporarily become a soldier and has spent his civilian life in a rural area. More importantly, it suggests a soldier with certain moral qualities, such as a good sense of humour and an overriding belief in mateship and equality. See image 1
There were five particularly 'digger-like' qualities which emerged from the ANZACs when faced with hardship during the Gallipoli Campaign. These qualities set them apart from soldiers from other nations and were said to be attributable to their rural backgrounds in the bush. Many of the World War I diggers were third generation Australians from the early days of pioneering. Their particular attributes included:
- the ability to remain cheerful with a good sense of humour, even in the most difficult of times
- the ability to be resourceful when they had no supplies, for example by making hand grenades from empty tin cans
- the spirit of mateship in which a soldier would risk his own life for his mate's
- Australian courage, which was shown on the very first landing at Anzac Cove where the soldiers continued to charge up on to the beach straight into the line of Turkish fire
- the notion that people all deserve the same amount of respect, no matter what their background is.
It is precisely this type of person and this type of soldier who gave the ANZACs their reputation which, in turn, instilled a new national pride in Australia and New Zealand. See image 2
Why is it important?
The Gallipoli Campaign was a particularly significant event in history because it came at a time when Australia had only just become a federal commonwealth, trying to assert her place alongside a collection of nations with thousands of years of history. In the eyes of the rest of the world, Australia had no eminent military history and no distinct cultural characteristics as a nation. Gallipoli was the first opportunity for Australia to earn the respect of other nations and to show the world her strong national character. See video
The Anzac legend is also important because it encourages Australians to remember the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for their country. The legend has made such an impression on Australians that we continue to commemorate the landing of the ANZAC soldiers on the shores of Gallipoli on 25 April each year.
Gallipoli Anzac Day Essay
When Australians visit the shores of Gallipoli, where their forefathers landed all those years ago, a spirit entangles them, as they shed a tear. But these tears are not just drops of salty water, they are something much stronger. They are pools of courage, ingenuity, pride, enthusiasm, and above all, mateship. Each pool is a different story, the story of an ANZAC who fought for what he believed was right, regardless of the consequences. But despite the soldier, each story has one thing in common - the ANZAC spirit. The particular characteristics that make every ANZAC stand out from the rest have shaped Australia into what it is today. One hundred years ago, in 1901, the nation of Australia was formed. At this time, the British Empire dominated Australia, as it was referred to by many as 'The Motherland' declared war on Germany and its allies, Australia followed suit soon after. The Australian Imperial Forces were created and men in every city, town and village signed up, willing to die for the cause they felt was just.
Throughout the eight-month Gallipoli campaign, thousands of ANZACs were killed, maimed or missing in action. Although the statistics of the campaign were horrific, there is another side to the story. The acts of mateship, ingenuity, enthusiasm and bravery in the ace of danger, tell the story that forged a nation. Since landing at Gallipoli, the Diggers were constantly under threat by sniper, machine and artillery fire from the Turkish trenches. There were long periods of inactivity from both sides of no-man's-land, times when the enemies called a truce to bury their dead. There were also times, such as the battle of Lone Pine and the Nek, when the true ANZAC spirit emerged.
"The one law no self-respecting Australian would break was loyalty to a mate". This was proven during the fiercest of battles, when men would run into no-man's-land to collect their wounded and carry them to shelter, regardless of personal safety. John Simpson Kirpatrick, a stretcher-bearer in the AIF, would walk into gunfire with his donkey, Duffy, to rescue wounded soldiers and carry them to shelter. Sadly, one day Duffy returned to the shore carrying a wounded soldier alone, for Simpson had been shot and killed whilst helping fellow mates.
The qualities fostered in those eight tragic months at Gallipoli, were carried throughout the Middle East and the Western Front during World War I. The battles of Beersheeba, the Somme and Villiers-Bretonneux are amazing examples of ANZAC audacity and truly indescribable feats of courage. "...our boys died like heroes, and died not in vain."
When World War I ended in 1918, a new nation had been forged and the world now knew that Australia was a country to be reckoned with, "...it was on 25th April 1915 that the consciousness of Australian nationhood was born. "However once again, in 1939, when Britain...
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