ANZAC spirit


ANZAC spirit

The Anzac spirit or Anzac legend is a concept which suggests that Australian and New Zealand soldiers possess shared national characteristics, specifically the qualities those soldiers are believed to have shown on the battlefield in World War I. [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9400E1DD113FE233A25755C2A9629C946796D6CF&scp=12&sq=New+Zealand+anzac&st=p "'ANZAC Day' in London; King, Queen, and General Birdwood at Services in Abbey,"] "New York Times." April 26, 1916.] These qualities cluster around several ideas, including endurance, courage, ingenuity, good humour, and mateship.cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 2003 | url = http://www.rslwahq.org.au/anzacspirit.html | title = The ANZAC Spirit | publisher = Returned and Services League of Australia Western Australian Branch | accessdate = 2006-11-10] 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.Robert Manne, [http://www.theage.com.au/news/robert-manne/the-war-myth-that-made-us/2007/04/24/1177180648069.html The war myth that made us, "The Age", April 25, 2007] ]

The Anzac spirit also tends to capture the idea of an Australian "national character", with the landing at Anzac Cove often described as being the moment of birth of Australia's nationhood.Robert Manne, [http://www.theage.com.au/news/robert-manne/the-war-myth-that-made-us/2007/04/24/1177180648069.html The war myth that made us, "The Age", April 25, 2007] ]

The concept 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 Australasian legend, although its critics refer to it as the Anzac myth.Robert Manne, [http://www.theage.com.au/news/robert-manne/the-war-myth-that-made-us/2007/04/24/1177180648069.html The war myth that made us, "The Age", April 25, 2007] ] Tony Smith, [http://www.australianreview.net/digest/2006/09/smitht.html Conscripting the Anzac myth to silence dissent] , "Australian Review of Public Affairs", September 11, 2006.]

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."cite web | year = | url = http://www.awm.gov.au/dawn/legend/ashmead.asp | title = The dawn of the
| format = | work = | publisher = Australian War Memorial | accessdate = 2006-11-10
]

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."Robert Manne, [http://www.theage.com.au/news/robert-manne/the-war-myth-that-made-us/2007/04/24/1177180648069.html The war myth that made us, "The Age", April 25, 2007] ]

Also in 1915, in response to the reporting of the efforts of the Australian troops, the Australia 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." [cite web | last = Paterson | first = A. B. | authorlink = Banjo Paterson | year = 1915 | url = http://oldpoetry.com/opoem/25661-A-B--Banjo-Paterson--We-re-All-Australians-Now- | title = "We're All Australians Now" | work = Oldpoetry | publisher = allpoetry.com | accessdate = 2006-11-10 ]

The Anzac spirit was particularly popularised by Charles Bean, Australia's official war historian. 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." [National Library of Australia, [http://www.nla.gov.au/gallipolidespatches/2-1-1-bean.html "Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean"] ]

For the soldiers at Battle of Gallipoli, Bean argued, life would not have been worth living if they had betrayed the ideal of mateship.Robert Manne, [http://www.theage.com.au/news/robert-manne/the-war-myth-that-made-us/2007/04/24/1177180648069.html The war myth that made us, "The Age", April 25, 2007] ] 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.cite web | year = | url = http://www.awm.gov.au/dawn/spirit/index.asp | title = The ANZAC Spirit | format = | work = | publisher = Australian War Memorial | accessdate = 2008-05-02]

Following Australia's self-defence during the Second World War, the Australian myth of the Anzac spirit was transformed by conceptions of heroic suffering, particularly in the battlefields of Papua New Guinea and in Japanese controlled POW camps.Fact|date=February 2008

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.John Arnold, [http://www.dest.gov.au/sectors/school_education/publications_resources/national_inquiry_into_school_history/appendix_d.htm "Australian History in Print: a bibliographical survey of influential twentieth-century texts"] , National Inquiry into School History, Government of Australia]

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. [http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,18916129-601,00.html The Anzac Spirit, "The Australian", April 25, 2006] ] Vietnam veterans, especially those taken in the forced draft, were represented by some in the 1970s as lacking the Anzac spirit.Fact|date=February 2008

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.Fact|date=February 2008 There has been an increase in people, especially youth, attending Anzac Day Dawn Services in Australia and New Zealand,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] where the Anzac spirit is often invoked.cite news | url = http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200604/s1623517.htm | title = Anzac Day remembered across the globe | work = ABC News Online | date = 2006-04-25 | accessdate = 2007-05-10 ] [http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/thousands-mark-anzac-day-at-gallipoli/2007/04/25/1177459765055.html "Thousands mark Anzac Day at Gallipoli"] , "Sydney Morning Herald", April 25, 2007]

The Anzac spirit and Australian 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.cite news | url = http://www.abc.net.au/news/background/2008/04/24/2226523.htm | title = Anzac Day: remembering Australians who served | work = ABC News Online | date = 2008-04-24 | accessdate = 2008-05-25 ] According to Dr Frank Bongiorno, Senior Lecturer in History at the University of New England:

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. [http://www.acn.net.au/articles/anzac/ "ANZAC Day"] , Australian Government Culture and Recreation Portal]

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.John Arnold, [http://www.dest.gov.au/sectors/school_education/publications_resources/national_inquiry_into_school_history/appendix_d.htm "Australian History in Print: a bibliographical survey of influential twentieth-century texts"] , National Inquiry into School History, Government of Australia]

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.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]

The popular belief that the Anzacs, through their spirit, forged Australia's national character, is still today frequently expressed.cite news | url = http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200604/s1623517.htm | title = Anzac Day reme>mbered across the globe | work = ABC News Online | date = 2006-04-25 | accessdate = 2007-05-10 ] 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.cite news | url = http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200604/s1623517.htm | title = Anzac Day remembered across the globe | work = ABC News Online | date = 2006-04-25 | accessdate = 2007-05-10 ]

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." [http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/thousands-mark-anzac-day-at-gallipoli/2007/04/25/1177459765055.html "Thousands mark Anzac Day at Gallipoli"] , "Sydney Morning Herald", April 25, 2007] 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". [http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2005/s1445262.htm ‘Teach Australian values or “clear off”, says Nelson’] , "PM", Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 24 August 2005.]

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.cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 2003 | url = http://www.rslwahq.org.au/anzacspirit.html | title = The ANZAC Spirit | publisher = Returned and Services League of Australia Western Australian Branch | accessdate = 2006-11-10]

Criticisms of the concept

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 presented evidence that, as recruits, some indulged in sex orgies with an 18-year-old girl at the Broadmeadows camp before being shipped to war. [http://www.acn.net.au/articles/anzac/ "ANZAC Day"] , Australian Government Culture and Recreation Portal] Others confronted police in violent scuffles on the streets of Melbourne. [http://www.acn.net.au/articles/anzac/ "ANZAC Day"] , Australian Government Culture and Recreation Portal] 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 suffer from venereal disease. [http://www.acn.net.au/articles/anzac/ "ANZAC Day"] , Australian Government Culture and Recreation Portal]

Other scholars such as professor of politics at La Trobe University, Robert Manne, have also questioned the veracity or the Anzac legend, arguing that it is more accurate to describe the concept as a mythology.Robert Manne, [http://www.theage.com.au/news/robert-manne/the-war-myth-that-made-us/2007/04/24/1177180648069.html The war myth that made us, "The Age", April 25, 2007] ] 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.Peter Edgar, [http://www.awm.gov.au/journal/j36/edgarreview.htm "Review of Dinkum Diggers: an Australian battalion at war" by Tony Blair] , Australian War Memorial Journal]

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".Peter Edgar, [http://www.awm.gov.au/journal/j36/edgarreview.htm "Review of Dinkum Diggers: an Australian battalion at war" by Tony Blair] , Australian War Memorial Journal] 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. [http://uninews.unimelb.edu.au/unarticleid_5088.html Shane Cahill, "Don’t mention the anti-war feeling", "The University of Melbourne Voice" Vol. 3, No. 1, 14 April - 12 May 2008] ]

Other sceptics 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.cite news | url = http://www.smh.com.au/news/editorial/anzac-a-day-to-quell-the-ardour-for-desperate-glory/2008/04/24/1208743142809.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1 | title = Anzac: a day to quell the ardour for desperate glory | work = Sydney Morning Herald | date = 2008-04-25 | accessdate = 2008-05-26 ]

Similarly, journalist 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."Mark McKenna, [http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21813244-25132,00.html Patriot Act] , "The Australian", June 06, 2007. Accessed 2007-06-16.]

Alan Young, a World War Two veteran and film maker, presents a different view of the origins of the Anzac tradition in his film" [http://www.forgingtheanzacs.com 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 Australasians 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. [http://www.petra.ac.id/asc/people/immigrants/national_identity.html "National Identity"] Australian Studies Centre, Petra Christian University] 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. [http://www.petra.ac.id/asc/people/immigrants/national_identity.html "National Identity"] Australian Studies Centre, Petra Christian University] [ABC Radio National/Open Learning, [http://www.abc.net.au/ola/citizen/eps/ep02/txonly02.htm "The Good Citizen." Program Two: Imagining Australia] , Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1998.] [Patricia Grimshaw, Marilyn Lake, Ann McGrath and Marian Quartly, "Creating a Nation", McPhee/Gribble/Penguin, 1994, (reprinted 1996, 2000).] Professor Joy Damousi has questioned a view of Australian identity which relies exclusively on militarism and heroism, arguing that this obscures a more complex, diverse and inclusive understanding of the notion. [http://uninews.unimelb.edu.au/unarticleid_5088.html "Gallipoli – remembering and learning", "The University of Melbourne Voice" Vol. 3, No. 1, 14 April - 12 May 2008] ]

More broadly, Dr Martin Ball of the University of Melbourne argues that conflating the Anzac spirit with a supposedly 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.Martin Ball, [http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/04/23/1082616327419.html What the Anzac Revival means, "The Age", April 24, 2004] ]

ee also

*Anzac Day
*Battle of Gallipoli
*John Simpson Kirkpatrick
* Alec Campbell, the last living ANZAC at Gallipoli [Shaw, John. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9406E7D61438F933A15756C0A9649C8B63&n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/Subjects/D/Deaths%20(Obituaries) "Alec Campbell, Last Anzac at Gallipoli, Dies at 103,"] "New York Times." May 20, 2002.]
*Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association

References

Sources

* [http://www.awm.gov.au/research/bibliographies/anzac_spirit.htm Reading list of sources about the ANZAC Spirit from the Australian War Memorial]
*cite web | year = | url = http://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/anzac/spirit.htm | title = The ANZAC Spirit | format = | work = Encyclopaedia | publisher = Australian War Memorial | accessdate = 2006-11-10
* Ball, Martin "Re-Reading Bean's Last Paragraph" Australian Historical Studies. Vol 34 No 122 October 2003 pp 248-270
* Burgmann, Verity. "Revolutionary industrial unionism : the industrial workers of the world in Australia." Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Chapters 12-14.


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