The ANZAC Legacy

Alysia Debowski
Presbyterian Ladies' College
Western Australia

The Anzac Legacy
Figure 1:
The Location of the Battle of Leane's Trench at Gallipoli
Figure 2:
The Effect of Gallipoli Injuries on Facey

N.B. This essay is 987 words, excluding references, bibliography, footnotes and figure labels.

Each generation of Australians aims to leave a legacy of value to its descendants. One of the most significant bequests received from a past generation of Australians is the ANZAC spirit, which is recognised across the world. While it has been described in many ways (Anzac, 1996; Australia Through Time, 1997: 205; Clark, Hooper and Ferrier, 1988: 131; Hickey, 1995: 150; The Spirit of Anzac, 1999), all definitions refer to the qualities of courage, mateship, sacrifice and determination.

There were many instances of the ANZAC spirit in the Gallipoli Campaign, where the qualities were first identified. This battle was Australia's first experience of war on a large scale (Anzac, 1996; McKernan, 1984; Robson, 1969). The Australian and New Zealand soldiers demonstrated this ANZAC spirit throughout the Gallipoli Campaign, as they battled against daunting odds. Many of the soldiers who enlisted to fight for Australia were ordinary Australians responding to the patriotic call. One of these Australians was Albert Barnet Facey.

Facey was born in Victoria, moving to Western Australia when he was a child. He regarded himself as a very ordinary Australian, however his life journey, as is reported in his autobiography, travelled numerous paths (Facey, 1981). This work allows us to delve into the Gallipoli experience of the common soldier, and to perceive the ANZAC spirit in operation at this normally undocumented level.

Courage is a fundamental attribute of the ANZAC spirit. During the Gallipoli Campaign it was critical for survival. The soldiers faced numerous battles from the moment they landed at ANZAC Cove until they left Gallipoli. Facey was involved in the Battle for Leane's Trench, near Tasmania Post (See Figure 1). This particular battle was a relatively small event in the overall Gallipoli history and occurred early in the process (Facey, 1981; McCarthy, 1983). The soldiers were required to dig a series of tunnels parallel to the Turkish trenches. The walls between the tunnels and trenches were then demolished, enabling the ANZACs to gain control of the Turkish trenches. Despite being aware of the hazards, the soldiers silently worked on their tasks, aware that if a noise was made, they would be in grave danger of discovery by the Turks. While specific battles were well documented examples of courage at Gallipoli, every day a soldier lived on the front, and every action, was an act of bravery. For example, obtaining water endangered a soldier's life (Facey, 1981; Gallipoli – The Fatal Shore, 1992; The ANZAC Book, 1975). However, the soldiers accepted the need to undertake these dangerous duties. They did not see themselves as brave (Broadbent, 1990: 84). In fact, Facey acknowledged that he was "scared stiff" and notes instead the bravery of Simpson "the man with the donkey" (Facey, 1981: 258). The recognition of acts of bravery by others, seems to be another aspect of this ANZAC spirit.

Mateship created strong bonds between the men at Gallipoli, and was essential to their emotional and physical survival. Facey describes these bonds many times, noting also how humour and sharing were used to reduce the tension and helped many soldiers cope. He states "...all the men who were at Gallipoli wanted to stay with their comrades. It wasn’t that anyone wanted to be a hero, it was just that we were very close after four months together ... a sort of love and trust in one another developed in the trenches." (Facey, 1981: 275). After four months, Facey was severely injured in three places and was evacuated from Gallipoli on the ship Ulysses. He left reluctantly, noting the strong bond of mateship which still bound him. (Facey, 1981: 275).

The 'Gallipoli Campaign relied on the ANZAC soldier's willingness to sacrifice his life, health and future. Facey, for example, had two brothers who also fought at Gallipoli and were both killed in action, causing him great sorrow. Despite his losses, he remained patriotic and encouraged his own sons to make their own informed decisions about whether to enlist for World War II.

A soldier needed great determination to continue the daily battle at Gallipoli. This was particularly evident when injury occurred. Facey, like many soldiers, sustained numerous injuries, the first being shrapnel in the jaw. He chose to endure the harsh limited medical treatment available on the front, without anaesthetic, in order to remain fighting. He sacrificed his future appearance for his comrades. Figure 2 shows Facey prior to his war experience, and later, as an elderly man. It can be seen that his appearance was greatly altered. However, he did not appear to regret his determined choice to remain and fight further.

While the ordinary Australian no longer expects to be tested through warfare, the ideal of the ANZAC spirit provides guidelines still of great relevance today. Many strengths of our society are based on the ANZAC qualities. For the ordinary Australian, these qualities are still very important. Successful relationships at home, work and school are based on the same principles of mateship. Co-operation, sharing and consideration of others ensures each person is protected and cared for. Many Australians also aim to help others, providing time, funds or emotional support to those who need them. This is very much reflective of the ANZAC spirit.

Some people are known to practice these principles even more strongly. Australia is fortunate in the number of groups which work to support others. Organisations like Care Australia, the Good Samaritans, CanTeen and the WA State Emergency Service are just a few of the services which demonstrate the ANZAC spirit. The volunteers and workers who form these organisations require courage to deal with often hostile situations. Steve Pratt, for example, nearly sacrificed his freedom while working for the good of others. Many volunteers sacrifice their comfort and safety, and rely on strong determination to support others. Their sense of mateship is perhaps the most prominent quality displayed by these workers and volunteers. The constant desire to help others and to create a better life for those less fortunate clearly shows the ANZAC spirit lives on in our society.

Like the ANZACs, Australians today aim to develop worthy lives that are respected and highly regarded by future generations. The ANZAC spirit remains as relevant today as it was in 1914, and provides a strong model for us to respect and emulate.


Australia Through Time, 1997, Random House, Sydney, pp 204–205.

"Anzac", 1996, Australian Infopedia (CD-ROM) 2nd ed., Softkey Multimedia, Cremorne, NSW.

Broadbent, H. 1990 The Boys Who Came Home: Recollections of Gallipoli, Australian Broadcasting Commission, Crows Nest.

Clark, M., Hooper, M. & Ferrier, S. 1988 The Ashton Scholastic History of Australia, Ashton Scholastic, Gosford, NSW, pp.129–132.

Facey, A. B. 1981 A Fortunate Life, Viking, Ringwood.

Gallipoli – The Fatal Shore (videorecording) 1992, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Sydney.

Hickey, M. 1995 Gallipoli, John Murray, London.

McCarthy, D. 1983 Gallipoli to the Somme: The story of C.E.W. Bean, John Ferguson, Sydney.

McKernan, M. 1984 The Australian People and the Great War, Collins, Sydney.

Robson, L. L. 1969 Australia and the Great War: 1914–1918, Macmillan, Melbourne.

The ANZAC Book, 1975, Sun Books, Melbourne

The Spirit of Anzac, (Online), 1999, Available at
(Accessed on 30 August, 1999.)

Figure 1: The Location of the Battle of Leane's Trench at Gallipoli
(Facey, 1981: 256)

Figure 2: The Effect of Gallipoli Injuries on Facey
(Facey, 1981: Book Jacket)

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