The impact of the ANZAC experience on Australians and our society since the Gallipoli campaign in 1915 has been considerable. It has given us and renewed our courage, valour and ingenuity in war, as well as providing us with recognition throughout the world. Although there are differences in opinions amongst Australians towards war and who we were really fighting for, as a result of Gallipoli, we gained international friendships, which in turn opened Australia up to the world. Gallipoli defined our national spirit, despite dividing the Australian people on many controversial issues. As a young nation, Australia was advancing in the world and wanted to keep up with the rapidly changing world.
In World War Two, Australians fought with the so-called ANZAC spirit that, as Australians, we had learned at Gallipoli in 1915. The thought of so much spirit and courage that past Australians fought with was reinforced during the Second World War and was perpetuated in Australian troops. From 1915, all other wars in which Australians have fought or served, continued to reinforce the tradition of the ANZAC spirit.
As a nation in World War One, Australia fought as an ally in support of Britain. But Australian people feel that we did not in fact fight in support of Britain, but rather as an independent ally of Britain, New Zealand, France and America. This feeling was helped by the fact that before Gallipoli, Australians believed Britain was a caring mother nation. By the time the campaign ended, many Australians considered Britain to be immoral and unjust as a result of the British generals who incompetently lead our troops.
The ANZAC experience has a different meaning for young and old. Older people believe that Australian men at Gallipoli fought and died in the belief that they were innately superior to the enemy, and were fighting to retain Australia's name and to help our allies, whereas many young people nowdays believe that the war was a waste, but nevertheless it gave a chance for Australians to prove their ingenuity and courage to the rest of the world. Young people also believe that we should commemorate those who died for stopping Germany from taking over the world. Really, Australia's young are passionate about the ethics of war while the old are more concerned about making Australia's name go down in history.
During the Vietnam War in the 1960's and 70's, war was considered by many Australians unjust and immoral. The hostility towards the Vietnam War meant that commemorating war was not popular during this period. This has continued to impact on our society, as war continues to create mixed feelings among many people. This relates back to Gallipoli and the first attempted landings at Anzac Cove on Gallipoli Peninsula, where thousands of men where shot down even before reaching the coastline. Many people believe that it was unbelievable for thousands of men to die for a lost cause.
After the Gallipoli campaign had ended, Australia found international friendships with other countries. This mainly involved our allies: Britain, France, America, New Zealand and Britain's colonies. Trade agreements were announced and Australia benefited from this. It meant that Australia was opened up to globalisation and the world economy, where previously this exposure had been limited and restricted.
Gallipoli was thought of as a disaster the Australian people should learn from. Although we had lost, it was Australia's first real show of ingenuity. For example, the delayed reaction rifle meant deceiving the enemy. It was fired using dripping water from a higher to lower tin, which in turn tightened a wire attached to the trigger. This was activated after many of the troops had silently withdrawn from Gallipoli Peninsula - another highly ingenious deceit undertaken by Australian troops.
The standard set by everyone at Gallipoli, by the stretcher bearers, medical officers, staff, leaders, privates, Light Horse Brigade and soldiers, defined our heroic national spirit, and helped unite the Australian people. As a result, since 1915, Australia has gradually discovered its independent national spirit and pride.
The ANZAC spirit also affected Australia and Australians because we learnt to commemorate those who fought for us. The Australian army consisted solely of men who volunteered to fight, and the issue of conscription meant that Australia's participation in war became divisive, and at one stage both opposing sides became very bitter. We, as a nation, proved ourselves to the world, and this meant Britain thought of us as more competent, so sent Australian troops from Gallipoli on to the Western Front to defend France in such places such as Le Hamel, Ypres, Passchendaele, Pozieres and Amiens.
1915 was the start of Australia as a young nation, trying to escape the "old world" and its sins and quarrels, and to enter the world of economic growth, wealth and trade. Australia began its advance in technology and as a society, and proved to the world that we were not just "diggers" as we came to be known as a result of the last century's gold rush and the amazing amount of trench digging required by Australian troops. The ANZAC experience was important for our future because it represented rapid change and changed the way we think about ourselves and fellow Australians.
The original ANZAC's are thought to have 'done Australia proud'. This was shown by the large increase in voluntary enlistings to fight in response to the remarkably high casualty lists of Australian soldiers. We labelled ourselves (and were labelled) as valorous, and volunteers who were far less dependent on their officers that other European armies.
There has been a substantial impact on individuals and society in Australia as a result of the ANZAC experience in 1915. The Gallipoli campaign has helped us label ourselves as courageous, valiant and ingenious, and has since reinforced those qualities. There has always been a difference in opinion about war among Australians, but Gallipoli truly defined our heroic national spirit. As a result, we gained international friendships, and opened up Australia to the world. Since then, we have continued to advance with technology and as a society. Gallipoli has had a huge significance in our history because it represents not only a turning point in our history and an indication of how we have changed as a society, but has also helped define much of what Australians really are.
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Cannon Michael Australia - a history in photographs Penguin Books Australia 1988
Darlington Robert and Hospodaryk John Understanding Australian History Heinemann Education Australia 1993
Eshuys Joe, Guest Vic and Lawrence Judith Australia Emerges Macmillan Australia 1997
Microsoft Encarta '95 Microsoft Corporation America 1994
Olds Margaret Australia through time Random House Australia, Australia 1999
The Angus and Robertson Concise Australian Encyclopedia Angus and Robertson Publishers, Australia 1986
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