For many a year the Anzac experiences and traditions have infuenced many Autralians from all backgrounds, now it is your turn to be amazed.

Tobias Young
Prendiville Catholic College
Western Australia

Throughout history there have been many groups of people who have made an impact on their country. For Australia, the ANZACs were one such group. ANZAC stands for the "Australian and New Zealand Army Corps", a group that pledged their support to the Allies in World War 1. Groups like this that are able to overcome adversity have a strong impact on their country, through their experiences their country sees them as leaders and examples, giving them recognition and respect that they otherwise might not receive. This changes opinions, attitudes, traditions and expectations of the country's citizens, changing the structure of society and people's beliefs. After the Gallipoli Campaign, the ANZAC experiences had a major effect on Australia and Australians, an effect that has lasted since 1915, and will probably last forever.

The ANZAC experience started when the ANZACs were first formed during World War 1. Australia originally became involved in the War to support Britain due to their high casualty rate. They sent 20,000 troops to train in the Egyptian desert, and it was here that they were joined by 10,000 New Zealand troops also coming to train. Fighting in the same place for the same cause they merged to become the ANZACs. Their first major role was in the Gallipoli campaign, an attempt to gain control of Turkey to weaken Germany and help out Russia. This offensive involved the ANZACs, France and Britain, although it turned out to be a disaster. The ANZACs landed in the wrong place, and were met by strong resistance. It was in fact British mistakes that cost the allies and the ANZACs the victory as the mistakes resulted in a high mortality rate (CD-ROM "World War 1, 1998). It was through this loss of life that the Australians made their mark, showing courage for being there, and for also showing their initiative. This can be seen through their initial landing at Gallipoli.

"The Australians rose to the occasion. Not waiting for orders, or for the boats to reach the beach, they sprang into the sea, and forming a sort of rough line, rushed at the enemy's trenches. Their magazines were not charged, so they just went in with cold steel. It was over in a minute. The Turks in the first trench were either bayoneted or they ran away…Then this race of athletes proceeded to scale the cliffs without responding to the enemy's fire. They lost some men but did not worry. In less than a quarter of an hour the Turks were out of their second position, either bayoneted or fleeing…There has been no finer feat in this war than this sudden landing in the dark and the storming of the heights, above all holding on whilst the reinforcements were landing. These raw colonial troops in these desperate hours proved worthy to fight side by side with the heroes of Mons, the Aisne, Ypres, and Neuve Chapelle"
[Anzac (Quotations) Infopedia].

This shows how their initiative was respected by many. The ANZACs although called inexperienced soldiers were able to stand up and prove their worthiness and this affected how Australians saw them. It gave Australia more independence as a country, as they were seen to be able to defend themselves and be strong. This gave Australia respect and recognition from the rest of the world and so helped Australia in other areas outside of the war, such as trade and foreign links. This was a major effect the ANZACs had on Australia because of the Gallipoli Campaign in World War 1.

The ANZAC experiences were never forgotten, and so when the two countries were involved in conflict again, the ANZAC spirit continued. In the Vietnam War, Australia and New Zealand again fought side-by-side, not as ANZACs but with the Americans for South Vietnam. The Vietnam War started as a civil war between North and South Vietnam, but as it was communist against non-communists, other countries became involved. This war was a complicated war that Australia became involved in due to the Domino Theory. The Domino Theory was a theory that if South Vietnam fell to the communist North Vietnam, then the surrounding countries would also fall. As Australia and New Zealand were only a few countries away from the war they felt they would also fall eventually, and so they entered the war. The Australians and New Zealand troops were able to continue the ANZAC legend through the experiences they went through in Vietnam. The Vietnam war was less organised with undefined battlefronts and with a high level of jungle warfare. It therefore again called for Australians to be counted. The ANZACs had however showed that war was immoral and so back home the war was disliked. This was evident in the return of the Vietnam Veterans, as there was no welcome home party or gratitude for their work. The mood of the people was evident in the words of music, including part of a song called "The Answer is Blowing in the Wind." By Bob Dylan.

"How many times must the cannonballs fly,
Before they're forever banned?
And how many sees must the white dove sail,
Before she sleeps in the sand?
The answer my friend,
Is blowing in the wind,
The answer is blowing in the wind."
Bob Dylan (1968)

The ANZAC legend affected Australia by changing the opinions of Australians to oppose war rather than celebrate it, as we can see from the Vietnam War.

Due to the international recognition of the ANZAC troops, many Australians were and still are able to take lessons from the ANZAC experiences and use them to help protect their future from conflict. A major example of this is the change in attitude of Australians towards war participation. In World War 1, many young Australians were willing to fight for their country, and there were recorded times where there were celebrations in the streets before troop departures. War now is looked upon as a tragedy, thanks to the ANZACs. It is easy to see how the ANZACs caused this change and how they were remembered for it on ANZAC Day. Bruce (1997) believes that ANZAC Day is not a day to glorify war, rather a day to reflect on the awfulness, the death, destruction, fatality and the horror that it brings. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement as it shows the change in attitudes of Australians. ANZAC Day is celebrated annually on the 25th April and is in itself a day to remember the ANZACs and their experiences. This day helps Australians to realise that war is not as good as some people in 1915 believed, and this is able to help change Australian attitudes. These changes can be seen in the fact that Australia now sends peacekeeping forces to overseas' conflicts as opposed to troops for military combat. Australia has sent over 25 peacekeeping forces overseas including delivering humanitarian aid to the civilians of war-torn countries (Bruce 1997). It is therefore easy to see how the ANZACs and their experiences affected Australia by changing the attitudes of Australian citizens towards war.

It is through the way that Australia has changed in war times that we are able to see how the ANZAC experiences affected Australia and Australians. Their experience helped to show Australia as a reliable and independent country, but also helped to show that war was not to be praised. They changed the attitudes of Australians and helped Australia to become what it is today.


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