Sunita de Sousa
Wilderness School
South Australia

The ANZAC spirit was born at Gallipoli in 1916. Since then it has been demonstrated not only by Australians in war but also by those whose contributions have been in other fields.

The ANZAC spirit is one of the chief elements of our national identity which we, as Australians, commemorate every ANZAC Day at Dawn Services across the country. Originally established by the Australian and New Zealand troops in World War One, it has stamped an enduring impression on Australians. Subsequently, it has been exhibited not only by Australians in World War Two but also by those whose contributions have been in other fields.

The ANZAC spirit was born at Gallipoli in 1915 when Australian and New Zealand troops first set foot on Turkish soil during World War One. The ANZAC spirit can signify many different qualities for Australians. It represents mateship, courage, equality, resourcefulness and creativity. However, the most prominent attribute that was born at Gallipoli was the soldiers' determination. The Australian men were aware that they had little, if any, hope of victory during the Gallipoli campaign and yet they persisted. Testimony of this is derived from Private Donkin's diary, 25 April 1915, "I know its fight and proper that a man should go back and fight again but Sunday's battle and the horrors of the trenches Sunday night ... had unnerved me completely." (Donkin in Gammage, 1975:59) Donkin noticeably appreciated the perils of battle yet the fact that he was reported to have been killed in action on 15 August 1915 shows that he continued to serve and engage in battle even after his harrowing ordeal on Turkish shores. This primary source may be unreliable in that the situation could be overstated due to his emotional state. Still, it is an exceptionally beneficial insight into the minds of the soldiers and his opinion is consistent with those of other soldiers indicating that, while not unquestionably free of exaggeration, their accounts maintain significant legitimacy. Private McAnulty recounted a similar view of the dangerous Gallipoli landing, "The fumes are suffocating, the shrapnel is pouring all round us getting chaps everywhere." (McAnulty in Gammage, 1975:69) As was the case with Donkin, he too was later killed in action a few days later. While providing evidence of his determination, this source more importantly confirms that these feats of courage were not isolated occurrences but were common during the Gallipoli campaign. Donkin and McAnulty were only two of the countless men who had seen the treacherous nature of the war, but continued to fight, exemplifying the determination and persistence that became the ANZAC spirit.

The persistence that comprises the ANZAC spirit again emerged during following wars and particularly World War Two in the years 1939 to 1945. Here, numerous Australians, including women, sacrificed the security of their homes to join the Allied forces in order to resist the German and Japanese onslaught. These people had heard stories of Australian prisoners of war in Japan and their harsh living conditions. However the stories did not deter them; they unrelentingly volunteered their services. One such Australian was Sister Vivian Bullwinkle who is spoken of in Appendix 1. She was suffering from her own injury and had been tormented by the slaughter of her companions. Yet, she did not overlook the Englishman who lay helplessly wounded on the beach. Rather, she persisted, in the true ANZAC spirit, to nurse and service others by tending to the man for fourteen days. This source was printed in an Australian newspaper and consequently may be biased towards the citizens of its country. Conversely, this is a secondary source which indicates that the information has most likely been cross-referenced. Hence, the source is somewhat reliable and undoubtedly useful in understanding the sister's determined attitude. Like numerous Australians in war, Sister Vivian Bullwinkle possessed the determination and persistence initiated by the first ANZACs.

The ANZACs' persistence has not only been demonstrated on the battlefield, but also, it has been additionally exhibited by Australians in other lines of work.

Whether it is the Royal Australian Flying Doctor Service braving the harsh elements to attend remote patients or social workers, Diana Thomas and Peter Bunch, assisting the victims of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan while at risk themselves, Australians constantly express a sense of determination in their missions. One particular Australian who revealed such determination was Neville Bonner. From his childhood, Bonner had to struggle against the odds. Apart from being challenged by the forces of poverty and a poor education, he additionally experienced tremendous racial prejudice. Despite this, in 1971, he demonstrated the ANZAC spirit by overcoming his hardships to be the first Aboriginal elected to the Australian Parliament. In Parliament, he continued to persist by earnestly representing those of his own race as well as all other Australians. On the issue of his difficulties, Bonner once said, "it was a hard life, but good training ... we had to work hard for anything we wanted." (Bonner in Burger, 1979:8) This quote clearly shows that despite the negative aspects in his life, Bonner was able to, and did, persevere. He accepted that there would be setbacks in reaching his goals, yet he continued to confidently persist as the ANZACs did in Gallipoli. There is a chance that Bonner viewed his life as more challenging than it truly was possibly making his words slightly inaccurate. Nevertheless, this primary source gives a unique view into the mindset of Bonner. Hence, while containing a small likelihood of unreliability, the source is still extremely valuable in appreciating the determination and persistence that Bonner possessed. Neville Bonner clearly proves that since April 1915, Australians whose contributions have been in fields other than war have similarly demonstrated the ANZAC spirit.

As can be seen, from the materialisation of the ANZAC spirit at Gallipoli in 1915, displays of persistence have been accomplished time and time again both in war and in other fields. This not only makes me proud to be Australian but also confident that, when I am faced with discouraging situations, I will not yield. I hope that I will endeavour with determination in all that I do as the ANZACs once endeavoured. I hope that I will always remember the willingness of the soldiers to fight in Gallipoli even though they confronted such overwhelming difficulties.

But above all, I hope that the flame ignited by the ANZACs in their darkest hour will not be extinguished but instead, will continue to bum in myself and all Australians no matter what field in which we choose to persist.

Word Count: 1055


Appendix 1

"The Japanese separated the nurses from the remainder, drove them into the sea and opened fire with machine guns.

Out of this blood bath Sister Bullwinkle alone emerged. At the water's edge she was struck down by a bullet, but not fatally. Gradually recovering her senses she realised that silence had followed the firing. The Japanese, satisfied with their work had gone.

Struggling into the jungle she collapsed, and on coming to found her way back to the beach. There lay an Englishman, twice bayoneted by the victors. He was able to remember the day, and then it transpired that she had lain two days in the jungle.

For a fortnight the Australian sister nursed this man, and then they dragged themselves across the island to surrender again."

(Albury Mail in Simmelhaig and Spenceley, 1984:117)


'Australian Women in World War Two', 1999, in Australians at War < http.// au/~conway/ww2.html > [Accessed 12/8/2001]

Bean, C. E. W., 1983, Gallipoli Correspondent, 1st edn., George Allen and Unwin Australia Propriety Limited, Sydney.

Branson, V. M., 1978, 'Guiders of our Destiny' in 1000 Famous Australians, ed. V. M. Branson, Rigby Limited, Australia, pp.79-80.

Burger, A., 1979, Neville Bonner, a biography, 1st edn., The Macmillan Company of Australia Propriety Limited, Melbourne.

'Gallipoli and Australian Identity 1915-2000', 1/2000, in Studies of Society and Environment, Ryebuck Media Propriety Limited, Melbourne.

Gammage, B., 1975, The Broken Years: Australian Soldiers in the Great War, 2nd edn., Penguin Books, Victoria.

Mendham, D., 1990, The Anzac Tradition, Australia Post Philatelic Group, Australia.

'Neville Bonner', 2000, in Australians
< au/btn/australians/bonner.htm > [Accessed 16/8/2001)

Simmelhaig, H. and Spenceley, G., 1984, For Australia's Sake, 1st edn., Thomas Nelson Australia, Melbourne.

'World Wars', 1981, in Encyclopaedia Britannica, Micropaedia, Volume X, ed. The faculties of the University of Chicago, Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., U.S.A., pp. 752-753.

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