Kim Nickels
Ivanhoe Girls Grammar School

"The ANZAC spirit was born at Gallipoli in 1915. Since then it has been demonstrated not only by Australians in war but also by those whose contribution has been in other fields."

The ANZAC spirit was born at Gallipoli in 1915. Since then it has been demonstrated not only by Australians in war but also by those whose contribution has been in other fields. Official war historian C.E.W. Bean suggests that the spirit of ANZAC to ‘stood, and still stands, for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat.’ This is true to what the ANZAC spirit means, but he left out some key factors such as courage, initiative, self-sacrifice and determination. Several people in the war stood out as the embodiment of ANZAC spirit out of Australians at war, people who risked their lives for other men, men they didn’t know, but they looked out for each other because they were all in the same situation. When Australians went to war they were regarded as untrained and undisciplined men who would almost be more of a hindrance than help to the campaign. They came away as the most feared and revered fighters out of the war, from their pure determination and pride in fighting for Australia and the King of England.

People since the war, in many other fields have displayed this ANZAC spirit and determination in everything they do.

The spirit of ANZAC is hard to define. It is unseen, unheard and unpredictable, yet it lives in every man, woman or child who has ever fought for justice, freedom or peace. ANZAC is not a place. It is not a campaign. You will find it on no map, read it in no book, only incredible accounts of those who have displayed ANZAC spirit in all places, at all times. It is something that lives inside every Australian and New Zealand citizen, waiting until the moment that person feels strongly enough about something to get up and do something about it. That is when ANZAC spirit shines through. The ANZAC spirit was born at Gallipoli in 1915. But Gallipoli was the not the only place that ANZAC spirit made Australians recognised for their incredible bravery, determination, courage and initiative. The ANZAC spirit was in every wife at home who knitted socks for the men at the front. It is in every child who gave their hard earned pocket money towards the war effort. It is in every nurse who tended to the sick men until she or he could no longer move themselves. After the war was over, the ANZAC spirit lived on. It lived on in the hearts of Australians, and it is what has made us the nation we are today. The do-or-die attitude that began when the very first Australians, the Aborigines came here, to a harsh land, armed only with sticks and no knowledge of what was to come. They never gave up. When the British first brought white man to Australia, everything that could go wrong did, but still they did not give up, they battled on. So we could say that the ANZAC spirit existed before the ANZACs. Before the ANZAC spirit there was pure Australian spirit, but with the challenges of war, it reached new heights, and became the venerated, almost sacred ANZAC spirit.

Several people shine out as extraordinary examples of ANZAC spirit. These people were just ordinary, everyday men and women, who could get up and fight for freedom, peace and justice. None of these men and women had to do what they did, nor did they do it because they wanted to get recognized. They did it because it was something that could be done; it was lives that could be saved.

A shining example was Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick, or as he was known at Gallipoli, simply ‘the man with the donkey’. Reports of him before the war describe him as ‘rowdy, loud-mouthed, a drunk and a fighter’. This does not sound like the description of a man who risked his life hundreds of times to bring dying and wounded men to safety. But John Simpson Fitzpatrick, and his donkey Duffy saved many lives, and trenches of men would sit spellbound, watching this man and his humble donkey work.

When the firing down the valley was at its worst, and even the ambulances were ordered not to go in, the man and his donkey would continue their work. Some days they would bring in as many as 12 or 15 men. Every trip was a risk to their lives, but they did it because they saw it as the only thing they could do. On his last trip he was carrying a man, and Duffy another man, when Kirkpatrick was shot through the heart. The donkey made it to safety. John Simpson Fitzpatrick died a hero’s death, and was a shining light for all men, Turkish or ANZAC, about what one man could achieve.

Private Martin O’Meara also exhibited the ANZAC spirit. O’Meara fought on the western front at Pozieres. At one stage O’Meara ‘became almost solely responsible for the carriage of water supplies and care of the wounded. Four times he went out though the barrage with supplies, on one occasion taking a party with him, then he brought out all wounded of his battalion.’ There are many accounts from ANZAC soldiers of O’Meara venturing out into no man’s land during heavy shellfire to rescue men, and bring them back to safety to dress their wounds.

The true unsung heroes of the war were the nurses. The nurses had no supplies, no medicines, and no room to put sick and dying men, yet they worked around the clock, doing everything possible to just save one more life. It seemed like a never-ending battle, but they never gave up, because this is what the ANZAC spirit is about, courage in the face of fire, and seeing it through to the end, no matter how hard it is. The nurses and doctors left their homes just like the soldiers, and ventured into battle just like the soldiers. They cared for men when they had no time to care for themselves, and were kind and compassionate when they had no time to be kind and compassionate to themselves.

When the war ended, the ANZAC spirit lived on. It is the fibre of our society today. The virtues praised of the men at the front, of courage, determination and endurance, is what has made Australia the nation it is today, and will continue to live on, from generation to generation. It is best summed up in a poem by an unknown author-

The mighty ANZAC spirit
Good mates standing side by side
They battled, unrelenting
With unfailing Aussie pride

Today, we are seeing examples of ANZAC spirit, like Simpson and O’Meara, and not only in the military involvement. But do not discount the military involvement.

Peacekeepers spend months, even years away from home to keep peace and harmony in warring countries such as East Timor and Kosovo.

Peacekeeping is about providing a force to help execute an agreement already between hostile parties. When Indonesia allowed peacekeepers to go into East Timor no countries, not even America wanted to take the risk of going in. But Australian troops displayed that ANZAC spirit and took up the challenge, even though we did not have the military capacity to do it alone. The Australians were sent in to protect the most vulnerable people and themselves without using force, and even though they had militiamen shooting at them night and day, they still had time to teach the young children games and songs, and shared their treats from home with the less fortunate people.

Organizations like the Salvation Army are made up of volunteers, and these people give up their precious time to help others. They give their all to help people who are not as lucky as they are, and do so enthusiastically.

The ANZAC spirit has been seen everywhere, from battlefields to boardrooms and everywhere in between. The ANZAC spirit makes up what Australia is, and therefore what we are. It began at Gallipoli in 1915, but has continued every day, every second, until now, and will always remain in out hearts, because the definition of ANZAC spirit defines what it is to be an Australian. To be devoted, determined, self-sacrificing, to have initiative, endurance and fidelity, to see everything through to the end, this is what is meant by ANZAC spirit, and is what is shown in the battlefields, and everywhere else anyone has had to face a challenge. That is what ANZAC spirit is, and ANZAC spirit is what the morals and ethics of Australia’s society is based upon.

Bibliography (Internet Site) (Internet Site) (Internet Site) (Internet Site) (Internet Site) (Internet Site) (Internet Site) (Internet Site) (Internet Site) spirit/spirit.html (Internet Site) (Internet Site)

For Australia’s Sake – Helen Simmelhaig and GFR Spencely (Textbook)

SOSE 3 – Angelo Calandra and Grace Ciavarella (Textbook)

"Crosses" – Australian’s at War (Educational Video)

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