Sarah Rubenstein
The Friends School

Gallipoli was a military disaster and a human tragedy. But it was also the beginning of a legend that Australians have used to create a vision of how we should understand ourselves as a nation and how we ought to live. From the horror of Gallipoli was born the ANZAC spirit. In his history of WWI, C.E.W. Bean defined the Anzac spirit in terms of the character that the Australian soldiers showed at Gallipoli – mateship, endurance, stoicism, resilience, toughness, determination, courage and egalitarianism.1 At the end of the war in 1918, Bean wrote a pamphlet called In Your Hands, which urged the men of the AIF to carry into peace the qualities of character they displayed in war, to show Australians how to build a better Australia. The Anzac spirit that he wrote about is still relevant to society today as they are many extraordinary Australians who have demonstrated such qualities since WWI. However, I have chosen to focus on one "ordinary" Australian who epitomised the Anzac spirit in everyday life. That person is my grandfather, William (Cec) Cecil Hogan.

There are many examples of people practise the Anzac spirit into their own lives. Australian men and women like Fred Hollows, Weary Dunlop, Nancy Wake, Dawn Fraser and Cathy Freeman. There are also organisations like The Flying Doctors’ Service, Amnesty International, Australian Conservation Foundation, Meals on Wheels and other voluntary organisations that seek to create a better Australia for all.

My Grandfather was not a member of the First AIF, but he was a member of the Second AIF during WWII who, in is daily life, before and after the war, lived out the ANZAC spirit and endeavoured to build a better Australia, just as Bean wished.

Cec was born on November 28, 1916, a year a half after the landing at Gallipoli. He was born at Bellingen on the NSW North Coast, grew up in Kempsey. He left school aged 14 to help support his family by working on farms and roads. This is just one example showing his self-sacrifice and caring for others. He continued working in the bush until the outbreak of WWII. Cec was in every sense a bush boy. In this he shares a similar background and ethos to the original Anzacs. Indeed, Bean traced the qualities of character of the Anzacs to the influence of the Australian bush on them. "The bush," he said, "sets the standard of personal efficiency even in the Australian cities. (The Australian Boy) learns something of the arts of soldier by the time he is ten years old."2

Cec Hogan joined the 16th Brigade of the Second AIF within a week of the declaration of WWII. He was determined to do what others had done before him, and fight for Australia. He was on the first convoy of Australian troops to leave Australia for the Middle East in January 1940. He served five months as a ‘Rat of Tobruk’. The Rats were not at all dissimilar to those men fighting at Gallipoli. Cec’s war diaries talk of how hard this time in particular was for him and the other men. But just like the Anzacs before them, they did not give in; they kept fighting, showing their amazing resilience and determination in the face of adversity. He talks endlessly about the importance of the mates around him, and those back at home that loved him.3

He was commissioned as an officer in 1944 and led the last armed patrol against the Japanese at Milne Bay. For his six, long, tough years of service, he was awarded The 1939–45 Star, The Africa Star, the Pacific Star, the Tobruk Medal, The Infantry Frontline Medal, The Defence Medal, The Australian Service Medal, The Empire Medal.4

After the War, although Cec would march with other soldiers on Anzac Day, he refused to join the RSL because he believed it glorified war. Until the day he died, he never talked about his war experiences. In 1989, looking back over his life, he explained that he joined the army in 1939 not so much to "defend the British Empire" or "to stick bayonets in people" but to "defend Australia" and for the opportunities it offered for adventure, travel, mateship and five shillings a day at a time when it was still hard for a young man to make a living.5

One of the hopes that Bean cherished was the Australians would carry on the Anzac spirit of mateship by helping and looking after others. Cec was committed all his life to helping others. His life centred on being a responsible breadwinner, a loving father, a warm neighbour, a committed citizen, a strong believer in the Gospels, a loyal mate, and a good golfer.6 He believed that with each person he helped, he was helping to build a better Australia. The very Australia that the Anzacs had fought to keep free.

Cec began his involvement in voluntary organisations as a young man before the War as a member of various surf life-saving clubs. After the War, living in Cowra, he renewed his commitment to community work. He was an active member of the Parents and Friends Association of his children’s school, he was elected President of the Holy Name Society of the Catholic church and the Cowra Golf Club, he was appointed to the Board of the Cowra District Hospital and Ambulance Board, he was a founding member of the St Vincent de Paul Society and he was inaugural Treasurer of the Lions Club.

He moved to Grafton in 1970 where he once again took up his volunteering positions. He joined Legacy, and became responsible for looking after some fifteen war widows. He joined Rotary and was elected a member of its Executive Committee. He joined the Golf Club, and was elected to the Executive Committee. After retirement, he helped found Probus, and became its inaugural Treasurer. He made many donations to organisations such as Caritas and World Vision. But the organisation that he was mot involved with was the St Vincent de Paul Society. He was regional treasurer for 25 years and spent up to 15 hours a week helping the disadvantage. Cec simply did what needed to be done.7 "The poor and needy of this town (had) a champion in Cec."8

Cec demonstrated so many qualities commensurate with the Anzac spirit. He was a responsible Australian citizen who did not shirk from his duties both towards his family and the wider community. He dedicated his life to looking after and helping others. Whether it was a mate, family, an old widow living on her own, or someone whom he came in contact with through his volunteer work, it did not matter. In his view, everyone was equal, and deserved a fair go. He fought against the odds, during the war, and afterwards, when he tried to help those who had nothing, when he had almost nothing himself, except for his concern for others. Both before and after the war, he displayed those characteristics identified with the Anzacs and lived his life according to the Anzac spirit, much as C.E.W. Bean would have wished.


Alomes, S. and Jones, C. 1991. ‘Australian Nationalism’. Angus and Robertson, Australia. Talks some about the idea of the Anzac spirit and also about the effect of the Anzacs in war on Australia.

Bean, C. 1918. ‘In Your Hands Australians’. Cassel and Company, Limited, Melbourne, Australia. Gives further understanding of how Bean views the Anzac spirit, and what he thought it could achieve.

Bean, C. 1936. ‘Story of the Anzac; Volume 1’. Angus and Robertson Ltd, Sydney, Australia. Gives much useful information on what the Anzac spirit really is, how it started, where it came from and the history of WWI. This book was often quoted in other books.

Bean, C. 1934. ’Story of the Anzac; Volume 2’. Angus and Robertson Ltd, Sydney, Australia. As for Volume 1.

Gammage, B. 1992. ’Anzacs’ in ‘Intruders In The Bush; The Australian Quest for Identity’ Ed. Carroll, J. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, Australia.

Commonwealth Department of Veterans’ Affairs. 2001. ‘Australians At War’. Series Videos. Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia. Helps give a better picture of what happened through visual effects. Gives ideas of what the Anzac spirit was, and how it developed. Also develops understanding of what the soldiers went through.

Hogan, A. 2001. ‘Eulogy’. Unpublished. Information on his relationship with his mates.

Hogan, D. 2001. ‘Eulogy’. Unpublished. Highlights the aspects of Cec’s character.

Hogan, K. 2001. ‘Eulogy’. Unpublished. Talks about Cec’s commitment to family.

Hogan, M. 2001. ‘Eulogy’. Unpublished. Discusses Cec’s many community contributions.

Hogan, T. 2001. ‘Eulogy’. Unpublished. Discusses aspects of Cec's personality and also talked about his war service.

Hogan, W. 1989. ‘Reflections On A Life’. Video. Unpublished. Provides insight into who Cec was, how he lived his life and why, his various feelings on many issues, and more information on his war service.

Hogan, W. (1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945). ‘War Diaries’. Unpublished. Gave actual feelings from the point of view of a soldier. Helped wit understanding of what soldiers went through and what sort of person he was.

Thornhill, J. 1992. ‘Making Australia; Exploring Our National Conservation’. Millennium Books, Australia. Discusses ideas relating especially to mateship and egalitarianism. (Chapter 5 esp.)

War, R. 1970. ‘The Australian Legend’. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, Australia. Interesting information on the origins of the bush legend and character of the Anzacs.

White, R. 1992. ‘Inventing Australia; Images and Identity 1988–1980’. Allen & Unwin, NSW, Australia. Helps with understanding of how Anzacs were and are viewed in society.

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