The Creation of the Anzac Legend

Essay by Chuck_3000Junior High, 9th grade February 2006

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The First World War is remembered most clearly by Australians for the public grief it caused; for the new sense of national consciousness it created among the Australian population; and most significantly, for the legend of Anzac which it generated. The Gallipoli Campaign is widely recognised as the trigger of the legend, but it has also been spread by many famous historians. Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett once enthused: "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 trenches...The courage displayed by...wounded Australians will never be forgotten...I have never seen anything like these Australians before...There has been no finer feat in this war than this sudden landing in the dark and the storming of the heights" Comments such as this, and others from Ashmead-Bartlett's allied journalist CEW Bean, sowed the seeds of the Anzac Legend.

The accuracy of their comments can not be denied as they actually went ashore with the troops!

The stereotype of the First World War soldier as a superb fighter, a larrikin, distrustful of authority, resourceful, humourous and above all, loyal to his mates, is deeply entrenched in the popular culture. In Bean's first volume on the Gallipoli Campaign, he states "To be the sort of man who would give away when his mates were trusting to his firmness; to be the sort of man who would fail when the line, the whole force, and the allied cause required his endurance; to have made it necessary for another unit to do his own unit's work... - that was the prospect which these men could not was not worth living unless they could be true to their idea of Australian manhood." Bean is known...