The ANZAC experience that first touched the lives of many Australians in 1915 has continued to have a significant impact throughout the 20th century. As old diggers pass away, their children proudly wear their medals and take their place in the Anzac Day service. The number of visitors to the Australian War Memorial has steadily increased each year as young Australians remember the ANZAC experience. After that fateful day at Gallipoli on the 25th April 1915, Australia was never the same again. No longer were we an extension of Britain; we had won for ourselves the right to be acknowledged as a unique and independent nation, baptised by 'fire'. The ANZAC experience is part of what and who we are as Australians.
Prior to 1915, Australia was in every aspect a very young country. It had just become a nation in 1901, had little experience in war and still "clung" to England.
Many people referred to Britain as home and idealised everything British. People were generally unsure of what Australians were meant to be. They did not know whether they were Australian-Britons or an independent nation with a culture and identity of its own. Before World War I, Australia was just a small new nation very dependent on Britain.
Following Britain's declaration of war on Germany in 1914, Australians enthusiastically enlisted to support the 'mother' country in its struggle against the forces of oppression. These new recruits became the Australian Imperial Forces (A.I.F) and were to assist Britain who was allied with France to defeat the Germans. Many men went to war looking for adventure, and of course to stand by Britain. Andrew Fisher, the leader of Labor opposition at the time, said that Australia would back Britain to its "..last man and last shilling." (cited in Bean, 1961, p23)...