Essay Question "How important is ANZAC story to Australian Identity? Your focus should not only be on Gallipoli but on the impact of war and military engagements since the Great War on Australian Identity
The ANZAC story is a vital part of Australia history beginning the evolution of Australia's cultural attitude to war and the government throughout the 20th century. The emergence of this attitude began in 1914 with the start of World War One; Australia had been a federal commonwealth for thirteen years but still held strong sense of patriotism towards Britain and readily pledge its support to Britain. Aside from assisting Britain the war held its own appeal to Australia allowing the newly established country to forge its own national identity by assisting Britain in the war. The enthusiasm for the war was corroborated by the surplus of naĂŻve male Australians enlisting considering the war a glorious opportunity for travel and adventure not envisioning the future hardships they would endure. In the aftermath of the war the national perception of the surviving soldiers were glorified by the public and government constructing them to be mythic heroes with awe-inspiring combat prowess unparalleled to enemy countries. When in reality they were ordinary men with little military training who post war inherited a nationally constructed identity that exaggerated the exploits of Australia soldiers overseas. Australia's cultural attitude to war over the 20th century was further evolved by the additional wars of World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam. This transformed the heroic perception of ANZAC's into an authentic perception of the ANZACS and, their exploits in Gallipoli. ANZAC is important to Australian identity because it facilitated the construction of a national identity that dominated Australia's perception of the ANZACS being mythic heroes. This national identity was subsequently evolved and slowly given realism by the subsequent wars of Korea, and Vietnam.
The Heroic myth of ANZAC is a nationally constructed identity stemming from the vaunted exploits of Australian ANZAC's in Gallipoli. The ANZAC's abilities were consequently overhyped and constructed into the heroic myth of ANZAC creating the national identity of the ANZAC soldier. The beginning of the ANZAC myth began in 1914 with World War 1, when Britain and Germany went to war (Plowman 2003, p.35). Australia eager to establish its own individuality internationally pledged its full support to Britain, Australia's Defence Minister Senator Millen articulating Australia was not a weak "partner" of the British Empire but was a competent country in all areas (Plowman 2003, p.35). This attitude was reflected in the excess amount of naĂŻve Australians volunteering to be transported to Gallipoli, considering the war a prospect for adventure and glory (Australian War Memorial, 2012). Regrettably the ANZAC's shipped to Gallipoli did not obtain the adventure they sought instead were placed in grim military engagements. An example is the battle of Hill 60, located in Ypres Salient the site had become of strategic importance to Germans and Allies, whoever captured the hill would have an unbroken line between ANZAC and Sulva (Hamilton 2012, p.6). The ANZAC identity that resulted from World War one portrayed the ANZAC's as proficient killers whose Australian heritage made them superior soldiers to the Europeans (Hamilton 2012, p.6). This viewpoint was untrue in the case of Hill 60 the Australian soldiers stationed there were the battered survivors of Australian Light Horse Regiment (Hamilton 2012, p.6). Only a select few soldiers of these soldiers were capable of fitting the Australian stereotype of the ANZAC an example being Hugo Throssell leader of the regiment who was awarded a VC for his efforts in the war (Hamilton 2012, p.7). However the majority of ANZAC's did not live up to Australia's view of a proficient soldier instead losing their lives in Gallipoli. In Throssell's regiment out of 318 soldiers, 138 died (Hamilton 2012, p.7). However the loss of life did not Australia hinder Australia's construction of the ANZAC stereotype when the first casualties at Gallipoli were relayed to Australia instead of articulating the horrible circumstances those young men died in the Australia was told that the country had attained nationhood glossing over the casualties (Stockings 2010, p94). Along with this new sense of nationhood Australia's construction of national identity of ANZAC began. Australia in its construction of the national ANZAC identity based its construction on the overhyped articulations of the soldiers being unparalleled soldier. The grim reality was only a few of the ANZAC's fit such a stereotype such as Hugo Throssell the numerous other ANZAC's who didn't died (Hamilton 2012, p.7). The national identity of ANAC that stemmed from World War 1 would be carried onto the ANZACS of World War 2 who grew up with the national identity of the legendary ANZAC soldier being imbued in their childhood.