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Anzac Legend

In: Historical Events

Submitted By meowtomlinson
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When the Australian troops were first sent to Gallipoli in 1915, they were prepared for an relatively easy fight and generally uncomplicated terrain. However, when the troops landed and the fighting started, they found out that in reality, the Gallipoli experience was rough, demanding, and both physically and psychologically damaging, and yet it was from the effects of these very aspects that the Anzac Legend grew. The harshness of the Gallipoli experience easily explains the origin of the Anzac Legend and how it came about - the difficult conditions making the troops learn of values that were essential fighting qualities for being a soldier at Gallipoli.

Even before the Australian troops had started fighting at Gallipoli on the 25 April, 1915, it was a hard battle. Along the coast of Gallipoli, there were little places where the boats could land, and when they finally did, Source 1 states that the troops had get past beaches that were tangled with barbed wire; then, as can be seen in Source 2, ascend the steep hills which were mined, rocky and scrub-covered - much different from the "...gentle slopes which they had been briefed to expect" (L7, Source 2). Additionally, the entire time the Australians were subjected to continuous attacks from their enemies - "...snipers deliberately picking off every officer who...lead his men" (LL4-6, Source 4) - which made the treacherous climb up the prohibitive terrain even more difficult.

The Anzac Legend was born from the values that all Australian troops displayed while fighting for their country at Gallipoli. Even though the Turkish had won the campaign, it was the values that Australians showed during the time - "resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship, and endurance that will never own defeat" (L4, Source 5). It was these qualities that let the troops to keep a positive attitude and light air about their situations. Such an example can be seen in Source 7, where it can be seen that the Australian troops wrote joking advertisements in an ANZAC book that was created at Gallipoli. The advertisements make various puns on the situations and food - or lack thereof - while a war. The first 'notice' requests the Turkish to stop "wasting ammunition whilst our meals are being served" (LL2-3, Source 7) - or, for the Turkish to stop firing at the Australians while the latter are eating what meagre food they have. This shows that even though the troops were constantly being shot at - day, night and mealtimes - they still persevered and maintained a strong attitude, and were even able to make a joke out of it to keep each others' spirits up.

It was the difficult conditions at Gallipoli which brought on the Anzac Legend. Had the terrain and fighting experience been like what the British briefed the troops to expect - easy and gentle - the Australians would never have had to gain the important values that they displayed. As seen in Source 8, it was exactly the weakening of the assumption that the British - 'mother country' to Australia - military effective were all-powerful that brought upon the Anzac Legend so that Australians at home could have something else to believe in. The source states that all people need illusions to live by, and since the illusion of the power of the British was weakened during the course of the war, another illusion was to "take its place, that of the peculiar fighting qualities of Australian soldiers..." (LL2-3). The list of values from Source 5 - resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance - were all born from different things experienced at Gallipoli: the need for strong friendships, the scarceness of food - among other things. As the campaign neared its end, these values joined together to make the Anzac Legend - another positive thing for Australians to believe in.

In conclusion, the difficult and harsh Gallipoli experience were exactly the origins of the Anzac Legend, since the Australian troops had to persevere through the war with a variety of different and positive attitudes in order to stay strong. The values of the Anzac Legend were caused by the effects of the conditions at Gallipoli, and it was this legend and its values that Australians who were not fighting believed in.

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