Spirit of Anzac: Remembering the birth of a national mythology

Despite its age, Australia as a nation has always acquitted itself on the field of battle with honour, bravery and an undying sense of camaraderie – as we prepare to commemorate Anzac Day 2020, under a cloud of uncertainty, the virtues exemplified by the Diggers on the shores of Gallipoli remain a nation’s guiding light.

Every nation has its trial by fire. For England, the Battle of Hastings in 1066; for the US, the Battle of Saratoga during the Revolutionary War. Both serve as seminal moments in the forging of a national psyche and national identity. 

For Australia, a nation at the time that was just 14 years old, the tragic, flawed and ultimately doomed Gallipoli campaign, the brainchild of future British Prime Minister and wartime hero Winston Churchill served as the nation’s trial by fire, galvanising the nation behind the war effort and establishing a mythos that permeates the national identity to this day.

Prior to Federation, each of the six self-governing colonies had individual armies consisting of full-time soldiers, militia and volunteer units. In March 1901, the Commonwealth government assumed control of defence matters, merging the colonial forces to form the Commonwealth Military Forces (CMF).

The lead up to war and birth of a nation’s warriors