The Anzacs’ Implacable Enemies

anzac sun

Mervyn Bendle has written some inspiring articles countering the smear campaigns that academics and other armchair revisionists have been waging against the original ANZAC’s who fought and died at Gallipoli.  Merv identified the well-thumbed playbook  used to denigrate what I regard as some of the finest men Australia has ever produced.

In this regard, his essays have confirmed George Orwell’s prophecy about the misuse and misrepresentation of history by those who would re-write it for their own ends. Orwell, in his depressingly magnificent book 1984, stated that ‘he who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past’.  Despite being dead for more than 60-years, the Left still hates him today for his devastating insight into their collective mindset. Orwell also understood the power of changing the meaning of language to suit nefarious political purposes, a process he described in the fabled terminology of ‘Newspeak’. The left despises him for that as well, for exposing how language can be controlled, changed and used to further the aims of the totalitarians.  Thus, common terms are often reinterpreted to mean the opposite of our normal understanding of them. For instance, the three slogans of the Ministry of Truth(which, naturally, was in the business of keeping truth from ever seeing the light of day):


An example we all know is the word ‘hero’, which should be used in connection to someone who is brave and daring.  However, the more modern meaning is someone who resists authority, such as a masked thug attacking peaceful demonstrators or an environmental activist trying to stop economic growth by advocating the closure of oil refineries or aluminium smelters that use fossil-fuel electricity. Plus there is the trivialisation of he term as applied to those who can kick a ball better than most others and, when the mood overcomes them, perhaps fling imaginary spears at the white faces beyond the fence. Orwell was the first to see through the totalitarian mindset and articulate it for what it is, what it intended to do, and the methods by which it proposed to attain its objectives.  Today we have members of a political class who openly call themselves ‘progressives’, but whose aim is, rather obviously, to prevent all real progress.  We have all seen this trend in the creation of politically correct language, with its ‘trigger warnings’ and safe spaces, its insistence that some words not be used at all. Naturally, PC language is designed to shut down and, eventually, to remove both free speech and, again to cite Orwell, the Thoughtcrime of ‘incorrect thinking’.  Part of this process requires that traditional values be shown to be false or valueless.

Anzac & Its Enemies: The History War Against Australia’s National Identity
By Mervyn F. Bendle
Order your copy here

The second step requires that revisionists create a replacement anti-hero to fill the void.  This process is already far advanced in the Australian school education system and universities with only a few dinosaurs willing to offend the sensibilities of the ‘snowflake generation’ by continuing to use old terminologies. As with Geoffrey Blainey, exiled from Melbourne University, and Leonie Kramer, hounded from Sydney University,  those who beg to differ are marked for destruction — the ivory tower’s equivalent of an escorted trip to the basement and bullet behind the ear.

Let me digress for a moment to demonstrate why this ‘culture war’ is not a trivial side issue, but a central part of the totalitarian game.  By demonizing our Australian culture, our industries, agriculture and the illusory rape of the environment, PC advocates eat away the cultural and productive soul of our nation. We have 20,000 km of coastline, but we have created so many marine parks we have to import fish!  The Murray-Darling Basin Water Management Plan is designed to stop the building of dams and to prevent the creation productive irrigation channels. We are spending our borrowed wealth to buy-back water rights to ‘let the rivers run free’.  The result is a decline in agricultural output to the point where we must import some food.  Our mining and forestry industries face overwhelming difficulties in remaining productive and profitable; indeed, even to survive at all.

This essay, first published at Quadrant Online in April, 2106,
is reprised for Anzac Day 2018

The aim of these campaigns is to create artificial shortages, because shortages require rationing and rationing means centralized control of the sources of supply, thus mandating totalitarian controls.  The insistence that we must move to ‘a sustainable future’ sounds irresistible, but what it really means is that we must move away from the 24-hour  certainty of coal- and gas-fired electricity to the intermittent and costly renewable sources of wind and solar. In 1984 and Animal Farm, Orwell exposed the socialist acolytes’ fantasy view of the world: if they can destroy the cultural fabric of our society, from the ashes will arise a Great Socialist Society. Where have we heard that vision before?

So, the academic war to control and rewrite our history into a more acceptable view is now well under way, and one of the first steps of the revisionists has been to depict as despicable ANZAC’s soldiers and replace our admiration for them with, at worst, an active loathing or, more mildly, a contemptuous sympathy for fools who answered their nation’s call and did their duty with honour and bravery.

Rewriting the ANZAC Legend

A grant-funded and ever-escalating offensive has arisen over recent decades, its specific objective to diminish the ANZAC story and future generations’ appreciation of who the ANZAC’s actually were. Worth noting, just in passing,  is that those grants flow only in one direction: to ANZAC’s enemies. What that taxpayer support produces is a farrago of slurs, slights, slanders and, on the part of those who authorise Australian Research Council largesse and the like, a cognitive dissonance laced with toxic irony. This year, as always, hundreds of thousands of Australian gathered at dawn to demonstrate their respect and  gratitude for those who served, yet it is the tax dollars of those same reverential Australians that underwrite the books and seminars and fact-averse papers which denigrate the very men and women whose service and sacrifice are honoured at dawn every April 25. The brazen misrepresentation of the revisionists is breath-taking.

ANZACs, according to one academic enemy of fact and truth, were no better than testosterone-driven white racists itching to reach the Middle East and kill coloured men, who were only defending their country. Factually, this argument is absurd, as the original ANZAC’s arrived in Egypt believing it was but a staging stop on their way to France, where their anticipated enemies were white Austrians and blond Germans.  In fact, as the ANZAC Roy Kyle[1] states in his memoir, his comrades were rather upset upon learning they had been allocated what they regarded as a lesser enemy on the shores and cliffs of the Dardanelles.  They soon learnt otherwise. Facts have never been an obstacle when the objective is something other than the truth.  For post-modernist academics, hard facts and genuine truth are inconvenient hindrances to be ignored or, if that is impossible, tortured to fit the authorised narrative.

I will deal with just two myths of the revisionists:  first, that the ANZAC’s and Australians generally were (and are) racists.  It is true that there was a ‘White Australia’ policy and that Aboriginals were neither counted in the Census  nor treated equally.  But the military has never been formally racist (though individuals within it may have been).

Much has been written about the ethnic, social and cultural makeup of those who rushed to enlist in Australia on the outbreak of the Great War in 1914.  As Australia had been colonized only 128 years before, it should not be surprising that many were either first- or second-generation British stock. Like many immigrants before and since, these newly minted Australians embraced the opportunities afforded to them by the pioneer culture of rural Australia, with its more relaxed social structures than those which applied in Europe.

Although many of those who enlisted may have been in Australia for only a few years, there is no doubt they regarded themselves as Australian, though still beholden to ‘Mother England’, a King they would never see, and the British Empire in general. For the younger enlistees born in Australia this view had been ingrained by the education system and cadet military training.  They considered themselves Australians first, members of the British Empire second; whatever their ethnic backgrounds or social class came a distant third.

Revising the ANZAC History to make it fit the ‘racist’ Narrative

The Australian War Memorial (AWM) website provides an extensive history of the half-Chinese, half-English, all-Australian Light Horse Trooper Billy Sing.

To ensure that children reading the site as part of their school curriculum are properly guided to correct thoughts, the AWM helpfully provides questions that the youth of today might consider when they write their reports. Here are the questions the AWM considers appropriate for research about an iconic Australian hero (the emphasis in bold is mine and my comments are in red Italics):

Activities for research and classroom discussion

  1. What might it have been like growing up part-Chinese in Australia in the late 1800s?
    Come, children, let us excoriate our forebears for their undoubted racism
  2. What were European-Australian and Chinese-Australian relations like at the time?
    Might I point out that nobody lynched yellow-skinned Mr. Sing for daring to meet, woo and legally marry a white English woman?
  3. You may like to research the White Australia Policy.
    Why?  Better to research Billy himself.
  4. Why might Billy have wanted to sign up?
    Probably for the same reasons as every other Australian who volunteered.  In his biography of Sing, author John Hamilton states that Billy and his mates travelled together so they could join up and stay together. What mark would any child stating that fact expect to receive for mentioning that fact?
  5. Why would he have been accepted into the Light Horse?  What skills did he possess?  Use the photographs below to support your answers.
    Anyone failing this question needs re-education!
  6. Due to his personality, courage and awards, Billy became a well–known and respected member of the AIF.  What does this suggest about white and non-white relations in the Australian Imperial Force?
    Might I suggest that it shows there was no discrimination?  Epic fail for my report!
  7.  During his service overseas, Billy was reported as being AWL on several occasions. What does “AWL” stand for?  Can you imagine why some soldiers may have gone “AWL”?
    Depends on how good your imagination is,  as the reasons range from the innocent to the Diggers’ famed larrikinism to an intention to stay out of the front line as much as possible.  Read on to the true story of the ‘Disaster at the Nek’ and then return to here and report in 500 words what you think the point of this question is.
  8. What might it have been like for soldiers and their families once they returned from war?  Would life have been the same?  What long-term effects might soldiers have suffered, either mental or physical?
    This is not a question most adults could answer about PTSD. Cue “guidance” from teacher.
The fact of the matter is that more than 800 Aboriginals from missions and stations around Australia volunteered and were accepted into the Army.  Two of the three Rigney brothers from South Australia were killed in 1917.  Private Miller Mack survived the war, only to die of the Spanish flu in 1919 before returning home. Private Raymond Runga, of Ouyen, Victoria, was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry at Foucaucort in August 1918, etc, etc.

I see a pattern here, but not one of racism, discrimination or oppression — but then I am not predisposed to look through the filter of current moral and multicultural relativity to make a point.  Reading original diaries and letters of those who served — served, mind you, with willingness and pride — provides a very different view from that of the post-modernist, politically-correct revisionist academics.  Those primary sources are far more likely to reveal the truth, as they record of what the ANZACs thought at the time.

Facts borne out by documentary evidence point with certainty to the conclusion that we can put to rest the myth of the racist ANZACs.  Of course, we must not expect that this myth will ever die.  I would add that nothing has changed in the behavior of the front-line soldiers in the Defence Forces today, despite an ever-increasing political correctness and lack of moral fortitude in the higher command echelons.

The Myth that the ANZAC’s were just Ordinary or less so

I have already described Trooper Billy Sing, who was credited with killing over 300 hundred enemy soldiers, one shot at a time.  Billy was wounded four times, but always returned to front-line duty.  There was a job to be done and Billy retained his spirit, morale and his sense of purpose to the last day of the war. Add to Billy Sing, the names of Captain Albert Jacka, VC, MC & Bar; Lieutenant Donovan Joynt, VC; Colonel Harry Murray VC, DSO & Bar[1], LtCol Howard Pope, Hugo Throssell and you have just a few from the ranks of an extraordinarily league of courageous soldiers. These men were the exceptional heroes, but they were not alone — and some who received lesser recognition, or none at all, demonstrate that, on average, those who represented Australia at Gallipoli, in Palestine and on the Western Front were among the finest soldiers this nation has ever produced.

Now the traditional left has been joined by an ex-army officer, Captain James Brown, who has contributed Anzac’s Long Shadow: The Cost of our National Obsession (2014) to the campaign of denigration. According to Brown, awarded the pulpit of the ABC’s 7.30 Report, “we’re about to embark on a four-year festival for the dead which, in some cases, looks like a military Halloween”. Some might think Brown should be ashamed of himself, but that would be uncharitabe, as the unfortunate and misguided Brown was taught to think, after a fashion, while being exposing in his formative years to the intellectual abuse of left-wing academics at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA).

If this is what the revisionist historians offer us, what is the evidence to counter their narrative?

When reading first-hand accounts, an intangible ANZAC concept of ‘valour’ — incomprehensible to the sneering, smearing critics — is paramount.  On one occasion a soldier pleaded with an officer to allow him to replace another soldier about to go on a dangerous raid: “Let me go instead … he has a wife and family to look after.”  The young man’s request was granted and he saved his mate’s life, as he died that night in his friend’s stead. We should look in awe at men who would volunteer to take another’s place on a suicidally dangerous operation, yet the post-modernist ‘historian’ trashes such sacrifice, sneeringly dismisses such genuine heroism as manifestations of idiocy. Mateship and ‘doing the right thing, because it is the right thing to do’ is not woven into the fabric of academia, as it was engraved into the ethos of the Australian frontiersmen.

The unvarnished story of the massacre of the Light Horse Regiments at the Nek on August 7, 1915, exemplifies the quality of character of the ANZACs. The charge was due to commence at 04.30am, but the watches of naval gunners and the attacking troops had not been synchronized, so the Turks were able to re-occupy their positions and set up interlocking fields of machine-gun fire. At the due time, the first wave of 150 men of the 8th Light Horse Regiment ‘went over the top’, led by their commander, Lt Col A. H. White.  All were mown down in seconds.  The second wave attacked two minutes later and were also massacred.

Lt Col N. M. Brazier appealed to the Brigade Major, Colonel J. M. Antill, to call off the slaughter, but Antill (who thoroughly disliked Brazier) simply replied, “Push on.”  Brazier returned to his regiment and ordered the third wave to charge.  The ‘battle’ had become nothing less than plain murder.  The Turks killed or wounded all 150 men of this third wave within thirty seconds of their leaving their own parapet!  Brazier again appealed to Antill to stop the slaughter – and finally Brigadier Hughes agreed to call off the attack. But before Brazier could return to the trenches the left flank of the fourth line rose from their trench and charged without orders. They did this in the absolute certain knowledge that they would be killed.

Trooper Harold Rush[2] knew the charge was hopeless and that he was about to die.  He also knew that everyone around him was going to die too.  After uttering the last words now engraved on his tombstone, “Goodbye Cobber, God Bless You”, 23-year-old Rush climbed the parapet as a matter of personal honour, courage and loyalty to his fellow soldiers.

Less than ten metres and thirty seconds later, Harold Rush was dead.

Another ANZAC, who had discharged himself from hospital to join his doomed unit asked his fellow soldiers to make room for him, as he wanted to go over the top beside his best mate. Both were killed moments later.

These were “ordinary” ANZACs — in reality magnificent and loyal men who would rather have died than betray the standards of the ethos they believed in and lived by.  These are the souls that the post-modernist historians mock, the targets of their lies and cheap shots. [3]

Of the 500-or-so men from the 3rd Light Horse Brigade who charged at the Nek that day, 372 were killed or wounded.  The cemetery at the Nek contains the remains of 316 Australians. To see it is to further understand their bravery. It is not, as you might assume after watching Peter Weir’s Gallipoli (good Hollywood but poor history), a broad plain. Rather, it is hardly more extensive than two tennis courts. And it was into this tight, bloody ground carpeted with the dead and dying that more Australians flung themselves. A further 49 troopers died from 1st Light Horse Brigade and 65 from the Royal Welch Fusiliers.  It is possible that the Turks may have suffered a few casualties, though it is more likely that they suffered none at all. This is the spirit revisionists know they must destroy

As Les Carlyon wrote after visiting the scene of such a waste of heroes,

“… visitors to the peninsula stare at the words and wonder why, when they open their mouths, no words come out.”

These selfless heroes died for each other, as the respect of their peers meant more to them than life itself.  The ANZACs truly embodied the Spartan epitaph etched into the memorial at Thermopylae:

Go tell the Spartans,
Stranger passing by,
That here,
Obedient to our law,
We lie.

The post-modern academic must tear down such heroes, as their exploits paint a picture of a nation that really was populated by a superior class of people – and they cannot have that! What grief might their agendas encounter were Australians taught not of gallipoli’s “shame” but of its combatants’ virtues? Heroes and men of character must be made ordinary or, better still, less than ordinary. The evidence of hard fact is that the ANZACs of 1915 were precisely  as those of us not fattened by grants and smuggery think of them. At the 2015 Dawn Service at my local War Memorial I was amazed to note that probably 900–1,000 people braved the cold of the pre-dawn darkness to assemble and honour the original ANZACs.  Among those attending were many new Australians from China, Vietnam, India, all parts of Europe, from the Middle East.  Despite their worst efforts and the complicity of their fellow wreckers embedded at the ABC, the Fairfax press and on the boards of our cultural institutions,  the spirit of Anzac Day has not merely resisted their worst efforts, it has thrived in the face of defamatory assault.

Yet the assaults continue, advanced on one organised front by academics and, on another, by the cultural skirmishers equipped only with the light arms of smirking, feather-weight intellects. Consider, for example, the now mercifully defunct morning TV show, The Circle. The panelists were discussing the exploits in Afghanistan that won Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith his VC, a topic incidentally illustrated by footage of the powerfully muscled SAS hero training chest-deep in a swimming pool while holding a massive weight above his head.

Quipped a mousse-brained airhead called Yumi Stynes, he was searching for his brain at the bottom of the pool. Then came the contribution of George Negus: He must be a lousy root! An immediate outcry prompted immediate apologies, which was only to be expected, as that is the way the left and its allies always operate: see how far you can go and, if it proves too far, back off just a little until the next opportunity arises for advancing the frontiers of the idiotic and ideological. Prompted by the obvious delight of Stynes and Negus in wallowing in their own smug filth, I posted the commentary below on The Circle‘s comments page. The show and its website have vanished, but I believe my sentiments still stand:

Real Heroes & Celebrity Whores: Bullets are flying around, aimed at you and your mates as thirty fanatical Taliban try to kill you and your fellow soldiers.  Two of your regimental comrades and your best friend have already been killed in previous actions as well as another 33 soldiers from other units.  This is reality, not Hollywood and it is not a game as your death is forever.  So are sucking chest wounds and bodies smashed by high powered weapons.

A giant of a man rises up from the ground and almost suicidally charges at the people trying to kill him.  One enemy jumps on him with a knife, but he is shaken off and killed.  Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith then moves forward towards a machine gun crew firing 600 rounds a minute at him and gets close enough to kill them all.  He then charges a second Machine Gun crew and kills all of them too.

He miraculously survives and is awarded the Victoria Cross to go with his previous awards for exceptional courage in the face of an enemy trying their hardest to kill him.  This is reality, not a Panel Show on TV.

Having survived all that, he comes back to his twin daughters and a loving family in WA (which he had a 90% chance of being lost to, dead as a result of his bravery).  When called upon, like every other soldier, he goes back to the war as his government demands and does it all again.

But his greatest reward?  Medals, money, fame, glory?  No, being given a spot on the Aunt Sally Circle Show where he can be vilely mocked by infantile and moronic ‘celebrities’ (I had never heard of) who think that “maybe he needs to dive to the bottom of the pool to find his brains” (Yumi Stynes).  This is offensive, as Ben Roberts-Smith is better educated and more intelligent than any chit-chat ‘celebrity’.

But the piece-de-resistance is the demented (or is it dementia driven) comments of ‘Dangerman George’ Negus who ‘apologises’ for his despicable remark that maybe “he (Ben, VC) is no good in the sack” – a dud root as some idiot chimed in.  This was clearly intended as a slander at Ben and his wife because it took IVF for her to conceive.  I wonder how many of the thousands of IVF couples and their wonderful children fell off their chairs laughing at that one?  I am quite a good wordsmith, but I can find nothing publishable in my vocabulary that can adequately express my disgust and contempt for this geriatric parody of a ‘never was’.  George needed a headline-grabber his mind could hang on to at the pace of his walking frame as the rest of the panel were all faster with the repartee and getting all the attention.

It only got worse when the next day Georgie-boy doddled out his so-called apology and explained that he has been in dangerous situations too.  For goodness sake, how tough can Dangerman Georgie-boy be when Margaret Thatcher chewed him up and didn’t even ruffle her lacquered hair?

Let us suppose the post-modernist academics win their war against the long dead heroes of Gallipoli and convince us that they were nothing special, just ordinary men, outdated racists who believed in an empire built on oppression and who foolishly died in a worthless war.  As they are apparently following the Orwellian playbook, what do they envision will replace the ANZACs and, more to the point, how do they wish the Australian nation to see itself? In the blurb to promote What’s Wrong With ANZAC, by co-authors Marilyn Lake, the even-more-suspect than usual Henry Reynolds, plus common room limpets Joy Damousi and Mark Mckenna, we read this:

“In recent years Anzac [sic] – an idea as much as an actual army corps – has become the dominant force within Australian history, overshadowing everything else.  The commemoration of Anzac Day is bigger than ever, while Remembrance Day, VE Day, VP Day and other military anniversaries grow in significance each year.  Pilgrimages to Gallipoli, the Somme, Kokoda are commonplace and popular military history dominates the best-seller lists.  Anzac has seemingly become a sacred, untouchable element of the nation.  In this brave(?) and controversial book, some of Australia’s leading historians dare(?) to criticize Anzac.  They show that the Anzac obsession distorts the rest of Australia’s history.”

So, what should we replace Anzac Day with as a rallying cry that unifies our nation?

How about, instead of a parade recognizing the heroic ANZACs, we have one celebrating the unions’ performance in WW2 with readings from Hal Colebatch’s book “Australia’s Secret War: How Unions Sabotaged Our Troops in World War II”.  That should be inspiring, especially if we can locate widows and orphans of soldiers and sailors who died as a result of the wharf workers’ sabotage!

Vietnam veterans will well remember that essential defence stores were delayed on the wharves of Sydney, a delay that may have encouraged the North Vietnamese to try to attack the 1st Task Force Base at Nui Dat in August, 1966, before its perimeter was fully prepared.  This could have been one of the triggers for the desperate Battle of Long Tan that nearly cost Australia the lives of a whole infantry company of 108 men.  As it happened, 18 young soldiers died and a further 40 were wounded.

Not inspiring enough?

Perhaps we could celebrate with the rent-a-crowd mob yet again flinging abuse outside Victoria Barracks, minds inflamed  by the well-thumbed pulp fiction of our grant-fed military “historians” — books that include the aforementioned What’s Wrong With Anzac?: The Militarization of Australian History (2010). Or how about the Zombie Myths of Australian Military History (2010) and Anzac’s Dirty Dozen (2012), both edited by Craig Stockings. Or Peter Stanley’s book Bad Characters: Sex, Crime, Mutiny and Murder and the Australian Imperial Force (2011), which professes to demolish “a mythical history blown out of all proportion” by focusing on the Diggers’ misogyny, racism and discrimination. [2]

I am not sure they are ripping yarns, as I confess I have not read them. I would be interested to learn just how many of these books were sold to the public (as opposed to libraries and institutions) and benchmark that figure against the sales of Les Carlyon’s Gallipoli?  That should help make some sense of the debate, I think. Unlike Carlyon’s epic, I don’t recall seeing revisionist drek on the best-seller racks at my local bookshop. Not that poor sales to the reading public make any difference to the authors’ career trajectories. There will always be more grants to fund the follow-up tomes of colleague-approved piffle; more mates to place those books on the reading lists of students; further campus conferences where the left’s warriors can sketch the next chapters in their misrepresentations of history. What, misogyny is making headlines? So who will pen some bogus trope about the Diggers’ endemic sexism? Please, don’t all raise your hands at once!

Stanley’s book Bad Characters: Sex, Crime, Mutiny and Murder and the Australian Imperial Force (2011) was (unsurprisingly), the joint ‘winner’ of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History in 2011, awarded by a committee chaired by the communist historian and lead writer of the national history curriculum, Professor Stuart Macintyre, of the University of Melbourne.  Those in the club reward others in the club, that’s the way those who have colonised and subverted our institutions like it to work. When an outsider is honoured, as was Hal Colebatch, the howls of outrage are deafening.

As I said, there is an entire pseudo-industry of so-called historians determined to undermine Australian culture and society as they look mistily to their Utopian and barely concealed totalitarian vision of an Australia riven by religious and cultural hatreds. Orwell’s predictions creep ever closer. Like all totalitarians and ideologues, the leftists know precisely what they must destroy,  but they have no clear or coherent idea of the better world they wish to see rising from the ashes. I suppose the reason I differ with post-modern professors’ of history is that I have no sinecure position guaranteeing me an income.  I am not part of an ‘elite’ academic institution where I can daily exchange fawning accolades with my like-minded peers as we seek consensus on how awful is Australia, how appallingly ignorant and savage its finest soldiers are, how in need of re-education its dim-witted citizens. I received no grant for writing this polemic and I bought all my own reference books.  One day I will pay my own way to Gallipoli, and to Thermopylae, where I can stand where real heroes once stood, where they lived, fought and died, and where they shall be remembered long after the post-modernist penny-dreadful cauldron of revisionist books has been consigned to the dustbin and their authors long forgotten.

I admire the ANZACs for what they were and remain because I still believe in the inherent goodness and fairness that is the basis of the Australian culture.

We would do well to remember the RSL’s ‘Lest We Forget’ motto when we think of the ANZACs. When we think of the academics who insult their memory the motto should be ‘best we ignore them’.

The above is the edited text of an address delivered before the Geelong branch of the Royal United Services Institute by Alistair Pope, LtCol (ret).

13 thoughts on “The Anzacs’ Implacable Enemies

  • Rob Brighton says:


  • Simon says:

    I feel so soiled by those links to Carlton and Secombe I am going to have to destroy my mouse and burn my clothes.

    Please, a trigger warning or two for us normal folks before sending us headlong into the abyss.

    Otherwise, as usual, a perfect piece.

  • ian.macdougall says:

    These were “ordinary” ANZACs — in reality magnificent and loyal men who would rather have died than betray the standards of the ethos they believed in and lived by. These are the souls that the post-modernist historians mock, the targets of their lies and cheap shots. [3]
    Of the 500-or-so men from the 3rd Light Horse Brigade who charged at the Nek that day, 372 were killed or wounded.

    Unfortunately, reference [3] whatever it is, is not included. Nor is any identification of the allegedly mocking pomo historian, though I have neither doubt that such exists nor sympathy for pomo and its unholy creations.

    Trooper Harold Rush[2] knew the charge was hopeless and that he was about to die. He also knew that everyone around him was going to die too. After uttering the last words now engraved on his tombstone, “Goodbye Cobber, God Bless You”, 23-year-old Rush climbed the parapet as a matter of personal honour, courage and loyalty to his fellow soldiers.
    Less than ten metres and thirty seconds later, Harold Rush was dead.

    Death before dishonour. This passage illustrates quite well what we might call the ‘honour trap’ or the shirker/hero dilemma. Better to be a dead hero, even having died completely pointlessly and in vain, than be seen as a live shirker.
    Everyone from the field commander down to the lowliest private soldier is trapped in this way. For the private: better to go over the top and to almost 100% certain death than spend the rest of his life under a cloud of disbelief in himself: the knowledge that he was out of the way while his mates and comrades were being slaughtered. For the commander, better to be decisive and to order a well-precedented but as good as doomed charge into a horizontal torrent of machine gun bullets than to be condemned as a dithering dill or even just ridiculed as a ‘Dugout Doug’ (Douglas MacArthur). Better to continue stubbornly with a strategy proven again and again dumb and dud than to refuse to follow it yet again and for the umpteenth time.
    There might have been a lot wrong with the lamentable Haig, but there is nothing wrong with ANZAC. Not Anzac Cove as a place of modern pilgrimage ( I have been there) nor Anzac Day as a commemoration of terrible, but far from pointless, sacrifice. It is worth pondering, in this regard, what the modern world would be like if the Central Powers had been victorious in World War 1, and more importantly, if the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis had won in World War 2. It is too horrible to contemplate.
    Around the world, many people find it odd that Australia’s great day of military commemoration is in remembrance of a 1915 military disaster and defeat. Amongst all the official speeches the real reason for it tends (rather unceremoniously) to get lost from sight.
    In Australia and New Zealand, Anzac Day commemoration features solemn “Dawn Services” or “Dawn Marches”, a tradition started in Albany, Western Australia on 25 April 1923 and now held at war memorials around both countries, accompanied by thoughts of those lost at war to the ceremonial sounds of the Last Post on the bugle. The fourth stanza of Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen (known as the “Ode of Remembrance”, or simply as “the Ode”) is often recited.
    As far as I can gather from my limited research on the matter, Anzac Day arose from below. It was the very opposite of a usual commemoration: started from the top of the political pyramid. What was there for the state officials, politicians and class-based military brass to celebrate? It was something that Winston Churchill and the other politicians responsible for the Gallipoli debacle would no doubt have preferred forgotten. But it began despite them, with returned soldiers spontaneously gathering at dawn on 25th of April 1923, the anniversary of the 1915 Gallipoli landing, to remember their fallen mates and comrades. It was only after it became an institution that officialdom decided that it had best get in on the act.
    By World War 2, British officialdom had decided further that discretion was indeed the better part. Instead of a command structure headed up by yet another variant on Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, KT, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCIE, ADC, they had the good sense to select commanders of the calibre of Montgomery and Monash.
    On the battle of Long Tan in Vietnam: I believe that Australia was on the right side in every war it has so far been involved in – except Vietnam. Beginning with the French colonisation of Vietnam in the 1870s, any military campaign in Vietnam waged by any western power was always going to be a colonial war. And colonialists are NEVER interested in promoting democracy, and NEVER in the right, except in their own eyes. So such a ‘war for democracy’ it never was.
    The French emerged from WW2 flat broke, and unable to fight any kind of war. They had also been humiliated by the Germans, not only in their own country but also in their empire in North Africa, and likewise by the Japanese in Vietnam. Their image as invincible colonial operators was fatally soiled. So the Americans stepped in, and bankrolled the French in their effort to retain control of Indochina, as it was then known. Then, after the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the Americans took it over and made the war their own. But it was still a colonial war. And as such, a war in which there could be no honour, except for the anti-colonialist Vietnamese defenders who were merely trying to get their country back.


  • en passant says:

    It would be reasonably obvious that Reference 3 (which was edited out) was “… Peter Stanley’s book ‘Bad Characters: Sex, Crime, Mutiny and Murder and the Australian Imperial Force’ (2011)”.
    Yes, the ANZAC’s did fall for “… what we might call the ‘honour trap’ or the shirker/hero dilemma. Better to be a dead hero, even having died completely pointlessly and in vain, than be seen as a live shirker.” Most brave men do fall for that as Ben Roberts-Smith, VC and Donaldson, VC (who rescued a wounded Afghan under heavy fire) or … {add thousands more who see honour as something of value}.
    Of course, you are quite right, that to die pointlessly when you could save yourself is the opposite of human achievement, just ask Bruce Ismay, who is rumoured to have disguised himself as a woman to board a boat on the Titanic while lesser men (including one of the richest men in the world refused to do so and drowned as a result of falling into the honour trap. At least Ismay would be comforted by having lived longer?
    I suppose that at Thermopylae and the Alamo you would have counselled surrender as the situation was hopeless? I will leave you to answer. Just think what Britain could have achieved in 1940 if it had you at the helm instead of that steely psychopath, Churchill!

    “Better to continue stubbornly with a strategy proven again and again dumb and dud than to refuse to follow it yet again and for the umpteenth time …” Where in the article does it say that repeating the same strategy and expecting a different result is other than insanity? The failed Australian officer, Colonel Antill was the cause of the loss of so many good men at The Nek. This is why Monash is to be so admired for his intelligently thinking up a different approach. The Germans also thought through the same problem and came up with Blitzkreig tactics in WW2. Quoting examples of failed generals does not prove your point.

    “What was there for the state officials, politicians and class-based military brass to celebrate [about Anzac day]?” Are you talking about the UK or Oz? There is no ANZAC day in the UK, so can you prove your statement that military officers in Australia are ‘class-based’, or is this just another glib fantasy of yours?

    “By World War 2, British officialdom had …. the good sense to select commanders of the calibre of Montgomery and Monash.” I suppose you realise that Monash was dead by WW2 and that we had no sense at all and appointed the vile Blamey as GOC and deserter Gordon (8th Division in Singapore [until he did a runner]) to the most senior positions? We then allowed Blamey to sack competent commanders in PNG to excuse himself when his strategy failed, yet he wanted to continue to look good?
    The Vietnamese themselves (under pressure) accepted the French return in 1946 as the alternative was a Chinese hegemony for another 1,000 years. There were also geopolitical motives to prevent the spread of communism (and the Greens), but I am glad someone of your calibre can explain the Vietnam war so succinctly and glibly in just a paragraph.

  • en passant says:

    I have just reread my entry in Quadrant Online and it is a great example of why one should not post a comment when the blood is boiling (probably because of global warming).
    As the article is now archived few if any will read my comment (and therefore note the typos and grammatical errors), but for the record I want to post the following additional material as I cannot get that new figure of speech called “a MacDougallism” out of my mind. Let a better grammarian than me classify a thought-bubble that states “… what we might call the ‘honour trap’ or the shirker/hero dilemma.”

    Guggenheim refused to take a place in a lifeboat – but it was his wife who fell into the MacDongallism and refused to go without him. When the Titanic sank, Guggenheim floated to the surface and approached a lifeboat – who refused to take him as they were ‘full’, so without complaint he swam away to certain death – a victim of the honour trap. Stupid fellow! He could easily have bought a place and lived for a few more years.
    In my haste to post I missed the obvious anti-hero MacGonagle surely admires most: that gold medal performance surely goes to the Captain of the cruise ship, the Concordia. Not only did he not fall into the ‘honour trap’, but he lead the way to the lifeboats! What a man! Let us set aside those stupid Nelsons, Drakes, the many Captains who went down with their ships and the sacrifice of the tiny ‘Glow worm’ that sailed straight at the mighty Scharnhorst to distract her and let the convoy it was protecting escape its guns. I read that story in Primary School and it inspired me, but that was long before the Concordia sank.
    No, children should be taught to recognise and avoid the ‘honour trap’ and the follow the ‘MacGoogle’ example of Captain Coward of the Concordia.
    It will give them a firm grounding to become politicians in any western country.

    • whitelaughter says:

      the obvious solution to the ‘honour trap’ is to focus on defending those around you – the question of fear then is irrelevant. “No, you will not send my mates to their deaths” would have been a better legend; although one that would still have got the speaker killed, probably by firing squad. He’d have saved a unit of brave men though.

  • en passant says:

    Another victim of the ‘MacDougallism’ ‘Honour Trap. Watch it and weep:


  • Julie says:

    Of great uncle John Wilson, who signed up for the 7th Lighthorse Regiment in December 1914, and who died at Anzac Cove Gallipoli on 20 September 1915, following being shot in the left thigh and having his leg amputated four days earlier, I am most proud. Julie Wilson.

  • en passant says:

    This is too good not to pass on.
    Watch the integration of old and modern day footage.
    This is an incredibly special music video for
    ‘ Spirit of the Anzacs ’ featuring:
    Lee Kernaghan, Guy Sebastian, Sheppard, Jon Stevens,
    Jessica Mauboy, Shannon Noll and Megan Washington.
    This is what we need to live up to and to be proud of who we are…..



    Just ‘ordinary men’ …

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