Creeping Anzacism



(A paper delivered to the 15th State History Conference, Adelaide,

28 May 2006

© Bernard Whimpress


History is abused according to Graeme Davison depending on the use to which the stories of the past are put. Such abuse is ‘as much a study of bad faith as bad method’.1


I was at Writers’ Week during the recent Festival and bumping into someone I hadn’t seen for some time she asked me what I was writing. In passing I mentioned the title of this paper, ‘Creeping Anzacism’ and proceeded to give a brief explanation. Before I had gone far, however, she broke in and said shouldn’t it be ‘Rampant Anzacism’? It might seem like that sometimes but I think ‘Creeping Anzacism’ covers a subtler expansion, something which catches one unawares, whereas ‘Rampant Anzacism’ is more in-your-face and thus more objectionable.


‘Creeping Anzacism’ is drawn from Michael McGirr’s splendid book Bypass: The Story of a Road. In it he writes that a quarter of his subject, the Hume Highway, is ‘part of Remembrance Drive, a name given from the obelisk in Macquarie Place in Sydney to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra’.


McGirr adds that although most of the road is a freeway it is ‘presented as a memorial avenue, a living tribute to those who fought in war’. Elsewhere on the same page McGirr notes:


As fewer and fewer Australians actually know someone who fought in World War I or World War II, the commemoration of war has changed from a quiet remembrance of other people to an unrestrained endorsement of ourselves. As ideology comes to replace history, there are fewer and fewer faces to go with the stories. They have been replaced by a lather of clichés, most of which are as much about filling a void in a narcissistic present as lending dignity to the past. People seem now to believe that in looking at the Anzacs they are looking at themselves. They aren’t. The dead deserve more respect than to be used to make ourselves feel large.2


Those who served in war generally gained respect because while Anzac Day has been observed in Australia since 1916 the observation was more subdued. The prime abuse lies in the militarising of the Anzac legend. A secondary one is the narrowing of Australian history.



A Family Connection


Let me begin with a diversion, a family connection to military experience. My maternal grandfather died on the Hindenburg Line on the Western Front, leaving not only a widow but five children under the age of nine. Ivan Caesarowicz was Australian-born but had a Polish ancestry. He was reputedly an intelligent man who, according to family mythology, was sometimes taunted for being German. Was it such taunts that led him to enlist? I cannot think of him rushing overseas for the greatest adventure of his life. And I find it difficult to fathom the morality of a government that would allow men like him to enlist and serve abroad.


My father served as an officer in New Guinea in the Second World War which was far more defensible. When he returned home he joined the RSL and wore an RSL badge all his life. But he never attended an RSL club, nor a Dawn Service, nor took part in an Anzac Day march when I grew up in a country town.


My marble didn’t come up in the conscription ballot for National Service – a ballot that Australian Labor Party leader Arthur Calwell memorably termed ‘the lottery of death’3 – and I didn’t volunteer for service in Vietnam. I attended my first Anzac Day march in the city at nineteen and was moved by the reverence of the occasion – the old soldiers marching (including Boer War veterans), the old songs like ‘It’s a long, long way to Tipperary’, the service at the Cross of Sacrifice, and then over the road to the footy at Adelaide Oval where the spirit of the day was allowed to recede rather than be pumped up with additional military allusions. I continued going to Anzac Day marches for a few years but thought the significance of the event began to pale when school cadets gained a larger presence. Thirty years on it is interesting that some Second World War veterans are resisting an RSL push for more descendants of veterans to join the Anzac Day march.4






Politicians frequently cash in on war.


As the First World War was looming in August 1914 Australia was in the throes of a federal election campaign. Prime Minister Joseph Cook at Horsham offered the line that ‘when the Empire is at war so Australia is at war’ and Labor leader Andrew Fisher more than matched this declaration with his notorious promise to an election meeting at Colac of supporting Britain’s war effort ‘to the last man and the last shilling’. After Fisher’s retirement in 1915 new Prime Minister Billy Hughes upped the war ante and revelled in the nickname ‘Little Digger’ following his visits to the Australian troops on the Western Front.


Ken Inglis has made a long-time study of the legend and the observance of Anzac Day and has noted how debates over conscription divided Australia. One example he gives is of Joe Lyons, as Tasmanian premier, and having been against conscription during the First World War, sitting on an unveiling platform to a war memorial but not being asked to speak. Tasmanian Governor Sir James O’Grady probably had him in mind when he referred to people ‘whom I conscientiously respect – who feel that the building of such memorials might be the cause of inculcating the spirit of militarism in the boys and girls of today’.5


Inglis himself was a child in the 1930s and remembers the Great War as a ‘heavy presence in the school curriculum’ and that Anzac Day, Armistice Day and Empire Day were ‘solemn points in our year’. He added:


On the last schoolday before 25 April our teachers and visiting speakers prepared us for the holy day, commemorating the landing at Gallipoli which made us a nation. The visitors … Returned soldiers wore medals from the war, as did some teachers and classmates whose fathers were returned soldiers. We were called upon to emulate the deeds of the Anzacs.6


In effect the boys and girls of the 1920s and 1930s were being militarised but they were still reminded of the horrors of the First World War. For those whose fathers did not die in the trenches they were conscious of the maimed who returned from the war: the limbless, the shell-shocked and the gassed. Eventually, however, the children of the 1920s became the adults of the 1940s and experienced another world war themselves.


On 3 September 1939 Prime Minister Robert Menzies told Australians that it was his ‘melancholy duty’ to inform them, in words echoing those of Joseph Cook twenty-five years earlier, that because Britain had declared war on Germany, ‘Australia is also at war’. John Curtin was thrust into the Prime Ministership when invasion fears from the Japanese were at their height but as recent research has shown, he kept the fears alive after they were necessary7.


Menzies, in his long second period of office, played the Communist card of Red Peril/Yellow Peril to maintain the threat of war during the 1950s and 1960s, and then took us into the Vietnam conflict.


While Vietnam fractured Australian society deputy Labor party leader Gough Whitlam knew the value of war as Bill Hayden reported from discussions with him in 1965. Whitlam’s great knowledge of history led him to conclude that ‘the public likes a good war’ and ‘when the military bands start playing they fall into step behind them’.8


Labor was annihilated at the 1966 federal election when Australia went all the way with LBJ, and it was only following the continuing prosecution of the Vietnam war into the early 1970s, and the withdrawal of the Australian armed forces by Prime Minister Whitlam in 1972 that saw the retreat of the military from public life.9


The military made a comeback in the 1980s when Kim ‘Bomber’ Beazley was Minister for Defence and the country became readier to adopt and exalt values favoured by military organisations – regimentation, aggression, nationalism and glorification10, values which Prime Minister John Howard has embraced with fervour. Militarism was advanced by Australia’s peacekeeping role in East Timor, the charismatic leadership of Australian Defence Force chief, General Peter Cosgrove and public opinion leaping ahead of its government to contemplate military conflict with Indonesia without American support.11 While this might have represented military intervention on humanitarian grounds the prime shift of opinion in favour of the military followed the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York on 11 September 2001, and was expressed in terms of personal anxiety being met with a military response.12


For Robert Manne, Howard has become the ‘product and articulator’ of such militarism and he cites a chapter by Mark McKenna from a book edited by Raimond Gaita, Why the War Was Wrong, which reveals the political capital Howard has made of the 40 occasions he has farewelled Australian troops, visited them in the field, and welcomed them home – all for the benefit of television cameras. Manne continues that for Howard soldiers are ‘an emblem of what this country stands for’ and that Howard views Anzac Day as the most important day in the Australian calendar. Having been moved by his attendance on Anzac Day at Gallipoli in 2000, Howard then bobs up at Baghdad in 2004, and returns to Gallipoli in 2005 for the 90th anniversary of the first landing.13


Last year 17,000 people made the pilgrimage to Gallipoli and Howard and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark each spoke of how the landing influenced their nations as modern democracies. But Howard went further as Neil Wilson reported in the Advertiser, ‘invoking Tobruk, Long Tan and Afghanistan as evidence of sacrifice and mateship in wars which had cost 100,000 Australian lives’.14


Maybe this is ‘Rampant Anzacism’; it is certainly opportunistic and a far cry from Lyons’ position. While some of Howard’s  prime ministerial predecessors – Cook, Fisher, Hughes, Menzies, Curtin, Holt and maybe Hawke – might have used war, or the threat of war, to win elections Howard has in Manne’s words made Australia’s military tradition one of his most ‘persistent themes’ during the second half of his prime ministership. Furthermore, the ‘sentimentalised version of the new Australian militarism [has] provided a fitting atmosphere for romanticising the Australian involvement of Iraq, for turning all Australian soldiers into instant diggers, and for legitimising all new military spending’.15



History wars



After John Howard won the 1996 election he spoke of one of the more ‘insidious developments’ of the previous decade having been ‘the attempt to rewrite Australian history in the service of a partisan political cause’. Howard was elected on the slogan ‘For All of Us’ but critics noted that the ‘All’ quickly became ‘Some’. Over the last ten years it can be argued that a most ‘insidious development’ has been the Howard Government’s own attempt to rewrite Australian history in the service of a partisan political cause.


A number of historians have commented on the battles fought between the so-called ‘Black Armband’ and ‘relaxed and comfortable’ views of history although Stuart Macintyre makes Paul Keating’s big picture historical vision sound anything but dark. ‘[He] employed bright colours of suffering and endurance, emancipation and triumph. It painted a story of redemption not guilt …’16


Keating’s history was modern, critical and unsettled the older conservatism17 whereas Howard’s history represented a traditional, patriotic view based on successful European settlement, maintaining the monarchy, national unity,  and pride in our achievements. As former Chief Justice Sir Anthony Mason noted, it was ‘reassuring’.18 But Howard’s history also sounded a bit pasty – old fashioned monumental history which needed heroes and great events to spice it up.19 We were given Sir Donald Bradman as ‘the greatest living Australian’ but individual heroes seemed to be out of fashion. Heroes in the abstract were required. The Anzac legend was ready and waiting although the heavy loss of life in the First World War itself dampened patriotism at the time and individual heroism gave way to communal mourning.20 While one historian, John Hirst, might see that people are ‘stirred into hero worship by daring recklessness, self-sacrifice, grace, a master play or a master spirit’, another, Graeme Davison, remarks that the attempt to revive it is ‘both a lament for a lost world of moral certainty and a cry for its return.21


Anzac is a pillar of the new/old history and a measure of its creep is to see how it spreads its influence in quiet ways. The scientist and former South Australian Thinker-in-Residence Susan Greenfield has written of the different educational requirements for People of the Screen (generally the young) and their elders as People of the Book.22


Not surprisingly, perhaps, the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) has devoted a large part of its historical presence on the internet to Anzac Day and I’d like to take you through it briefly.


When you open up, you can see the main sections and sub-sections (Anzac Day, Dawn Service, Gallipoli Campaign). If you move to ‘Gallipoli Campaign’ you have 10 pages of maps, photographs and strategic details which culminate on the penultimate page of that section with the casualty figures:23


Turkey                      86,692

Britain 21,255
France 9,798
Australia 8,709
New Zealand 2,701
India 1,358

Newfoundland                  49


One wonders whether any shock and dismay registers at this point when it is realised that so many soldiers of other nations fought and died there, including those pesky New Zealanders without whom ANZAC would be AAC.


It must be said that the DVA site is an excellent one with further areas of interest such as ‘Visit Gallipoli’ with its handy bibliography for Teaching Gallipoli for those who still read books24 and ‘Anzac Day Services’ at Gallipoli which is a tourist guide. But what interests me most are the DVA’s ‘Education Resources’ and ‘Anzac Day Schools’ Awards’, their range, and the blurbs which introduce them. Perhaps the material does have ‘established links with national and state curriculum authorities and teacher associations to ensure that it meets ‘required standards’ as the site claims.25 But one has to ask why this material is distributed free of charge to schools when so many areas of education are underfunded, and other areas of Australian history despised. And of the awards, why they are being conducted annually to commemorate Anzac Day? In looking for purpose let us return to the opening paragraph under Anzac Day on the site.


The Anzac tradition – the ideals of courage, endurance and mateship that are still relevant was established on 25 April 1915 when the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on Gallipoli Peninsula.26


Whatever the quality of the DVA materials it can be argued that this is John Howard’s history, ‘the turning of all Australian soldiers into instant diggers’. As Graham Freudenberg noted last year:


Howard is the Regius Professor of what I call the GBM School of Australian History — the notion that there is nothing worth knowing about Australia, except Gallipoli, Bradman and Menzies. There is nothing more disgraceful in his career than his manipulation and politicisation of the ANZAC legend in the interests of the Liberal Party.27


At this conference there has been a strong DVA presence over a number of years; a lot of local history projects across the country have involved remembrance of war – and I refer to one, ‘A Nation to Arms’ run by the Norwood, Payneham and St Peter’s Council last November; and the History Trust’s own exhibition, ‘Gallipoli: The South Australian Story’ which opened in April 2005 and continues until August this year. All this is fine as far as things go but how far should we go? And when is too much more than enough? To what extent are historians and history teachers being duped? I spoke to DVA officials at one conference and gained the admission that their mission is political.




It might be that tomorrow’s adults will have a better grasp of Australia’s military history than previously but one hopes that they are not merely inculcated by the spirit of militarism and that their sense of national history is narrow.


Ken Inglis has written movingly about Anzac as substitute religion and whereas the Eureka Stockade had been seen as a symbol of class conflict Anzac replaced it as a symbol of allegiance to nation and empire.28 The forging of this allegiance took place at a sacred site and Inglis, writing in Nation in 1965, described the return of many of the original Anzacs to Gallipoli on the fiftieth anniversary of the landing. Interestingly, these men had little sense of history and were ‘bored by antiquity’29   Their main object on their visit was to find the graves of dead mates.30


What was also notable about the 1965 visit was that it was not a media event. The three hundred old diggers were greeted by four Australian hitch-hikers (two male, two female) and Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies was nowhere to be seen. Inglis then doubted that Anzac observances would survive but by 1990 when 59 very old men were honoured at a dawn service attended by Prime Minister Bob Hawke, there were a thousand extras on site and a televised audience of millions at home.31


The pilgrimage itself has now become a ‘secularised ritual’32 as we have seen, in which young backpackers wrap themselves in Australian flags. Like the old soldiers of 1965, however, as yet they have little sense of the history  or literature of the First World War with which to identify. To give an example from a recent story told by Graeme Davison he had encouraged a young female History Honours student to attend the Dawn Service at Gallipoli. The young woman did so with a friend, and only then did the friend comment that it was the first time she understood that Anzac was connected with the First World War.33 There will be some people who make the pilgrimage because they had a great-grandfather who fought or died there but in the telling words of Dennis Glover, ‘I suspect for many it’s the latest place to tick off on the backpacker trail – “been to Gallipoli, next Pamplona.”’34





The historian’s task is to point out that what is forgotten is as important (perhaps more important) than what is remembered. In the 1960s and 1970s Anzac Day was a rallying point for opposition to war whereas in the 21st century it has become a search for community in a society lacking myth and ritual. Glover questions whether the presence of large numbers of people at Gallipoli is a sign of remembering or forgetting, and worse, by remembering the wrong things ‘it reeks of celebration.’35


In a broad-ranging article Glover comments on the counter-attack in Britain on the anti-war literature of the First World War by the Oxford historian Niall Ferguson. Glover’s retort is that writers such as Siegfried Sassoon and  Wilfred Owen were not making protests on ideological grounds but with the experience of fighting valiantly on the front line and he quotes from a recurrent Sassoon nightmare recorded in his poem ‘Sick Leave’

When I’m asleep, dreaming and lulled and warm –
They come, the homeless ones, the noiseless dead.


The ‘noiseless dead’ are not the major concern. They are buried and memorialised, as both Glover and McGirr have noted, on monuments and rows of trees lining country highways. The greater worry are those who would stir their spirits for the wrong reasons.





Glover raises some strong points about the re-enactment of the famous Shell Green cricket match which annoyed me five years ago and I will add three other examples where sport and war are conflated.


The Australian cricketers on their 2001 Ashes tour stopped off at Gallipoli to visit Shell Green to start what captain Steve Waugh hoped would be a new tradition. In Glover’s words, however, the action of cricketers posing in long- abandoned trenches wearing slouch hats was ‘one of the most gauche media performances of recent times’.36


He is right. According to Peter FitzSimons (Australian rugby international, sports and military historian, as well as Steve Waugh biographer) Waugh first heard the story of Shell Green from General Cosgrove and was struck by the romance of it.37  That the 4th Battalion staged the original cricket match on 17 December 1915 as a ruse while conducting the most successful part of the Gallipoli campaign – the evacuation – might have been heroic but loses a lot in the replication. FitzSimons quotes historian Bill Gammage using cricket metaphors when the soldier cricketers were under fire: ‘the Australians reluctantly called it a draw and retired to tea’,38  and he notes Waugh scribbling in his diary of his ‘humbling time’ and his pride in thinking of these Australians staying ‘as one as they went over the top’.39  The trouble is these Australians, on this occasion, did not go over the top. They cut and withdrew when this indeed was a sensible tactic. FitzSimons’ Waugh records the value of ‘fighting together and looking after your mates. These are Australian values which I want the Australian cricket team to always carry …’40 This is sincere enough but Waugh is naïve, his feeling for history is similar to Inglis’s diggers, and maybe only a little advance on the backpackers of the present.


The problem with celebration is that it runs out of control like a feel-good faith. It confuses the adrenalin rush as a bonding agent which sportsmen and soldiers share, and it distorts real virtues like heroism.41 About five years ago I was teaching in an undergraduate history course in which Gallipoli was a topic. One of my students – knowing I was a sports historian, and perhaps attempting to gain some favour – said that whenever he thought of the Anzacs he thought of Steve Waugh making a double-hundred against the West Indian fast bowlers. He was probably surprised that I was so quick to disabuse him  of the notion, by stating that while Waugh revealed a certain heroism, he displayed it for hours not months on end; that he had cricket balls aimed at his head not hand grenades and mortar fire; that he had a massage, a bath and a beer at the end of play, and a clean, comfortable bed to retire to at night; not to stand in stench and filth and mud and frost and see his mates blown to smithereens before his eyes. The Shell Green re-enactment story is worth labouring because by some perverse logic it seems modern Australian soldiers serving in Iraq are using sporting analogies such as being on the winning team, which, as Glover argues, is the same sort of blind enthusiasm recruits displayed in 1914.42


One shouldn’t expect deep insights of average football journalists but the increasingly symbiotic relationship between the sport and Anzac is reflected in two examples.


Andrew Capel’s report of a Port Adelaide–Western Bulldogs Australian Football League (AFL) clash on Anzac Day 2004 was headed ‘Anzac spirit drives courageous Carr’ in the Advertiser the following day. Josh Carr’s award as the inaugural Major Peter Badcoe VC Medal winner for the player whose conduct and play was described as best exemplifying ‘the Anzac spirit – skill, courage in adversity, self-sacrifice, teamwork and fair play’ and rings of the sort of nonsense I have just remarked on in my student’s comments about Steve Waugh.43


At Adelaide Oval on the same day at a South Australian National Football League match between Central District and West Adelaide there were a number of issues which raised my ire. Perhaps there should be no objection to Second World War veterans being honoured in a motorcade before the league match although the question should be asked whether it was necessary.    After all, the Anzac procession had already been held. Perhaps no objection should be made to the Bob Quinn Medal being presented to the best       player afield for Quinn was a valiant soldier who had won a Military Medal to go with his Magarey Medals. But stronger objection could be made to present- day soldiers firing off rounds of ammunition on the oval before the game and then being applauded for doing so, presumably for providing entertainment.


The strongest objection, however should be made regarding the West End Battle Trophy being presented to the winning side after the game and the use of the accompanying logo.


The RSL has been described as ‘a defacto keeper of the flame in making sure the word Anzac is not used for commercial gain’ and control of the use of the word ‘Anzac’ has been protected by federal legislation since 1921. In the early 1990s the league was angered by a Super League rugby match launched as an Anzac Test clash between Australia and New Zealand.44 The RSL was mighty (and rightly) protective about the use of the term ‘Digger’ being appropriated by Athletics Australia in July 200145 just a few months after the cricketers at Shell Green but seems to have done a reversal regarding a situation in which footballers claim to exhibit Anzac values. The SANFL thanked West End, Veterans’ Affairs and the RSL for ‘making the day a very special one’.46 It might have been special for some but in my view it represented the sort of rampant in-your-face Anzacism we can do without.


Unfortunately the linkages are multiplied. This year Advertiser reporter Doug Robertson previewed the Adelaide Oval Anzac Day SANFL match between Central District and the Eagles with a story on South Adelaide footballer Gerrard Bennett who walked the Kokoda Trail with Sydney Swan team-mates in 2000. Bennett reflected on the experience by way of comparison with that of his grandfather Albert Bennett who served in New Guinea during the Second World War and went on to say that playing Anzac Day football is rated by footballers as highly as ‘playing in a grand final’47. It’s the first time I’ve heard that comparison made but it is understandable given the context in which the AFL exploited Anzac Day this year, sounding the Last Post eight times for the round of matches which began on 21 April and ended on 25 April.48


A question which should also be considered, given the nexus between sport and politics, is how diligent have the RSL and Veterans’ Affairs been about preventing Anzac from being used for political gain?





An important element is how historians read the Anzac story. Joy Damousi sees the role of the historian as the conscience of society, ensuring that the political and moral failures that lead to thousands of young men to slaughter are not forgotten.49   According to Damousi it has instead taken on a generic flavour and become a triumph of the human spirit … an inspiring story of courage, endurance, mateship and heroism; of young men who ‘died trying’ and did not quit even in defeat’.50


Fortunately, a sobering note was provided at Gallipoli in 2005 by NZ Defence Chief Air Marshall Bruce Ferguson who criticised the British leadership of 1915 as ‘gross incompetence’ which cost thousands of lives and he went on to describe the Gallipoli campaign as the high-water mark of subservience to Britain which forced Australia and New Zealand to shake off their colonial shackles and become more assertive.51


A problem for the historian is to be heard above the clamour of the mythmakers and spin merchants. As Stuart Rintoul has commented in the Australian, the RSL has recently adopted a more ‘corporate-like strategy’ and its Western Australian branch has turned to PhD business students at Curtin University to market itself to young people. In market-speak is Anzac becoming product?52


The attempt to sensitise, indeed romanticise the Anzacs is cultural packaging. But it dumbs down history at the same time as it legitimises our war in Iraq. As Glover again argues, ‘the most graphic pictures of death in the Iraq War have largely been kept out of our newspapers and off our TV screens’ and this ‘sanitised’ version makes ‘keeping the fighting going thinkable’.53 A final point expressed by the British journalist Robert Fisk should serve as an ending.


Neither George W. Bush nor Tony Blair nor John Howard have ever served in a war so they have no qualifications to risk the lives of others.54





Copies of Bernard Whimpress’s new book are now available. Read more about the book at







1 Davison, Graeme. The Abuse and Abuse of History, Sydney, 2000, p. 10.

2 McGirr, Michael. Bypass: The Story of a Road, Sydney, 2004, p. 246.

3 Freudenberg, Graham. A Figure of Speech: A political memoir, Brisbane, 2005, p. 60.



4 Sun Herald, 9 April 2006, pp. 1, 5.

5 Inglis, Ken. Sacred Places: War Memorials in the Australian Landscape, Melbourne, 1998, p. 224

6 Inglis, Ken. Observing Australia 1959 to 1999, Melbourne, 1999, p. 69.

7 Stanley, Peter. ‘Threat made manifest’, Griffith Review 9, Up North: Myths, Threats and Enchantment, pp. 17-24.

8 Hayden, Bill. Hayden: An Autobiography, p. 110.

9 Birmingham, John. Time of War, pp. 3-4.

10 Birmingham, Time of War, p. 34.

11 Birmingham, Time of War, pp. 43, 47-8.

12 Birmingham, Time of War, p.38.

13 Manne, Robert. ‘Little America: How John Howard has changed Australia’, The Monthly, March 2006, pp. 26-7.

14 Wilson, Neil. ‘Proud flags and a bright dawn’, Advertiser 26 April 2005, p. 4.

15 Manne, ‘Little America’, p. 27.

16 Macintyre, Stuart and Clark, Anna. The History Wars, Melbourne, 2003, p. 125.

17 Macintyre and Clark, History Wars, p. 128; see also Davison’s comment in The Use and Abuse of History, p.6 noting that Keating’s Redfern speech called on Australians to ‘open our hearts a bit’.

18 Mason, Sir Anthony. ‘Foreword’ to Macintyre and Clark, History Wars, p. vii.

19 Davison, Use and Abuse, p. 11.

20 Davison, Use and Abuse, pp. 46-7.

21 Hirst, John. Sense and Nonsense in Australian History, Melbourne, 2005, p .47; Davison, Use and Abuse, p. 36.

22 Greenfield, Susan. Tomorrow’s People: How 21st century technology is changing the way we think

and feel, London, 2004, pp. 165-9.





27 Freudenberg speech accepting life membership of the Australian Labor Party, Sydney Town Hall, 12 June 2005 and quoted in Freudenberg, A Figure of Speech, p. 281.

28 Inglis, Observing Australia, p. 66.

29 Inglis, Observing Australia, p. 73.

30 Inglis, Observing Australia, p. 79.

31 Inglis, Observing Australia, p. 80.

32 Damousi, Joy. ‘The emotion of history’ in Macintyre, Stuart (ed.), The Historian’s Conscience, Melbourne, 2004, p. 31.

33 Davison, Graeme. ‘Interrogation present’ session, Adelaide Writers’ Week, 9 March 2005.

34 Glover, Dennis, ‘The Price of Forgetting’, Weekend Australian Financial Review, Review, 22-25 April 2005, p. 2.

35 Glover, ‘Price of Forgetting’, p. 2.

36 Glover, ‘Price of Forgetting’, p. 2.

37 FitSimons, Peter. Steve Waugh, Sydney, 2004, p. 132.

38 FitzSimons, Steve Waugh, p. 133.

39 FitzSimons, Steve Waugh, p. 136.

40 FitzSimons, Steve Waugh, p. 137; FitzSimons earlier alluded to Shakespeare’s St Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V as being ‘the greatest pre-match speech of all time’ in Brian Nankervis, Boys and Balls, Sydney, 1994, pp. 29-30.

41 Sydney University psychologist Norma Grieve commented on this aspect of the sports-military connection in Nankervis, Balls and Boys, p. 158

42 Glover, ‘Price of Forgetting’, p. 8.

43 Advertiser, 26 April 2004, p. 40.

44 Simon Canning, ‘Anzac not to be used in vain’, Australian, 20 April 2006, p. 15.


46 South Australian Football Budget, 1 May 2004, p. 18.

47 Robertson, Doug. ‘The toughest trail of them all’, Advertiser, 24 April 2006, p. 49.

48 For strong criticism of his exploitation see Patrick Smith’s article, ‘MCG opens as Bombers shown door, Australian, 26 April 2006, p. 28.

49 Damousi, Joy. ‘Emotion of history’, pp. 37-8.



50 Damousi, Joy. ‘Emotion of history’, p. 32; note also the similarity with Steve Waugh’s comments about Shell Green.

51 Advertiser, 26 April 2005.

52 Rintoul, Stuart. ‘Anzac tradition in the bush limps to a final dawn’, Weekend Australian, 22-23 April 2006, p. 3.

53 Glover, ‘Price of Forgetting’, p. 8.

54 Fisk, Robert. Meet the Author session, Adelaide Writers’ Week, 9 March 2005.




About Bernard Whimpress

Freelance historian (mainly sport) who has just written his 40th book. Will accept writing commissions with reasonable pay. Among his most recent books are George Giffen: A Biography, The Towns: 100 Years of Glory 1919-2018, Joe Darling: Cricketer, Farmer, Politician and Family Man (with Graeme Ryan) and The MCC Official Ashes Treasures (5th edition).


  1. Here, here.

  2. bernard whimpress says

    Thumbs up always appreciated.

  3. Tony Roberts says

    More Barker, less Bean, I say – and less bloody Collingwood and Essendon, too, come to that.

    British novelist Pat Barker’s ‘Regeneration’ trilogy written in the 1990s – which mixes fictional with real-life WWI characters including the poets Sassoon and Owen mentioned by Bernard in his paper – is a powerful antidote to any fond remembrance of that foulest of all wars. It not only pointlessly ended, wrecked and mangled millions of young men, but threw in the Great Depression and Hitler as unwanted encores.

  4. bernard whimpress says

    Thanks Tony and I’ll certainly endorse your recommendation of Pat Barker’s trilogy.

  5. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Thank you Bernard,

    so much truth in this piece. Myth makers ans Spin merchants ensure that we only see the body bags and not the bodies shredded, dismembered and denied dignity by the evils of war. We get a filtered ideology from politicians, the AFL, Cricket Australia because myth sells. Always has been good for business in war and peace.

  6. bernard whimpress says

    Glad you enjoyed it Phil.

  7. Dear Bernard,

    Harmie told me you wrote the occasional bit on this site. I have started to put up the match review that I do each week. I would like to do an article on why cricket has such a tradition of fine writers and football has none. I mean Gidean Haugh is a Geelong supporter. Why does he ignore footy?

    Hope you are well and am looking forward to the Adelaide Test match.


    PS Not disappointed with your footy articles. Why don’t you do footy?

  8. Frank Taylor says

    Nailed it Bernard, completely nailed it.



  9. bernard whimpress says

    Thanks Frank
    Glad you discovered it a few years on. It’s also on the Honest History website which is worth having a look at for other reasons.

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