WW1 - How It Shaped Our Nation

ANZAC. It is a word which brings a strong and clear image into each of our minds whenever we hear it. It is a word which nearly all Australians know and use. The ANZACs were the Australian New Zealand Army Corp, a division of troops which fought in the Battle of Gallipoli. However we now know ANZACs as all the people from Australia who fought in the First World War, not just at Gallipoli. We have affectionately come to know these brave men as 'diggers'.

World War 1 was important in shaping Australia's identity because it helped establish Australia as our own country, with our own spirit, culture, and beliefs. We were not required to fight in World War 1. The war did not really affect us and all the action was happening on the other side of the world - yet still Australian troops signed up to help out. One big reason for this was becuase many people felt that we should help out our 'mother country' - Britain. When Australians went to war in 1914, we did not yet have any 'real' history, so many people thought of it as an oppurtunity to start making one.
Simpson and his donkey
Simpson and his donkey

When the Australians went to war, we had only been a nation for 13 years. World War 1 was important in making Australia what it is today, because it brought our nation together as a whole for the first time. It was the first real chance for Australia to forge our own identity, and to make a name for ourselves.

The ANZACs went out into the world expecting to learn from the British troops, who had a very proper and disciplined way of doing everything. The Australians soon got sick of this, and started doing things there way, which used efficiency. They were considered undisciplined by British soldiers, but they made up for their 'undicplined ways' with their bravery and mateship. Although the Australians had not had very much training, they learnt very quickly. They were no longer taking orders form British generals, unless they personally respected them. The British soldiers were now learning from the Australians.
A digger helping out a mate.
A digger helping out a mate.
In the harsh conditions at Gallipoli, the Aussie troops had a relaxed approach to everything, but they were always looking out for their mates.

"Right from the beginning, English officers complained about the undisciplined behaviour of the Australians. Their officers and soldiers did not keep the necessary distance, they dressed improperly, even with nonchalance - some didn't even shave everyday. And some soldiers even dared to object if they had to carry out a task they did not like."

The Aussie troop's behaviour was considered outrageous by the British because it did not follow protocol. But the Australians soon came to have a great reputation.

"As soon as the Australians were engaged in their first major battle - at Gallipoli - the War Cabinet send their Secretary, Sir Maurice Hankey, down to investigate what was going on. Sir Maurice visited every corner of the peninsula and he spent a good deal of time in the Australian trenches, even in the front line. He was impressed, and he wrote to the Prime Minister:

' I do hope that we shall hear no more of the 'indiscipline' of these extraordinary Corps, for I don't believe that for military qualities of every kind their equal exists. Their physique is wonderful and their intelligence of a high order ' "

When the Aussies returned from the battlefields, they bought back their "larrikin spirits". People now thought of Australians as impresssive and brave soldiers.

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Another important aspect of World War 1 was that because all the men were away fighting, the women of Australia took over the workforce, in order to try and keep normal life flowing. Previously before the war, far fewer women than men external image WeCanDoItPoster%5B1%5D.jpgparticipated in work. Women's main role was to be seen at home - looking after the children, cooking and cleaning. Women’s contribution to the workforce becuase of WW1 rose from 24 per cent of the total in 1914 to 37 per cent in 1918, but the increase tended to be in what were already traditional areas of women’s work -- in the clothing and footwear, food and printing sectors. There was some increase also in the clerical, shop assistant and teaching areas. Women wanted to become involved in more war related jobs, such as cooks, stretcher bearers, motor car drivers, interpreters, but the government would not allow this.

But the First World War did help to establish our women a s an important part of the Aussie society. It encouraged women to have more independence instead of gnoring them and passing them off as housewives.

World War 1 really established Australia as a country worth paying attention to. Because of the ANZACs, Australia ha a reputation of being hardworking, brave and intelligent, just like the diggers when they were fighting overseas. When they came back with stories about the bravery and courage of everyday working class men who risked everything to save a mate- that was what helped Aussie identity, because it turned Australia into a country of its own with a spirit of it's own. I think we owe alot to those brave men we affectionately call diggers.

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The slang term 'digger' re-surfaced during the First World War when the Australian and New Zealand soldiers, ANZACs, appointed it to themselves and their mates as a term of affection, due to the trench-digging aspect of the war.
'Digger' and 'dig' were used by soldiers as friendly terms of address equivalent to 'mate'.

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