Dawn of the Legend
Battles for the imagination
Back in Australia, the heroic depiction of the AIF in action, told through popular stories and romantic images, often failed to convey the gritty reality of the desperate fighting at ANZAC, where troops struggled to hold every metre of ground while enduring squalor and suffering heavy casualties.
In schools, children received reading books that told exciting stories of Gallipoli. In households, support for the war was evident in the form of colourful battle prints above mantle-pieces, newspaper supplements, postcards, wall maps, patriotic ceramics, commemorative-ware, and simple domestic souvenirs.
Eventually, as enlistments and casualty lists grew, the personal consequences of the fighting on Gallipoli intruded into the nation’s homes. And as the campaign ground down to a dismal end, responses to the war became increasingly sober and considered.
The pitcure, lines of men charging forward with fixed bayonets … was fixed in our minds and never replaced when the real facts filtered back to us.
Brian Lewis (schoolboy)