The Simpson Prize 2014

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How well does the ANZAC legend tell the story of individual Australian soldiers during World War One?


The 2014 Simpson Prize Question requires students to respond to the question using both the 2014 Simpson Prize Australian War Memorial Source Selection (below) and their own research. It is expected that students will make effective use of a minimum of 3 of the sources. It is also expected that up to half of their response will make use of information drawn from their own knowledge and research.

Source 1:

4 August 1916:

We are lousy, stinking, ragged, unshaven and sleepless. Even when we’re back a bit we can’t sleep for our own guns. I have one puttee, a dead man’s helmet, another dead man’s gas protector, a dead man’s bayonet. My tunic is rotten with other men’s blood and partly splattered with a dead man’s brains. It is horrible, but why should you people at home not know? Several of my friends are raving mad. I met three officers out in no man’s Land the other night, all rambling and mad. Poor Devils!

Source 2:

France. c. 1917. Formal group portrait of seven members of the 3rd Tunnelling Company, AIF. One of these men is 5777 Sapper Herbert Mason whose message on the reverse of the postcard refers to the group as "ear wiggers", a nickname given to tunnellers. Note the unidentified Aboriginal front row centre.

Source 3

An account of the landing by British war correspondent, Ellis Ashmead Bartlett, in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday 8 May 1915 (available in the National Library's Trove service)

Source 4:

Excerpt from a letter from Private Walker to the parents of Corporal John Inglis Smith of the 6th Reinforcements, 15th Battalion.  Corporal Smith was killed in action on the Gallipoli peninsula on 8 August 1915: 

God has been very good to me, I have been in all the fights – my hat, tunic and haversack have a number of bullet-holes though.  We have taken a lot of country but at what cost – war is terrible.  We have just heard that we are to help the 5th Brigade to take two trenches tonight, so God save us all… We are all just about knocked out – we don’t get any rest – digging trenches, sapping, charging on bully beef and hard biscuits and sometimes one thinks when one is dead weary that he wouldn’t care if a bullet came his way.  But we are British and we must keep up heart…

Source 5:

A graph showing enlistment figures for each year of the First World War, taken from the Official Histories of the First World War, Volume XI, Australia during the war by Ernest Scott:

The full text of Volume XI - Australia during the war (7th edition, 1941) is available.

Source 6:

A letter from Horace Albert Parton of 8th Battalion to his mother on 14 September 1918, his birthday:

Dear Mum,

I am almost afraid to think how old I am, it is the best years of my life & perhaps some people might say they are wasted ones, but I don’t agree with them, I consider the time spent over here as going to help make the world a better place to live in after this war is over & however little our part in this great struggle is it all helps, so I am satisfied…

(Private record PR00259 - there is more information about PR00259 available.)