Gallipoli may have given birth to the Anzac identity but the first generation of Anzacs were fighting for Empire and Mother England. At Kokoda, a new generation of Anzacs, although showing the same characteristics as their ancestors, achieved much more. As Keating said “The Australians who served here in Papua New Guinea fought and died not in defence of the old world, but the new world. Their world. They died in defence of Australia…”. The Anzacs were characterised by mateship, courage, humour and the ability to be at ease despite the circumstances surrounding them.
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“Anzac- the very name produces a surge of patriotism as it conjures up images of young, sun-bronzed, slouch-hatted ‘Diggers’ storming beaches, galloping across Middle-Eastern deserts or fighting courageously.... in the jungles of Kokoda”. The Anzac legend was derived from the landing at Gallipoli and has since then been passed on to the younger Australian generations, being taught comprehensively to primary and secondary students. The word Anzac strums on the heart strings of every Australian and binds us together in a way that nothing else can.
A survey found that the Anzac tradition was what influenced more than half the men enlisting to become a soldier during World War II. The legend of the Anzac has such prominence in Australian culture and it is highly regarded as one of the key points in Australian history. Gallipoli was considered significant because it was at Gallipoli that they were internationally recognised for their Anzac attributes. On the 25th of April 1915, 16,000 brave, young Australian and New Zealand soldiers landed on the shores of Gallipoli. As Australians, one of the main qualities bestowed upon us is our loyalty to Mother England.
Although the battle was irrelevant in the sense that it had few benefits for Australia to even fight in the war, it did give birth to the Anzac legend, a legend that is so thoroughly embedded into the minds of Australians. The Gallipoli campaign came at a time when Australia had only just become a federal commonwealth. “... many white Australians believed that their Commonwealth had no history, that it was not yet a true nation... ”. To the rest of the world, Australia was a young country lacking years of history that the majority of countries in the world already had.
It was at Gallipoli that the Anzacs were to prove themselves and show the world that Australia was a strong nation, prepared to sacrifice their lives for their country. The characteristics of the traditional Anzac were heightened at Kokoda as there were steeper odds and higher stakes. “Gallipoli was a defeat, and Kokoda was a victory. Gallipoli was fought on the other side of the world, while Kokoda was fought on what was then Australian territory”. Kokoda was the first and only time Australia has fought against an enemy in the defence of Australia itself.
Mother England was nowhere to be seen and it was up to the Anzacs to protect Australia. Kokoda is where Australian soldiers endured what is regarded as some of the most difficult conditions during the war. The track was a “torturous jungle trail that snakes its way across the rugged Owen Stanley Ranges in Papua New Guinea”. The Japanese soldiers were advancing fast in order to capture Port Morseby. Kokoda can be considered the height of Australia’s independence throughout World War II and it is for these reasons that Kokoda can be considered more significant than Gallipoli.
“Two generations of Australians have had it drummed in from rostrum and pulpit that we became a nation on 25 April 1915 or at least during the First World War”. Gallipoli has been overshadowing Kokoda for much too long and it is time for Australians to recognise the significance Kokoda holds in their history. If it weren’t for the sacrifice made by Australian diggers at Kokoda, the Japanese army would have invaded Australia and cut off our access to the United States. Ultimately, if the events of history were to change, Australia would not be