Over the course of World War One stories of Anzac soldiers working together to beat the odd that were clearly not in their favour. These stories together created the Anzac legend. However the Anzac legend does not tell us of individual experiences of Anzac soldiers during the war. These letters, written reports, graphs and photos show that the individual Anzacs stories are not told well or even at all.
Source 1 This graph shows 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.
In the final two years of the war (1917 and 1918) enlistment was capped under 5000 each month, In the first three years of the war (1914-1916) enlistments per month were between 5000 and 10000 with only 3 peaks rising above this number, one was because of the outbreak of the war with 20000 enlistments in the first month. The largest surge of over 35000 enlisting Australians in July and August 1915, this peak was because of Ellis Ashmead Bartlett’s account of the Anzac landing on the 12th of May, 1915. And the final peak was at the beginning of 1916 in January and February; the peak was because of Australians withdrawing from the Gallipoli peninsula in December the previous year. The peak enlistment peak of July, 1915 was because of Ellis Ashmead Bartlett’s account of the Anzac landing (Source 2). His account tells a story of Anzacs leaping from their boats to charge at Turkish trenches with nothing but their bayonets and succeeding in capturing the cliffs with few casualties in less than half an hour.
“The Australians rose to the occasion. They did not wait for orders, or for the boats to reach the beach, but sprang into the sea, formed a sort of rough line, and rush the enemy’s trenches. Their magazines were not charged so they went in with the cold steel, and it was over in a minute, for the Turks in the first trench had been either bayoneted or had run away, and the Maxim guns were captured.
Then the Australians found themselves facing an almost perpendicular cliff of loose sandstone covered with thick shrubbery. Somewhere half-way up the enemy had a second trench strongly held, from which there poured a terrible fire onto the troops below and on those pulling back to the torpedo-boat destroyers for a second landing party.
Here was a tough proposition in the darkness, but these colonials are practical above all else, and went about it in a practical way. They stopped for a few minutes to pull them together, got rid of their packs and charged the magazines of their rifles. Then this race of athlete’s proceeded to scale the cliffs, without responding to the enemy’s fire. They lost some men, but did not worry. In less than a quarter of an hour the Turks had been hurled out of their second position, all either bayoneted or fled.
The courage displayed by the wounded Australians will never be forgotten… Though many were shot to bits, without hope of recovery; their cheers resounded throughout the night… they were happy because they had been tried for the first time and not found wanting…”
-Account of the Anzac landing written by the British journalist Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, published in The Hobart Mercury, 12 May 1915
This story created the Anzac legend inadvertidly, The Heroic attack by the Anzac shock troopers who scaled the cliffs and took too trenches in under an hour making them one of the most powerful enlistment message of the war. This story of charging and wounded soldiers cheering after being ‘shot to bits’ is very different from the grim truth of the individual Anzacs. When the report was published over 2000 dead and at least 6000 wounded. After two and a half hours the Anzacs were digging into the cliff to avoid Turkish artillery and small arms fire. Most soldiers wounded would not have died initially but would…