Do you have to introduce current politics into everything? I didn't intend this thread to deal in any way with our exalted leaders. Here's my first post on the topic.
What made the ANZACs such effective soldiers?
Those blokes who stormed the cliffs of Ari Burnu on 25th April 1915 were not professional soldiers. Sure, they had had some training in the use of rifle and bayonet, but they were not skilled in military tactics. How, then, did they make the advances they did against the defenders and then hold the ground for eight months against other troops who held all the trump cards?
A 2015 publication, From Desk to Dugout - The education of a Victorian ANZAC" by Robyn Youl and Keith Hallett (ISBN 9781922175953) looks at the formal education these blokes received as they grew up at the turn of the 20th Century. They look at the material that young people used to learn to read and how the content of that material shaped the way these militarily naive men expressed themselves in word and deed.
The basis of the author's hypothesis is that the introduction of compulsory education in all Australian colonies in the 1870's resulted in soldiers who could not only read Orders, but could write clear situation reports, thereby providing the Commanders with accurate military intelligence on which to formulate battle plans. The authors also discuss how the stories and activities coming from the reading material molded the minds and attitudes of these young people, so that they readily responded to the call, "For King and Country!".
The authors illustrate the results of compulsory education on the common man by referencing The Anzac Book ( http://davidmhart.com/liberty/WarPeace/Books/The_Anzac_Book1916.pdf). This book was the result of an attempt to raise the morale of those freezing in the snow-filled trenches of Gallipoli in November 1915. Soldiers are expected to fight, but in the stalemate of Gallipoli, the ANZACs were told to write. So, the ANZACS were the first "other ranks" in history directed by their commanders to express themselves through poetry, prose, sketches and cartoons. These were things that these men had done as schoolboys as they worked their way through a programmed learning sequence using the Royal Readers as their texts.
The contributions to The ANZAC Book are the progenitors of the many memoirs we are now seeing published by those who experienced the tumultuous years of the 20th Century. The poetry might not have been as well known as that of the English poets, Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brook and others, but it conveys similar sentiments. The prose is often of a humorous bent, and why not? It was written to boost morale.
So, what made the ANZACs such effective fighters? No doubt a contributing fact was that from age 6 to 14, each one had to attend school and learn the 3 R's. Having learned to read, these young men had their heads filled with the derring-do of adventure stories, setting them the expected standards of manhood. Also while attending school, the boys were inoculated with the ideas of loyalty to the Crown and of British superiority, which no doubt resulted in the overwhelming rush to the recruiting offices when War was declared.
So download The ANZAC Book and see part of our history through the eyes of the average bloke who was there. And see if you can get a copy of From Desk to Dugout - The education of a Victorian ANZAC" to broaden you knowledge of how we came to be.