- The Men...
Long before the end of this great
battle the Australian soldier had revealed to himself, to his own
officers, and to a few of those outsiders who watched him closely, what
manner of fighter he was. He had not yet the astonishing mastery
of the soldier's craft which marked him in 1918. But he had
scattered to the winds once and for all the notion often reiterated,
that an Australian force would be ineffective through lack of
discipline. In flame of the whitest heat was tested the discipline
of this new force, raised suddenly from a people unaccustomed to
restraint, naturally haters of the system of cast-iron subordination on
which most armies are trained. It was not the discipline of habit
which made either Australians and New Zealanders endure.
What motive sustained them?
It lay in the mettle of the men
themselves. To be the sort of man who would give way when his
mates were trusting to his firmness; to be the sort of man who would
fail when the line, the whole force, and the allied cause required his
endurance; to have made it necessary for another unit to do his own
unit's work; to live the rest of his life haunted by the knowledge that
he had set his hand to a soldier's task and had lacked the grit to carry
it through - that was the prospect which these men could not face.
Life was very dear, but life was not worth living unless they could be
true to their idea of Australian manhood. Standing upon that
alone, when help failed and hope faded, when the end loomed clear in
front of them, when the whole world seemed to crumble and the heaven to
fall in, they faced its ruin undismayed.
Charles E W Bean
- Official History of
Australia in the war of 1914-18
- Vol. 1, The Story of ANZAC
- Chapter XXVI: End of the