QUOTE (PJA @ Mar 23 2010, 02:23 PM)
This is a phenomenon more apparent - and here I'm venturing a suggestion rather than stating a certainty - in the last generation than it was in the Great War itself. Mel Gibson syndrome has a lot to do with it. I have actually heard Aussie youngsters express the view that Australia was left alone to fight at Gallipoli. There is also a mantra which states that Australia had the highest military death rate per capita of any belligerent in the war - a preposterous assertion, as a quick glance at Franco-German statistics will prove. In fact, the UK had a higher per capita mortality rate than Australia, as did New Zealand. It is true that the overall Australian casualty rate, assessed against the number who actually "took the field", was extremely high....but this does not justify the statistical sleight of hand given by commentators as renowned as Hugh Thomas. In a sense, this anti English Australian bias is a reflection of the Lions led by Donkeys school of thought that developed over here in the sixties and seventies. The British Empire was reviled, and the perception of Diggers being callously exploited by English "toffs" sat well with the repudiation of Imperial tradition. It's gratifying to note that recent Australian military history has refuted much of this.
While Phil and Craig both have good points, I disagree with some of their conclusions. The Mel Gibson Syndrome, is relevant to a discussion of modern Australian attitudes. But, I would hope that a more critical viewer of the film "Gallipoli" would realise that it' s primarily meant to be entertainment, not a historical document. But some people, including many Australians, are idiots and you can' t help their opinions. As an interesting side comment, I could add that the makers of "Gallipoli" answered criticism of making an Australian officer British by claiming that the accent used by the officer ordering the attack to continue was in fact an historically accurate "cultured Australian" accent, not a British one...
But leaving that aside, from an Australian perspective I think you could certainly find evidence of political concern as to the high casualty rates suffered by the Australians on the Western Front during the war itself. Prime Minister Hughes, who has already been discussed, was by 1918, if not earlier, making trouble. From another public perspective Keith Murdoch' s reporting of the war might be of interest to you.
I guess my basic point was that there is much (admittedly my examples are non military and perhaps not relevant for your research) historical evidence available during the Great War of problems with Australia' s relationship to Britain
Thanks for that Antony - I take your point about the 'cultured' Australian accent and the fact that there is another (correct) interpretation available about the ordering of the charges at the Nek. You're absolutely correct to point out also that Weir was not making a documentary. In another sense as well, he was quite rightly tapping into an emergent Australian nationalism that very much featured something like 'adolescent rebellion' against the Imperial 'parent' and whilst most Australians held mainstream views about their rightful place as a junior member of the British Empire, some strained at the leash and this was ever more evident as the war progressed. Murdoch's letter probably represents this attitude most clearly. Exaggerated and quite wrong in places it may have been, it was also uncomfortably close to the mark in others. My understanding of Hughes was that he was a staunch supporter of the war and the Empire throughout though.