Daley, Paul: Australia is in for a shock as war crimes investigation brings reality of war to the Anzac myth

Paul Daley

Australia is in for a shock as war crimes investigation brings reality of war to the Anzac myth‘, Guardian Australia, 13 November 2020

Places the imminent release of a redacted war crimes report in the context of the traditional idea of the Australian soldier.

The long-awaited report into the alleged war crimes of Australian special forces soldiers will be out next week and will expose the gaping chasm between the myth of the exceptional, idealised Anzac troop and the dirty realities of war …

Since the first world war the Australian soldier – the “Aussie digger” – has been storied into a white-hatted do-gooder. Even as the Australians were still fighting, the war’s official historian CEW Bean was creating the legend of an exceptional Aussie soldier. He was a bit of a lair, perhaps, but brave beyond belief and possessed of supposedly unique characteristics of mateship, egalitarianism, ingenuity and almost super-human resilience …

That is why these allegations of murder against Australian special forces have been so culturally and politically divisive.

There is also the effect of repeated deployments of specialist soldiers to stressful and highly dangerous war zones.

Meanwhile, the rest of us should think hard about what soldiering involves and how heavily the unfair burden of our fairytale Anzac myth weighs upon those we entrust to kill in the wars of our politicians.

Honest History has a number of resources on these issues, triggered by the attitudes of then War Memorial Director Nelson to the allegations.

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