Fewster, Kevin, ed.: Bean’s Gallipoli

Kevin Fewster, ed.

Bean’s Gallipoli: The Diaries of Australia’s Official War Correspondent, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW, 3rd edition, 2007; first published 1983; paperback edition 2009

Covers the period October 1914 to December 1915. Bean landed at Anzac Cove on 25 April. The book is well annotated by the editor and contains many illustrations.

In an epilogue the editor discusses the increased interest in Anzac and considers the possible reasons for this: more affordable overseas travel; the popularity of genealogy; a desire to recommit to local and national traditions in the face of globalisation. ‘As a consequence of these trends, the focus and status of Anzac Day seems to have shifted.’

Fewster quotes a remark of historian Graeme Davison that many of his students lack factual knowledge about Anzac Day and that the day has, in Davison’s view, ‘become detached from its origins, representing a principle but not one grounded in the events that occurred at Anzac Cove or its then symbolic place in Australian life. Gallipoli, he contends, has assumed its own symbolism, largely divorced from the history of the actual battles.’ See also Davison here.

Rightly or wrongly, [Fewster concludes] it seems that public perception of Gallipoli and the Anzac legend is steadily being distanced from the actual events of 1915 and is now seen as generally symbolising Australians’ tenacity, personal sacrifice and a never-say-die spirit, all mixed with a touch of larrikinism.

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