Stephens, Tony: View beyond the battlefield

Stephens, Tony

The view beyond the battlefield‘, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 August 2005

Arguing that ‘Australia’s national identity must be defined by more than its wartime history’ the author asks:  ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if Australians looking to recommend the great national values could look beyond our involvement in war? Wouldn’t it be nice if politicians could cease manipulating the Anzac myth?’

Stephens is critical of the remark by the then federal Minister for Education, Brendan Nelson, that John Simpson Kirkpatrick represented ‘everything at the heart of what it means to be Australian’. He comments further on comments on misconceptions about Simpson and his donkey but is pleased that the legend grew around this reputed saver of lives rather than, say, the more bloodthirsty Albert Jacka.

The author also puts Australia’s Gallipoli losses in proportion by noting that Turkish deaths were ten times ours. He quotes the words on a memorial outside the Turkish military museum at Gaba Tepe.

No students graduated in 1921 from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Istanbul. Those students of this university who should have become doctors in that year, together with the students of the Istanbul Boys Lyceum, joined the 2nd division and on the night of 18-19 May 1915 wrote one of the unbelievable legends of the Canakkale battles by sacrificing their lives, all of them, to defend the sacred soil of our homeland, against the Anzacs.

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