Cahill, Rowan: Alec Campbell

Cahill, Rowan

Alec Campbell, 1899-2002‘, The Hummer (Australian Society for the Study of Labour History), 3, 8, Winter 2002

Gives an honest perspective on Campbell, ‘the last Anzac’, whose military career lasted less than a year (including just six weeks at Gallipoli) but who had a varied life in many jobs, and was a committed trade unionist and republican. Yet, because of his accidental status as the last survivor, the ‘brief military service of the boy became the sum total of the man’. By contrast, Prime Minister John Howard’s speech at Campbell’s state funeral stressed the military side (such as it was, though leaving out instances of disorderly conduct) of Campbell’s life. It enlisted Campbell in death as an embodiment of ‘the Anzac spirit’, a status he had resisted in life.

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