Whimpress, Bernard: Creeping Anzacism

Bernard Whimpress*

Creeping Anzacism: a paper delivered to the 15th State History Conference, Adelaide, 28 May 2006

Bernard Whimpress is an Adelaide-based historian best known as a sports writer. However, he has also written books and articles on city heritage, Aboriginal history, art history, military history, biography and memoir. He has a PhD in history from Flinders University.

‘The prime abuse’, Whimpress says, ‘lies in the militarising of the Anzac legend. A secondary one is the narrowing of Australian history.’ Noting the attitudes to Anzac of then Prime Minister Howard, the author says, ‘There is nothing more disgraceful in his career than his manipulation and politicisation of the ANZAC legend in the interests of the Liberal Party’.

The author then describes the educational work of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (as at 2006) and claims that DVA representatives have admitted ‘that their mission is political’. Finally, the author reflects on the association of Anzac with sporting teams and events, such as Anzac Day AFL matches and the Australian team re-enacting a cricket match at Gallipoli.

This paper appeared on the History Trust of South Australia website until 2015. There is a version of it (without notes) in a local paper, the Goyders Line Gazette (Orroroo, SA) for September 2007. It takes its text from Michael McGirr here, (though there is an important error at the end of the quote at note 2 – the word should be ‘larger’ not ‘large’).

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