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Re: Light Horse Officers

From: Bryn Dolan
Date: 11/17/2001
Time: 9:22:04 AM
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Hi Steve,

I agree with you on both things you've said:

1) That sometimes information from the AWM is not accurate. This may (or may not) be due to the fact that the original information was wrong, and has just been repeated down the years without ever having been verified.

An example is the number of Indian soldiers stated to have died at Gallipoli. According to the AWM (and other sources, so I don't know who has copied whom), approx 7000 were killed. This is way off. The real figure is closer to 1,700. The problem is, that once something is put out by the AWM, people accept that as 'gospel', and anything you might say to the contrary is ignored, with the comment, "Well, according to the War Memorial..." The staff at AWM are just as human and prone to error as anybody else is, but many treat anything stated by them as the absolute truth. No room for doubt. I guess there would be way too many facts for the staff at AWM to check everything, but certainly if an error is pointed out to them, it should be looked into.

2) We should of course talk about the setbacks as well as the victories gained by our forces. The trick there, though, is to keep it in proportion. There are many people who would seize on an isolated case of something not in the 'legend' (I don't use the word 'myth' as it automatically implies something is not true) and attempt to use that to destroy the legend. If 20,000 men are fighting for their lives and for the lives of their mates, and 200 are 'shirking', we should of course acknowledge that, and admit that not every Anzac was a hero, but at the same time we should see that for what it is: a very small percentage which does nothing to detract from the overall performance of the great majority.

There are those, though, who would use such figures to 'prove' that Anzac soldiers were not brave, or were not what they had been made out to be. This is fashionable recently, as these days it's almost inconceivable to most people that the stories of hardship, bravery, sacrifice, etc. could possibly have been true, and that they must therefore have been 'made up' or at least exaggerated. It's therefore an easy matter for someone armed with a few 'anti-legend' facts to convince many people that what they've heard and believed was all just lies.

So we should be aware of, recognise, and accept that things happened which do not fit the legend, but we should also keep these incidents in perspective - they were the exception, not the rule, and prove only that Anzac soldiers were not superhuman, which (I hope) everyone knew anyway. That they did earn their legend is beyond dispute however, and a bad performance here - or a coward, or criminal, or mistake, there - do not detract from the overall performance of the AIF or the NZEF.



Leaders of Anzacs: Officers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps died at Gallipoli


Last changed: November 17, 2001