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The broken years : Australian soldiers in the Great War

CollectionsANU Press (1965- Present)
Title: The broken years : Australian soldiers in the Great War
Author(s): Gammage, Bill
Date published: 1974
Publisher: Canberra, ACT : Australian National University Press
Before the First World War most Australians shared the emotions and traditions of the British Empire. Proud of their British heritage, anxious to raise the Imperial status of Australia, they were eager to fight and, if need be, to die in defence of their race and country. But the horror and tragedy of the conflict brought fundamental changes in outlook. Many of the pre-war enthusiasms persisted, but the days of unquestioning allegiance to Empire were beginning to come to an end, to be replaced by the bittersweet tradition of Anzac. Dr Gammage shows how and why these changes took place. Using the diaries and letters of one thousand front-line soldiers of the First Australian Imperial Force, most of them now part of a unique collection housed in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, he reconstructs the motives and expectations with which these men volunteered and the experiences they encountered. He highlights and examines the new attitudes to war and to the homeland that developed and foreshadows the important effects in Australia of the changed outlook brought home by the survivors. Those who have returned from war will recognise immediately the raw realities faced by the 'diggers', the growing disillusionment, and the hopes for the future. Those with fathers, husbands, or brothers who served, and all those concerned with what happens to men at war, cannot fail to be moved by the simple dignity of the men{u2019}s accounts, or by the understated courage with which they wrote to their families of the miseries they endured. This book, written with sensitivity and scholarly care, must be read if we are to understand war and its impact on the ethos of a nation.


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