Small boy in soldier’s uniform for World War I peace celebrations at Waratah,Tasmania. Australia,1919.
Photographer: John (Jackie) Robinson.
The First World War for Tasmaina:
The cost was high. More than half the 13,000 who served overseas were casualties, 2432 losing their lives, and many more returning broken in health, physically and mentally. But the war created the Anzac tradition, enshrining the masculine digger image and mateship as the central symbol of national pride and identity. It provided a special status for the 'returned soldier', politically endorsed in repatriation benefits, zealously guarded by the emerging Returned Services League, and embodied in commemorative monuments and memorial halls in most Tasmanian town and districts. The Anzac story has endured and become the main story, often the only story, of the First World War, promoting the view of a society united in war. This has obscured other views, including the story of women in the war, both overseas (about 80 Tasmanian nurses served in the theatres of war) and on the home front. Less enduring has been the memory of the grief, of young lives shattered, of families broken and distraught for years, of the bitter divisions, the sectarianism, the xenophobia, the class antagonisms and the distinctions between soldiers and civilians.
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