The memory of the 102,000 Australians who died in wars over the past century plays a central role in Australia’s national political culture.1 This is something of a paradox. Throughout the twentieth century Australians rejected military conscription as a mandated obligation of citizenship except for limited purposes of home defence. Australia has had no tradition of maintaining a large army in peacetime, creating its first recognizably professional army only in 1947. Since then the permanent army has always been small, never exceeding 33,000 troops, while in 2010 the permanent personnel of the combined Australian army, navy and air force totalled only 57,600.2 Despite this, a mythologized narrative about Australian soldiers and the distinctive characteristics they supposedly display in battle has progressively assumed a central place in the construction of national identity. It continues to inform national political discourse to this day.
|Title of host publication
|Heroism and the Changing Character of War
|Place of Publication
|Basingstoke, UK and New York, USA
|Palgrave Macmillan Ltd
|Published - 2014