World War One was both a bloodbath and a baptism for the Australian nation, according to writer Peter FitzSimons.
The writer is currently working on a book on World War One, focussing on Gallipoli.
FitzSimons told SBS that his research uncovered the importance that the ultimate sacrifice paid by more than 60,000 Australian soldiers played in the nation’s history.
“The thing that really stood out to me was that we’re a collection of states but we’re not a real nation until we’ve shed blood,” he said.
“The crimson thread of kinship, Sir Henry Parkes called it.
“In one of the battles very early on, Colonel James McCay yelled at his soldiers ‘are you Australians? Come on Australia’. There was that notion of proving ourselves a nation by shedding blood.”
While acknowledging its defining role in the nation’s history, Fitzsimons said the toll of the war was catastrophic.
“When it came to blood, it wasn’t just a baptism – we were bloody well drowned in it,” he said.