Anton Donohoe-Marques (PhD in History, 2022), ‘Revisiting Anzac in the Wake of World War Two: Memory and Identity in the Post-War Period, 1945–1960’
This thesis explores how war remembrance – in the form of commemorative observance and the building of memorials – developed in Australia in the period that followed World War Two, from 1945 to 1960. It investigates three key questions. First, what was the nature of the interplay between post-World War Two memorialisation and commemoration and the remembrance traditions that had been established during World War One and the interwar period? Second, how was Australia’s post-World War Two remembrance shaped by the particular social, political, and economic circumstances of the period? And finally, what influence did the process and practice of post-World War Two remembrance have on changing conceptions of the Anzac legend and Australian national identity?
In addressing these questions, this study contains five distinct case studies, each of which explores a different aspect of war remembrance between 1945 and 1960. These case studies examine the building of memorials, the efforts of veterans to enact remembrance projects, the observance of Anzac Day, the construction of cemeteries overseas, and interactions between Australian war remembrance and foreign diplomacy. In large part these case studies investigate the Australian state’s efforts to enact control over memorialisation and commemoration. However, the thesis also explores various responses to these projects, analysing how resistance from people outside of government, particularly from veterans of both world wars, was an integral part of how war remembrance in the period took shape. Between 1945 and 1960 there was significant change in the ways that Australians remembered war. During World War One and the interwar period, Australians commemorated the war by building around 1,500 memorials, erected in towns and cities across the country. It was also during World War One that Australians began to observe Anzac Day each year on 25 April.
But with the advent of a second global conflict, a new range of perspectives, experiences, and memories were incorporated into this pre-existing culture of war remembrance. Forms of commemoration also reflected the shifting circumstances of Australian society. In the post-World War Two period, communities grew rapidly through migration, industrialisation, and economic expansion. It was also a time in which a new generation of veterans returned and reintegrated into society. Finally, Australia was forging a series of new international partnerships during this period. These social, political and economic changes influenced the way that Australians imagined themselves, their place in the world, and the meaning of the Anzac legend. Post-World War Two remembrance was therefore distinguished by an enthusiasm for utilitarian memorials, by the inclusion of new veterans into the fold of war remembrance, and diplomatically, by the representation of new international relationships with the United States and other Pacific nations through commemoration and memorialisation.
Supervisors: Dr Julie Fedor, Professor Kate Darian-Smith