What Happened To Returning Australian Soldiers After Wwi And Wwii?

2804 words - 12 pages

What was expected of soldiers on their return to Australia after WWI and WWII? How did soldiers respond to these expectations?

The process of repatriation of servicemen who had fought in the First and Second World War was uneasy, as these men returned to a society that had undergone great transformations. The responses to the socially accepted standards of behaviour were widely variable, however this essay will aim to demonstrate some of the ways that returned soldiers negotiated the transformed social milieu that they had returned home too. This essay aims to also explore how expectations placed upon returned soldiers was shaped by the influence of pre-war gender roles as well as the emergence of the culturally mythology of the ANZAC legend and how both these forces influenced the public and private behaviours of returned servicemen. For example how returned servicemen were able to take advantage of their status as national figures to assist in their campaign to achieve higher levels of welfare benefits. The second argument that will be discussed relates to the assertion that upon return soldiers were expected to maintain a level of masculine dependency as highlighted by the Solider Resettlement Program. The final argument explored will examine how to ‘culture of silence’ forced men to internalize their wartime experiences, which caused tensions with the relations they had returned too.

Soldier returned to the home front, not just as individual men but also as public representations of the ANZAC mythology. In response return service men, united together as a political entity were able to exploit the attention that this national sentiment perpetuated as leverage for their own political gains. The combined cultural force of Australian writers, politician’s media had contributed to celebration of a mythical persona of the ANZAC. The ANZAC persona became a cultural icon, easily identifiable by identities such as the brave warrior, the larrikin and the faithful comrade. Yet on their return home many soldiers felt that the Australian government had not provided a level of support or compensation that adequately reflected the enormity of their selflessness and sacrifice on the battlefield that was being so proudly emphasised by the cultural writings. Thus soldiers used the ANZAC mythology to ignite guilt within the public consciousness. An example of this was the story of the ‘Man in the Bath.’ Published in 1924 in the Sydney Morning Herald the piece depicted the eulogy of Trooper Rolph. The odd placement of the eulogy within mainstream new content demonstrates an active attempt, on behalf of the soldier writing the piece to bring the consciousness of service men’s suffering to the forefront of public discussion. The piece was written by a fellow solider and the article tells the horrific story of the soldier who was ‘flayed alive by barbarous Huns’’. These lines play on the ANZAC myth of the Australian for example the brave...

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