Lest We Forget What?

The real failure in any military is to believe your own myths and legends.

Major General (Ret.) Jim Molan AO DSC

Ask yourself this question when Anzac Day comes about – lest we forget what?

Australia tells lies about World War I that serve no one.

Not the men who enlisted. Not those who died. Not those left behind. Not those who returned. Not to mention those who came before or after.

Kate Aubusson is 27. She grew up in the suburbs of Sydney and started working as a journalist a few years ago. She is part of the generation that saw the resurgence of the Anzac legend in the 90s as a defining story of what it means to be Australian. For her, it’s all about Gallipoli, the Anzac Spirit. Boys from the bush, sacrifice, mateship and being born as a nation the day the Diggers landed at Anzac Cove. Surely all this sounds admirable at best, or harmless at worst. What’s wrong with it?

In the next 4 years we’ll spend over $300 million to remember the First World War – more than any other nation. This is important to her. She had relatives who fought in World War One.

When she was a kid she would stand for the minutes’ silence and say ‘Lest We Forget’, but in that silence she never knew exactly what she was supposed to remember… and in many ways she still doesn’t. Now she is going on a quest that follows the path of the ANZACs. What she wants to find out is…When we say, “lest we forget” – Lest we forget what?

From Australia to Gallipoli and across the Western front Kate travels chronologically and thematically through the past: from the piss-ups in Istanbul en-route to Anzac Cove on Anzac day, to discussions with serving soldiers, to the battlefields of the Western Front. She meets descendants of soldiers and visits unexplored and confronting archives. She travels with eminent historians to see firsthand the lands the ANZACs fought and died upon and learns from those tasked with training the next generation of Australian soldiers. It is a journey that will change what we all think about the Anzac legend and ourselves.