"To be the sort of man who would give way when his mates were trusting to his firmness; to be the sort of man who would fail when the line, the whole force, and the allied cause required his endurance; to have made it necessary for another unit to do his unit's work; to live the the rest of his life haunted by the knowledge that he had set his hand to a soldier's task and lacked the grit to carry it through - that was the prospect that these men could not face. Life was very dear, but life was not worth living unless they could be true to their idea of Australian manhood. Standing upon that alone, when help failed and hope faded, when the end loomed clear in front of them, when the whole world seemed to crumble and the heavens to fall in, they faced its ruin undismayed." Charles Bean "The Story of ANZAC", Volume 1.
It says volumes about Dr Peter Pedersen, the acting assistant director of the Australian War Memorial and author of Anzac Treasures, that he can recite C.E.W. Bean's most famous passage about Anzac Cove and Gallipoli by heart.
History is much more than just a job for the former Australian Army lieutenant-colonel who took carriage of the ADF's involvement in the historic 1990 visit to the iconic battlefield by a small band of Australia's last surviving Gallipoli and other World War I veterans.
He has spent decades delving deep into the character of the men who endured the nation's first major baptism under fire.
Now, almost a century on from that terrible landfall and having spent more time on the peninsula than many of those who fought and survived, he speaks and writes of the first Anzacs with passion, awe, respect and love.
Pedersen is quick to make the point the first Anzacs, the men Bean described so vividly, were a far cry from the superbly trained and battle hardened professional Australian soldiers who helped Monash turn the tide of the war on the Western Front in 1917 and 1918.
"When the first soldiers went off to war Australia was proud, very proud, but there was a natural anxiety over how the men are going to go," he said. "There had never been a test like this before."
While the recruiting marches and the parades in the capital cities went well, problems began to emerge in the army camps when the sailing of the troopships was delayed due to the presence of the Germany Navy's Emden in Australian waters.
Disciplinary issues, partly the result of the high spirits and irreverence for which the Anzacs were to become famous, also came to the fore in Egypt where the diggers were sent for what Pedersen described as "useless" training.
"The men who fought at Gallipoli, even as the campaign unfolded, were enthusiastic amateurs," he said.
"When reinforcements arrived during the August offensive it was found some couldn't even load their rifles properly. Men who were shoehorned into battle badly underprepared told Lieutenant Colonel Brudenell White they knew they had no hope of survival. He later wrote of this as his most painful memory of the war."
Despite it all the Australians and New Zealanders displayed an innate tenacity and resilience nobody, least of all the British, had expected.
"It must be remembered the high command had been confident the naval offensive would quickly breach the Dardanelles and the full might of the fleet would move on to Constantinople," Pedersen said.
"The troops were included because it was understood that once this happened, the allies would need `boots on the ground'. The job was not expected to be difficult. [This is why] Churchill said of the Australians and the New Zealanders that while they weren't first-class troops `they would do'."
It was only when the Royal Navy failed that the full horror of a strongly opposed landing became inevitable.
"What was it that enabled these men to surmount their deficiencies of training and experience, to see them described by the British commanders as `the only troops who would hang on if they really have to'?" Pedersen said.
"It was the quality of the men themselves that shone through; their fighting quality as individuals."
These qualities came to the fore at well known Gallipoli choke points such as The Nek and Lone Pine and at hundreds of other almost forgotten points of contention where thousands of men from both sides fought and died over a few disputed metres of bloody earth.
Pedersen, who only recently returned from the latest of many trips to Turkey ahead of the Gallipoli centenary, is adamant Gallipoli remains Australia's finest hour.
"Yes, it was a defeat but it was also a triumph of the human spirit," he said. "And the Turks are entitled to say the same.
"Gallipoli is a dark and terrible story, few are darker or more terrible, but these men were able to rise above it.
"When I think of The Nek I think of an officer telling his men `you've got 10 minutes to live', of those men putting their personal mementoes and last letters home into niches in the trench walls, of shaking hands and saying farewell to each other as it becomes their turn to go. This is the most incredible example of courage."
Courage also manifested in a laconic and self-deprecating battlefield humour that was often blacker than black.
"In the hell's cauldron that was Lone Pine a soldier gets both his hands blown off. As he is being treated by the doctor he says 'sorry I can't shake hands with you Doc'."
These are some of the reasons Dr Pedersen regards the opportunity to spend time in the company of Gallipoli and World War I veterans during the historic battlefield visit in 1990 as one of the highlights of his life.
"It was the 75th anniversary and we were at the Dawn Service," he recalls. "I was to guide Bob Hawke, Margaret Thatcher and the NZ Governor-General around the battleground. Security was very tight. The heights were absolutely lined with police and gendarmes and soldiers.
"A gnarled old veteran of the original campaign was standing next to me. He looked up at all the Turks and said `Strewth, the buggers don't want us to get off the beach this time either'."
For others the trip was a heart-rending opportunity to pay their final respects to absent friends; mates they had lost a lifetime before.
"At Lone Pine the headstones are more like plinths than the tombstones that came into use later," Pedersen said. "The men's first instinct was to go looking for the names of those they knew," he said.
"In one particular case I remember an old soldier clutching a walking stick and moving his hand back and forth, rubbing the stone, and repeating to himself `I've come back to see you mate, I've come back to see you mate'. It's not just about the battlefield, it is about the men who fought there."
Pedersen said nobody who had been present for that scene would ever argue that honouring Gallipoli was about the glorification of war.
"It's quite the reverse," he said. "When I think of that moment I am reminded that remembering Gallipoli and honouring these men is all about sacrifice. Think about the statue we have chosen to put out the front of the war memorial. It's Simpson and his donkey; it's about a mate helping his mates.
"One of my great great uncles was killed at Fromelles; he has no known grave. His brother was killed on the Somme. He also has no known grave.
"These deaths left a hole in the family that could never be filled. Where is the glorification in that?"
Anzac Treasures: The Gallipoli Collection of the Australian War Memorial, by Dr Peter Pedersen. (Murdoch Books, $69.99.)
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