War & Peace

"All the peace, wisdom and joy in the Universe are already within us, we just have to open our eyes and realise what is already here and who we really are."


"It lay in the mettle of the men themselves. 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 own unit's work; to live the rest of his life haunted by the knowledge that he had set his hand to a soldier's task and had lacked the grit to carry it through... that was the prospect 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 heaven to fall in, they faced its ruin undismayed."

CHARLES, BEAN - on the First AIF on Gallipoli: The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918

"What these men did nothing can alter now. The good and the bad, the greatness and the smallness of their story will stand. Whatever of glory it contains nothing now can lessen. It rises, as it will always rise, above the mists of the ages, a monument to great-hearted men; and, for their nation, a possession for ever. "

CHARLES, BEAN - on the First AIF: The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918

"The mates you serve with are like family and you would do anything for them. In battle, nothing else matters than completing the mission and doing your utmost to bring everyone home."


"No wars are unintended or 'accidental'. What is often unintended is the length and bloodiness of the war. Defeat too is unintended. "

GEOFFREY, BLAINEY - The Causes of War

"War and peace are more than opposites. They have so much in common that neither can be understood without the other. "


"Stories of heroism stir in each of us a profound admiration, a sense of wonder at the sheer daring of the human spirit, unleashed against adversity. Our heroes inspire and bless us, urging us to new strengths and greater feats in our own pathways."

QUENTIN, BRYCE - foreword Journey to Tobruk, Louise Austin

"In these times of hardship and grief for many Australians, you bring our hearts to soar and you remind us of the strength and the endurance of the human spirit. Thank you for what you did and for what you will continue to do."

QUENTIN, BRYCE - when pinning the medal on Corporal Roberts-Smith VC

"Anzac Day - at its heart, is love. Love of every kind. Love of nation, of service, of family. The love we give and the love we allow ourselves to receive... "


"This is a day about remembrance, deference and thankfulness. It is about who we are now; the values we live by and hold dearest; and what we collectively hope and strive to be. "


"The official American and Australian line is false. Never before have we been involved in a great national commitment based so much on false assumption and assertions."

JIM, CAIRNS - on the Vietnam War

"Getting ashore was not that hard. Hanging on, up on that ridge, for eight months - that was hard. The Australians defended absurd positions. They looked after each other. They kept their good humour. There is cheerfulness in soldiers' letters from Gallipoli one seldom comes upon in letters from France. The food was unspeakable, the flies a plague. [So were] dysentery and lice... The miracle is simply these men didn't lose heart. And they didn't, not even when they knew all was lost and they were creeping away by night, leaving so many dead. That, to me, is why we are right to remember Gallipoli. We are surely right to honour them. We are surely right to walk past the political intrigues and the blunders and say Gallipoli says something good about the Australian people and the Australian spirit. "


"Fellow citizens, the war is over. The Japanese Government has accepted the terms of surrender imposed by the Allied Nations and hostilities will now cease... At this moment, let us offer thanks to God. Let us remember those whose lives were given that we may enjoy this glorious moment and may look forward to a peace which they have won for us. Let us remember those whose thoughts, with proud sorrow, turn towards gallant, loved ones who will not come back..."


"Fractured identity is not confined to the innocent."

INGA, CLENDINNEN - Reading the Holocaust

"Villains are rarely simple men."

INGA, CLENDINNEN - Reading the Holocaust

"We will not understand an Eichmann unless we grasp not only the individual character, but the exhilaration infused into that drab character by his context of revolutionary excitement and urgent high purpose, so that bullying brutal action was transformed into heroism."

INGA, CLENDINNEN - Reading the Holocaust

"Australia in a relative sense remains more secure and safe than most countries in the world. But security, like health, happiness and good looks, is ephemeral. It consumes vast amounts of our treasure but it puts at risk on a daily basis that most precious part, our sons and daughters. We must have a stake not just in where and why they pass into harm's way, but when and why they can return home. It's in the national interest."

GENERAL SIR PETER, COSGROVE - A Very Australian Conversation, Boyer Lectures 2009

"Be assured of the calibre of our national character. This war may see the end of much that we have painfully and slowly built in our 150 years of existence. But even though all of it go, there will still be Australians fighting on Australian soil until the turning point be reached, and we will advance over blackened ruins, through blasted and fire-swept cities, across scorched plains, until we drive the enemy into the sea."


"If I liken the Pacific War to a football match, I can say to you that the first half is over, we have kicked off after the interval, and we are going to carry the ball into enemy territory for a smashing victory."


"Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links of kinship with the United Kingdom. We know the problems that the United Kingdom faces. We know the constant threat of invasion, we know the dangers of dispersal of strength, but we know, too, that Australia can go and Britain can still hold on."

JOHN, CURTIN - New Year Speech, 27 December 1941

"What I am trying to pen is, in the end - after all the heartache of the war - really a love letter to a generation. For they were incredible, and inspiring, and we the children did not understand for so long. And soon they will be gone, and we have not said thank you. They sacrificed - then watched as we took all the spoils, in the decades that followed. "

SALLY, DINGO - about her book Unsung Ordinary Men

"The best things in life are often the ones hardest to get. Yet they are also the ones that are the easiest to find, usually right in front of your face. "


"Any day alive in this world is a charmed life. "


"Life is no brief candle but a splendid torch made to burn ever more brightly. "


"Hundreds of other Australian soldiers, who may not, like myself, have had the opportunity of coming into the limelight, but been killed. "

WILLIAM, DUNSTAN VC - VC's of the First World War: Gallipoli, Stephen Snelling

"Despite the fear the men mostly took everything that was thrown at them. I saw some brave things at Gallipoli. One thing that made a big impression on us was the actions of a man we called 'The Man with a Donkey'. He was a stretcher-bearer and he used to carry the wounded men down to the clearing station on the beach... This man, Simpson his name was, was exposed to enemy fire constantly all the days I was there, and when I left Shrapnel Gully he was still going strong. I considered, and so did my mates, that he should be given the Victoria Cross."

A.B. ALBERT, FACEY - A Fortunate Life

"They remain incapable of instructing the rising generation that the glories of Anzac were as empty as all the military glory down the centuries, symbolised by a tattered flag or a suit of rusty armour in a silent museum."

MILES, FRANKLIN - All That Swagger

"The guns were silent, and the silent hills
had bowed their grasses to a gentle breeze
I gazed upon the vales and on the rills,
And whispered, "What of these?" and "What of these?"
These long forgotten dead with sunken graves,
Some crossless, with unwritten memories
Their only mourners are the moaning waves,
Their only minstrels are the singing trees
And thus I mused and sorrowed wistfully
I watched the place where they had scaled the height,
The height whereon they bled so bitterly
Throughout each day and through each blistered night
I sat there long, and listened - all things listened too
I heard the epics of a thousand trees,
A thousand waves I heard; and then I knew
The waves were very old, the trees were wise:
The dead would be remembered evermore -
The valiant dead that gazed upon the skies,
And slept in great battalions by the shore."

LEON, GELLERT - 23 year-old soldier-poet, a combatant at Gallipoli, to mark the evacuation of the peninsula in 1915,

"He will always know as we know now that in the heat of battle he did not fail when mateship and duty called."

JULIA, GILLARD - of Corporal Roberts-Smith VC

"It's true, we are a highly professional force and we can produce highly lethal fighting forces, but I defy you to find more dedicated humanitarians or better friends when the chips are down. "


"The Australian Army is a highly respected National institution because of its people. It's all about the people. If we communicate, and leverage off all in our organisation, not just our senior officers, our IQ will be awesome. Then there will be no job which is beyond us. "


"And they'd say, 'A young fellow like you! Why didn't you go to the war?' I'd say, 'Because that's my business.' I'd never crack on that I'd been to war. Somehow or other I was ashamed of the war."

WILLIAM EDWARD , HARNEY - on returning from the first world war, Harney's War, S Murray-Smith (ed)

"A soldier leaves so little when he dies. A watch they gave him when he left the office to go to war. A small pack of faded photographs. Some old letters in a mildewed leather wallet, stained with the sweat of him when he was living and the blood of him when he died."

JOHN, HEPWORTH - The Long Green Shore

"There's no place like home, Mum. Have me head read if ever I leave this gawd's own lovely land again. You dunno what a lovely land it is till you've seen them other crowded, foggy, frozen, furrin holes."

XAVIER, HERBERT - Frank McLash returns home from the wars: Capricornica

"Although I am madly patriotic, I am bored by talk of 'Nationalism'. What is Nationalism but the football-team spirit? Actually I hate Australians. I hate their faces, with those long Punch noses... & their cruel thin lips & moron's brows & hooded idiot's eyes. Yet I can turn to them in relief & love from contemplating the juicy faces of Pommies. I loathe Englishmen so much, that I can tell their footprints (bare feet of course) & about their tracks there is to me something obscene. Oh, I'm not a bit practical about my patriotism. Here's an example. Some years ago, in the town of Darwin, I rushed out of my house in the middle of the night & attacked a number of drunken Pommy sailors (off a British warship) who were piddling in the street. I rushed upon them roaring, 'How dare you piss on my country!' Fortunately they bolted."

XAVIER, HERBERT - Letter to C. B. Christensen, 19 October 1941, Meanjin Archives, Baillieu Library, University of Melb

"... (to know) what it is to be irrevocably other, and to be able to call it, most of the time, peace."

DIANNE, HIGHBRIDGE - In the Empire of Dreams

"All the same... 'She'll be right.' Their combination of high hope and deep doubt can make Australians devastatingly cool-headed and wry-witted. Although most of them have not even seen their deserts, the stoicism of the desert seems to have entered their souls. When they see the face of disaster - especially when they go to the wars in Vietnam as at Anzac - they joke with it and shake its hand."

DONALD, HORNE - Southern Exposure

"We turned our backs on the purifying waters of self-sacrifice."

BILLY, HUGHES - On the issues at stake': speech London 17 March 1916

"Peace is not a passive, wishy-washy state of acceptance. It is a state of being in which we are able to embrace every moment, regardless of its challenges, with a quiet mind and open, compassionate heart."


"Life is something precious. You get out of it what you put into it. Anyone who doesn't respect their neighbour isn't worth two-bob. "


"When the war process breaks down, peace will be imminent."


"Gallipoli, how many are the graves
That in your barren furrows we have sown;
The broken rifle fashioned to a cross
For witness that the Lord may know his Own!"

ELLA, MCFADYEN - Crosses on Gallipoli

"Unto Thy Mercy we commit
The blossom of our nationhood
Behold how young and beautiful!
Oh, guide them as it seemeth good."

ELLA, MCFADYEN - A Prayer in War

"People who sit tight usually remain where they are."



GENERAL SIR JOHN, MONASH - Inscription on the Rats of Tobruk memorial

"No man is a hero in his own country."


"Not lip service, nor obsequious homage to superiors, nor servile observance of forms and customs...the Australian army is proof that individualism is the best and not the worst foundation upon which to build up collective discipline. "



GENERAL SIR JOHN, MONASH - Inscription on the Shrine of Remembrance Melbourne

"As a leader you must celebrate life, you must celebrate success and paradoxically, you must celebrate heroic failures. "


"A successful leader must be wedded to the spirit of the age. "


"All men and women are stubborn seekers of a sense of purpose. The core task of a leader is to establish and nurture a strong and enduring sense of purpose."


"The planes came in from the south-east, and I looked up and they appeared to me like a cemetery, the white underbellies... coming across the blue sky. We fired and were terribly disappointed because the shells fell behind and below the planes. The fuses were powder fuses, which they found out later didn't last in the tropics. It was a big schemozzle the whole lot of it. The communications between the air force, the Americans, the army and the navy was non-existent."

JACK, MULHOLLAND - on the bombing of Darwin, 19 February 1942

"It seems incredible that the war is over. There has been no reaction here, just life as normal because we are well past the stage of being excited over anything... I feel I have done my part, Mother - my conscience is very clear and I feel also that I am now free of my obligations to my country. Although it's a terrific waste of years out of my life, I am glad I have done it - I would do the same again... I have learnt such a lot Mother; and I know that whatever trials lay ahead, in the end I will succeed in whatever I take on."

JOHN, MURRAY - Journey to Tobruk, Louise Austin

"Wars are not won by individual heroism. It is the one big team working together that does the job. There is one thing that is common to us all, and that is fear, that is the greatest leveller of all."

JOHN, MURRAY - Journey to Tobruk, Louise Austin

"I just looked across and saw my mates getting ripped up, I thought I'd have a crack, not to let my mates down."


"I do what I do because I believe in the country that we live in. I believe we are making a difference in stemming the flow of terrorism into Australia... I want my children to be able to live as everyone does now without the fear of getting on a bus and having it blow up."

BEN, ROBERTS-SMITH VC - of serving in Afghanistan

"Remember the Australian soldiers who put their hands up willingly... They're our mates and their families live with that every day... remember they are the heroes, they are the ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice."

BEN, ROBERTS-SMITH VC - of serving in Afghanistan

"If people who return from this war are offered the dole and told there is no money for employment we can look for revolution."

JAMES HENRY, SCULLIN - On the second World War, John R Robertson, J. H. Scullin

"I would rather have to rein in the stallions than waste time and effort flogging the donkeys."


"Whether as enemies they fought,
Or fought with us, or neither; the sand joins them together,
Enlisted on the other front."


"In Anzac Day, Australians would create a holiday not transplanted from elsewhere, not confined to one region, not an occasion for pleasure; commemorating the shedding of blood for nation and empire, and honouring heroes as nobody in Australia had ever been honoured before."

KENNETH, STANLEY INGLIS - The Australian Colonists

"It is lives like this that teach us that man can aspire to and can achieve a true nobleness of character, and by doing so can inspire us all."

SIR NINIAN, STEPHEN - on the lesson we can learn from Sir Edward (Weary) Dunlop

"When death and despair reached for us he stood fast, his only thought our wellbeing. Faced with guards who had the power of life or death, ignoble tyrants who hated us, he was the lighthouse of sanity in a universe of suffering and madness."

DONALD, STUART - of Sir Edward (Weary) Dunlop

"I hate wars and violence, but if they come I don't see why we women should just wave our men a proud goodbye and then knit them balaclavas. "

NANCY, WAKE (The White Mouse) -

"Well for me, I suppose, I don't know if you call it patriotism or what, but I just felt you needed to be part of your country's defence. And at that time see, war was coming on, and I suppose like so many others I thought it was a bloody great adventure that was going to happen and I was going to be in it. Because while patriotism is definitely mixed up in it, the fact that it was the biggest thing going around the place at the time and you could be in it with a hell of a lot of other blokes your own age, nothing beats it."

WALTER, WALLACE - Voices of War, Stories from the Australians at War Film Archive, Michael Caulfield

"When the shrine comes into view while walking down St Kilda Road, the memories that flood through you are remarkable. You don't see the people around you at that moment, you are just wrapped in memories and feelings. "

RON, WILLIAMSON - on Anzac Day