Anzac Heroes

Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images

Anzac Heroes

The heroic stand by the forces of Australia and New Zealand at Gallipoli has links that extend back to biblical times.

Winston Churchill famously stated, “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” Few these days are encouraged to study the ancient history of the British and their colonial sons and learn of their unbreakable link to biblical heritage. That heritage links the fighting forces of these peoples today 3,000 years back to—believe it or not—King David of ancient Israel!

Benjamin Disraeli, twice prime minister during the British Empire’s time of greatness (the year 1868 and 1874-1880) observed, “The most popular poet in England is the sweet singer of Israel. Since the days of the heritage … there never was a race who sang so often the odes of David as the people of Great Britain. … It was the ‘sword of the Lord and of Gideon’ that won the boasted liberties of England; chanting the same canticles that cheered the heart of Judah amid their glens, the Scotch, upon their hillsides, achieved their religious freedom.” (emphasis mine, Tancred). It was the sons of such, descended from generations of forefathers schooled in the history of the battles of ancient Israel, who landed at Gallipoli that fateful day, April 25, 1915.

Heritage—that’s what once made the British peoples great! That’s what moved these peoples to carve great nations out of the continental extension of North America, of Southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand. It was a heritage of biblical proportions acknowledged by Victoria, Queen of the British Empire at its peak. It was known to the Anzacs of old, who joined the fight to free the world from the tyrant in World War i. It was a heritage that led many a general in both world wars to carry a Bible with him into battle, even studying the old battle array and tactics of famous skirmishes of the ancient Israelites, and praying to the same God that Israel prayed to for delivery from the multitudes of the enemy it so regularly faced.

One of Australia’s great sons, Anzac soldier Ion Idriess, was inspired by the biblical setting of the desert war of 1914-18. Of Davidic Welsh stock, Idriess enlisted as a trooper in the Australian Imperial Force. He was attached to the 5th Light Horse Regiment. Wounded twice, once at Gallipoli and again at Gaza, Idriess witnessed the famous Anzac mounted infantry charge at Beersheba that led to the taking of Jerusalem by British Imperial forces.

Amid the heat and sand, the fire and the blood of desert warfare, Idriess’s writings, scratched down in tiny notebooks between desert marches and entrenched skirmishes, reflected the deep emotion of a soldier conscious of Palestine’s link with the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. At Rafah, en route to Gaza, he pondered, “Britain has brought along the 20th century into a land that was ancient when Christ was a child” (The Desert Column). Conscious of the seemingly overwhelming combined superiority in arms of the Turks, Austrians and Germans that awaited in the Sinai desert, Idriess mused, “The story of David and Goliath is not repeated in modern warfare when it is a handful against many men and many machines.” He was later to eat those words as he witnessed the Australian Light Horse charge the cannon, bullets and cold steel of the enemy, by whom they were vastly outnumbered, and capture the ancient city of water wells, Beersheba, opening the way for victory over the Turk at Jerusalem.

Of the great warrior psalmist, we read in a few words in the biblical book of Samuel a summation: “David the son of Jesse … the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Samuel 23:1). “The man”! That term in this verse is translated from the Hebrew Ha-Gever, meaning mighty, he-man, HERO!

Recently, while attending a performance of the Australian group the Ten Tenors, I was inspired to think on the power that the true heroes of the English-speaking nations have demonstrated in securing the freedoms that those nations presently enjoy. While listening to the Ten Tenors’ rousing rendition of lyricist Don Black’s “Here’s to the Heroes,” my mind filled with the images of the clash of steel, the fire of cannon, the pounding of hooves and the shouts of men in the bloody heat of battle as portrayed by Idriess at Gallipoli and on the desert sands of Sinai.

As those 10 young Australians sang out lustily the words, “Here’s to the heroes who change our lives. // Thanks to the heroes, freedom survives,” in my mind’s eye I saw the frenzied gallop of the Australian Light Horse, vastly outnumbered by the entrenched enemy, swoop down in the face of ravaging fire to take ancient Beersheba of Abrahamaic tradition. I visualized General Allenby dismounting in respect to the ancient heritage of the Holy City, marching through the Jaffa Gate to secure the City of Peace under British martial law. How sad that the nation of Judah appears to be now so willing to yield up half of that city, won back with the spilling of Anzac and Allied blood from centuries of foreign occupation.

Australia was founded on the blood and sweat of its pioneers, and gained maturity as a nation in the face of fire and steel in the desert of the Middle East and in the mud of the Western Front in World War i. Its military record is foremost a history of gallantry, of self-sacrifice in the best traditions of the human spirit that, in the words of the Savior of mankind, bespeaks this reality: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). That’s the true Anzac spirit.

Though they may flock to dawn services across the nation on Anzac Day, the most celebrated of its public holidays, how many of today’s Australians really still reflect that old spirit of the Anzac? In this age of self-fulfillment, self-actualization, self-indulgence, of freely promoted selfishness, where are the true heroes who are willing to sacrifice self to fight for the preservation of the ancient heritage of King David, the psalmist hero?

Six years ago, Alec William Campbell, Australia’s last remaining veteran Anzac, died. Now, as each year goes by, only the icons of the era—the statues, the photographic depictions of battle, the medals and the museum paraphernalia of the period—remain to link the present with those five years that launched the fledgling nation of Australia into the swift maturity that only the crucible of war can yield.

Ninety years have elapsed since all fell quiet on the Western Front of World War i. Within that period of time Australian and New Zealand forces have risen to the occasion to aid their English-speaking allies in World War ii, in Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. But it has been over 60 years since Australia was called upon to mobilize for a battle of global proportions to protect the precious freedoms of which the English-speaking peoples have been guarantors for over 200 years.

The question now is, would today’s increasingly politically correct, multicultural, Aboriginalised, feminized, increasingly Asianised and Islamicised Australian society have what it takes to rise to the occasion should tyranny once again threaten these freedoms? Would there be sufficient of the old Anzac spirit remaining to fire up the manpower of the nation to willingly defend home and hearth from any prospect of invasion? Can a new multicultural “tradition” fire a nation with the same zealous patriotism that the once deeply embedded culture of “God, king and country” did for Australia in two great world wars? The psychology simply does not work the same!

Is there, then, an increasing risk of the words of the ancient prophet coming to fruition, “They have blown the trumpet, even to make all ready; but none goeth to the battle” (Ezekiel 7:14).

If you are one who is deeply concerned about the future of your country, request a copy of our book The United States and Britain in Prophecy. That book explains as no other volume can the real reason for today’s trends in Australian society and where it is all leading.