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Chinese ANZACs - a missing history?Bookmark

Learning area: History
Year level: Year 9
Country: China
General capability:

This learning sequence explores recent historical reconsiderations and popular representations of 'Chinese ANZACs'.

After engaging with the topic, students analyse the case study of Billy Sing to develop questions that could lead to more significant historical inquiry.


  1. The ANZAC legend is commemorated across Australia on 25 April every year. What is not so well known is the story of the Chinese ANZACs and the contribution they made in World War I. As a class, watch the video Chinese Anzacs' history on show. Prior to watching the video, consider the questions below:
    • What do you think you know about this topic?
    • What puzzles you about this topic?
    • How can you explore this topic?
  2. You may like to document the questions that you have in a shared writing space such as Google Docs or PrimaryPad.
  3. View the video Australia's Chinese ANZACs remembered.

  4. As you watch the video, record key information such as Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?
  5. To further investigate the Chinese ANZACs, explore the websites for ANZAC Diversity and Forgotten heroes – Chinese Australians in the First Australian Imperial Force 1914–20.
  6. As a class, discuss what you new information you have discovered. What was most interesting? What surprised you?


Billy Sing – A case study

  1. Portrait photograph of Billy SingBilly SingAs a class, watch the video entitled Australia's Chinese ANZACs remembered to gain further background information about the Chinese ANZACs and learn about the story of Billy Sing. Add further information to your exploration notes above.
  2. One of the main tasks of an historian is to frame questions that inform an historical inquiry and ultimately require historical argument. The case of Billy Sing can be used to raise questions that do not often get asked when we think about ANZAC Day and its legend. Explore the 'history' links An Australian sniper accounts for 200 Turks, an article written during World War I; The Assassin of Gallipoli', the work of a contemporary historian who uncovered what had been the forgotten story of Billy Sing; and Chinese war hero Australia's top Gallipoli sniper, an article written in 2015 that gives a historical recount of Billy’s participation in the war and his post-war experiences upon returning to Australia. Read all three articles and develop two to four open ended questions that could lead to further historical research.
  3. People other than historians often look to the past as a source of interesting stories. The 'Controversy' links illustrate this. A video was made about the legend of Billy Sing starring white actors. Listen to the radio interview The Legend of Billy Sing mini series  and read the article Director slammed for 'white-out' of legendary Gallipoli sniper Billy Sing. As a class or in small groups, discuss what the 'controversy' in question was. Revisit the questions you developed in question 2 and revise or add to them when you have understood what was controversial.

You might want to use key historical terms to sharpen your questions such as: evidence, primary sources, continuity and change, perspectives, empathy, significance and contestability.


In this activity you have explored the case of Billy Sing and developed historical questions related to how well the history of ANZAC and its heroes is told.

  1. To enrich your understanding further, listen to (or read) Does the Anzac myth lead to historical inaccuracy? Respond to this question based upon those that you have written.
  2. Between 2014 and 2018, Australia will commemorate the ANZAC Centenary, marking 100 years since our nation's involvement in World War 1.

  3. Write an article for your local newspaper on the importance of the ANZAC legend, taking into account the importance of all stories being told and historical accuracy as you have discovered from this activity. As a class, you may like to develop a proposal for how your school community could commemorate ANZAC Day 2015.

It is recommended that teachers preview websites and videos to ensure they are suitable for their students before they are used in class. Content accessed via these links is not owned or controlled by Asia Education Foundation and is subject to the terms of use of the associated website.

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