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Australia in the 1910s

The war effort

On 13 April 1910, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) won the federal election with a clear majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Scottish-born Andrew Fisher, son of a coal miner, became prime minister while Welsh-born Billy Hughes became attorney-general. On 5 September 1914, due to a dissolution of parliament, all 75 House of Representatives seats were up for re-election. The ALP won a stunning election victory, taking 42 of the 75 seats and an overwhelming 31 of 36 Senate seats.

In Europe on 4 August 1914, Britain declared war on Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire. As Britain was at war, so was Australia. The Australian war effort was dominated by recruiting and equipping a force to fight overseas. Australia's early involvement in the First World War included the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force taking possession of German New Guinea and the neighbouring islands of the Bismarck Archipelago in October 1914. In November 1914, the Royal Australian Navy made a significant contribution when HMAS Sydney destroyed the German raider SMS Emden.

On 25 April 1915, members of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) landed at Gallipoli together with troops from New Zealand, Britain and France. This began a campaign that ended with the evacuation of troops on 19 and 20 December 1915. Following the battles at Gallipoli, Australian forces fought campaigns on the Western Front and in the Middle East.

Men at the MelbourneTown Hall enlisting for service in the First World War

A snapshot of 1918

  • January
    • The Australia Corps formed out of five separate Australian divisions fighting in France during the First World War.

  • April
    • A factory opened in Caulfield, Victoria, to manufacture artificial limbs for returned soldiers.

  • September
    • The first direct wireless message was transmitted from Britain to Australia.

  • November
    • On the '11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour', the Armistice between the Allies and Germany flagged the cessation of fighting on the Western Front.
    • Preferential voting was introduced for the first time in elections for the House of Representatives.
    • Two significant children's books were published: The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay and Tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie: Their Wonderful Adventures by May Gibbs.


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