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Australia in the 1910s

The First World War

Australia's involvement in the First World War (August 1914–November 1918) resulted in 61,720 combatants killed and some 150,000 wounded. Overall 421,809 served in the military, including 331,781 serving overseas. More than 2,000 Australian nurses served with the Australian Army Nursing Service, 130 with the British nursing service and 423 in hospitals in Australia. Between 400 and 500 Indigenous soldiers fought in the First World War.

From April 1915, Australian soldiers fought at Gallipoli, Turkey, as part of an attempt to secure a sea route for the British ally Russia. The campaign was an attempt to find a way around the massive entrenchments already established in central Europe. The strategy did not work but the attempt produced many heroes including 'Simpson and his donkey'. In December 1915, all Allied troops were evacuated from the Gallipoli peninsula.

After Gallipoli, the majority of Australian Imperial Force soldiers were shifted to the Western Front in France and Belgium to fight against Germany. During this campaign Australian and Allied losses escalated further, reaching a peak in September–November 1917. After 15 weeks of fighting in the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres), Australian casualties totalled 38,000.

A map of the planned landing of the 2nd and 3rd Brigades of the Australian 1st Division north of Gaba Tepe on 25 April 1915. The dotted green line marks the advance achieved on the first day.

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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