For a decade beforeBritish government ministers had been attempting to persuade Australian governments or rather those members who visited London to participate in various imperial conferences to agree to contributing forces to serve the empire in the event of a major war. The precedents of Australian colonial forces serving the British in the Sudan inin China and especially in South Africa from demonstrated the feasibility of using Australian troops in this way.
Tensions throughout Europe had been growing for many years — nationalism, an arms race, disputes over territories and spheres of influence, greed, fear, distrust, and the division of Europe into two hostile alliances were all contributing factors.
Russia mobilised troops to prevent Serbia being crushed. Germany declared war on Russia and, realising that France would support Russia, declared war on France as well. When Germany invaded neutral Belgium, Britain declared war on Germany. Japan, seeing the chance to seize German territory in China, also declared war on Germany.
Bulgaria and Turkey sided with the Central Powers and soon most countries in Europe had become involved in the war. When Britain declared war on Germany on 4 Augustmost Australians greeted the news with great enthusiasm.
Volunteers rushed to enlist for an exciting war which was expected to be over by Christmas. For Australia, as for many nations, the First World War remains the most costly conflict in terms of deaths and casualties. From a population of fewer than five million,men enlisted, of which over 60, were killed andwounded, gassed, or taken prisoner.
Most of the men accepted into the army in August were sent first to Egypt, not Europe, to meet the threat Turkey posed to British interests in the Middle East and the Suez Canal. During the early days of the campaign, the allies tried to break through Turkish lines, while the Turks tried to drive the allied troops off the peninsula.
Attempts on both sides ended in failure and the ensuing stalemate continued for the remainder of The most successful operation of the campaign was the evacuation of troops on 19 and 20 December, under cover of a comprehensive deception operation.
As a result, the Turks were unable to inflict more than a very few casualties on the retreating forces. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well. When the AIF divisions arrived in France, the war on the Western Front had long settled into a stalemate, with the opposing armies facing each other from trench systems that extended across Belgium and north-east France, from the English Channel to the Swiss border.
The development of machine-guns and artillery favoured defence over attack and compounded the impasse, which lasted until the final months of the war. While the overall hostile stalemate continued throughout andthe Australians and other allied armies repeatedly attacked, preceded by massive artillery bombardments intended to cut barbed wire and destroy enemy defences.
The surviving Germans, protected by deep and heavily reinforced bunkers, were usually able to repel the attackers with machine-gun fire and artillery support from the rear.
These attacks often resulted in limited territorial gains followed, in turn, by German counter-attacks. Both sides sustained heavy losses. In July Australian infantry were introduced to this type of combat at Fromelles, where they suffered 5, casualties in 24 hours. By the end of the year about 40, Australians had been killed or wounded on the Western Front.
In a further 76, Australians became casualties in battles, such Bullecourt, Messines, and the four-month campaign around Ypres, known as the Battle of Passchendaele.
In March the German army launched its final offensive of the war, hoping for a decisive victory before the military and industrial strength of the United States could be fully mobilised in support of the allies. The Germans initially met with great success, advancing 64 kilometres past the region of the Somme battles, before the offensive lost momentum.
Between April and November the stalemate of the preceding years began to give way, as the allies combined infantry, artillery, tanks, and aircraft more effectively, demonstrated in the Australian capture of Hamel spur on 4 July In early October the Australian divisions withdrew from the front for rest and refitting; they were preparing to return when Germany surrendered on 11 November.
Unlike their counterparts in France and Belgium, the Australians in the Middle East fought a mobile war against the Ottoman Empire in conditions completely different from the mud and stagnation of the Western Front.
The light horsemen and their mounts had to survive extreme heat, harsh terrain, and water shortages. Nevertheless, casualties were comparatively light, with 1, Australians killed or wounded in three years of war. This campaign began in with Australian troops participating in the defence of the Suez Canal and the allied reconquest of the Sinai peninsular.
In the following year Australian and other allied troops advanced into Palestine and captured Gaza and Jerusalem; by they had occupied Lebanon and Syria. On 30 October Turkey sued for peace.
The Great War was not even the first foreign war that Australians fought in alongside Britain – that was in South Africa. But as the legend of Breaker Morant has captured, there were important differences in attitude between Australia and Britain that came to the fore in foreign battles. For Australia, as for many nations, the First World War remains the most costly conflict in terms of deaths and casualties. From a population of fewer than five million, , men enlisted, of which over 60, were killed and , wounded, gassed, or . Journal of the Australian War Memorial - Issue 29 "We are the women who mourn our dead": Australian civilian women's poetic responses to the First World War Author: Dr Jacqueline Manuel An anthology of Australian literature of the First World War, Australian War Memorial and Australian Government Publishing Service, , p.
Australians also served at sea and in the newly formed flying corps. The First World War was the first armed conflict in which aircraft were used.The First World War subsequently brought about the need for the mobilisation of resources to support the war effort which undoubtedly led to the long term post-war enhancement and transformation of the Australian Commonwealth government’s financial and legislative powers over the State governments.
Australia received £5,, war reparations, but the direct cost of the war to Australia had been £,,, and, by the mids, repatriation pensions, war gratuities, interest and sinking fund charges were £,, Despite efforts to bar their enlistment, over 1, Indigenous Australians fought for Australia in the First World War.
 saw the first appeal to the High Court by an Aboriginal Australian, and it succeeded.
Dr Santanu Das is the author of Touch and Intimacy in First World War Literature (Cambridge, ) and the editor of Race, Empire and First World War Writing (Cambridge, ) and the Cambridge Companion to the Poetry of the First World War .
I explore these wider questions by focusing on the cataclysmic events of war, in the first instance in the context of a total war in the early twentieth century, the First World War, and in the.
A comparative analysis of references to ‘bogans’ and ‘chavs’ in the media found that while both figures were used to stereotype and denigrate working-class people, there were examples of the former eliciting positive identifications (Warr et al., ).