Australia’s Military History during the First World War, 1914‒18 - dummies

Australia’s Military History during the First World War, 1914‒18

By David Horner, Angus Houston

Part of Australia’s Military History For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When the First World War broke out in 1914, Australia was a self-governing nation but still firmly supported Britain. Many citizens felt that war would be a way of demonstrating the mettle of the new nation. During the First World War more than 330,000 troops served overseas as part of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). Major campaigns were:

  • Gallipoli 1915. As part of the Anzac Corps under Lieutenant General Sir William Birdwood, Australian troops landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 25 April 1915. Key battles included Helles (May 1915) and Lone Pine, the Nek and Hill 60 (August 1915).

  • Palestine 1916‒18. The Australian Light Horse served as part of the Anzac and Australian Mounted Divisions under Lieutenant General Sir Harry Chauvel in the Sinai, Palestine and Syria. Significant battles were Romani (August 1916), the charge at Beersheba (October 1917), the Es Salt raids (March to April 1918), and the capture of Damascus (September to October 1918).

  • Western Front 1916‒18. Five Australian infantry divisions fought in many battles in northern France and Flanders (Belgium) including Fromelles (July 1916), Pozières (July to August 1916), Bullecourt (April to May 1917), Messines (June 1917), 3rd Ypres (September to October 1917), Dernancourt (April 1918), Villers-Bretonneux (April 1918), Hamel (July 1918), Amiens (August 1918) and Mont St Quentin (August 1918). Lieutenant General Sir John Monash commanded the Australian Corps in the successful battles between June and the end of the war in November 1918.

The new Royal Australian Navy (RAN) was relatively small. Its most significant action was the sinking of the German raider, Emden, by HMAS Sydney in November 1914. A small naval and military expedition seized German New Guinea in September 1914.