Military History Of Australia During World War I
In Australia, the outbreak of World War I was greeted with considerable enthusiasm. Even before Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, the nation pledged its support alongside other states of the British Empire and almost immediately began preparations to send forces overseas to participate in the conflict. The first campaign that Australians were involved in was in German New Guinea after a hastily raised force known as the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force was dispatched from Australia to seize German possessions in the Pacific in September 1914. At the same time another expeditionary force, initially consisting of 20,000 men and known as the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF), was raised for service overseas.
The AIF departed Australia in November 1914 and, after several delays due to the presence of German naval vessels in the Indian Ocean, arrived in Egypt, where they were initially used to defend the Suez Canal. In early 1915, however, it was decided to carry out an amphibious landing on the Gallipoli peninsula with the goal of opening up a second front and securing the passage of the Dardanelles. The Australians and New Zealanders, grouped together as the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), went ashore on 25 April 1915 and for the next eight months the Anzacs, alongside their British, French and other allies, fought a costly and ultimately unsuccessful campaign against the Turks.
The force was evacuated from the peninsula in December 1915 and returned to Egypt, where the AIF was expanded. In early 1916 it was decided that the infantry divisions would be sent to France, where they took part in many of the major battles fought on the Western Front. Most of the light horse units remained in the Middle East until the end of the war, carrying out further operations against the Turks in Egypt and Palestine. Small numbers of Australians served in other theatres of war. While the main focus of the Australian military's effort was the ground war, air and naval forces were also committed. Squadrons of the Australian Flying Corps served in the Middle East and on the Western Front, while elements of the Royal Australian Navy carried out operations in the Atlantic, North Sea, Adriatic and Black Sea, as well as the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
By the end of the war, Australians were far more circumspect. The nation's involvement cost over 60,000 Australians their lives and many more were left unable to work as a result of their injuries. The impact of the war was felt in many other areas also. Financially it was very costly, while the effect on the social and political landscape was considerable and threatened to cause serious divides in the nation's social fabric. Conscription was possibly the most contentious issue and ultimately, despite having conscription for home service, Australia was one of only two combatants not to use conscripts in the fighting. Nevertheless, for many Australians the nation's involvement in World War I and the Gallipoli campaign was seen as a symbol of its emergence as an international actor, while many of the notions of the Australian character and nationhood that exist today have their origins in the war and Anzac Day is celebrated as a national holiday.
Read more about Military History Of Australia During World War I: Outbreak of The War, German New Guinea, First Australian Imperial Force, Egypt and Palestine, Western Front, Other Theatres, Australian Flying Corps, Royal Australian Navy Operations, Statistics
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