The history of the Australian Army dates back to colonial forces, prior to the Federation of Australia in 1901. Some of the colonial forces, which served the states of Australia at the time, were gradually united into federal units between 1899 and 1903; thus forming the beginning of the Australian Army. The colonial armies were officially united as the Commonwealth Military Forces in the Defence Act of 1903. Since then the Australian Army as an organization has changed to suit to needs of the nation; with particular changes occurring during, and following, the World Wars, Korean War, Vietnam War and Gulf War. In 1916 the title Australian Military Forces was adopted and remained its official name until 1980, after which it became known as the Australian Army.
For more than 80 years after the first British settlement, the only professional soldiers in Australia were members of British Army garrisons. The first conflicts in which large numbers of Australian-born soldiers fought overseas were the New Zealand Wars, between 1863–1872, although almost all of these—about 2,500 men—served in New Zealand colonial units, or the British Army. By the time that the garrisons were withdrawn in 1870, the six separate self-governing colonies in Australia already had their own separate, part-time reserve units, known as militia or "volunteers". The colonial governments began to raise professional artillery units, to staff coastal batteries. From 1877 onwards, the British sent officers to advise the colonies on defence matters, and in the early 1880s, the first inter-colonial defence conferences were held.
In 1885, the government of New South Wales sent an infantry battalion, with artillery and support units to the short-lived British campaign in Sudan. During the economic depression of the early 1890s, large-scale strikes in various colonies were met with governments mobilising and/or threatening to use militia against strikers. This was very unpopular and led to successful and historically-significant campaigns against the formation of standing, regular forces. The "two armies" system was established whereby the only infantry units would be militia, although permanent artillery and other support units remained. As Federation of the colonies approached, on 24 August 1899 the colonial artillery units were merged into the first Australian federal army unit.
Before Federation of Australia and the forming of the national army, the six self-governing and independent Australian colonial governments sent contingents to South Africa to serve in the Second Boer War. The first offer of 250 mounted troops came from the new colony of Queensland in July 1899, some months before the declaration of war.
The first arrivals of Australian troops was the First New South Wales Contingent which arrived in November 1899, after departing London. A detachment, sent from Australia in October 1899, was known as the Australian Regiment and was an infantry unit, made up mainly of volunteers from the Colonies of Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia, who left on one ship for Cape Town. Due to the way the war developed, these troops were converted from infantry to mounted infantry.
Strong resistance from the Boer Afrikaner forces led to further recruiting in the Australian colonies. Known as Bushmen's Contingents, these soldiers were usually volunteers with horse-riding and shooting skills but no military experience. After Federation in 1901, eight Australian Commonwealth Horse battalions were sent.
Many of the Australian units had a short tour of duty and some were subject to restructuring. Later Australians transferred to, or enlisted into multinational units, such as the Bushveldt Carbineers, in which Harry "Breaker" Morant and Peter Hancock served, before their court martial and execution for alleged war crimes.
Australian units served at many notable actions, including the relief of Mafeking, Sunnyside, Slingersfontein, Pink Hill, the Relief of Kimberley, Paardeburg, Bloemfontein, the Siege of Eland's River, Rhenosterkop and Haartebeestefontein. Australians were there for the capture of Johannesburg and were first into Pretoria. Later they participated at Diamond Hill.
In all, 16,175 Australians, with 16,314 horses, served in the Boer War; 251 were killed in action, 267 died of other causes and 43 went missing in action. Six Victoria Crosses were awarded to Australians, five serving with Australian contingents and one serving with the South African Constabulary. Many Australians did more than one tour of duty and a number remained after the war and settled in-country; while others returned to Australia then returned to South Africa.
The Boxer Rebellion in China began in 1900, and a number of western nations—including many European powers, the United States, and Japan—soon sent forces as part of the China Field Force to protect their interests. In June, the British government sought permission from the Australian colonies to dispatch ships from the Australian Squadron to China with Naval Brigade reservists, who had been trained in both ship handling and soldiering to fulfil their coastal defence role. The colonies dispatched 200 men from Victoria, 260 from New South Wales and the South Australian ship HMCS Protector, under the command of Captain William Creswell. Amongst the naval contingent from New South Wales were 200 naval officers and sailors and 50 soldiers headquartered at Victoria Barracks, Sydney who originally enlisted for the Second Boer War. The soldiers were keen to go to China but refused to be enlisted as sailors. The NSW Naval Brigade objected to having soldiers in their ranks. The Army and Navy compromised and titled the contingent the NSW Marine Light Infantry.
As the Boer War raged, the Commonwealth of Australia was founded on 1 January 1901. On 1 March, 28,923 colonial soldiers, being 1,457 professional soldiers, 18,603 paid militia and 8,863 unpaid volunteers, were transferred to the new Australian Army. However, the individual units continued to be administered under the various colonial Acts. Major General Sir Edward Hutton, a former commander of the New South Wales Military Forces, became the first commander of the Commonwealth Forces' on 26 December and set to work devising an integrated structure for the new army. The Defence Act of 1903 brought all of the units under one piece of legislation; more significantly, it prevented the raising of standing infantry units and specified that militia forces could not be used in industrial disputes, and could not serve outside Australia. The vast majority of soldiers remained in militia units, now known as the Citizen Military Forces (CMF). In 1911, two significant changes followed a report by Lord Kitchener: the Royal Military College, Duntroon was established and; a system of universal national service began: boys aged 12 to 18 became cadets, and men aged 18–26 had to serve in the CMF.
When the United Kingdom declared war on Germany at the start of World War I, the Australian government followed without hesitation. This was considered to be expected by the Australian public, because of the very large number of British-born citizens and first generation Anglo-Australians at the time. By the end of the war, almost 20% of those who served in the Australian forces had been born in the United Kingdom, even though nearly all enlistments had occurred in Australia.
Because existing militia forces were unable to serve overseas, an all-volunteer expeditionary force, the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was formed from 15 August 1914. The Australian government had pledged to supply 20,000 men, organised as one infantry division and one light horse brigade plus supporting units. The first commander of the AIF was General William Bridges, who also assumed direct command of the infantry division.
However, the first target for Australian action was close to home, seizing German colonial outposts in the south-west Pacific and New Guinea. The 2000-man force assembled for this purpose, known as the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF), landed near Rabaul on 11 September 1914 and after some fighting, the German garrison surrendered on 21 September.
Departing from Western Australia on 1 November 1914, the AIF was sent initially to British-controlled Egypt, to pre-empt any attack by the Ottoman Empire, and with a view to opening another front against the Central Powers. The AIF had four infantry brigades with the first three making up the 1st Division. The 4th Brigade was joined with the sole New Zealand infantry brigade to form the New Zealand and Australian Division.
The combined Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), commanded by British general William Birdwood, went into action when Allied forces landed on the Gallipoli peninsula on 25 April 1915 (now commemorated as Anzac Day). The Gallipoli Campaign would last for eight months of bloody stalemate. By the end of the campaign, Australian casualties were 8,700 killed and 19,000 wounded or sick. The original AIF contingent had continued to grow with the arrival of the 2nd Division which was formed in Egypt and went to Gallipoli in August.
After the withdrawal from Gallipoli, the infantry underwent a major expansion with the first four brigades, the 1st Division and the 4th Brigade being split to create the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th Brigades. The four new brigades together with the 4th and 8th Brigades formed two additional divisions (4th and 5th). The 3rd Division was formed in Australia and sailed directly to England for further training before moving to the Western Front, in November 1916. The light horse brigades had served dismounted at Gallipoli. In 1916, they were reunited with their horses and formed into the 1st Anzac Mounted Division in Egypt to campaign against Turkish forces in the Sinai and Palestine. Australia also supplied the majority of troops for the newly formed Imperial Camel Corps Brigade.
The first Australian division to mount a major attack on the Western Front was the 5th Division. The attack, the Battle of Fromelles, was a disaster with the division suffering 5,500 casualties for no gain. The 1st, 2nd and 4th Divisions, combined as I Anzac Corps, fought the Battle of Pozières and subsequent Battle of Mouquet Farm, part of the Battle of the Somme. In Egypt, the light horse had helped repulse the Turkish attempt to capture the Suez Canal in the Battle of Romani.
During 1917, the five divisions in France fought in three Allied offensives: the Battle of Bullecourt (part of the Battle of Arras), the Battle of Messines and the Third Battle of Ypres. Meanwhile, the light horse had entered southern Palestine. After two attempts to break through the Turkish defences at Gaza, the decisive victory was achieved in the Third Battle of Gaza in which the Australians captured the town of Beersheba in a dramatic cavalry charge. By the end of the year, British forces had captured Jerusalem.
The German Spring Offensive of early 1918 broke through British lines north and south of the Somme. The five Australian divisions which had been formed into the Australian Corps on 1 November 1917, were moved south to help halt the German advance. In May, Australian General John Monash was given command of the Australian Corps and the first operation he planned as a corps commander, the Battle of Hamel, is widely regarded as the finest set-piece strategy of the war on the Western Front. The final Allied offensive began with the Battle of Amiens on 8 August, and the Australian Corps, along with the Canadian Corps and the III British Corps, spearheaded the advance north and south of the Somme. By the end of September, the Australian divisions were severely depleted, with only the 3rd and the 5th fit for immediate action. On 5 October the Australian Corps was withdrawn to rest and saw no more fighting before the war ended.
In the Middle East, the light horse had endured summer in the Jordan Valley before leading the British offensive in the final Battle of Megiddo. The 10th Light Horse Regiment was the first Allied unit to reach Damascus.
A total of 331,814 Australians were sent overseas to serve as part of the AIF, which represented 13% of the Australian male population. About 2,100 women served with the 1st AIF, mainly as nurses. 18% (61,859) of those who served in the AIF were killed or died. The casualty rate (killed or wounded) was 64%, reportedly the highest of any country which took part in World War I. The AIF remained a volunteer force for the duration of the war—the only British or Dominion force to do so. Two referendums on conscription had been defeated, preserving the volunteer status, but stretching the reserves towards the end of the war. The AIF also had a desertion rate larger than Britain, mainly because the death penalty was not in force.
After the end of the First World War, the wartime Australian Imperial Force was demobilised and officially disbanded on 1 April 1921. In the post war period, the Army was reorganised with the focus being placed on the part-time Militia, which was rebuilt to consist of four infantry divisions (the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th), and two cavalry divisions (the 1st and 2nd). In addition, three mixed brigades were raised in Queensland outside the divisional structure (the 11th), Tasmania (the 12th), and Western Australia (the 13th), which would come under the 5th Division's command in the event of a war. The part time force was maintained through a mixture of volunteers and compulsory service until the compulsory service scheme was suspended in 1929. A small regular force was maintained during this period, based around the Australian Instructional Corps and the Staff Corps, as well as a limited number of engineer, medical, artillery, ordnance, service support personnel. Training and manning through the interwar years was hampered by limited funding as a result of the Depression, as well as limited and obsolete equipment, and many units during this period were well below full strength.
In 1938 the first moves towards the establishment of a regular infantry force were undertaken with the establishment of the Darwin Mobile Force. Due to the provisions of the Defence Act 1903 this force was raised as part of the Royal Australian Artillery, even though it consisted of a large number of infantry.
When the Second World War broke out between Britain and Germany in September 1939, the Second Australian Imperial Force (2nd AIF) was formed, to fight in France. The AIF's main strength would consist of four divisions raised in 1939–1940: the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th. Major General Thomas Blamey was appointed commander of the 2nd AIF. Compulsory military service was introduced: all men over 21 had to complete three months training with the Militia. However, to ensure home defences, Militia members were barred from joining the AIF.
After the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) withdrew from France in the Dunkirk evacuation in the face of the German Blitzkrieg, the 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions, as I Corps, were sent to Egypt. From late 1940, the individual divisions faced Italian and German forces in the North African Campaign. The 6th Division then experienced many casualties in mainland Greece, and on Crete, and 3,000 of its personnel were taken prisoner in this campaign. The 7th Division formed the body of the successful Allied invasion of Vichy French-controlled Lebanon and Syria in 1941. The 9th Division and part of the 7th played a celebrated defensive role at the Siege of Tobruk.
In 1941, a start was made on raising the 1st Armoured Division, as part of the AIF. As fears of war with Japan mounted, most of the 8th Division was sent to Singapore, to strengthen the British garrison; the remaining battalions were deployed in the islands to Australia's north, at Rabaul, Ambon and Timor. Following short but bloody campaigns in Malaya and the islands, virtually all of the 8th Division was lost when stronger Japanese forces swept through South East Asia, in early 1942. In the Battle of Singapore alone, more than 15,000 Australians were taken prisoner. The 6th and 7th Divisions were recalled to Australia, as the country faced the prospect of invasion. While Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, had requested that the two AIF divisions be sent to Burma, the Australian Prime Minister, John Curtin, turned down this request, though he did agree to land two brigades of the 6th Division in Ceylon where they formed part of the island's defences during the early months of 1942.
Blamey was appointed Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) in March 1942; in April a major re-organisation took place: the name First Army —which previously referred to a Militia formation—was reassigned to I Corps, which was expanded to army size with the inclusion of Militia divisions. The First Army's initial area of responsibility was the defence of Queensland and northern New South Wales. The Second Army was responsible for south-eastern Australia; the other components of Australia's defences were III Corps (in Western Australia), the Northern Territory Force and New Guinea Force. Conscription was effectively introduced in mid-1942, when all men 18–35, and single men aged 35–45, were required to join the CMF. In addition, the Army's armoured force was greatly expanded.
In February 1942, a change in regulations meant that if 65% of the official, establishment strength of a Militia unit, or 75 per cent of the actual personnel, volunteered for the AIF, the unit became an AIF unit. At the time, the CMF were often scorned as "chocolate-tin soldiers", or "chockos", because it was thought they would melt in the heat of battle. Nevertheless, Militia units distinguished themselves and suffered extremely high casualties during 1942, in New Guinea, which was then an Australian territory. The prime example was the 39th (Militia) Battalion, many of them very young, untrained and poorly equipped, who distinguished themselves and suffered heavy casualties, in the stubborn rearguard action on the Kokoda Trail.
By late 1942, the 7th Division was beginning to relieve the Militia in New Guinea. In August, as the Kokoda battles raged, Militia and 7th Division units formed the bulk of Australian forces at the Battle of Milne Bay, the first outright defeat inflicted on Japanese land forces. The 6th and 7th Divisions, with Militia units and elements of the 1st Armoured, formed a large part of Allied forces which destroyed the major Japanese beachhead in New Guinea, at the Battle of Buna-Gona. In 1943, the Defence Act was changed to allow Militia units to serve south of the Equator in South East Asia. The 9th Division remained in North Africa and distinguished itself at the Second Battle of El Alamein, after which victory over Erwin Rommel was assured, and returned to Australia in 1943. Later that year it was pitched into battle against Japanese forces in New Guinea.
General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Allied Commander in the South West Pacific, was resented for his treatment of Australian forces. After the surrender of American forces in the Philippines, Australian ground forces constituted almost all of MacArthur's ground forces. As US forces re-built, however, he increasingly used Australian units for secondary assignments. The campaign on Bougainville after the departure of US forces is considered to be an example of this.
The 1st Army took responsibility for mopping-up and controlling areas which flanked US forces' "island-hopping" campaign towards Japan. Australian units were also responsible for the last phase of amphibious assaults during the Pacific War: the attacks on Japanese-occupied Borneo, including Tarakan, Brunei, British Borneo, Balikpapan and other targets in Sarawak. Meanwhile, Australian prisoners of the Japanese, were often held in inhumane conditions, such as Changi prison, or in Japan itself. Some were also subject to severe forced labour, including the Burma Railway, or forced long distance marches, such as on Sandakan. There was a very high death rate among Allied prisoners of the Japanese.
A planned invasion of the Japanese home island of Honshū in 1946, Operation Coronet, would probably have included a proposed 10th Division, formed from existing AIF personnel. The operation never proceeded as Japan surrendered prior. Compulsory military service ended in 1945, and most Australian personnel had been demobilised by the end of 1946. Out of more than 724,000 army personnel during World War II, almost 400,000 served outside Australia. More than 18,000 died; 22,000 were wounded and more than 20,000 became prisoners of war.
The British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF), was the name of the joint Australian, British, Indian and New Zealand military forces in occupied Japan, from 21 February 1946 until the end of occupation in 1952. Overall, Australians made up by far the biggest proportion of BCOF, and the army made up of most of the Australians. At its peak, BCOF comprised 40,000 personnel, equal to about 10% of the US military personnel in Japan. The army contingent was centred around Australia's first ever standing infantry unit, the 34th Infantry Brigade, which had been formed from 2nd AIF and Militia personnel on Morotai in late 1945. The three battalions in the Brigade were redesignated to form the Royal Australian Regiment in 1947. The position of General Officer Commanding (GOC) BCOF was always filled by an Australian Army officer.
While US forces were responsible for military government, BCOF was responsible for supervising demilitarisation and the disposal of Japan's war industries. BCOF was also responsible for occupation of the western prefectures of Shimane, Yamaguchi, Tottori, Okayama, Hiroshima and Shikoku Island. BCOF headquarters was at Kure. According to the AWM:
The Australian component of BCOF was responsible for over 20 million Japanese citizens, within a 57,000 square kilometre area. During 1947, the BCOF began to wind down its presence in Japan. However, BCOF bases provided staging posts for Australian and other Commonwealth forces deployed to the Korean War, from 1949 onwards. BCOF was effectively wound-up in 1951, as control of Commonwealth forces in Japan was transferred to British Commonwealth Forces Korea.
Plans for post-war defence arrangements were predicated on maintaining a relatively strong peacetime force. In a significant departure from past Australian defence policy which had previously relied on citizen forces, the Australian Army would include a permanent field force of 19,000 regulars organised into a brigade of three infantry battalions with armoured support, serving alongside a part-time force of 50,000 men in the Citizen Military Forces. The Australian Regular Army was subsequently formed on 30 September 1947, while the CMF was re-raised on 1 July 1948.
Although the Royal Australian Air Force had been conducting operations in Malaya since 1950, it was not until October 1955 that the first Army battalion, 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR), was deployed to Penang. However, the battalion did not have approval from the government to conduct operations until January 1956, when it conducted a search and security mission in Kedah. The mission, code-named Operation Deuce, lasted until late April 1956 when 2RAR transferred responsibility of their area to the 1st Battalion, Royal Malay Regiment. In May, 2RAR conducted Operation Shark North in Perak. It was withdrawn from combat operations in August 1957 and left Malaya in October 1957. The battalion suffered 14 killed.
In September 1957, 2RAR was replaced by the 3rd battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR), which began patrols as part of Operation Shark North in December. In January 1958, 3RAR began Operation Ginger, a major operation designed to disrupt the food supply to the communist forces. Ginger continued until April 1959 when Perak was declared a safe area. The battalion was withdrawn from operations in September 1959, returning to Australia in October. It had four killed during its tour
In October 1959, 3RAR was replaced by 1RAR. Following a month spent climatising to the jungle, 1RAR participated in Operation Bamboo, a deep jungle search near the Thai-Malay border. This operation met with little success, as insurgents could cross over the border into Thailand, where they could not be followed. In April 1960, 1RAR began Operation Magnet, the first operation in which Australian forces were able to cross the border into Thailand. However, Magnet did not result in any engagements.
In July 1960, the Malayan Prime Minister declared the emergency over. Despite this, 1RAR continued operations until the end of its tour in October 1961. The battalion suffered two deaths during its tour.
From October 1961 to August 1963, 2RAR conducted its second tour of duty in Perlis and Kedah.
In 1960 the Army was restructured onto the Pentropic organisation in an attempt to improve its combat power and align it with the US Army. This organisation proved unsuccessful, however, and it reverted to its previous unit organisations in 1965.
Australian Army's commitment into Vietnam commenced with a contingent of a specialist group called the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) which commenced in 1962. Later Australian troops and their supports arrived and were assigned the Phuoc Tuy province. The 1st Australian Task Force was based in the province between 1966 and 1971 and consisted of infantry battalions, a Special Air Service Squadron, an artillery regiment and supporting engineer, armoured and armoured personnel carrier squadrons.
The Australian Army performed well in Vietnam and inflicted losses on the enemy. While the Army fought few major battles, Australian soldiers fought and destroyed large Vietnamese Communist forces during the Battle of Long Tan 1966 and the fighting around Firebase Coral and the heavy operations in the Long Hai hills (1970). The Australian Army was highly trained at jungle warfare as all infantry and combat units completed a gruelling jungle training course at Canungra in Queensland pre-posting into Vietnam. In all, some 50,000 Australians served in Vietnam of which 520 were killed in battles and many due to mines.
The Australians style of warfare differed to that used by the United States Army. The Australians were masters of stealth, patrolling, tracking, searching & ambushing and hitting the enemy's flanks. In 1970, the 1st Australian Task Force in Phuoc Tuoy Province was "the most potent allied military force ... yet was frequently tied up with reconnaissance-in-force operations".
In 1988, as part of the celebrations for Australia's bicentennial, a detachment of soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment became the first Australian troops in a generation to mount the Queen's Guard at Buckingham Palace in London.
In 1979, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 435 which called for a peace keeping force to be deployed into the then South West Africa to provide assistance with its transition to the independent nation of Namibia. The multi-national force was to comprise approximately 8,000 military personnel and a large contingent of Civilian Police. However, due to significant difficulties within the UN and in having South African forces withdrawn, the UN force did not deploy until 1989.
Australia deployed a combat engineer force of approximately 310 all ranks as part of the military force. The Australian contingent provided engineering support to the UN Force throughout its deployment. Tasks included numerous major construction projects including road and airfield construction, buildings, barracks, schools and other infrastructure to support the UN. The Australians also provided a wide range of assistance to the Namibian people by constructing a variety of civil projects.
Of note was the task of battlefield clearance after twenty years of warfare. Much of Namibia was in conflict and resulted in millions of land mines being laid around civilian communities and areas along the northern land border. The removal of these land mines was left to the South African Army, however, tens of thousands remained when RSA forces finally withdrew in 1990. The task then fell to the Australians. Despite the significant danger of this task, a 98% success rate was achieved with many civil communities becoming safe for the first time in decades.
The Australia force rotated once after six months deployment and provided continuous engineer support to the UN and Namibia. The force achieved its mission without sustaining any fatalities, making it one of the few military units in UNTAG to do so. Australia's contribution to UNTAG was a success and, as the first deployment of troops to a war zone since the Vietnam War, paved the way for future deployments.
The Australian Army's contribution to the 1991 Gulf War was limited to a small detachment from the 16th Air Defence Regiment. This detachment provided point defence for the Royal Australian Navy ships HMAS Success and HMAS Westralia. A small number of Australian officers on exchange to the British and United States armies served as part of the units they had been posted to. While the Special Air Service Regiment was placed on heightened alert during the war, reports that elements of the SAS were deployed to the Gulf are incorrect. Following the end of the war an Australian Medical Unit of 75 personnel drawn mostly from the Army's 2nd Field Ambulance was briefly deployed to northern Iraq as Australian's contribution to Operation Provide Comfort (designated 'Operation Habitat' by the Australian Defence Force). The Australian Medical Unit operated in Northern Iraq between 16 May and 30 June 1991.
In 2000, the Federation Guard was formed – this was a tri-service unit consisting of personnel from the army, RAN and RAAF to serve as ceremonial guards during the celebrations of Australia's Centenary of Federation the following year. In July 2000, a detachment mounted the Queen's Guard in London for three weeks; this included four women, under the command of Captain Cynthia Anderson. These were the first women ever to serve as guards at Buckingham Palace.
In August 2009, an alleged plan to attack the Holsworthy Barracks was uncovered by the Australian Federal Police. The alleged terrorist plot was to storm Holsworthy Barracks, a training area and artillery range for the Australian Army located in the outer south-western Sydney suburb of Holsworthy, with automatic weapons; and shoot army personnel or others until they were killed or captured.
Australia, as one of the many countries who sent troops to Afghanistan, provided specialist SAS teams for use against Taliban/Al Qaeda forces.
Australia was one of the countries to provide combat forces for the US-led invasion of Iraq. In Australia it was known as Operation Falconer. In all Australia contributed some 2,000 personnel. The Army contribution to this was 500 soldiers. Following the end of major combat operations, Australia announced a withdrawal of most of its forces in Iraq. It left behind approximately 950 troops in the theatre. These included naval forces, support troops (such as air traffic controllers) and a security detachment of about 75 soldiers in strength to defend key Australian interests. In February 2005, Prime Minister John Howard announced an increase in the Australian presence by about 450 to provide protection for Japanese troops and assist in training Iraqi troops. This force, designated the Al Muthanna Task Group, was deployed to Southern Iraq in May 2005. After Al Muthanna province gained provincial control in mid 2006, the Australian force transitioned into a new role and was retitled the Overwatch Battle Group. OBG(W) relocated its forward operating base from Camp Smitty (outskirts of As Samawah, Al Muthanna province) to Tallil Air Base (outskirts of Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar province) effectively co-locating with the Australian Army Training Team Iraq (AATTI). Australia's contribution to operations in Southern Iraq involved combat overwatch of both Al Muthanna and Dhi Qar province, conduct of CIMIC operations and provision of support and training to the Iraqi Security Forces. After the Labor Government gained power in late 2007, most Australian forces were withdrawn from Iraq in mid-2008.
The 1917 Australian plebiscite was held on 20 December 1917. It contained just the one question.
Are you in favour of the proposal of the Commonwealth Government for reinforcing the Australian Imperial Force overseas?Australian Army
The Australian Army is Australia's military land force. Formed in 1901 through the amalgamation of the Australian colonial forces following federation, it is part of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) along with the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. While the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) commands the ADF, the Army is commanded by the Chief of Army (CA). The CA is therefore subordinate to the CDF, but is also directly responsible to the Minister for Defence. Although Australian soldiers have been involved in a number of minor and major conflicts throughout Australia's history, only in Second World War has Australian territory come under direct attack.Australian Army Psychology Corps
The Australian Army Psychology Corps (AA Psych) is the branch of the Australian Army responsible for providing psychological care to Army personnel. Unique at time in the British Commonwealth, the corps was formed on 22 October 1952, replacing the Australian Army Psychology Service which was formed in 1945.Australian Army Training Team Vietnam
The Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) was a specialist unit of military advisors of the Australian Army that operated during the Vietnam War. Raised in 1962, the unit was formed solely for service as part of Australia's contribution to the war, providing training and assistance to South Vietnamese forces. Initially numbering only approximately 30 men, the size of the unit grew several times over the following years as the Australian commitment to South Vietnam gradually grew, with the unit's strength peaking at 227 in November 1970. Members of the team worked individually or in small groups, operating throughout the country from the far south to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in the north. Later they were concentrated in Phuoc Tuy province as Australian forces prepared to withdraw from Vietnam. It is believed to be the most decorated Australian unit to serve in Vietnam; its members received over 100 decorations, including four Victoria Crosses, during its existence. The unit was withdrawn from Vietnam on 18 December 1972 and was disbanded in Australia on 16 February 1973. A total of 1,009 men served with the unit over a period of ten years, consisting of 998 Australians and 11 New Zealanders.Australian Voluntary Hospital
The Australian Voluntary Hospital was a military hospital staffed by Australian expatriates in England that served on the Western Front between 1914 and 1916. For much of this time it was the only Australian presence on the Western Front.Battle of Katia
The Battle of Katia, also known as the Affair of Qatia by the British, was an engagement fought east of the Suez Canal and north of El Ferdan Station, in the vicinity of Katia and Oghratina, on 23 April 1916 during the Defence of the Suez Canal Campaign of World War I. An Ottoman force led by the German General Friedrich Freiherr Kress von Kressenstein made a surprise attack on three and a half squadrons of the British 5th Mounted Brigade, which was widely scattered to the east of Romani. The mounted brigade had been ordered to the area to protect the new railway and water pipeline being built from Kantara on the Suez Canal, as this infrastructure extended out past the Canal's zone of defences into the Sinai Peninsula towards Romani. Kress Von Kressenstein's attack was completely successful, decimating the equivalent of little more than a regiment. On the same day, an associated Ottoman attack on Duidar, very close to the Suez Canal, failed when it met with strong British opposition.
Kress von Kressenstein's force had been active in the area since the First Suez Offensive of early 1915, when three columns attacked the Canal along the northern, central, and southern routes across the Sinai Peninsula. The growing Imperial strength made attacks on the Suez Canal difficult, and ended the dominance of the Ottoman force in the area. The Ottoman Empire's attacks on 23 April demonstrated their intention to continue opposing the British Empire in the region.However, the Imperial reaction to these attacks was to double the strength of their forces. The 2nd Light Horse Brigade, and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, were sent to Katia and Romani and established a strong Imperial presence over the contested ground. Soon after, the Australian 1st Light Horse Brigade was also sent forward, and the 52nd (Lowland) Division arrived at Romani not long after. At the beginning of August, the Battle of Romani was fought over much of the same ground as that at Katia.Battle of Magdhaba
The Battle of Magdhaba (officially known by the British as the Affair of Magdhaba) took place on 23 December 1916 during the Defence of Egypt section of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in the First World War. The attack by the Anzac Mounted Division took place against an entrenched Ottoman Army garrison to the south and east of Bir Lahfan in the Sinai desert, some 18–25 miles (29–40 km) inland from the Mediterranean coast. This Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) victory against the Ottoman Empire garrison also secured the town of El Arish after the Ottoman garrison withdrew.
In August 1916, a combined Ottoman and German Empire army had been forced to retreat to Bir el Abd, after the British victory in the Battle of Romani. During the following three months the defeated force retired further eastwards to El Arish, while the captured territory stretching from the Suez Canal was consolidated and garrisoned by the EEF. Patrols and reconnaissances were carried out by British forces, to protect the continuing construction of the railway and water pipeline and to deny passage across the Sinai desert to the Ottoman forces by destroying water cisterns and wells.
By December, construction of the infrastructure and supply lines had sufficiently progressed to enable the British advance to recommence, during the evening of 20 December. By the following morning a mounted force had reached El Arish to find it abandoned. An Ottoman Army garrison in a strong defensive position was located at Magdhaba, some 18–30 miles (29–48 km) inland to the south east, on the Wadi el Arish. After a second night march by the Anzac Mounted Division (Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division), the attack on Magdhaba was launched by Australian, British and New Zealand troops against well-entrenched Ottoman forces defending a series of six redoubts. During the day's fierce fighting, the mounted infantry tactics of riding as close to the front line as possible and then dismounting to make their attack with the bayonet supported by artillery and machine guns prevailed, assisted by aircraft reconnaissances. All of the well-camouflaged redoubts were eventually located and captured and the Ottoman defenders surrendered in the late afternoon.Battle of Megiddo (1918)
The Battle of Megiddo (Turkish: Megiddo Muharebesi) also known in Turkish as the Nablus Hezimeti ("Rout of Nablus"), or the Nablus Yarması ("Breakthrough at Nablus") was fought between 19 and 25 September 1918, on the Plain of Sharon, in front of Tulkarm, Tabsor and Arara in the Judean Hills as well as on the Esdralon Plain at Nazareth, Afulah, Beisan, Jenin and Samakh. Its name, which has been described as "perhaps misleading" since very limited fighting took place near Tel Megiddo, was chosen by Allenby for its biblical and symbolic resonance.The battle was the final Allied offensive of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign of the First World War. The contending forces were the Allied Egyptian Expeditionary Force, of three corps including one of mounted troops, and the Ottoman Yildirim Army Group which numbered three armies, each the strength of barely an Allied corps. The series of battles took place in what was then the central and northern parts of Ottoman Palestine and parts of present-day Israel, Syria and Jordan. After forces of the Arab Revolt attacked the Ottoman lines of communication, distracting the Ottomans, British and Indian infantry divisions attacked and broke through the Ottoman defensive lines in the sector adjacent to the coast in the set-piece Battle of Sharon. The Desert Mounted Corps rode through the breach and almost encircled the Ottoman Eighth and Seventh Armies still fighting in the Judean Hills. The subsidiary Battle of Nablus was fought virtually simultaneously in the Judean Hills in front of Nablus and at crossings of the Jordan River. The Ottoman Fourth Army was subsequently attacked in the Hills of Moab at Es Salt and Amman.
These battles resulted in many tens of thousands of prisoners and many miles of territory being captured by the Allies. Following the battles, Daraa was captured on 27 September, Damascus on 1 October and operations at Haritan, north of Aleppo, were still in progress when the Armistice of Mudros was signed ending hostilities between the Allies and Ottomans.
The operations of General Edmund Allenby, the British commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, achieved decisive results at comparatively little cost, in contrast to many offensives during the First World War. Allenby achieved this through the use of creeping barrages to cover set-piece infantry attacks to break a state of trench warfare and then use his mobile forces (cavalry, armoured cars and aircraft) to encircle the Ottoman armies' positions in the Judean Hills, cutting off their lines of retreat. The irregular forces of the Arab Revolt also played a part in this victory.Battle of Épehy
The Battle of Épehy was a battle of the First World War fought on 18 September 1918, involving the British Fourth Army under the command of General Henry Rawlinson against German outpost positions in front of the Hindenburg Line. The village of Épehy was captured on 18 September by the 12th (Eastern) Division.Field Ambulance
A Field Ambulance (FA) is the name used by the British Army and the armies of other Commonwealth nations to describe a mobile medical unit that treats wounded soldiers very close to the combat zone. In the British military medical system that developed during the First World War, the FAs formed an intermediate level in the casualty evacuation chain that stretched from the Regimental Aid Posts near the front line and the Casualty Clearing Stations located outside the range of the enemy's artillery. FAs were often assigned to the brigades of a division.
The term is no longer used in the British Royal Army Medical Corps. They were replaced by medical regiments (which are assigned to brigades) and field hospitals. It is however still used in the Royal Canadian Medical Service within the Canadian Armed Forces.First Australian Imperial Force dental units
The First Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was one of the first military forces to care for soldiers' teeth, and raised a large number of specialist dental units during World War I.Nui Dat
Nui Dat (Núi Đất) is a former 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF) base now part of Ba Ria city in Ba Ria–Vung Tau province, Vietnam. It is not the name of an official ward, it just means "dirt hill" (núi đất).Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918
The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918 is a 12-volume series covering Australian involvement in the First World War. The series was edited by C.E.W. Bean, who also wrote six of the volumes and was published between 1920 and 1942. The first seven volumes deal with the Australian Imperial Force while other volumes deal with the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force at Rabaul, the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Flying Corps and the home front; the final volume is a photographic record.
Unlike other official histories which have been aimed at military staff, Bean intended the Australian history to be accessible to a non-military audience. The relatively small size of the Australian forces, enabled the history to be presented in great detail, giving accounts of individual actions that would not have been possible when covering a larger force. Bean devoted over 100 pages to the Battle of Fromelles, a relatively small action intended as a diversion during the Battle of the Somme, which lasted one night and involved the 5th Australian Division. Fromelles was also the first time that the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF) saw action on the Western Front and was very costly for the Australians, with 5,533 men killed, wounded or captured.
Following the publication of the final volume, Bean compiled Anzac to Amiens, a condensed history in one volume aimed at the general public, which was published in 1946.Peter Badcoe
Peter John Badcoe, VC (11 January 1934 – 7 April 1967) was an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in battle that could be awarded at that time to a member of the Australian armed forces. Badcoe, born Peter Badcock, joined the Australian Army in 1950 and graduated from the Officer Cadet School, Portsea, in 1952 as a second lieutenant in the Royal Australian Artillery. A series of regimental postings followed, including a tour in the Federation of Malaya in 1962, during which he spent a week in South Vietnam observing the fighting there. In that year, Badcock changed his surname to Badcoe. After another regimental posting, he transferred to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps, and was promoted to major.
In August 1966, Badcoe arrived in South Vietnam as a member of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam. He was initially a sub-sector adviser, but in December became the operations adviser for Thừa Thiên-Huế Province. In this role, between February and April 1967, he displayed conspicuous gallantry and leadership on three occasions while on operations with South Vietnamese regional force units. In the final battle, he was killed by a burst of machine gun fire. He was highly respected by both his South Vietnamese and United States allies, and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions. He was also awarded the United States Silver Star and numerous South Vietnamese medals. He was buried at Terendak Garrison Cemetery in Malaysia.
In 2008, his medal set was auctioned for A$488,000 to Kerry Stokes in collaboration with the Government of South Australia. After going on display at the South Australian Museum and touring regional South Australia, it is now displayed in the Hall of Valour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Various buildings and awards have been named after him, including a soldiers' club in South Vietnam, an assembly room and library at Portsea, the main lecture theatre at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, and a perpetual medal for an Australian Football League match held on Anzac Day.Peter Turnbull (RAAF officer)
Peter St George Bruce Turnbull, DFC (9 February 1917 – 27 August 1942) was an Australian fighter ace of World War II, credited with twelve aerial victories. Born in Armidale, New South Wales, he was an electrician before he joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in January 1939. After pilot training he was posted to No. 3 Squadron, which departed for action in the Middle East in July 1940. Flying Gloster Gladiator, Hawker Hurricane and P-40 Tomahawk fighters during the North African and Syria-Lebanon campaigns, Turnbull was credited with nine victories and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Posted to the South West Pacific in March 1942, he joined No. 75 Squadron at Port Moresby, New Guinea, operating P-40 Kittyhawks. During the ensuing Battle of Port Moresby, he claimed three Japanese aircraft. Turnbull took over command of No. 76 Squadron in May, leading it into the Battle of Milne Bay later that year. He was killed during a mission on 27 August 1942; an Allied airfield in New Guinea was subsequently named for him.Rupert Downes
Major General Rupert Major Downes, (10 February 1885 – 5 March 1945) was an Australian soldier, general, surgeon and historian in the first half of the 20th century. Downes attended the University of Melbourne, graduating with his medical degrees in 1907. He returned to the university to pursue a Doctor of Medicine degree, which was awarded in 1911.
The son of British Army officer Major Francis Downes, Downes joined the Army as a trumpeter while he was still at school. He was commissioned as a captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps in 1908, and joined the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in 1914 as its youngest lieutenant colonel. He served in the Gallipoli campaign, and was appointed Assistant Director of Medical Services (ADMS) of the newly formed ANZAC Mounted Division in 1916, which he combined with the post of ADMS AIF Egypt. In 1917, he became Deputy Director of Medical Services (DDMS) of the Desert Mounted Corps. After the war, he wrote articles on medical aspects of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, and the section on the campaign for the official history.
Returning to Australia, Downes became an honorary consulting surgeon at the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne and Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, and honorary surgeon at Prince Henry's Hospital. He became a foundation fellow of the College of Surgeons of Australasia in 1927, and president of the Victorian branch of the British Medical Association in 1935. He lectured on medical ethics at the University of Melbourne, writing the course textbook. He was also Victorian State Commissioner of the St. John Ambulance Brigade, which he led for 25 years, and was president of the St John Ambulance Association for eight years.
In 1934 Downes became Director General of Medical Services, the Australian Army's most senior medical officer, with the rank of major general. He oversaw the construction of major military hospitals in the capital cities. In 1944 he accepted a commission to edit the medical series volumes of the Official History of Australia in the War of 1939–1945 but was never able to do so as he was killed in a plane crash in 1945.Vernon Sturdee
Lieutenant General Sir Vernon Ashton Hobart Sturdee, (16 April 1890 – 25 May 1966) was an Australian Army commander who served two terms as Chief of the General Staff. A regular officer of the Royal Australian Engineers who joined the Militia in 1908, he was one of the original Anzacs during the First World War, participating in the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. In the campaign that followed, he commanded the 5th Field Company, before going on to lead the 8th Field Company and the 4th Pioneer Battalion on the Western Front. In 1918 he was seconded to General Headquarters (GHQ) British Expeditionary Force as a staff officer.
Promotion was stagnant between the wars, and Sturdee remained at his wartime rank of lieutenant colonel until 1935. He served in a series of staff posts, and attended the Staff College at Quetta in British India and the Imperial Defence College in Britain. Like other regular officers, he had little faith in the government's "Singapore strategy", and warned that the Army would have to face an effective and well-equipped Japanese opponent.
Ranked colonel at the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Sturdee was raised to lieutenant general in 1940 and became Chief of the General Staff. He proceeded to conduct a doomed defence of the islands to the north of Australia against the advancing Japanese forces. In 1942, he successfully advised the government to divert the Second Australian Imperial Force troops returning from the Middle East to Australia. He then became head of the Australian Military Mission to Washington, D.C., where he represented Australia before the Combined Chiefs of Staff. As commander of the First Army in New Guinea in 1944–45, Sturdee directed the fighting at Aitape, and on New Britain and Bougainville. He was charged with destroying the enemy when opportunity presented itself, but had to do so with limited resources, and without committing his troops to battles that were beyond their strength.
When the war ended, Sturdee took the surrender of Japanese forces in the Rabaul area. As one of the Army's most senior officers, he succeeded General Sir Thomas Blamey as Commander in Chief of the Australian Military Forces in December 1945. He became the Chief of the General Staff a second time in 1946, serving in the post until his retirement in 1950. During this term, he had to demobilise the wartime Army while fielding and supporting the Australian contingent of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan. He developed a structure for the post-war Army that included regular combat formations. As a result, the Australian Regular Army was formed, laying the foundations for the service as it exists today.Wolseley Motors
Wolseley Motors Limited was a British motor vehicle manufacturer founded in early 1901 by the Vickers armaments combine in conjunction with Herbert Austin. It initially made a full range topped by large luxury cars and dominated the market in the Edwardian era. The Vickers brothers died and without their guidance Wolseley expanded rapidly after the war, manufacturing 12,000 cars in 1921, and remained the biggest motor manufacturer in Britain.
Over-expansion led to receivership in 1927 when it was bought from Vickers Limited by William Morris as a personal investment and years later moved into his Morris Motors empire just before the Second World War. After that its products were "badge-engineered" Morris cars. Wolseley went with its sister businesses into BMC, BMH and British Leyland, where its name lapsed in 1975.World War I casualties
The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I were about 40 million: estimates range from 15 to 19 million deaths and about 23 million wounded military personnel, ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.
The total number of deaths includes from 9 to 11 million military personnel. The civilian death toll was about 8 million, including about 6 million due to war-related famine and disease. The Triple Entente (also known as the Allies) lost about 6 million military personnel while the Central Powers lost about 4 million. At least 2 million died from diseases and 6 million went missing, presumed dead. This article lists the casualties of the belligerent powers based on official published sources.
About two-thirds of military deaths in World War I were in battle, unlike the conflicts that took place in the 19th century when the majority of deaths were due to disease. Nevertheless, disease, including the 1918 flu pandemic and deaths while held as prisoners of war, still caused about one third of total military deaths for all belligerents.