Australian Intervention in the Great War: The Definition of a Nation

Lecture as part of “World War I: 100 Years"
Indiana Memorial Union Solarium
Indiana University Bloomington
Bloomington, Indiana
April 24, 2015

Introduction

Good afternoon.

I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak about Australia’s involvement in the Great War as part of Indiana University’s yearlong commemoration of the centennial of the beginning of World War I.

I want to begin with an apologia. I am just a humble computer scientist, not a historian, and I beg your indulgence as a mere enthusiastic amateur.

The Profound Impact of The First World War

I think there are ways in which you can look as World War I as having an even more profound impact than that of the Second World War. In some ways, World War I was really the boundary line between the old world and the new. Four great empires collapsed—the Hohenzollerns; the Habsburg Empire; the Romanovs; and, of course, the Ottoman Empire—all of which had been in existence for many hundreds of years, and, in the case of the Habsburgs, a good thousand years before that. Their collapse led to consequences that endure to this day.

Of course, the collapse of the Hohenzollerns led to World War II and all of its horrendous consequences. In fact, German generals in the First World War talked about the First World War being the First Punic War and they knew the Second World War was probably going to come, and that would be the Second Punic War. Professor Hew Strachan spoke on campus a few nights ago, and he said it wasn’t particularly clear whether they saw themselves as the Romans or the Carthaginians in that particular historical comparison.

The collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire led, among other things, to the enormous instability in the Balkans, which endures to this day, although it is somewhat muted these days.

The collapse of the Ottoman Empire led, in particular through the completely arbitrary division of the various previous components of the empire, into the kinds of problems that we see enduring in the Middle East today.

The collapse of the Romanovs led to communism and the nightmare of 70 years of that particular ideology and, of course, to the Cold War.

So all of that really came out of the First World War. It put a severe strain on and nearly bankrupted the British Empire, which was, until that time, the largest and greatest empire the world had ever seen. And, of course, it led to the rise and ascendancy of the United States. When you look at the Second World War, it really didn’t have consequences as quite as massive and marked as those.

The Significance of Anzac Day

But, of course, my topic today is to talk about Australia in the First World War, and I chose today because, in Australia, it is Saturday, the 25th of April—known in Australia as ANZAC Day. It will be observed tomorrow in the United States. In fact, my wife, Laurie, and I will be taking part in a number of celebrations.

ANZAC Day is the anniversary of the day in which Australian, New Zealand, and British troops landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula, and I will come to that in a little more detail in a minute. ANZAC Day in Australia is, without doubt, the major and most significant commemoration in Australia. It is marked, and has certainly been marked since I was a young boy, with great solemnity, at least in the early part of the day. The day always starts with a dawn service, which is actually held at dawn to mark the point at which the Australian and other troops went ashore. And it is marked with a variety of other activities that I think really recall not just the losses and the horrors of the Gallipoli Campaign, but all the horrors and losses that Australia suffered in the First World War—and I’ll come to those in just a little bit to give you a sense of why it means so much.

Occasionally, I am asked “Do you celebrate the Fourth of July in Australia?” I say: “No, not really. It’s an American holiday.” And Australia wasn’t even settled by Europeans in 1776. It was, in fact, settled in 1778. The closest thing of a formal national character is what is called Australia Day, on the 26th of January, which commemorates the beginning of European settlement in Australia. It happened to be, ironically, the day on which I left Australia to move to America. It is a holiday of a typically raucous Australian kind. Australia actually has a celebration to commemorate the federation of Australia on the 1st of January. Australia became a nation on January 1, 1901. It was a federation of six states, and was, of course, still part of what was then the British Empire and very much thought of itself as being British. Every aspect of the country really just thought of itself as being a transported part of Britain. So that did not represent the kind of decisive break that the Fourth of July represented in this country.

Although ANZAC Day is not the same kind of thing, it does represent, in the view of many Australians, the real dawning of the consciousness of Australia among Australians as an independent country, even though it is still a member of the British Commonwealth and the queen remains as the monarch, but that is purely in a constitutional sense.

But it is more than that. I think most people associate ANZAC Day just with the Gallipoli Campaign. The casualties in the Gallipoli Campaign were a relatively small fraction of the total casualties that Australia suffered in the First World War.

Up until the time of ANZAC Day and, certainly, the First World War, Australians really thought about themselves as being British. Even when I was a young man, in the 1950s, I can remember people of my grandparents’ generation talking about Britain as “home.” That certainly was how people thought about it leading up to the First World War.

Australia in Context

I want to say just a couple of things about Australia just to give you a sense of context. It’s a very big country. Ninety percent of it is more or less unusable because it consists of desert and rugged terrain. Interestingly, it is about the same size as the United States.

At the time of the outbreak of World War I, there were five million people in Australia. In the United States, at the same time, there were 100 million people. So that gives you a scale of the country, which will help give you a sense of what was involved at the outbreak of the war.

As I said, Australians at that time thought of themselves as being Brits by and large. There was not a huge immigrant population as there was post-Second World War, in particular. Australia is now a vastly multicultural country. There is an iconic poster from the early days of World War I that reads: “All answer the call. The young lions will help the old lion defy his foes.” And that is how the various countries that were part of the Commonwealth of the Empire thought of themselves, as the young cubs of the big lion. Incidentally, it is why there was such a massive reaction against the present prime minister of Australia bringing back knighthoods and awarding one to Prince Phillip. That probably damaged him almost beyond repair politically.

Key Dates of The First World War

I’ll very quickly review just a few key dates of the beginning of the First World War in 1914.

As I think everybody knows, on June 28th, 1914, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated. The Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia July 28. Germany declared war on Russia on August 1. On August 3, Germany declared war on France and rolled in via the Schlieffen Plan, which, of course, meant they rolled through Belgium. Britain had guaranteed Belgian neutrality. Great Britain sent an ultimatum to Germany not to invade Belgium. They ignored it. So, Britain declared war on Germany on August 4. A cascade of other declarations followed, with the Ottomans coming in in October.

Australia Enters The War

October 5th, the then-Australian Prime Minister Joseph Cook said: “When the Empire is at war, so also is Australia.” A month later, there was a change of government and the Labor prime minister, Andrew Fisher, said: “Should the worst happen, Australia would rally to the Mother Country to help and defend her to her last man and her last shilling.”

So, that was the sense at the time.

Australia was requested by Britain to provide troops, and immediately raised a force of 20,000 men. And this was combined with a force raised in New Zealand, a very small country that had about a quarter of the population of Australia. The two, put together, became at that point the Australia New Zealand Army Corps—ANZAC.

There were three major theatres during the First World War. There was the Gallipoli Theatre, about which I will say more. There was the Middle East. And there was the Western Front in Europe.

Some of you, I think, probably know something about Gallipoli. I doubt if any of you know anything about Australia’s involvement in the Middle East or in the Western Front. Yet the great bulk of the casualties came in those later two places.

The Australian Army remained, during the whole of the First World War, a purely volunteer Army. The government attempted twice—in October of 1916 and December of 1917—to introduce what, in Australia, is called conscription, and what here is called the draft. There was a law that did not allow Australian conscripts—draftees—to serve overseas. The prime minister at the time would have been able to change that in parliament, but he couldn’t get it through the Senate. Sound familiar? So, he took it to a referendum, and it was twice beaten in referendum. So, the Australian Army remained a volunteer army for the whole of the First World War, one of only two countries—Australia and South Africa—that had purely volunteer forces.

Just over 400,000 Australians volunteered—out of a population of five million people, so the volunteer rate was high. About 330,000 served overseas. There were 215,000 casualties, and 61,500 killed. So, the casualty rate was 65 percent—one of the highest casualty rates among the Allies. Another 60,000 died in the 10 years following the First World War from the effects of trauma, and gassing, and injuries sustained. Even when I was young, one could still see thousands of old soldiers from the First World War who were still alive and horribly injured—as is the case in all wars.

It is also worth commenting that more Australians were killed in the First World War than Americans were killed in the First World War. So, it puts in perspective—a country of five million versus 100 million—the impact it had.

And that captures, in numbers, why ANZAC Day, is of such enormous significance. Not only did it commemorate Australia’s first intervention in a major war—up until then Australia had not been involved in any major conflicts—but it also became an occasion to remember and pay tribute to the horrendous slaughter the Australian Army endured in the First World War.

The Gallipoli Campaign

Troops were shipped to Gallipoli, disembarking from the port city of Albany, which is on King George Sound in Western Australia. It is otherwise completely isolated, but is very handy in wartime. They then sailed across to what was then Ceylon, and, amazingly, they stopped at Aden—not a place that you want to stop now. All these were places that were accessible. They then sailed through the Red Sea and on to Europe.

Interestingly, the one and only significant Australian Naval action took place near the Cocos Keeling Islands, where the Australian cruiser, the Sydney, disabled the German cruiser, the Emden, which was grounded on the Cocos Keeling Islands. Later, my grandfather, who I will talk about in a moment, who served in the First World War, was shipped out in late 1917 and sailed right past the Cocos Keeling Islands and could see the wreck of the Emden as they went through.

So, that is how the Australian troops got to the Middle East. Originally, they went to Egypt to protect the Suez Canal against the Ottomans, who were, very sensibly, trying to take it.

It was during that period that the British War Cabinet, with Churchill’s enthusiastic support, came up with the idea of storming the Dardanelles. That would then put what was then called Constantinople at the mercy of the guns of the British and French fleets, hopefully knocking the Ottomans out of the war and opening a direct supply line to Russia. That was the tactic.

I am one of a minority of Australians who thinks that was quite brilliant—had it been possible to bring it off—as a military tactic. Most people can’t see beyond the horrors that happened at Gallipoli to realize that, had it been possible to bring it off, it could have had a profound effect on the war. It would have probably knocked the Ottomans out, it would have ensured the Russians were much more substantially supplied, including with troops, which they really could not get to them any other way.

The British and the French navies tried to storm the straights, but through incompetency by the naval commanders, were not able to do it. Then they hit on the brilliant idea (I am being somewhat sarcastic) of taking the Gallipoli Peninsula, which is incredibly mountainous. And this was to be taken by armed forces who had no experience in any kind of combined forces landings they would be required to carry out.

The first landing was made by the ANZAC forces and British forces in what is called ANZAC Cove. They were actually meant to have landed further south on what was flatter land. The goal was to get across, take the peninsula, and then destroy the guns that were stopping the fleet from getting through the Dardanelles.

But it was extremely mountainous territory and the Ottoman troops turned out to be a very redoubtable foe—first-rate troops. It happened to be that the Ottoman troops had a general of genius who happened to be the corps commander, and that was the man who went on to become Ataturk, who organized the Turkish defense.

So, the Australians and New Zealanders were stuck on the shore and, inch by inch, made their way inland, also subjected to heavy counterattack numerous times, and suffered horrific losses.

At the same time, there was a further landing by the Brits on the end of the Gallipoli Peninsula, and then, some months later, there was a further large-scale landing by the Brits to try and force the issue up in Suvla Bay. These were, basically, the main landings that took place.

The battles that took place on Gallipoli are all etched in the minds of Australians. Places all over Australia are named for these battles.

But those of you who saw Peter Weir’s magnificent movie, Gallipoli, a few months ago at the IU Cinema will get some sense of the topography. The film is amazingly accurate, both in terms of the topography and the reconstruction of the landing. It is quite a superb movie from that point of view.

All the ANZAC troops were basically pinned down, under constant shellfire and rifle and machine gun fire the whole eight months they were there.

The battle that was depicted in Gallipoli was a charge by one of six companies that made up the battalion of the Australian de-mounted Australian Light Horse, the 1st company of which charged the Turkish machine guns. All were killed. Then the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th companies all charged after that, in spite of what they had seen happen before.

In Gallipoli, by the time the battle finished, there were two full Australian divisions that landed with some other units as well. Eventually, realizing that this was an impossible task, they carried out what was the only great tactical victory of the whole war—and that was the retreat, when all the forces on the Gallipoli Peninsula evacuated, with all kinds of clever maneuvers, without a single casualty. It was really quite remarkable, and, at least, it ended well in that sense.

But, as I said, this is very important for Australia. There were about 9,000 Australians killed in Gallipoli. But Australia didn’t lose as many as the Brits, who lost 34,000. So, it kind of puts it in perspective, too, that though it is enormously important to Australia, you have to also realize the impact on other countries. France had 10,000 casualties, New Zealand 3,000, and British Indian troops—there were quite a few of them there, as well—lost somewhere over 1,000.

The withdrawal was complete, the troops went back to the Middle East, but then were withdrawn. All the infantry went to France, landed at Marseille, and went straight up to the Western Front.

The Middle East

The Middle East was a major engagement for the Australian Army. Two divisions of Australian cavalry together with another two divisions of British and other cavalry made up a very strong corps. I have read that it was the largest single number of mounted troops under arms ever in the history of warfare. I would like to see if that is true compared to the Mongols, but it may well be true.

These troops were under the command of an Australian commander, a man called Henry Chauvel, who led what was called the Desert Mounted Corps for the whole of the Middle Eastern Campaign.

The first phase in 1916 was the Ottoman attempts to take the Suez Canal. They got very close, but were repelled, and then, slowly, Allied strength built up and the Ottomans were pushed back to the border of Palestine. This was really a remarkable military campaign, and the skill and tenacity of both sides were quite remarkable.

There were two battles with Gaza, both of which the Turks won—or, at least, the Allies did not succeed in breaking the lines. After having been stalled around Gaza, in a situation that was similar to that of the Western Front, there was, as quite often is decisive in war, a change of command. One of the truly great British generals of the First World War was put in charge of the whole Middle Eastern front, Edmund Allenby, who later became a field marshal. Allenby really was the kind of man for the situation. He had a visceral sense for desert warfare. He reorganized the whole army and then basically used the Australian Mounted Corps to storm Beersheba after all the attacks were over in Gaza. It was probably the decisive turning point of the campaign in the Middle East. They outflanked Gaza and, within a few weeks, the Australian Corps took Jerusalem. General Allenby famously entered Jerusalem on foot, because he wanted to show respect for the city that was of enormous significance to three great monotheistic religions. It was very well received by all in Jerusalem that he showed that level of respect.

After taking Jerusalem, there was a series of major battles, culminating in the Battle of Megiddo, which then led to the taking of Damascus. Again, it was the Australian Corps that took it and, eventually, the Ottomans signed an armistice after Aleppo was also taken. So, that was a very brief overview of the Australian campaign in the Middle East. There were, there, about another 8,000 casualties. There are more Australians buried in the Middle East than there are members of the Israeli Defense Forces. So, again, the level of casualties kind of puts it in perspective.

The Western Front

Now, I come to the most horrific of all. The butchery on the Western Front really defied description. The famous place is Verdun, the appalling slaughterhouse where the Germans and French each had about half a million killed over a period of about a year in 1916.

In the Somme, the British had about 60,000 casualties on the first day and the counts were in the hundreds of thousands about three months after the Battle of the Somme began, with almost no gain.

By this stage, the size of the Australian contingent had increased to five divisions and they fought under a British general, William Birdwood. They were assigned to a quiet center of the front for a period, but then they participated in the beginning of the Battle of the Somme, with which people are probably familiar. It began on July 1, 1916.

Just to give you a sense of the size of military units, a division in the British system is about 10,000 men. A brigade is about 3,000 and a battalion about 6,000. It is different in the American Army, but that is how the Brits work, and Australia used the British system.

So the Australian 5th Division attacked at Fromelles—again, a very famous place to Australians, which is right in the north of the Somme. They had 5,000 casualties in 24 hours. So, half the division was either killed or wounded in that battle. It is, to this day, the most costly day in Australian military history. Obviously, there has been nothing like it since.

It was followed, a few days later, by the Australian attacks at part of the Somme called Pozières, which is south of that. Three Australian divisions attached in sequence, and they cycled through again in sequence over 42 days. Pozières was known as “Hell,” and they suffered 23,000 casualties over that period—7,000 in 12 days for the Australian 2nd Division.

It was slaughter on an epic scale, but, of course it took place all through the Western Front and it took place on both sides.

Both of my grandfathers served in the First World War. Just about every Australian of my generation would have had both of his or her grandparents serve in the First World War. My grandfather on my mother’s side was in artillery. My father is Scottish, and my father’s father, my grandfather on my father’s side, served in the Royal Scots Fusiliers as a sergeant. He fought right through, including the battles at Ypres. He was in the 1st Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. The 6th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers was the one that Winston Churchill commanded for the period that he was in the Western Front.

My grandfather on my father’s side recounted one of the most awful jobs he had. When an attack came and the men went over the trenches, he had the job finding any young men who may not have gone over the top and encouraging them to go. If they wouldn’t charge, he had to call for a young officer. The young lieutenants would be, maybe, 20 years old. They would then, if the person was not prepared to charge, shoot them. And then they themselves, the sergeants and the officers, would have to go over the top, as well.

So, that was the kind of thing my grandfather on my father’s side did, and that gives you a sense of what the troops endured during the fighting on the Western Front.

Then the winter came. The winter of 1916-17 was one of the worst winters in recorded history, and Australian troops had to defend parts of the line.

Then 1917 came, arguably the worst year of all. One of the things that happened in 1917 was that the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line, pre-prepared defenses that shortened their line and were all but impregnable. Three Australian divisions, along with others, tried to storm the Hindenburg Line at a place called Bullecourt in May of 1917. They suffered 10,000 casualties.

So, you can see how the scale of this is something that is indelibly etched on Australians’ minds, because nothing like this had happened in Australia before.

Ypres was one of the real charnel houses of the British side of the front. The Third Battle of Ypres was also known as “Passchendaele,” so you might have heard of it. There was a series of different battles, including Menin Road and Polygon Wood. During that series of battles that made up the Third Battle of Ypres, Australian forces suffered about 38,000 casualties.

The critical thing that happened on the Western Front in 1918 was what was called the Ludendorff Offensive. After Germany had knocked Russia out, 60 German divisions all came across to the west, and participated in this massive attack.

The goal was to try and split the British from the French, reach the coast, and hence do what the Germans did to the French in the Second World War—cut them off in the channel ports. But the Germans lacked mobility and it was really the last throw of the dice for the Germans in some ways.

Over the three months of the Ludendorff Offensive, Australians were basically on the defensive and fought numerous defensive operations, all of which were quite remarkable.

And then, as I said, the same thing happened that had happened with the appointment of General Allenby in the Middle East—there was a really important appointment made, and that was of a man called Monash, who was appointed as the commander of the Australian Corps. Monash is, without doubt, the finest soldier Australia has ever produced. He was an engineer—of the kind that we will be producing here at Indiana University soon. He took over in June of 1918 and was responsible for planning and executing the Battle of Hamel.

The Battle of Hamel was the first battle that really turned the tide on the Western Front. It was a smaller battle, but it was significant because it was the first time American troops went into battle—and they went into battle as part of Monash’s forces. America had just entered the war, their troops had no experience, so they were being allocated for training with British, Australian, and other troops. They were inexperienced, but were very enthusiastic. Pershing, of course, wanted American troops to fight purely under American commanders and, just before the Battle of Hamel, withdrew most, but not all, of them from the Australian Corps, and so some of them actually fought alongside Australian forces.

Monash planned the Battle of Hamel to take 90 minutes. It took 93 minutes. It was one of the most decisive short battles in the whole history of the Western Front. It was the first time that combined arms had been used. That is, they used tanks, infantry, artillery, and planes all together. And it was a smashing success.

That really played a major role in the preparation of the Allied counter-offensive. And the Allied counter-offensive was the beginning of the end for the German forces. The attack took place on the 8th of August, which Erich Ludendorff, the German quartermaster general, referred to as “the black day of the German Army,” when, for the first time, German troops broke before the Allied offensive. That was the beginning of the Hundred Days.

The Hundred Days was the unrelenting attack by the Allies, in which the Australian, Canadian, and New Zealand troops were used in the first phases as shock troops, because they were in better shape than the Brits were, who had had two more years of war to grind them down. Eventually, the Hundred Days Offensive was what ended the war.

There are a couple of things I want to tell you about the Hundred Days. First, my grandfather arrived just a month before the beginning of the Hundred Days, and he fought in the whole Hundred Days Offensive. And I have been reading his diary of that period. I will just read one entry. Day after day, the entries are like this.

He says: “We finished the gun pit at 5:30 a.m. We worked right through the night. Fritz (referring to the Germans—my apologies to my German friends in the audience) shelled, using gas and high explosives. At 4:30 a.m., while we were still digging the gun pit, all the guns on our side commenced an intense bombardment. Incidentally, our gun pits were the most advanced of all gun pits on this sector. There was a hop over a wide front, and we were the right pivot front (which basically means they were right at the front). The attack was a success. A German plant came over and machine gunned our gunners, without result. In the dawn of the morning the fireworks from the German side looked grand (obviously, there was some enthusiasm about these things, and that was the point Sir Hew Strachan made the other night), and everywhere you looked, you could see our guns spitting out fire.” Every entry, day after day, is like that. 100 days of that went on.

The Hundred Days Offensive was the most costly offensive on the Western Front. There were 1.5 million casualties in that offensive. It involved the storming of the Hindenburg Line, which was done jointly. By that time, American troops had entered in reasonable numbers, and Monash headed the troops that stormed the Hindenburg Line. He had more American troops under him than he had Australian troops but that stage, which was interesting.

I have a couple of quotes from historians about American and Australian troops serving together that might interest you. One said: “From the outset, the Yanks and the Diggers (the Americans and the Australians) shared a mutual affinity. One American officer noted that Australian soldiers were ‘an independent, alert, energetic lot of men and splendid fighters. From the first, when our soldiers came in contact with them they mixed well and took kindly to each other.’ Another said that he felt as much at home among Australians as among his own countrymen. Socially, the Australians enjoyed the company of the Americans who joined them on the Somme in 1918. They sought each other out, and were frequently seen together in the rear areas. The Australians saw something of themselves in the American soldier.”1

There is also a wonderful quote from a man called Charles Bean. He was the official Australian war historian. He was actually a war correspondent during the war. He would be something like a more academic Ernie Pyle in terms of the kind of esteem in which he is held in Australia. Bean says: “A week ago two of us saw some of the first units of the great American Army training behind the American front in Lorraine … to anyone who went through the training of our First Division in Australia and in Egypt (in 1915), it was like walking among ghosts. The same great, heavily-built bodies—the same clean-shaven, keen, independent faces—the same almost over-seriousness in training for the great events which were still beyond their experience … one knows for certain that these young Americans will be equal to any officers of any army in the world … There were never two men on earth that so resembled one another as the Australian of the old First Division and the American of this first expeditionary force.”2

A wonderful piece by Bean, and there are many more like it.

So, the Hindenburg Line was stormed on 29 September by a combined Australian, American, and British force. Soon after, of course, with that breach, the whole Hindenburg Line collapsed, and all the occupied parts of Belgium and France were reclaimed, and the Armistice happened on the 11th of November.

It is worth commenting that Field Marshal Montgomery in the Second World War said of Monash, the Australian commander, that had the Hundred Days Offensive, which was led by Field Marshal Haig, failed, Haig would have been sacked and, most likely, Monash would have replaced him as the British commander overall. People argue about that, but that was Montgomery’s view.

Post-War

Today, there are Australian war graves and Commonwealth war graves all over that part of Europe.

There is a website maintained by the Australian government that lists in the realm of 30 or 40 different war grave areas. Every Australian unit has got a major memorial in that part of France and Belgium.

And, of course, every little town you could ever visit in Australia will have some kind of war memorial, listing, chiseled on the side of it, the names of all the men who were killed from that town. And then, later, the Second World War, Vietnam, and other conflicts have been added, but these memorials were built for the First World War. Australia has more of those than any country on the Allied side. It has more than France. Australia has one memorial per 30 men killed in the First World War. France has one for every 45. And this is just a feature of any little Australian country town you go to and this is, once again, indicative of what an impact the First World War had on Australia.

I want to conclude by expressing my thanks to the Australian War Memorial. I needed to gather a lot of material for this presentation and I asked the Australian War Memorial, which actually is a museum in Canberra, to help me accumulate material. Brenda Nelson, the director, is a former defense minister in Australia, and various other historians are part of the staff. I was in Australia a few weeks ago and I stopped in to discuss this and spent the whole morning touring the most recently upgraded displays, all being prepared for today, the commemoration of ANZAC Day in Australia, which is a massive event. The War Memorial is just a stunning building, built in the 1920s, as a memorial to the First World War. It is based on Byzantine architecture, deliberately picking up the theme of the Australian forces in the Middle East.

So, that hopefully gives you a sense of Australia’s participation in the First World War. Its impact was profound. It was the beginning of the development of Australia as a truly independent nation. Many things socially about Australia, I think, can be explained by the experience of he First World War. And some remarkable things came out of it. I think the level of reconciliation between Australia and Turkey, as Hew Strachan also said, is one of the most remarkable reconciliations of two countries once at war that exists today. Just this morning, the Australian prime minister, the New Zealand prime minister, Prince Charles, and the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were all at Gallipoli for a service to commemorate the Gallipoli landings. And the various sites around the ANZAC landing and Gallipoli are enormously well visited by young Australians today, as are all the sites in northern France.

So, with that, hopefully you see that Australia’s involvement in the First World War went well beyond the Gallipoli Campaign, and, in fact, that the scale of Australia’s involvement in the war was substantial.

Thank you very much, and my thanks to all those who have helped to make Indiana University’s commemoration of the beginning of the Great War such a success, including campus organizers and the many distinguished guest speakers from around the world who visited the Bloomington campus to share their knowledge and expertise.

Thank you.

Source Notes

  1. Ashley Ekins, with Peter Burness and historians in the Military History Section, “Australia and the First World War: an Overview,” Australian War Memorial.

  2. C.E.W. Bean, “The American Soldier,” dispatched June 14, 1918.