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The memorials became proxies for distant lonely tombstones that most mourning Australian families would never see. A century later, they remain the focus of Anzac Day and Remembrance Day services, most of them more carefully tended than real cemeteries. His horse, Sandy, was the only war horse of the , taken overseas to be brought home, too. To understand the depth of it, and how its effects would resonate through generations, we need only know this: more Australians died in that one conflict than in all the other wars fought by Australians put together, not including the earlier frontier wars between Europeans and Indigenous Australians.

That word, casualty, waved around by generals to count those no longer of fighting use, covers all manner of calamity: the dead, the wounded and those taken prisoner.

Workplace Cultures in the Australian Imperial Force during the First World War

About 2. By the end of , after the foreign slaughter, there were around 84, more women than men. A total of , men enlisted — almost 40 per cent of the entire male population aged between 18 and Around , sailed for overseas service, plus close to nurses. Imagine, then, what it meant when 61, of them died the total of deaths by the time the AIF was formally disbanded. If such a cataclysm were to befall Australia today, with a population of 25 million, the equivalent death toll would be about , At least another 15, suffered other very serious illnesses.

These are the statistics broadly accepted for almost a century. But according to Melbourne University historical researcher David C. Noonan, they are significantly underestimated. Bean, omitted to count hospitalisations for several forms of injury — and any at all for illness — and understated admissions for shell shock by as much as 50, Noonan estimated the total hospital admissions for wounds, injury and illness suffered by the men of the AIF exceeded ,, meaning that vast numbers of men had each been admitted to hospital numerous times.

Anzac Labour: Workplace Cultures in the Australian Imperial Force During the First World War

He further found that more than half the Australian survivors of the war were discharged medically unfit, and that at least one in five of them was suffering shell shock. In the years immediately after the war, about ex-soldiers died and at least men committed suicide the suicide statistics were never properly recorded. One hundred years later, after Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and other foreign conflicts, mental illness, PTSD and suicide continue to bedevil ex-service personnel.

Last year, the National Mental Health Commission found that the suicide rate among those who had left the Australian Defence Force was still about 13 per cent higher than for the general population, and was particularly high among men aged younger than Today, perhaps granting some form of retrospective closure to families who never had the chance to mourn properly, crowds of Australians surge across the world to stand bewildered before endless rows of meticulously tended graves at Gallipoli and across the Western Front.

The airline with the kangaroo on the tail was created from flying skills learned in dangerous skies above the Western Front by two of its founders: Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness. Today, we simply call it Qantas. Refuelling a Flying Doctor plane in the s. Credit: Len Drummond.

Peel, previously a medical student, proposed that aeroplanes, instead of waging war, could help people who lived across central Australia.

Anzac Labour

Peel was shot down over the Western Front in France the following year, one of Australian airmen to die in the war. But his dream of saving lives rather than destroying them became the blueprint for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. The Lucas Girls' fundraising football team, And the Lucas Girls?

In September , with the war beginning to turn, they decided their grand avenue needed a grand entrance. The historian Peter Cochrane recently reminded us in his book Best We Forget that prime minister Billy Hughes spelled it out explicitly. It was to seal in blood a relationship to ensure Britain would protect White Australia against the feared future expansionist ambitions of Japan, even though Japan was an ally in World War I.

Credit: Museums Victoria. White Australia remained an article of domestic faith and international condemnation until the policy was dismantled in the s and replaced with multiculturalism in Yet, a century on, echoes remain. The seaborne convoys of troops returning to Australia at the end of the First World War might have hoped to be greeted by cheering crowds and ticker tape.

The end-of-war Spanish influenza pandemic would kill at least 50 million people worldwide some estimates are double that , vastly more than the 10 million military combatants and six million civilians who had died in the war itself. Panic and fear of infection caused some welcome-home parades to be cancelled.

Concerts and even sporting events were banned, and the border between Victoria and NSW was sealed.

Returning soldiers were forced into quarantine before they could be reunited with their families and sweethearts. Almost furious soldiers stormed out. After a face-off with officers, they eventually agreed to be billeted at the Sydney Cricket Ground before being released. Children confined during the Spanish flu epidemic that killed 12, Australians. With drug supplies from war-stretched Britain unavailable, the Australian government had established the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories CSL in to produce vaccines.

Fearing mass infection from returning soldiers, CSL produced 3 million doses of flu vaccine by March They were on a slow trip to finding new jobs in a country badly affected by the war. If we are to truly understand the significance of the experience of war, we need to begin to place the lives of soldiers within a broader historical context, cast aside the historical obsession with combat and consider the history of work within the military.

It is well-researched and referenced and it is made vivid through the on-the-spot, contemporary observations of Great War soldiers. Paddy Gourley is a superannuated Commonwealth official who worked in the Department of Defence for ten years. He had extensive experience in employment matters. You must be logged in to post a comment. Wise concludes by saying: If we are to truly understand the significance of the experience of war, we need to begin to place the lives of soldiers within a broader historical context, cast aside the historical obsession with combat and consider the history of work within the military.

He has a point. Share this with others Complaints about the Liverpool Camp predated the war and trouble was not unknown to it. Conditions were Spartan, consisting of the most rudimentary barracks and material. On 29 November a riot of sorts had broken out among Compulsory Service trainees which resulted in the matter being investigated by a court of inquiry. Of particular interest in that event was that the trouble was caused mainly by the behaviour of the 14 th Battalion, a unit drawn largely from the mining town of Newcastle and districts — men not unaccustomed to militancy in the acquiring of working rights.


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The incident concluded with an abusive and rock throwing mob of several hundred soldiers dispersing before a resolute guard of twenty-five men standing firm at the bridge over which the men had to pass to leave the camp. The use of the camp to train volunteers also brought complaint to the floor of the New South Wales parliament. Orchard, the Member for Nepean, raised criticisms of the camp, chief among them being a lack of uniforms and decent bedding, a shortage of overcoats, a lack of rifles for training and an inadequate system for the dispensing of medicines and treatment of the sick.

Of particular disgust to the troops was that German internees at the internment camp, also at Liverpool, suffered none of these shortages. Despite the parliamentary intervention, trouble persisted at the camps.

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A disturbance was reported on the night of 26 November when soldiers without leave passes attempted to pass sentries on the bridge leading out of camp. Several thousand men were drawn to the scene. Stones were thrown and three or four police tents were set alight. The decision to lengthen training hours had followed a recommendation by Major-General McCay, who had toured the camp; it had provoked much ill-feeling among the men. Under the training syllabus extant at the time the men were required to train for thirty hours. It could hardly be said that these hours were unreasonable given they fell below those that most civilians were working.

Yet to those who took umbrage the increase, without compensation, was clearly seen as breaking the contract they thought they had entered into. Trouble first began at the light horse camp at Casula, and when those men, numbering approximately , marched across to the infantry camp at Liverpool the number of strikers swelled to about 10, This mass of men marched out of the camp, and two representatives from each battalion were sent as part of a large delegation to the camp commandant Colonel Miller.

Miller told the men that the matter should have been brought to him without striking; he asked that they return to work under the old hours and he would approach the state commandant to see what could be done.


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This was considered unsatisfactory by the men, who by this time were emotionally intoxicated by participation in such a large demonstration and they marched to the railway station at Liverpool. The cellar of the Commercial Hotel was raided and barrels of beer were rolled into the street and their contents consumed by some of the excited mob. The mayhem petered out about midnight but only after a shot from a military picket at Central Railway station put a sobering and bloody stop to the madness. One light horseman was killed, Trooper Ernest William Keefe, who was reported as being shot through the cheek and bayoneted in his left side, shoulder and neck.