World War I: The mighty war

Breanna Dimitrievski

The first world war...

The first world war was thought to be caused by the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinard, on the 28th of June 1914, he was attacked by a Serbian group.

However, the war was really caused by:

Militarism (building up a military to prepare for war, this involved every country that was in war, each country had to go through this but Germany was considered the main act),

Alliances (agreements between countries to defend each other, this involved the Allies - Russia, France, Britain and the Central ones being - Germany, Austria, Hungary and Serbia),

Imperialism (countries that attempt to expand their power, this was focused on Germany as they attempted to take over the world with their power, they focused on serving an empire),

and Nationalism (a lot of pride in ones country, this falls under Germany and their pride and belief that they were better than everyone else).

Australia's involvement began when Britain and Germany were at war together (the 4th August 1914) because of Britain's power over Australia, the ANZAC'S (Australian New Zealand army corps) were to go war.

People applying for the army had lots of enthusiasm, they believed that it benefited them with relationships, money, and health, they thought it was a great opportunity to go travelling and see the world many were wrong... Reality set in.

The war started in 1914 and ended in 1918.

It was brutal and tragic.

In the war, 324,000 men applied and 61,720 were killed, 155,000 were wounded or gassed and 4,044 were taken as prisoner, 397 dying while captive.

Significant battles

The most important battleground was the 'Western Front' in France and Belgium where great battles were fought with names, once being household words in Australia — Fromelles, the Somme, Bullecourt, Messines, Passchendaele and Villers–Bretonneux.

More than 295,000 Australians served in this war, 46,000 lost their lives and 132,000 were wounded, in fact the casualty rate was almost 65%, the highest of the British Empire. Australians were injured more than the British because Australians were exposed at the front line.

Many people believe that Australians being at the front of the line was a cruel idea and today some people even hold a grudge.

Most of the deaths were at the Western Front.


Another bitter and bloody war was Gallipoli, a battle involving the Australians and the Turkish.

It was very quick, this being the Turkish killed the Australians as soon as they popped their heads up from the trenches, they had machine guns which were a major disadvantage for Australians.

Many of the troops that fought in Gallipoli were sent to France to fight on the Western Front of World War I. They made a significant contribution to the defeat of the German.

7,600 Australians and 2,500 New Zealanders died and 19,000 Australians and 5,000 New Zealanders were wounded.


Major battles that aren't as well known are:

Battle of the Somme where the Australians planned to launch a major attack on the German lines in the Somme River Valley but that planned failed due to the heavy German gunfire.

The battle resulted in 23,000 Australian casualties.


Passchendaele in Belgium battle which took place in the Belgium town of Ypres, it's aim was to break through the German lines but the Germans were advanced again, this time by higher ground. There were 38,000 Australian casualties.


The Bullacourt battle was when the Australians were sent against the German lines near Bullacourt. 80% of the attacking force was lost and over a thousand were taken as prisoner.

Australians at home

It was tough for the Australians on the battlefield and it was also tough for Australians at home. Not much information was shared to worried family and friends and muffled rumours spread around. People got angry and protested and people got miserable and depressed, nobody really knew how to react.

Being at home, everything changed, in the communities and in families.

At that time, men were usually the head of the house and woman, the housewives, cooking and cleaning but when the men left, they had to go and find other jobs to carry out, they would be gone for a long time working as they had to provide, usually for family, even some children were to go to war and if they didn't, a lot had to go and work, and sometimes leaving school.

A lot of work females were asked to do was to do with the war, either serving in the war by nursing or staying at home, the woman at home were either creating new explosive weapons (many died in doing so), they also worked in foundations like 'Red Cross' and the 'Wounded and Missing Enquiry'.


If a father of a family at home died in war as well as the mother dying in work, the children became orphans and sent to an orphanage.

Family events like birthdays and Christmas were never the same, it was extremely hard for mothers to look after children, important events like the birth of a child or the death of a loved one were missed, some females even gave up on their lovers.

The government was blamed a lot by people but they had their own job, paying for the war, it costed Australia over a million dollars. Because of Britain's power, a lot of Australians turned on them.

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Australia's involvement

Andrew Fisher was the Australian Prime Minister in 1914, he promised that Australia would support Britain 'to the last man and the last shilling'.

For Australia, the First World War remains the most costly conflict in terms of deaths and casualties. Throughout 1916 and 1917 losses were heavy and gains were small.




  • The war began with people applying for the war, everybody was excited, they had great enthusiasm but only the best got through.
  • The long and rough journey began in training near Cairo, Egypt. It lasted four and a half months. Nobody took this too seriously.
  • The Australians then departed by ship to the Gallipoli peninsula (now known as Anzac Cove).
  • The Australians landed on 25 April 1915.
  • The war between Australians and Turkish started quickly with the allies trying to break through Turkish lines and the Turks trying to drive the allies off the peninsula. Both attempts ended in failure and lots of loss.
  • They evacuated from Gallipoli on the 19th - 20th December.
  • Throughout 1916 and 1917, Australians and other allied armies repeatedly attacked, this time more prepared, this was also when they transferred to France.
  • In July 1916 Australian's suffered 5,533 casualties in 24 hours. By the end of the year about 40,000 Australians had been killed or wounded. In 1917 a further 76,836 Australians became casualties in battles.
  • More people at home were asked to go to war, this time, without much of a choice, it was a very sad time.
  • In March 1918 the German army launched its final offensive of the war, hoping for a decisive victory but Australian's fought back.
  • Germany surrendered on 11 November (now known as Remembrance day).
  • More people volunteered to help the Australians.
  • The war began to settle down.
  • All around the world, the war ended.



Australia made a major sacrifice to Australia.

Thousands of men, many disabled with physical or emotional wounds, had to restart their lives.Although the war was awful and tragic in surviving extreme heat, harsh terrain, and water shortages, there was a bright side... the friendship, the great memories, the fun created, the survivors and of coarse the victory.


A lot of people remember the involvement of the men, how brave they were but you cannot forget about the woman of Australia, although they weren't involved much in fighting, many served as members of the Australian Army Nursing Service. Woman that nursed were dealing with injuries and immense suffering in the field, some were killed and many being inexperienced. In total, 2,139 woman nursed overseas, 423 in Australia, 25 died and 388 were appreciated for their service.

Film Collection Online: The First World War

ANZAC DAY

On the 25th of April, ANZAC Day is celebrated and cherished. World War 1 was and is a momentous event, it touched the lives of nearly every Australian and still impacts today. It is essential to remember those who sacrificed their lives during those years, 1914 – 1918.

We celebrate the spirit of Anzac, with its human qualities of courage, mate-ship, and sacrifice, continues to have meaning and relevance for our sense of national identity.

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day is the day that we dedicate to those that sacrificed their lives throughout the war. The poppy is a well known symbol for Remembrance Day as the poppy was about the only flower that grew in the worst parts of the battlefields, it helped soldiers to believe there was life and to push through the soil and not give up, their red colour is an appropriate symbol for the red blood spilled in the war.It is the day on which we remember Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.

Despite all the defeats that faced the Australians, the war still remains a source of pride and national identity.

The Last Post
Click here to read letters

Read letters to loved ones written from one of the soldiers at war.