World War I


the war, conducted mainly in Europe and the Middle East, between the Triple Entente (Great Britain, France, and Russia, aided by the US, Belgium, Japan, countries of the British Empire including Australia and New Zealand, and others) and the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary, aided by Turkey and Bulgaria) from 28 July, 1914, when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, until the Central Powers' surrender on 11 November, 1918. Abbrev.: WW I
Also, First World War, Great War.
Britain’s declaration of war on Germany on 4 August 1914 meant that Australia was automatically also at war. Australians were enthusiastic in their support of Britain. Andrew Fisher, prime minister at the time of the outbreak of the war, had earlier, while opposition leader, pledged to help the British Empire ‘to the last man and last shilling’ and large numbers joined the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). A small force occupied German New Guinea at little cost in September 1914, and in November the German cruiser Emden was outfought by HMAS Sydney.
On 25 April 1915 Anzacs landed on the Gallipoli peninsula. When the Anzacs were evacuated in December they joined thousands of new recruits in Egypt. The Australian Light Horse spent the rest of the war as an important part of the British force fighting Turkey in the Middle East. The other men in the AIF were formed into five infantry divisions which, from April 1916, were moved to the Western Front. The terrible losses suffered there persuaded the Australian prime minister, WM Hughes, of the need to enlarge the AIF through conscription. This proposal was twice defeated at bitterly fought referenda. In 1918, after two years of carnage, the AIF played a significant role in a series of Allied victories, including the momentous attack on the German army near Hamel on 8 August and the capture of Mont St Quentin and Péronne in September.
Of the 331 000 Australians (out of a population of 4 875 000) who served overseas, about some 60 000 lost their lives and a further 152 000 were wounded; as a proportion of forces fielded, the Australian casualty rate was the highest in the British Empire. After the war, Australia secured German New Guinea as a mandated territory under the League of Nations.

Australian English dictionary. 2014.

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