Both World Wars had a huge impact on Australia. A proud member of the British Empire in 1914, Australians still saw England as the 'mother country'. When she went to war, August 14, 1914, Australia was with her all the way. At the time most people in Australia were either British immigrants or first generation Australians whose parents had come from Britain so the prevailing sentiment is easy to understand.
With a small population, Australia, never-the-less, made a significant contribution to troop numbers. Western Australia alone sent 32,231 volunteers into battle during WWI. This was 33% of all men aged 18 to 41. It exceeded the expected number by 400%. The rate of Australian deaths in combat was 145 per 1000 troops deployed. New Zealand was next highest with 124 per 1000.
Australia's total commitment of troops to WWI was 416,819 enlistments with 60,284 killed and 152,171 wounded. Many more non-combat deaths that were not included in the official statistics occurred once the war ended. The wartime figures mean that over 50% of Australians who enlisted were either killed or wounded.
Despite failed attempts by the Government to bring in conscription, Australian troops all remained volunteers.
With so many men away fighting, the local economy stagnated and with the numbers killed and wounded it was a very long time before things at home got back to normal.
After the war there were a number of re-settlement schemes for returned soldiers. In general they were not successful because they were under-resourced and poorly managed. They did, however, have the impact of opening up a lot of land in the state's south west.
By the end of World War 1 the allies had suffered 3,049,972 casualties but in 4 long years of war the front line had shifted just 100 yards. (Total casualties for all the allied nations involved in World War 1 was 22,104,209 - about the same as the total population of Australia in 2008. The Germans and their allies recorded 15,404,477 but these...