Australian World War 1 Expectations

For many years now Australia has shown immense contributions and sacrifice to the waging wars in Europe that has been occurring within the last century. Tens of thousands of our soldiers have marched face on into the heart of the European war to spill blood for the greater good. But while the number of our casualty’s rising and the morale and supplies of our people were decreasing, we start to contradict ourselves on whether the war was really what we had initially expected. Throughout the war it’s safe to say that the perceptions of it had changed dramatically over the duration of the war. From the start in 1914 we can see the attitudes and ideology of patriotism in the war quickly spiralled down until the end of the Great War. What was really our initially expectation and what really changed the whole view and perspective of the war?

Before the War

In 1914 the war was worked up to be a compelling adventure were heroic deeds ensured the pride and patriotism of the country. The general aura and feeling of the war in 1914 was quite calm and a strong sense of patriotism and pride had swept the land encouraging all men to enlist to fight. We would support our mother country Europe weather it meant fighting on the front lines or giving additional aid. Posters and adverts were a common sight in the streets of Australia as thousands of men enlisted. Not much of the harsh brutality was really heard about in Australia. The main focus and Australia’s general approach at the time was to send all the main support into Europe. While a major decision like exporting thousands of troops into the enemy’s front line may of seen might seem crazy at the time, the majority of the population were provided with cushion thoughts and propaganda which preached statements such as, the war will be over by Christmas and there will only be a small amount of casualty’s. As seen in Source 1 these pieces of propaganda strongly influenced the society at the time.

During the War

From 1915-1918 the war was well under way. Stories and experiences of soldiers were sent home and only then did Australia and its people realise what toll and impact it would have. Reports were so horrific that the ideas and society’s input on the perception of war was completely changed. The western front was now a long, blood-filled trench system that stretched the boarder of France. Despite the large and unbearable amount of casualty’s (60’000) that Australia had seen, positive propaganda was still being sent back to the media back home. Despite the government trying to keep the high morality of the Australian people, the strain of the constant demand of supplies during the war caused great changes during this time. A new mass amount of women workforce had supported the troops with the production and making of aid and clothing material. In the battlefront many of the Australians fighting had blamed Britain for the cause of their mates and comrades deaths.


To the end of the war came great tolls of death and disappear. With the entente defeating the alliance the war was questioned in weather it was really all worth it. Not much was really achieved in retrospective during these dark times. Australia had taken a heavy toll, with 60,000 killed and 156,000 wounded. The soldiers that had returned had suffered from consequential losses such as PTSD and shell shock, which had impacted many people, lives forever as seen in source 3. On the political side the campaigns of Australia such as Gallipoli had only ended in tragedy. All around mixed emotions were the staple in Australia during the end of the war.

In the end from the excitement to the depression and pain, the view and perspective of the Australia people had drastically changed. The war in its entirety was questioned and weather the tens of thousands of people were really worth it.