A War Worth Fighting

Australian enlistment numbers and motivation in the First World War

 The centenary of the First World War has given reason for historians and writers in general to look anew at the nature of Australia’s response and participation in that conflict. This paper sets out to revisit the question of enlistment numbers and motivation for enlistment through an analysis of the known figures of volunteers for the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) along with demographic data derived from the 1911 census.[1] It will contend that, at least in regard to single eligible men, the response to volunteering was extraordinary and that sufficient acknowledgement has not been made previously of the numbers who came forward. Through a re-examination of the enlistment figures it will be argued that the Australian government’s campaigns for conscription were seriously misplaced in judging and targeting single men and that if any one group ought to have been targeted it was married men. In the light of the large numbers of single men that did volunteer it will be further suggested that in all likelihood they were driven by a genuine central motivating factor to defend Australia that undermines the popular view of them being adventurous naïvetés.

For much of the one hundred years since Britain’s declaration of war on Imperial Germany interpretation of Australia’s involvement has been contested ground for historians and social commentators. In simple terms this has been a contest of left versus right.[2] For the left the war was a divisive crisis that undermined the labour movement and social progress bringing with it an unacceptable loss of life for questionable motives. The war was an abominable enterprise that served no real purpose and created a lost generation. The politics of socialism and class defined much of the left’s criticisms. For the right the war was a just cause with the defence of the Empire inextricably linked to Australia’s survival. The losses sustained were considered equitable when compared to the sacrifices made by Britain and all the British dominions. For the right Australia came of age as a nation through its involvement in the war. Australia achieved real nationhood through its participation from which a distinct national identity emerged.

Neither of these stories reveals much about the motivations of the men who actually enlisted. They are stories shaped by the post-war generations’ need to give meaning to their own world rather than the world of those who served. In the first the soldiers are victims of a war of mass slaughter and in the second they are cast as the vital seed of a nation’s birth, paladins of a new nationalism.

The passage of time has seen an amalgam of these views form the basis for a general national narrative of the war. Where in 1922 the Australian Labor Party in Victoria was advocating the banning of all references to war in the school curriculum, Labor politicians today are as likely to join with their conservative opponents in lauding the achievements of the Anzacs and proclaiming those as being central to Australia’s national identity.[3] There is no doubt that this foundation myth has taken root among large sections of Anglo-Australian society driven in large degree by the same hegemony of the press and government which were instrumental in advocating participation in the war in the first instance. To this end one might argue that the conservative story has proved victorious in the battle of historical wills. That said, the left’s point of view has resonated, in part, and insinuated itself into the narrative. There seems to be a general consensus that the loss of life sustained was unacceptable and, at least in the minds of many modern Australians, that the cause of Empire was not sufficient to justify it.

A favoured popular view of enlistment motives is that many Australians volunteered for a variety of reasons that had little to do with blind Empire loyalty. Bill Gammage was one of the first to suggest this in his seminal study of the AIF when he claimed the list of motives was ‘almost infinite’.[4] Richard White followed a similar line suggesting that social class and self-interest were powerful determinants in men’s motivations for enlistment.[5] This idea of variable enlistment motivations has been taken up by Australian film-makers over the years. The recent ABC series Anzac Girls (2014) was, for example, intent on presenting a cross section of these varied motivations for enlistment among its characters. More memorable perhaps were the diametrically distinct views of Archy and Frank in the film Gallipoli (1981), Frank motivated principally by self-interest and Archy by a deep-seated, almost inexplicable sense of duty to country and Empire.

With the previous points serving as a rudimentary background for discussion let us try and determine the number of men in Australia during the Great War that was eligible to enlist. Surprisingly this figure is somewhat elusive. Bill Gammage settled on a figure of ‘roughly 820,000’.[6] The figure held good ‘approximately’ for Eric Andrews nearly twenty years later in his book The Anzac Illusion.[7] Currently, on the Anzac Day Commemorative Committee’s website the figure of 416,809 is cited as being the total of those who enlisted in the AIF and Australian Flying Corps. It claims that this represents 13.43 per cent of the white male population and that this figure was ‘probably about half the eligible men’.[8] This figure would place the male population at over three million which is half a million too high and places the figure for eligible males at about 832,000. How and why modern day scholars and researchers have arrived at these approximations is mystifying given the figures supplied by historians previously.

The official histories of Australia in the First World War placed the amount of eligible males at over a million. The 416,809 men who were accepted into in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) represented 38.7 per cent of all eligible males between the ages of 18-44. [9] These figures therefore place the total of eligible men at 1,077,026. Exactly how this figure was arrived at remains unexplained but it is certainly closer to the mark than the latter day figures.  Examination of the 1911 census shows that there were 920,346 men of eligible age (18-44 years of age). The 1915 Yearbook estimates an increase in the Australian population of nearly half a million 4,445,005 to 4,940,952, an increase of 11.34 per cent. If one accepts that this increase represented an even spread over gender and age groupings then the number of eligible males in 1914 was 1,015,470. This figure could be as high as 1,141,200 over the course of the war if the 125,730 youths aged between 14 and 17 recorded in the 1911 census are added. However, as the majority of recruitment occurred within the first two years the lower figure is preferred but with the caveat that the numbers available could have been slightly higher.

Having settled on a figure of 1,015,470 Australian men of eligible age at the time war was declared in 1914 it is possible to analyse other known figures against it. The official history tells us that 589,947 men volunteered which means that 58.1 per cent of eligible men stepped forward to enlist for the war which leaves a sizeable figure of 41.9 per cent who did not. Of that 58.1 per cent 178,800 men were rejected which represents 30.3 per cent of all who volunteered and who were medically examined.[10] The fact that 41.9 per cent of eligible males did not volunteer for war service is hardly indicative of a patriotic response. However, when one applies a distinction between married and single men, a much different impression is formed.

We know that of those who did enlist in the AIF, 81.62 per cent were single and 17.38 were married with the marital status of one per cent unknown.[11] By applying the known percentages of marital status revealed in the 1911 census and factoring in the population growth to 1914, it is revealed that of those one million eligible men, 456,961 were married and 558,509 were single. By applying the percentage of the known marital status of AIF enlistees to the sum of those who volunteered to enlist (81.62 per cent of 589,947) we can deduce that 481,515 single men presented for service. When this figure is placed against the 558,509 single eligible males we find that 86.21 per cent of single men as opposed to only 22.43 per cent of married men volunteered for war service. We might also suppose that among the 13.79 per cent of single men that did not volunteer there would have been a proportion of men who were so patently unfit for war service that they did not bother to step forward which makes the response of single, supposedly able-bodied men even more impressive.

It is reasonable to ask again what motivated such a massive number of single Australian men to enlist.  The enlistment statistics available enable us to identify some peaks in the recruitment timeline that suggest moments of high motivation among volunteers. Examination of the recruitment figures for the AIF reveal four distinct spikes in enlistment which indicates that volunteers were clearly responding to public overtures and/or war news.[12]

The first was the declaration of war. This we are told brought men flooding to the recruitment stations when they were opened. Newspaper reports give testimony to this apparent surge of volunteers.[13] By year’s end 52,561 volunteers or 5.17 per cent of all eligible males had enlisted. Eric Andrews argued some years ago in The Anzac Illusion that this hardly represented an enthusiastic response to the war.[14] It must be remembered though that initially only 20,000 men were called for and that physical requirements were quite stringent.[15] Many men were not therefore motivated to go to war immediately as there was no apparent need as the 20,000 quota was easily met and no sense of crisis was being conveyed by the government at that time.

The next discernible spike occurred in July and August when the government embarked on a well orchestrated recruitment campaign following the Gallipoli Landing which in many instances tried to shame men into enlisting, particularly targeting sportsmen and spectators.[16] The rise in volunteer numbers suggests that this campaign was highly effective in motivating young men to enlist. 21,000 in Victoria during July and 20,000 in NSW over July/August of 1915. By the end of 1915 over 50 per cent of the total of volunteers accepted for the AIF had enlisted.

The start of 1916 saw another spike as news of the Gallipoli evacuation reached home and as a further call for volunteers to expand the AIF by 50,000 men was made. By the end of July 1916, before any news of the carnage of the Western Front battles had reached Australia, 73.88 per cent of all enlistees had already come forward.

Another spike, the smallest of the four, occurred in October 1916 in response to the conscription referenda. By year’s end 82.24 per cent of those accepted into the AIF had already enlisted. This fact lays bare the misguided intent of the conscription campaigns, certainly the second in December 1917, to dragoon eligible single men into military service. By the end of 1916 Australia had virtually exhausted its manpower stocks in regard to single men but certainly not married men.

This failure on the part of married men not to enlist actually carried little social stigma. There existed an unwritten social code that war was the province of fit single men and not for men with family responsibilities. Under the provisions of part IV of the Defence Act single men were to be conscripted to home service before married men. The propaganda of the recruitment campaigns almost always invariably targeted single men. Soldiers who wrote home often qualified their sentiments about the need for reinforcements with statements such as ‘the time has come for every able bodied man without ties to go and help’.[17] The intimation was that ‘ties’, one assumes it to be family ties, were considered binding and a legitimate reason for not enlisting. This undoubtedly reflected a community value that recognized the far reaching consequences to families should they be denied their main provider through service abroad or through death and injury. In 1917 the government, in fact, promised to exempt married men from being conscripted should the referenda for conscription prove successful. It also promised to set the eligible age between 20 and 44 thus excluding eighteen and nineteen year olds who were entitled to enlist under the voluntary system.[18] The exemption of married men flew in the face of numeric logic given the government’s own estimation by mid 1917 that there were 280,000 married men of eligible age and 140,000 single men still unenlisted.[19] That said some recruitment posters, such as the famous “Daddy, what did you do in the war?” were produced which clearly targeted married men specifically.[20]

Given these trends in enlistment figures one would have to say that pro-Empire, pro-war patriots should have been pleased with the responses to their demands. Those trends also tell us that the bleating of the patriots and social ostracization practiced by women – the ‘shrieking sisterhood’ as Lloyd Robson called them – toward single men’s commitment was largely misplaced and that the group that didn’t respond and ought to have been targeted – if one believed in compulsion and harassment as legitimate tools of influence – was married men.[21]

Given the large number of single men who came forward as volunteers is it fair to assume that their reasons and motivations for enlisting were as varied as is popularly suggested? If we reflect upon the narrative of Australia’s Second World War soldiers we find that they are accorded a much more unified and ennobling motivation. The fight against odious undemocratic and violent fascism in Europe and Japanese aggression in Asia and the Pacific morally elevated the meaning of the war. The horror of the holocaust and of outrages such as the Burma railroad left an indelible mark in our collective memory about the justness of the war against the Axis powers and Japan. The motivation for going to war on principles of democracy and human decency, and of defending Australia against invasion is not questioned. Yet we do not accord First World War soldiers the same unqualified acceptance and uniformity of reason for going to war.

The reason for this may lie partly in the various post war narratives. That those soldiers have been portrayed as victims, lambs to the slaughter, has possibly deflected attention from theirs and the Nation’s reasons for going to war. Another possibility is that this “War to end all wars” did not achieve its aims and so it has been written off as a waste of human life. The fact that the war was a stalemate for most of its duration also underscored its pointlessness in our imagination. The war, too, has been seen as a clash of Empires and our modern day post-colonial sensibilities tell us that Empires were grossly undemocratic, suppressed indigenous populations, dispossessed people of their lands and bequeathed untold wealth on a supposedly God ordained few. Modern day Australians might look back at the days of Empire as a quaint period of our history but one best put behind us, a period that doesn’t much represent who we are today. We look at a head stone that reads died for King and Empire and think it’s a bit pithy, a bit antiquated, that it doesn’t represent a particularly sound notion for going off to war. Eric Andrews considered ‘loyalty to England, duty, or the Empire’ to have been abstract motives.[22]  However for soldiers a century ago there was nothing abstract about it and we commit a grave injustice to the historical truth of 1914 if we do not accept the concept of Empire as having concrete meanings and being a cause for genuine motivation to both working-class and middle-class men.

Anecdotally we can find a number of reasons for why individuals may have been prompted to enlist such as unemployment and a desire to escape bad relationships. British born, brawling, socialist inspired merchant seaman John Simpson Kirkpatrick (the man with the donkey) saw enlistment as an opportunity to get a free ticket back to England.[23] Bill Gammage tells us that one soldier enlisted after having punched his boss in the eye and that others saw the army as an escape from pending custodial sentences. He claims men enlisted because their mates did or because they had friends in Europe or because they couldn’t bear the social pressure of not enlisting.[24] As captivating as some of these motivations may have been there is no reason to think that they are the norm or that they should be taken as a singular reason as to why a man enlists. If we accept these sorts of reasons as being general we risk painting the AIF as some sort of Foreign Legion, a haven for outlaws and individuals fleeing personal demons.

In considering the whole question of enlistment motivation it is pertinent to suggest that some separation from the reason for enlisting and the motivation for enlisting needs to be affected– sometimes the two might be synonymous but they are not necessarily the same. Motivation can be a timing element rather than a reason and may well be dependent on decisions that might be described as self-interest. A man may be attracted to the six shillings a day he might earn as a soldier, he may be recently unemployed but that is not to say that he does not believe in the cause for which he is enlisting.

The notion of Duty, the Empire, Australia and the cause are often mentioned as a reason for why men enlisted and were probably more prevalent in men’s thinking than some like to think. The men who enlisted in 1914 were products of their time, not products of our post war imaginings. The King was a symbolic head of a state that embodied a raft of ideas and values by which Australians lived their lives. It meant progressive liberalism, it meant rights for workers, it meant whiteness and brotherhood, it meant parliamentary democracy, it meant secure economic markets and opportunities for personal wealth, it meant education, it was founded on Christian values and provided a shared cultural heritage in art and sport. Importantly being part of the Empire meant national security. Defending Britain meant defending Australia. German war plans for the Pacific in the event of a war against Britain placed Australian trade and shipping squarely in the cross-hairs of the German Navy.[25] The defeat of Britain would compromise all those things or at least so it would have been perceived.

Australians enjoyed a duality of identity in 1914 as Australian-Britons. Despite a burgeoning parochial national sentiment in the early part of the twentieth century, Australians were just as prone to be moved by images of John Bull and Union Jacks as they were of Kangaroos and sprigs of wattle. One did not cancel out the other. The men who enlisted in 1914 didn’t question the relevance of Empire or the roles of Britain and Australia within it. In all likelihood most men believed Australia had an obligation to the defence of the Empire and believed Britain’s reasons for going to war were reasonable and honourable.

Britain went to war on the principle that Germany’s invasion of neutral Belgium could not be tolerated, that the naked aggression of a larger nation toward a smaller one must not pass unopposed and that if Britain did not stand up for Belgian sovereignty then its word and integrity amounted to nothing.[26] Did this high principle resonate with young working class Australian males who made up the majority of the AIF’s ranks?[27] There is no evidence to suggest that it did not and it is entirely reasonable to suggest that it did.

We have available to us a solid collection of data of written public texts to which the volunteers of 1914 were subjected. We know the content of the school books that they read, we know the content of school curriculums in which they were taught, we know the sort of books published for young readers, and we know the tenor of the newspaper editorials and novels of the day. Richard White queried whether we could assume this inculcation of ideas to have been effective.[28] In the absence of substantive data, proving its effectiveness is problematic. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to believe that the messages about loyalty to and defence of Australia and Empire were imbibed to some degree by most men at both public and private schools and in civic life.

The inclination of those on the left has been to challenge the influence of those ideals.  Yet even an alternative newspaper such as the Brisbane Worker in its editorial of 6 August 1914, while lamenting a war which pitched worker against worker, while aggrieved by the fact that the rich would get fatter on the war, while advocating the labour movement should expedite peace talks, nevertheless concluded that it was Australia’s duty to stand by Britain in its hour of need.

The power of this sentiment for national defence has not really been woven into our First World War narrative. C. E. W. Bean certainly suggested it in his first volume but few modern historians have run with it.[29] Instead it was supplanted by the notion of adventurism; one inadvertently planted by Bean when he wrote that among the first volunteers could be found some of the ‘romantic, quixotic, adventurous flotsam that eddied on the surface of the Australian people’.[30] This observation of Bean’s is indicative of the happy go lucky adventurous image that is often preferred of the First World War diggers where themes such as larrikinism, mateship and anti-authoritarianism are the preferred templates of character.  The idea that they enlisted to experience a great adventure is misleading. It carries a connotation that they saw war as nothing more than an escapade, something to be tried and experienced. While it was true many men referred to the war as a great adventure, it should in no way be construed that there were not deeper reasons for their involvement. The fact was that the journey to war was an adventure but that was a by product of enlistment not necessarily a cause for enlistment.

The advent of the Second World War and the abominable nature of the Third Reich have diluted our understanding of the threat that Australians saw in German militarism or Prussianism as it was often called in 1914. Historians appear loath to draw too much of a parallel between Imperial Germany and Nazi Germany. Hitler and the Holocaust, rightly, are set apart rather than representing a continuity of German thought. While the obscene philosophy that made the Holocaust possible was undoubtedly a step too far, diplomacy of the Third Reich followed a similar tenor to that practised by previous German regimes. John Moses has argued forcefully that Imperial Germany was indeed a rogue state among the other major powers, that its reliance on coercive military threat, its adherence to the idea that war was a natural state of man, and the maintenance of the German military as the centrepiece of German Kultur was not only out of step with European diplomacy but also out of step with the beliefs of many German people.[31]

In 1914 there was no Third Reich with which to make comparisons and Australians were presented with the spectre of the rise of a militaristic evil empire hell bent on world domination. We shouldn’t underestimate the effectiveness of propaganda at that time. The early war posters concentrated heavily on the prospect of German invasion.[32] It was potentially a powerful persuasive.  Modern day opinion polls regular show governments of the day receiving a bounce in the polls whenever issues of national sovereignty or emergency arise. Certainly Adolf Hitler thought British propaganda had been highly effective in confirming ‘the ‘Hunnish’ brutality of the barbarous enemy’ to its soldiers.[33]  The use of ‘Hun’ and ‘Squareheads’ in many Australian soldiers’ letters and diaries as descriptors of the enemy certainly gives some credence to Hitler’s assertion.[34]

The backdrop for the early period of enlistments was also characterised by a volatile and unedifying attack on German Australians. By October 1914 the majority of German nationals had been interned, many of those with German names were ostracized or physically attacked, many were debarred from working by trade unions and many German businesses were stripped of rights.[35] There occurred a denunciation of all things German, irrespective of the many positive contributions German Australians had made to Australian society. Remember, too, that Australia’s first military forays in 1914 were against German forces and close to Australia – the warning shots across the bows of the Pfalz, the seizure of German New Guinea and then the sinking of the SMS Emden by HMAS Sydney. These events could only have served to heighten the notion of Germany as a real threat to Australian security particularly when taken alongside the shrill assertions about potential insurgency from the German community. Furthermore, given the public outcry over the rape of Belgium and the death of Nurse Cavell – both received saturation coverage – one can easily imagine the broiling environment in which young Australians made their decisions to enlist in the early part of the war.[36] German perfidy knew no bounds and a steady stream of literature was published throughout the war detailing German atrocities, inhumanity and barbarism including a free booklet issued by the Director-General of recruiting in 1917.[37]

Unfortunately, we cannot conclusively assert anything about men’s reasons and motivation for enlisting due to a near absence of comment by the soldiers themselves. The historical record is simply not definitive on this matter. Despite leaving us a voluminous collection of personal records in war letters and diaries, few soldiers actually recorded their reasons or motives for enlistment. Post-war soldier narratives tended to concentrate on the experience of war rather than the reasons why men participated in it. Nor can their memoirs, constructed through the prism of their war experience, necessarily be considered accurate representation of their reasons for enlistment at the outset of war. Those who did record reasons represent only a fraction of the soldiers who served and cannot be considered an adequate representation of soldier motivations.

Bill Gammage’s study on the AIF The Broken Years looked at about one thousand diary and letter writers. This represents .303 per cent of those who served overseas which is a markedly small sample from which to make assumptions.[38] Of these, 73 per cent were officers and NCOs.  Officers were also more likely to be drawn from the educated middle-classes.[39] Only 26 per cent of letter and diary writers came from the other ranks that constitute the vast bulk of AIF soldiers. This is a problem which confronts anyone studying the written records of the AIF. My research into the First Battalion, which is one of the best represented AIF units in the various archives, can only claim to tap into the written records of 1.66 per cent of those who served the battalion.[40] On the rare occasions that those soldiers wrote about their motives for enlistment we must accept Lloyd Robson’s caution that they are atypical rather than typical representatives of the AIF.[41]

Nevertheless, despite Robson’s concern, we quote soldiers letters, diaries and journals as proofs all the time.  We quote newspapers of the day all the time. These things are primary sources surely they must be true. Indeed, they do represent a degree of truth but they reflect the biases of individuals and of sections of society that do not necessarily reflect the views of all people. The editorials of the major daily newspapers the length and breadth of the land expressed a unified pro-Empire rhetoric in support of the war and so too did the clergy of the major churches. The majority of parliamentary representatives were also steadfast in their support of the war. Young men in 1914 were subjected to a relentless torrent of pro-war sentiment. Patriots assumed that those who enlisted shared those views and we must ask ourselves whether, in fact, they did or not.

The only definite conclusion that we can reach in regard to men’s motives for enlistment is that single men were significantly more motivated to enlist than married men or, conversely, that marriage was a distinct disincentive to enlistment. The response of single men to enlistment was nothing short of phenomenal and for the most part a response to four distinctive call to arms. The declaration of war, the recruitment campaigns following the landing at Gallipoli, the expansion of the AIF after the evacuation of Gallipoli, and the October 1916 conscription referenda were all prompts for men to enlist. To be sure, they were accompanied by strident arguments about loyalty to nation and Empire, of not leaving the burden of war to others and to higher principles among nations. These, of course, might have been influential in a man making his mind up as to whether he would serve or not. The numbers of single men who stepped forward to enlist exposed the pointlessness of the government’s conscription campaigns. The majority of single volunteers had already come forward by late 1916 and the government’s own unwillingness to dragoon married men, the one group that could supply extra men, was evident in the exclusions it offered as part of the 1917 conscription inducements to the electorate.

Despite the written records of AIF volunteers not being voluminous enough to support an unequivocal explanation of motives for enlistment and despite those records exhibiting a bias in the soldiers they represent, given what we know of the era drawn from the public literature and historical records left to us, given the news of war and subsequent Australian involvement and accompanying propaganda – and in the absence of any proof to the contrary –  it is entirely reasonable to suggest that the majority of Australian volunteers, enlisted irrespective of what personal motivations some may have had, because in principle they considered the war worth fighting.

[1] Census of the Commonwealth of Australia, 3 April 1911.

[2] For an excellent overview of competing opinions up until 2000, see, Anthony Cooper, ‘”Grovelling” or Realpolitik? The Struggle within Australian Historiography to Interpret the First World War’ in John A. Moses and Christopher Pugsley (eds), The German Empire and Britain’s Pacific Dominions 1871-1919: Essays on the Role of Australia and New Zealand in World Politics in the Age of Imperialism, Regina Books, Claremont, California, 2000, pp. 507-528; See also the entry ‘Anzac Legend’ in The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1995, pp. 42-49.

[3] C. M. H. Clark, A History of Australia: ‘The old dead tree and the young tree green’, vol. IV, 1916-1935, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1987, p. 132; Phillip Deery, Labor Interlude in Victorian Politics: The Prendergast Government, 1924, BA Honours Thesis, La Trobe University, 1972, pp 31-41.

[4] Bill Gammage, The Broken Years: Australian Soldiers in the Great War, Penguin Books, Melbourne, 1975 [1974], p. 11.

[5] Richard White, ‘Motives for Joining Up: Self-sacrifice. Self-interest and Social Class, 1914-18’, Journal of the Australian War Memorial, no. 9, October 1986, pp. 3-16.

[6] Gammage, p. 7.

[7] E. M. Andrews, The Anzac Illusion: Anglo-Australian Relations during World War 1, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 1993, p. 45.

[8] http://www.anzacday.org.au/history/ww1/anecdotes/stats01.html

[9] Ernest Scott, The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918: Australia During the War, vol. XI, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1938, p. 874; A. G. Butler, Special Problems and Services, The Official History of the Australian Army Medical Services in the War of 1914-1918, vol. III, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1943, p. 890.

[10] Butler, p. 882. Some rejected men did attempt to reenlist, some multiple times, but it is impossible to know exactly how many. One suspects the instances were relatively negligible against the general trend of enlistments. The formation in New South Wales of a Rejected Volunteers Association and the governments promise to issue a badge for medically unfit volunteers suggests the rate of rejection was significant. See L. L. Robson, The First AIF: A study of its recruitment, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1970, p. 57.

[11] Joan Beaumont (ed), Australian Defence: Sources and Statistics, The Australian Centenary History of Defence, volume VI, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, 2001, p. 116.

[12] Refer to the graph in Scott, appendix 4, p. 873; Monthly recruitment tables are also provided in Joan Beaumont (ed), Australian Defence: Sources and Statistics, The Australian Centenary History of Defence, volume VI, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, 2001, pp. 108-109.

[13] For examples see, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 August 1914; The Mail (SA), 10 August 1914.

[14] E. M. Andrews, The Anzac Illusion: Anglo-Australian relations during World War I, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 1993, p. 45. Andrews puts the percentage at 6.4 per cent. He, like Gammage, uses the estimate of 820,000 available eligible men.

[15] C. E. W. Bean, The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918: The Story of Anzac, vol. I, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1921, pp. 28-29, pp. 59-60.

[16] L. L. Robson, The First AIF: A study of its recruitment, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1970, p. 36; Joan Beaumont, Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2013, p. 375; Gammage, p. 20.

[17] Gammage, p. 13.

[18] Scott, p. 413.

[19] Scott, p. 408.

[20] For a useful discussion and images of war posters see, Peter Stanley, What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? A visual representation of propaganda posters: a selection from the Australian War Memorial, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1983.

[21] Robson, p. 36.

[22] Andrews, p. 44.

[23] Peter Cochrane, Simpson and the Donkey: The Making of the Legend, Melbourne University Press, 1992, pp. 16-22.

[24] Gammage, p. 11.

[25] Peter Overlack, ‘German War Plans in the Pacific, 1900-1914, The Historian, Vol.60, No.3, Spring 1998, pp 579-591.

[26] For a recent brief overview of these issues by six British historians see, ‘Why Britain was right to go to war in 1914’, BBC History Magazine, February 2014.

[27] Seventy-eight per cent of the AIF were under the age of thirty, 57 per cent in fact were under twenty-five, and 63.3 per cent were blue collar workers – tradesmen and labourers. A sizeable portion of the AIF was undisputedly young working class males who responded to what some historians have suggested was a largely middle-class driven patriotism.

[28] Richard White, ‘Motives for joining up: self-sacrifice, self-interest and social class, 1914-18’, Journal of the Australian War Memorial, No. 9, October 1986, p. 13.

[29] C. E. W. Bean, Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918: The Story of Anzac, vol. I, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1941 [1921], pp. 11-19.

[30] Ibid., p. 43.

[31] John Moses, ‘The Prusso-German Idea of War: The Values of a virtual Rogue State’, History Compass, October, 2012, pp. 901-917.

[32] See State Library of Victoria’s Collection of World War 1 posters, featuring cartoons by Norman Lindsay, for the purpose of promoting enlistment in the armed force published by Director General of Recruiting, Melbourne, Victoria, [1914-1918]; For a good discussion of the tenor of these posters see, Antje Gnida, ‘From Hun-Beast to Abstract Threat: Portrayal of the German Enemy in Australian War Posters’, NEO, 2008 (online), pp. 1-7.

[33] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, The Noontide Press, Books online, p. 136, http://www.angelfire.com/folk/bigbaldbob88/MeinKampf.pdf

[34] Blair, pp. 143-144.

[35] Gammage, p. 5; Pam MacLean, ‘War and Australian Society’ in Joan Beaumont, Australia’s War, 1914-18, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, Australia, 1995, pp. 84-88; Scott, Chapter Six, ‘The Enemy at the Gate’, pp. 105-167.

[36] For an example of reports of German barbarism in Belgium see National Advocate, 22 August 1914; For some examples of Nurse Cavell’s death see Maryborough Chronicle, 25 October 1915; Western Mail, 29 October 1915.

[37] The Director-General of Recruiting, German Atrocities: Germany and Inhumanity, Humanity and Christianity, Commonwealth of Australia, Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, 1917.

[38] Gammage, p. xiii; Dale Blair, Dinkum Diggers: An Australian Battalion at War, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 2001, p. 10

[39] Blair, p. 10.

[40] Ibid.

[41] L. L. Robson, review in Meanjin Quarterly, October 1974, pp. 320-322.