Monday August 4th 2014 marked one hundred years since the commencement of World War One or what is also called the Great War. The Australian War Memorial has a list of specific centenary events and resources and is a great site to start at for those interested. The Australian War Memorial also has a broader set of First World War resources relating to Australia's involvement. One interesting fact I learnt today is that the first shot fired by a British Empire military unit was in Australia at Fort Nepean.
Most good students of history would know that Australia at this point still had strong ties to the British Empire for example our initial forces being sent were called the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). An interesting new book to explore this dynamic is Hell Bent: Australia's leap into the Great War. For this week it is on our new book display. It describes that Australia was in the middle of elections at this time and this lead to what some political scientist might describe as a khaki campaign coming off the strong jingoism of the era to enter into a state of war. Depending how you interpret history, Australian leaders and Australians were either eager to enter into war for the sake of it, for political convenience, or eager to defend certain principles. This title argues that the eagerness to enter the war led to decisions which meant Australian government had very little say about our own troops and led to many of the sad outcomes that affected the lives of the men sent.
Some examples from the period held by JCU Library Special Collections of the war both abroad and at home are: the Townsville man Private Alfred Doorey's honour certificate which was discussed in a previous blog entry. You can even drive down Doorey Street which like so many across Australia has been named after a man who was killed during the war. Also of interest is the item "Aussie: the Australian Soldiers’ Magazine" a magazine produced for Australian's particularly on the Western Front in France.