The First World War


Private Eric Wright, Standal prisoner of war camp, 1917.
P00063.013

In 1914 hardly any Australians knew what being a prisoner of war meant. In the Boer War a few dozen Australians had been captured and quickly released.

During the First World War over 4,000 Australians became prisoners. Captured by the Ottoman Turks in the Middle East and by the Germans in Europe, they were the first Australians to learn about humiliation, ill-treatment, hunger and sickness in captivity. But they also learnt that they were not forgotten and that defiance, and even escape, was possible.

The 4,000 prisoners of the Great War were very few compared to the 60,000 killed and 150,000 wounded, and they remained overlooked for generations.