A machine gun position established by the 54th Battalion during the morning of the attack through PeronneA machine gun position established by the 54th Battalion during the morning of the attack through Peronne, 2 September 1918. E03183

By 1918, the First World War had been in progress for over three years, and thousands of Australians had already been killed or wounded. Possibly every Australian town had experienced a loss of one or more of their community.

In March 1918 the German army launched its final offensive of the war. The Germans initially met with great success, advancing 64 kilometres past the region of the 1916 Somme battles, before the offensive lost momentum. Between April and November the stalemate of the preceding years began to give way, as the allies combined infantry, artillery, tanks, and aircraft more effectively, demonstrated in the Australian capture of Hamel spur on 4 July 1918. The allied offensive, beginning on 8 August at Amiens, also contributed to Australian successes at Mont St Quentin and Péronne and to the capture of the Hindenburg Line. In early October the Australian divisions withdrew from the front for rest and refitting; they were preparing to return when Germany surrendered on 11 November.

Unlike their counterparts in France and Belgium, the Australians in the Middle East fought a mobile war in conditions completely different from the mud and stagnation of the Western Front. The light horsemen and their mounts had to survive extreme heat, harsh terrain, and water shortages. Nevertheless, casualties were comparatively light, with 1,394 Australians killed or wounded in three years of war. This campaign began in 1916 with Australian troops participating in the defence of the Suez Canal and the allied reconquest of the Sinai peninsular. In the following year Australian and other allied troops advanced into Palestine and captured Gaza and Jerusalem; by 1918 they had occupied Lebanon and Syria. On 30 October 1918 Turkey sued for peace.

Where to find more

Use these resources on our site to learn about the Australian experience of the First World War.

Official histories

Voume V – The Australian Imperial Force in France during the Main German Offensive, 1918
Volume VI – The Australian Imperial Force in France during the Allied Offensive, 1918
Volume VII – The Australian Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine, 1914–1918
Volume VIII – The Australian Flying Corps in the Western and Eastern Theatres of War, 1914–1918
Volume IX – The Royal Australian Navy, 1914–1918

Biographical information

Roll of Honour
Embarkation Roll
Nominal Roll
Honours and Awards
Red Cross Missing and Wounded

Unit profiles

First World War

War diaries

First World War

Exhibitions

Lawrence of Arabia and the Light Horse: The road to Damascus
Captured in colour: rare photographs from the First World War
1918: Australians in France