The official history of the Australian Army Medical Service during the First World War denied the presence of “moral perversion” in the Australian Imperial Force, stating: “There is no evidence pointing to any significant homosexuality in the Force, and this is on par with Australian experience in general. The records of the [AIF] therefore provide no contribution to the place of the homosexual in a total war effort.”
While there is ample anecdotal evidence that homosexual acts occurred between serving members, the idea of a distinct homosexual identity was relatively new, and sex between men who considered themselves heterosexual was not uncommon. The difficulty of finding a female sexual partner meant that their encounters represented a practical alternative to female company.
In theory, sex between servicemen was a criminal act which carried severe, life-changing consequences. In practice, soldiers’ sexual activity was seen by military authorities as a natural instinct that had to be managed.