"What these men did nothing can alter now. The good and the bad, the greatness and smallness of their story will stand … It rises, as it always will rise, above the mists of time, a monument to great-hearted men; and, for their nation, a possession for ever."

   Charles Bean, official historian, 1942

The war had a profound impact on Australian communities. So many family members, friends, and co-workers would not come home, and of those who did, many were injured physically or psychologically. Life would never be the same. Across the nation, local war memorials and monuments were erected to remember the fallen.

Honour boards were created by groups such as schools, businesses, trade unions and local councils. These boards publicly acknowledged those who had “answered the call” and commemorated the fallen from these communities. Built out of fine materials, the memorials are still a fixture in many public places across Australia.

The toll

After four long years, the killing finally ended. While Australia’s contribution was relatively small, as a percentage of those who served overseas, the death toll in the Australian forces was higher than any other nation of the Empire: almost one in five. Many more returned home wounded in body and mind; most would never fully recover.

Enlistments around 420,000, of which approximately 330,000 served overseas
Deaths 61,514
Wounded around 155,000
Prisoners of war 4,044

 

The First World War killed roughly 16 million people worldwide, both military and civilian. Below are just the military deaths of some of the participating nations.

Britain almost 900,000
France 1.3 million
Russia around 2 million
New Zealand 18,000
Germany almost 2 million
Austria-Hungary 1.2 million
Ottoman Empire around 770,000