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Enlistment World War 1 Essay

1455 words - 6 pages

To What Extent did Australians enlist to defend the ‘Mother Country’?

Thesis: As the was continued, enlistment to defend Britain declined significantly

What was Australia’s reaction to enlistment?

• First reaction positive with very high amount of enlistment
• Good way to earn money in a country of economic difficulty
• Was seen as a chance to adventure the world
• 20,000 men first enlisted
• End of first year had a total of 50,000 men enlisted of ‘best fit’ with thousands of other men rejected due to medical requirements

What were the restraints on recruiting and on enlistment?

• The minimum requirements was a height of 5ft 8 in with a chest size of 34in
• If a man was missing ...view middle of the document...

Australian men rushed to enlist in droves but many were turned away because they were not able to meet the rigorous physical standards of the time. These standards, which included a minimum height of at least 5ft 6in and a chest size of 34in, as well as a full set of teeth without any fillings, may seem frivolous by today's standards but at the time for those who were unable to meet them the outcome was often devastating. Many men travelled hundreds of kilometres to attempt to enlist at a different office in the hope that perhaps a minor ailment, which was the reason for their previous rejection, could be overlooked.

While the initial response to war was one of extreme enthusiasm and patriotism towards Britain, support began to waver. It had reached a peak at the time of the landings at Gallipoli but it was not long after that the realisation of war hit Australian shores. With the first lists of casualties, the Australian public had a sudden and rude awakening that their fathers, brothers, sons, husbands and friends might not all return safely home as previously expected. The public's attitude turned quickly, which was reflected in weakened recruitment figures.
In response to Britain's request for more troops, the Commonwealth government realised that strategies had to be implemented to encourage more people to enlist. In July 1915 some standards for entry were amended to widen the target market for recruits. This included lowering the minimum height restriction to 5ft 2in, which enabled men who were not previously eligible to enlist, to do so. In that same July, a two-week recruitment campaign was run in Victoria to encourage more enlistments. As part of this drive, campaign meetings were held during which injured war heroes gave patriotic speeches, often. In addition, films of heroic action on the battlefields of Gallipoli were shown. Among these various recruitment ploys, perhaps the most effective and popular types of propaganda were the colourful posters displayed everywhere across the nation. Thesis statement: Through the course of the WWI, Australia's enlistment rate to defend Britain reached a decline.

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