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Australian imperial forces aif in france during ww1

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Australia was one of only two belligerents on either side not to introduce conscription during the war along with South Africa. In Australia, two plebiscites on using conscription to expand the AIF were defeated in October 1916 and December 1917thereby preserving the volunteer status but stretching the AIF's reserves towards the end of the war.

  1. Resuming his post as CGS in October 1917, he remained in the position until 1920. As the numbers in the trenches were thinned, rifles were rigged to fire by water dripped into a pan attached to the trigger.
  2. At a cost of over 2,000 men, the Australians inflicted 7,000 casualties on the Turks.
  3. The critical moment of the battle was the capture of the town of Beersheba on the first day by Australian light horsemen.

Of these, 331,781 men were sent overseas to serve as part of the AIF. Estimates of the number of Indigenous Australians who served in the AIF differ considerably, but are believed to be over 500. Indeed, casualties among the initial volunteers were so high, that of the 32,000 original soldiers of the AIF only 7,000 would survive to the end of the war.

First Australian Imperial Force

Meanwhile, reinforcements were sent at a rate of 3,200 men per month. Although this level was never again reached, enlistments remained high in late 1915 and early 1916.

Significant losses in mid-1916, coupled with the failure of the volunteer system to provide sufficient replacements, resulted in the first referendum on conscription, which was defeated by a narrow margin. Although there was an increase in enlistments in September 9,325 and October 11,520in December they fell to the lowest total of the year 2,617.

Enlistments in 1917 never exceeded 4,989 in March.

Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

Recruitment continued to decline, reaching a low in December 2,247. Battle hardened and experienced as a result, this fact partially explains the important role the AIF subsequently played in the final defeat of the German Army in 1918.

There were no formal schools and volunteers proceeded straight from recruiting stations to their assigned units, which were still in the process of being established. Upon arrival, in makeshift camps the recruits received basic training in drill and musketry from officers and non-commissioned officers, who were not trained instructors and had been appointed mainly because they had previous service in the part-time forces.

Following the embarkation of the initial force to the Middle East, further training was undertaken in the desert. This was more organised than the training provided in Australia, but was still quite rushed.

  • After Bridges departed for overseas, Legge took over responsibility for the training of AIF reinforcements;
  • Although there was an increase in enlistments in September 9,325 and October 11,520 , in December they fell to the lowest total of the year 2,617;
  • The second battle of Gaza was a disastrous defeat for the Allied forces;
  • On the Turkish side, more than 500 men were killed and 1,500 captured as well as nine artillery pieces and a number of machine guns and other pieces of equipment;
  • Although this level was never again reached, enlistments remained high in late 1915 and early 1916.

Individual training was consolidated but progressed quickly into collective training at battalion and brigade-level. Training exercises, marches, drill and musketry practices followed but the standard of the exercises was limited and they lacked realism, meaning that commanders did not benefit from handling their troops under battlefield conditions.

The original intention had been that half the initial intake would consist of soldiers that were currently serving in the Militia, but ultimately this did not come to fruition and while about 8,000 of the original intake had some prior military experience, either through compulsory training or as volunteers, over 6,000 had none at all.

Military history of Australia during World War I

For example, within the 1st Division, of its initial 631 officers, 607 had had previous military experience. This was largely through service in the pre-war militia, though, where there had been little to no formal officer training.

  • Training exercises, marches, drill and musketry practices followed but the standard of the exercises was limited and they lacked realism, meaning that commanders did not benefit from handling their troops under battlefield conditions;
  • Both Bir el Mazar and Maghara Hills positions were subsequently abandoned.

In addition, there was a small cadre of junior officers who had been trained for the permanent force at the Royal Military College, Duntroon[131] but their numbers were very small and at the outbreak of the war the first class had to be graduated early in order for them to join the AIF, being placed mainly in staff positions.

This inexperience contributed to tactical mistakes and avoidable casualties during the Gallipoli campaign.

  • A special force, known as Dunsterforce after its commander, Major General Lionel Dunsterville , was formed from hand-picked British officers and NCOs to organise any remaining Russian forces or civilians who were ready to fight the Turkish forces;
  • The Turkish government surrendered on 30 October 1918.

Efforts were made at standardisation, with a formal training organisation and curriculum—consisting of 14 weeks basic training for infantrymen—being established. In Egypt, as the AIF was expanded in early 1916, each brigade established a training battalion. These formations were later sent to the United Kingdom and were absorbed into a large system of depots that was established on Salisbury Plain by each branch of the AIF including infantry, engineers, artillery, signals, medical and logistics.

Australian Army during World War I

After completing their initial instruction at depots in Australia and the United Kingdom, soldiers were posted to in-theatre base depots where they received advanced training before being posted as reinforcements to operational units.