At the outbreak of the First World War, the number of people volunteering to enlist for the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was so high that recruitment officers were forced to turn people away. However, as the war went on, casualty rates increased and the number of volunteers declined, so that by 1916 the AIF faced a shortage of men.
The issue of conscription – compulsory enlistment for military service, particularly for overseas service – has been and remains a contentious issue in Australian life. During 1916 and 1917, two bitter and divisive referenda were conducted on this issue.
Conscription – the forced enlistment of people into the armed forces – has a rocky history in Australia.|This digibook examines the history of conscription in Australia, with a particular focus on the conscription debate in World War One and during the Vietnam War.
Australian propaganda was designed to maintain public anger about German atrocities and idealise Australian soldiers. Most pieces promoted enlistment in some way or another and the most violent propaganda images surfaced around the time of the conscription debates.