World War 1

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On 15 August 1914, the Federal Government called for volunteers from all over Australia to join the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) that could be sent anywhere in the world for the duration of hostilities and four months thereafter. The official enlistment age was 21 years or 18 years with the consent of a parent.

The volunteers were organised into Battalions, Light Horse Regiments and Field Artillery Units. Other supporting services followed and these included Railway Operating Units, Machine Gun Companies and Tunnelling Companies, amongst others. These groups were named and organised in many different ways over the 4 years of the war and it is not unusual to see the records of a soldier mention a battalion, a brigade and a division, and sometimes multiples of each. A summary of the organisation of the AIF can be found on Order of Battle.

Nurses were also encouraged to volunteer with the Australian Army Nursing Service AIF. They worked in Australian and Allied hospitals, clearing stations, hospital ships and rehabilitation hospitals. These nurses were required to be between 25 and 40 years of age, unmarried, educated, and have completed 3 years nursing training.

Each battalion, regiment or unit started its own service numbers from 1 and continued as recruits were enlisted. This means that more than one Australian soldier could have the same service number. Officers did not have service numbers and soldiers commissioned up from the ranks had their numbers abolished. Nurses also did not have service numbers.

After the war, the troops began returning to Australia and the last transport ship left England on 13th April 1920. The AIF was disbanded on 1st April 1921.

The personal documents of anyone serving with an AIF Battalion, Regiment, Company or Unit are indexed on this page. Group photos and documents that pertain to an entire Battalion, Regiment, Company or Unit will be indexed under the Group Photos and Documents tab on this page.

Return to the Australian Imperial Force page.