Australia was still a young nation when Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914. Despite a population of fewer than five million, more than 330,000 Australians would volunteer and serve overseas in the First World War. The country suffered a grievous loss of life, but gained a reputation which today is often associated with the word 'Anzac’.

Shortly before he was elected prime minister, Andrew Fisher promised support for Britain to ‘the last man and our last shilling’. The all-volunteer Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was formed in September 1914 and units were dispatched overseas, first arriving in Egypt from where they took part in the ill-fated Gallipoli Campaign.

The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, or ANZAC, landed on the Gallipoli peninsula on 25 April 1915, along with British, Indian, and French forces. They were met with fierce resistance from the Ottoman Army. After eight months of fighting with many casualties on both sides, the land campaign was abandoned. It was one of the greatest Ottoman victories during the war.

As early as 1916, the anniversary of the landings was commemorated as ANZAC Day. Today, Gallipoli remains central to Australian remembrance of the war.

Following Gallipoli, Australian forces fought on the Western Front in France and Belgium. In 1916 they suffered heavy losses at Fromelles and took part in the Battle of the Somme at Pozieres. During the Arras Offensive in the spring of 1917, Australian units attacked at Bullecourt and played a significant part in the Battle of Messines in June, followed by the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) in the autumn of 1917. After helping repel the last German offensives in early 1918, they cemented their reputation in the great Allied offensive begun at Amiens in August.

The campaign in the Middle East started in 1916. Here, the Australians fought a mobile war against the Ottoman Empire in conditions of extreme heat, harsh terrain and water shortages.

Australians also served at sea and in the air with the newly-formed Australian Flying Corps.

The CWGC commemorates more than 62,000 service personnel who died while serving with Australian forces in the First World War.

Related Cemeteries & Memorials

Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery contains the graves and memorials of more than 2,140 servicemen of the British Empire including nearly 780 who served with Australian forces. Close to the cemetery is the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial which lists the names of more than 10,730 servicemen of Australian forces who died in France and have no known grave.

Lone Pine Cemetery stands on Lone Pine plateau, an important feature of the battlefield at Anzac Sector. Buried or commemorated in the cemetery are more than 1,160 servicemen of the British Empire, of whom more than 650 serviced with Australian forces. Within the cemetery is the Lone Pine Memorial which lists the names of more than 4,930 servicemen of the British Empire, including some 4,220 of Australian forces, who died during the Gallipoli Campaign and have no known grave.

Ypres Menin Gate Memorial lists the names of nearly 54,400 servicemen of the British Empire, including more than 6,180 who served with Australian forces who died in Belgium and have no known grave.