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10. War begins. So, who’s going?

<p>Volunteers queuing to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force outside Victoria Barracks, Sydney</p>

Australian War Memorial A03406

<p>Volunteers queuing to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force outside Victoria Barracks, Sydney</p>

The city of Melbourne is in an uproar. On 4 August 1914 Britain declares war on Germany. Australia’s Prime Minister is Andrew Fisher of the Labor party. He says we Australians will back Britain ‘to the last man and the last shilling’. Men are rushing to sign up to fight in the war, which almost everyone thinks will be an easy win for us in the British Empire.

You want to find out why people are so eager to sign up when there is a chance they might die.

You first interview a recruiting officer, Captain Henry Brookes, at one of the recruitment stations that have been set up.

‘Well, any fair dinkum Aussie would and should sign up,’ he says.

You take some notes during your conversation with him.

He tells you what he thinks are the main reasons that people are enlisting:

  • Australia is part of the British Empire.
  • The war will be over in six weeks — the British will win easily.

They only said they needed 20,000 men. By the end of 1914 they’ve had 50,000 volunteers already.

You find a young 19-year-old man (or is he still a boy?), Joseph Leighton. As Joseph is under 21, he will need his father’s permission to enlist. Joseph is eager to tell you why he is enlisting:

  • I’m proud of my king and country.
  • We’re superior to those other races (like the Germans), so we’ll beat them easily.
  • I hate Germans.
  • I’ve got a British background. Actually, mate, about 90 per cent of us do!
  • War looks easy — surely it isn’t going to last long or be harsh?

You find another man, 35-year-old unemployed printer Ethan Broadhurst. He tells you, after some questioning, his reasons for enlisting:

  • It’s my duty.
  • There’s nothing for me here anyhow, with all the changes in the industry there’s no work for people like me.
  • I’ve never been outside Victoria — this is a chance to see the world and get paid for it!
  • Everyone will think I’m a hero when I come back.


Your task

Your editor wants you to understand the different perspectives that drive people to want to join the war.

  • Complete the table.
Captain Henry Brookes 19-year-old Joseph Leighton 35-year-old Ethan Broadhurst
One reason they think people should enlist.
What do you think their biggest concern might be?
What might they be wrong about?

You submit your work to Mr Callister. He summons you to his office immediately.

‘Junior, we’ve got a serious war on our hands! They thought it would be over by Christmas but there isn’t a ghost of a chance that will happen.’

‘I need you on this conflict full-time now youngster. I’ve got a couple of options for your next assignment’.

‘There’s been a big attack on the Dardanelles in Turkey. Australians have landed on some place called “Gallipoli”. If you want to do a story on that, go to the telegraph office and get in touch with my contact in London, Blake Ross, by telegraph. He should be able to give you enough information to write a story.’ Go to 11.

‘The Age is a thinking person’s newspaper. People are going to want to know why we’re in this awful war. Go and speak to my Senior Reporter, Emma Pratt, downstairs. She’s been researching this for a while. She should be able to give you details for an article.’ Go to 27.

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