Changing Attitudes of Australians About Wwi from 1914-1916 Using Personal Correspondance

Yr. 9 2010

From 1914 (the beginning of the war) until just after 1915 and the failure of the Gallipoli campaign, the attitudes of Australians towards the war changed remarkably. We can identify these changing attitudes through letters to and from home and diary extracts from soldiers on the war front that revealed the terrible conditions, horrible nature of trench warfare and poor leadership by the incompetent generals. Other pieces of evidence displaying these changes in attitudes can be shown from the evidence on the home front in Australia. These pieces of evidence include enlistment statistics and the voice of the opposition during the conscription campaign.

When WWI began and young men were asked to consider enlistment, enthusiasm and excitement spread throughout the country. The daily newspapers were soon full of war news and descriptions of wild enthusiasm displayed by crowds that gathered outside newspaper offices. Men who enlisted sought adventure in a foreign land and the glory that would come hand in hand with saying they had fought in a war and had proved themselves in battle. A worker’s wages were small due to workers rights and treatments at the time, but a soldier would be paid good money. If they fought in this war women would think them brave and not a coward. Australians also felt they had a duty to the motherland and they too, like the British, had a hatred of the ‘Hun’ that drove them to enlist. “We are ready, fit and well, and with God’s help will punish the Bosh for his cruelty to the weaker races… I am sure the Hun will be sorry for the day when Australia sent her sons to France”. (Letter, July 1916, Lt. E. Malpas) Men often feared that if they didn’t sign up quickly the opportunity for stardom and adventure would pass them by. They worried so much that boys under the legal enlistment age of 18 convinced their parents to give them consent. They then went on to lie about their age. Mary Tilton wrote about her brother Jack who at...