australia and first world war1914

australia and first world war1914

Order Description

Primary source exercise (essay)

Word length: 1,500 words

Due Date: 7 August 2015 11.59pm.

Weight: 30%

The commitment to war: 1914

The first assessment task is a primary source exercise relating to Australians’ responses to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. For many years, Australian historians have regarded the Australian response to war as enthusiastic and nearly unanimously in favour of a strong commitment to the conflict. In the last two decades, however, some historians have questioned the strength of that commitment, while others continue to insist that there are good reasons for seeing Australians in 1914 and beyond as deeply supportive of the war.

In this essay, you are being asked to think about the differences in historians’ arguments. You are also asked to examine a series of primary sources drawn from newspapers in August 1914, and to comment on their usefulness to historians trying to understand the attitudes of the time. Specifically, you should respond to this question:

How should we regard the Australian response to the outbreak of war in 1914? Use the primary sources provided to justify your view.


Eric Andrews, The Anzac Illusion: Anglo-Australian relations during World War I, Melbourne, Cambridge University Press, 1993, pp. 40-6.

Carl Bridge, ‘The reason why: Australia and the Great War’, Quadrant, April 1994, pp. 11-12.

Look up the following articles through the National Library of Australia’s digitised newspaper collection, at:

‘A fine response’, Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 27 August 1914, p. 8

‘War and politics’, Worker (Brisbane), Thursday 6 August 1914, p. 6.

‘Scenes in the city. Posting the messages’, Argus (Melbourne), Friday 7 August 1914, p. 6.

‘Women to women. The Red Cross Society. Women’s Work in War’, Argus (Melbourne), Wednesday 19 August 1914, p. 13.

You should also read Frank Bongiorno and Grant Mansfield, ‘Whose war was it anyway? Some Australian historians and the Great War’, History Compass, volume 6, issue 1, 2008, pp. 62-90. This article will help to clarify the nature of the debate that has been conducted among historians.

Please be sure to use the pdf rather than html version, so that you can refer to the page numbers.

Your primary source exercise must be presented as an essay, be properly footnoted in the Oxford style and include a bibliography. Students may consult other references in writing this exercise, but there is no requirement to read beyond the items listed above and the Study Guide.

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