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First Australian Imperial Force

The First Australian Imperial Force (1st AIF) was the military expeditionary force formed on August 15 1914 in response to Britain declaring war on Germany at the start of World War I. Known at the time as the AIF, it is today referred to as the 1st AIF to distinguish from the 2nd AIF which was raised during World War II.

The 1st AIF was a purely volunteer force for the duration of the war. In Australia, two referendums on conscription were defeated, thereby preserving the volunteer status but stretching the AIF's reserves towards the end of the war. A total of 331,814 Australians were sent overseas to serve as part of the AIF, which represented 13% of the white male population. Of these, 18% (61,859) were killed. The casualty rate (killed or wounded) was 64%. About 2,100 women served with the 1st AIF, mainly as nurses. Close to 20% of those who served in the 1st AIF had been born in the United Kingdom but all enlistments had to occur in Australia (there were a few exceptions). As a volunteer force, all units were demobilized at the end of the war.

Originally the Australian government pledged to supply 20,000 men organised as one infantry division and one light horse brigade plus supporting units. By the end of the war, the 1st AIF comprised 5 infantry divisions and 2 mounted divisions.

Table of contents
1 Infantry Divisions
2 Mounted Divisions
3 External Links

Infantry Divisions

Each division comprised three infantry brigades and each brigade contained four battalions. A battalion contained about 1000 men.

At the start of the Battle of Gallipoli Australia had four infantry brigades. The 4th Brigade (commanded by Colonel John Monash) was joined with the three New Zealand infantry brigades to form the New Zealand and Australian Division. The 2nd Division had been formed in Egypt in 1915 and was sent to Gallipoli in August. After Gallipoli, the infantry underwent a major expansion. The 3rd Division was formed in Australia and sent to France. The original infantry brigades (1st to 4th) were split in half to create 16 new battalions to form another four brigades of infantry. These new brigades (12th to 15th) were used to form the 4th and 5th Divisions. This ensured the battalions of the two new divisions had a core of experienced soldiers.

Mounted Divisions

Each division comprised three mounted light horse brigades. The Anzac Mounted Division was so named becaused it contained the one mounted brigade from New Zealand — the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade. Likewise the Australian Mounted Division was originally named the Imperial Mounted Division because it contained the British 5th Mounted (Yeomanry) Brigade.

External Links

First AIF Order of Battle 1914-1918