For a nation not even fifteen years old, the creation, despatch and maintenance of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in distant theatres of war during the greatest conflict the world had yet seen, was a massive undertaking. When the 20,000-odd men of the AIF’s first contingent left Australia in 1914 it constituted the largest military force ever sent from these shores, but it was just the beginning and eventually 330,000 men would proceed overseas to serve in and support five infantry divisions and the best part of two mounted divisions. This seminar, based on the presenter’s forthcoming volume of the Centenary History of Australia and the Great War, The Australian Imperial Force, will examine some of the trials and tribulations of what was a grand and demanding national endeavour.
Jean Bou is a historian and a lecturer at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University, where his duties include teaching at the Australian War College. He is the author, editor or co-editor of several books on Australian military history, including The Australian Imperial Force (2016), Light horse: a history of Australia’s mounted arm (2010), and The Oxford companion to Australian military history (2nd edition, 2008). He is also the co-author of volume IV of the Official History of Australian Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post-Cold War Operations.