Monday, 2 November 2015

Australian War Census

As the casualties in Gallipoli continued to mount one of the confronting issues facing new Prime Minister Hughes was recruitment for the AIF.  A War Census was established that required males aged between 18 and 60 to complete a questionnaire  about their potential for military service. Questions they were asked included their age, marital status, occupation, state of their health and any military training they may have had. Prime Minister Hughes had also raised the stakes by promising Britain a further 50,000 more troops in addition to the monthly 9,500 troops which were being sent as reinforcements for the 60,000 troops that were already overseas. The War Census established that 600,000 fit men between 18-44 wre avaiable for military service.  Each of these men was sent a personal letter asking them if they were willing to enlist now or if not when they would be willing to enlist.  If they stated that they were not willing to enlist at all they had to state a reason why as explicitly as possible. The War Census did have its opponents as it was seen as a precursor to military conscription. An issue which later in the war would divide Australia.

The following is an article from the Ballarat Courier providing the results of the War Census.

Ballarat Courier 22 October 1915

This is one of the recruitment posters used during this time. Depicts the national symbol of the kangaroo against a backdrop of advancing soldiers. Full title reads: 'Australia has promised Britain 50,000 more men. Will you help us keep that promise?'

Australia has promised Britain 50,000 more men
Courtesy of Australian War Memorial  ARTV00021

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