Australian Population in 1914

The population of Australia in 1914 was 4,940,952 people. This was split by 2,551,431 males and 2,389,521 females.[Australian Bureau of statistics – Historic Data]. 1914 was a significant year in Australian history as it started Australia’s involvement in world war 1. On the 4th of August 1914 Britain and Germany went to war, the war was embraced with great enthusiasm in Australia and other countries of the commonwealth. In fact the prime minister at the time (Joseph Cook) and his opposition leader gave their full support to Great Britain.  They were in so much support that they wounded to “stand beside our own to help and defend Britain to the last man and the last shilling.”  

Eight Hours Day Procession April 17th, 1914

4,940,952

The official estimation of the population as of the 31st of December 1914 was 4,940,952 people. This is split by 2,551,431 males and 2,389,521 females[Australian Bureau of statistics – Historic Data].

 

Demograpic - Male & Female

In 1914 the population was split by 48% female and 52% male. This data was obtain through Historical Australian Commonwealth data. 

48%

2,389,521 Females

52%

2,551,431 Males

Enlistment by year

YearNumber enlisted
191452,561
1915165,912
1916124,352
191745,101
191828,883
TOTAL

416,809

Enlisted for service

Around 420,000 Australians enlisted for service over the whole  First World War, representing 38.7 per cent of the male population aged between 18 and 44. [E. Scott, Australia during the war: the official history of Australia in the war of 1914–1918]

52%

2,551,431 Males

World War 1 soldiers in the Australian Army 1914
World War 1 soldier, George Brandt, Essendon who was killed in 1914 - 1918

Thousands enlisted at the break of war and most jointed the Australian Imperial force, the shear volume of volunteers overwhelmed the supplies as there was not enough guns or uniforms to be provided. Farmers planted extra crops because they thought Britain would be in need of extra food supplies, even though parts of Australia were suffering the worst drought in many years before the outbreak of world war 1. Extra wool was also sold to the commonwealth government so more uniforms could be produced to meet the demand. Months later in October, the War Precautions Act was introduced to give the government more power and increase taxes to help pay for the war.

 

The first campaign the Australian army quickly became engaged in was the seizure of german New Guinea, by the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force. Alongside this, 20,000 men from the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) were sent to Egypt to help defend the Suez Canal, which was a strategic waterway for the allied forces. Many Australian unitas brought kangaroos with them to conflict along with other Australian animals.In Egypt some of the animals were then given to the Cairo Zoological Gardens when the army went to fight in Gallipoli. This can be seen in the photo with an Australian troop playing with a kangaroo and the pyramids in the background.      

Australian troops at Mena Camp, Egypt, December 1914, looking towards the Pyramids.
Australian troops at Mena Camp, Egypt, December 1914, looking towards the Pyramids.

German population persecution

  • German music was banned
  • German food was renamed
  • Schools and Churches forced to close
  • German place name were converted to British ones
  • Many Germans were forced into internment camps
  • German, Southeast Asian businessmen were arrested

During this period Germans in Australia were heavily persecuted. The German population was over 30,000 and in 1915, Germans who were old enough to join the fight were transported to internment camps. New South Wales had the majority of internment camps at Trail Bay, Berrima Gaol and Holsworthy. Those that were not imprisoned were watched in scrutiny by police and neighbours.  

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Sources

Australian Bureau Of Statistics. ‘2019. 1301.0 – Year Book Australia, 1919’(Included 1914 Data). Retrieved from: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/1301.01919 , linked PDF: http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/free.nsf/0/E460415E64A5C941CA257AEF00178694/$File/13010_1901_1918%20section%204.pdf

Number of enlists – A.G. Butler, Special problems and services: the official history of the Australian Army Medical Services in the war of 1914–1918, vol. 3, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1943, p. 889

Australian Government – https://www.australia.gov.au

 

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