South Australians at War
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Conflicts : World War One : Recruitment and enlistment

As in the South African war, initially South Australian volunteers flocked to the colours. In the remaining five months of 1914 after the declaration of war, 4,812 men enlisted, and in 1915 a further 13,597 joined. This was the peak. In 1916 the numbers fell to 10,043; in 1917 to 4,298 and in 1918 to 2,209. The total volunteers, 34,597, comprised 38 per cent of the state's men aged 18-44 years, and approximately one ninth of the Australian forces.

Despite this response, the authorities were not satisfied. In a letter dated 15 December 1915, Prime Minister WM Hughes appealed directly to all eligible men, 'Australia turns to you for help. We want more men. Fifty thousand (50,000) additional troops are to be raised to form new units of the Expeditionary Forces'. The pressure on eligible men to enlist was enormous. This took many forms, including posters, poetry, newspaper editorials and letters, the activities of organisations such as the Win the War League, and pressure from private individuals.

By 1916 there were insufficient recruits to meet the numbers required for reinforcements. Prime Minister Hughes attempted to introduce conscription through a referendum of August 1916. A majority of South Australians, along with New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland voted no to the proposal. A second referendum of 1917 was also defeated, and enlistment remained voluntary.

One response of the authorities was to modify requirements for service. Initially only men between the ages of 19 and 38, at least 5 foot 6 inches tall with chest measurements of at least 34 inches were accepted. Many rejected in the first wave of enlistments were later accepted when standards were revised. Victor Voules Brown, a South Australian who served in France, wrote to his father on 22 May 1918,

My Dear Dad I was sorry to hear that Uncle Will had had news of Douglas Lakie dying in France of consumption Dad there is one of the little arguments come nearer home as regards conscription in Australia Was it right to send that lad to France being in the stage he must have been in With any fair examinations from a fair minded Dr do you think he could have been ligitimately sent into a winter in France.
I know your views Dad on conscription but Dougs case is one of many more we know of but Australia knows nothing.

"...Only the brave deserve the fair": postcard
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"Remember ANZAC!" : World War 1 recruiting poster
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Australia's answer to Kaiser Bill
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Britain's strong arm and yours will carry us through. E
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Coo-ee! : World War 1 recruiting poster
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Enlist! Enlist!
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Fifty points against conscription : the case in brief
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First Expeditionary Force
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Group of Light Horsemen
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Light Horse Regiment
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Mate ! Be a sport...
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My daddy bought me a War Loan Bond. Did yours? : World
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