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Conflict: Australians at War

Australia has been involved in a number of conflicts since Federation. Australia’s national identity has been strongly influenced by both this involvement and the international relationships that these conflicts have generated.

The wars in which Australia has been involved have also shaped some dramatic social changes over the last century. These stories provide some personal reflections on and insights into the experience of war and the attitudes of Australians to those conflicts.

World War I

Much of the Australian ethos of ‘mateship’ and honour has been carved from the trauma of World War I. Legends surrounding the Anzacs, Gallipoli, the Battle of Beersheba and the Australian Light Horse Brigade originated from this war.

World War II

World War II began on 1 September 1939 when Germany invaded Poland without warning. By the evening of 3 September, Britain and France were at war with Germany, and within a week, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa had also joined the war.

The Korean War

The Korean War began in June 1950 when North Korean military forces invaded South Korea. The Australian military fought as part of a multinational force under the auspices of the United Nations.

The Vietnam War

After World War II and the Korean War there was a growing fear of the spread of communism. In 1961 the government in South Vietnam requested security assistance from the United States and its allies. Australia supplied 30 military advisers to South Vietnam in 1962.

The Afghanistan War

The war in Afghanistan is an ongoing coalition conflict that began on 7 October 2001 in response to the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States.

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