As Australians were celebrating with newfound nationalistic pride in the aftermath of federation, young men enlisted to show the ‘mother country’ Britain that they could stand on their own two feet. They wanted to show, soldiers from different countries, their courage, their brawn, their fearless hearts and most importantly their brave initiative to go into battle without any shock or anxiety and to complete their task or at least try their hardest. “In times of peace we have insisted that our loyalty to the Empire is none the less real because our first duty is to the country in which we live.”1 Volunteers rushed to enlist for an exciting war which was expected to be over by Christmas. Their sense of duty was an effective factor that contributed towards enlistment in 1914. In the outbreak of World War 1 Britain had put aside all their previous conflicts with the French and Russian Empires and signed agreements. These agreements required the reciprocal support in the event of an attack. Australia having been recently federated was still a member of the British Empire and as a result felt considerably loyal towards them. When Britain declared war on 4 August 1914 not only were Russia and France compelled to go to war but Australia also had to join and show their support to the British Empire. “I know no more than that I have sworn “to obey the King’s commands and fight his enemies wherever I am required”.2 All of Australia reacted to the war with unusual enthusiasm. They had a natural, strong sense of patriotism and support to the ‘mother country’.
At the time, Australia was victim to an extreme long and severe drought resulting in many farmers to lose their farms due to heat, thus causing them to have no other choice but to enlist in the AIF during World War I. “We haven’t had any rain for months so I thought I would join the army.”3 Without the rain there were no farms and without any farms there was not any money being earned. Australian soldiers were paid a minimum of six shillings a day, more than three times the wage of the English soldiers. Although it was below the basic wage it still seemed like a bonus during the times of tough financial conditions and high unemployment in 1914.
The enlistment office required young adventurous Australians to go and show support to the British. “…prompted by a sense of duty and spirit of adventure I can hardly do anything else but volunteer”.4 Australians enlisted out of patriotism, a sense of adventure or to escape boredom or poverty but most believed they could change the world and bring peace and end the domination of ‘humans killing humans’ throughout the world. “I would not have joined this contingent if I had known they were not going to England.”5 Soldiers were beginning to have different thoughts about where they were going because they wanted to see the world, they wanted to have a grand tour of England and Europe, but their thoughts were different to what the British had in mind for them. Most men that volunteered in the AIF in 1914 were first sent to Egypt, not Europe, to meet the threat Turkey posed to British interest. All of these reasons had a significant impact on the enlistment numbers during World War 1.
A lot of communities held many recruitment methods to encourage Australians to enlist. Recruitment methods included speeches, posters, marches and parades to encourage