Australians at war since 1899
AUSTRALIANS have taken up arms in 13 overseas battles from 1899 to the present day when Australian troops are still a presence in Afghanistan.
The Boer War, 1899-1902, was fought in five waves including horse contingents which resulted in the capture of the Boer capitals.
China (Boxer Rebellion), 1900-01: Australian forces saw little combat but they helped to restore civil order, which involved shooting (by firing squad) Chinese rebels.
World War I, 1914-18, remains our costliest conflict in terms of deaths and casualties. From a population of fewer than five million, 416,809 men enlisted, of who more than 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed or taken prisoner.
World War II, 1939-45, saw more than 30,000 Australian servicemen taken prisoner with two-thirds captured by the Japanese during their advance through southeast Asia in 1942.
Occupation of Japan, 1945-52: For two-thirds of this period, the Commonwealth was represented solely by Australians and the Occupation Force was al- ways commanded by an Australian officer.
Korean War, 1950-53: HMAS Sydney’s aircraft flew over 2000 sorties, including ground attacks, artillery spotting, and escort missions in defence of South Korea.
Malayan Emergency, 1950-60: In one offensive in 1954, Operation Termite, as the exercise was known, Australian forces destroyed 181 camps and killed 13 communists.
Indonesian Confrontation, 1963-66: After initially resisting, the Australian government relented in January 1965 and agreed to the deployment of a battalion in Borneo.
Vietnam War, 1962-75: Almost 60,000 Australians, including ground troops and air force and navy personnel, served in Vietnam; the cause of the greatest social and political dissent in Australia since the conscription referendums of World War I.
The First Gulf War, 1990-91: When Iraq invaded its rival oil-exporting neighbour Kuwait, it sparked another war that killed at least 100,000 Iraqis. There were 166 Coalition losses, many of these were by “friendly fire”.
Afghanistan, 2001-present: Following the September 11 terror attacks, US President George W Bush declared a “war on terror”. Australian SAS squadrons joined the search for Taliban and al Qaeda fighters. About 500 Australian soldiers remain on deployment in Afghanistan.
The Second Gulf War, 2003-09: Under US leadership, British and Australian troops joined an invasion of Iraq with a mission to destroy weapons of mass destruction. The dictatorship of Saddam Hussein was overthrown but no weapons of mass destruction were found.
For more information on Australians at war, go to awm.gov.au
WWI Diggers being nursed back to health. Picture: Australian War Memorial; WWII prisoner of war N Plunkett returns home and; WWI Digger troops departing.