Aus­tralians at war since 1899

Rouse Hill Times - - FRONT PAGE -

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

WWI Dig­gers be­ing nursed back to health. Pic­ture: Aus­tralian War Me­mo­rial; WWII pris­oner of war N Plun­kett re­turns home and; WWI Digger troops de­part­ing.

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