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Timelines

Australians at War 1901-2000

1901–1913

1 January 1901

Proclamation of the Commonwealth of Australia.

No man outlives the grief of war
Though he outlives its wreck...

[William Soutar, The Permanence of Young Men, 1940]

From its inception the Australian nation was involved in war. As the Commonwealth of Australia was proclaimed on 1 January 1901 in Sydney's Centennial Park, Australian soldiers and nurses were serving in the armies of the British Empire in the Boer War in South Africa. Sadly, as the century progressed, Australian servicemen and women became involved in many of its major conflicts – World War I, World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. More positively, perhaps, at the centenary of Federation, we find Australians in the uniform of our defence forces helping to keep the peace with other United Nations military personnel in a variety of locations around the world. Truly we can say that since 1901 Australian men and women have been involved in a century of service and sacrifice for their country.

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1 March 1901

On 1 March 1901, Naval and military forces of the States were transferred to Commonwealth control.

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25 April 1901

Enlarge Members of the New South Wales Naval Brigade which served in China during the Boxer Rebellion, 1900–1901.
Members of the New South Wales Naval Brigade which served in China during the Boxer Rebellion, 1900–1901. [AWM negative P417/37/30]

On 25 April 1901, the Australian force returned from service in the Boxer Rebellion in China.

The number of Australians who died in the Boxer Rebellion in China (1900–1901): 6
(From the names recorded on the national Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial)

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23 November 1901

Lieutenant L C Maygar, 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles, became the sixth and last Australian to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the Boer War.

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March 1902

During March, the first contingents of Australian Commonwealth Horse began arriving in South Africa to fight in the Boer War. This unit was the first to wear the Rising Sun badge.

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April 1902

During April, the Australian Commonwealth Horse were in action around Klerksdorp, South Africa.

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May 1902

Enlarge Group of Australian soldiers returned from the Boer War, 1901.
Group of Australian soldiers returned from the Boer War, 1901. [National Library of Australia]

During May 1902, the last Australian troops returned from the Boer War in South Africa.

The number of Australians who died in the Boer War (1899–1902): 606
(From the names recorded on the national Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial)

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10 July 1911

Enlarge HMAS <em>Sydney</em>, the Royal Australian Navy's light cruiser, built in the United Kingdom, arrived in Australia in 1913.
HMAS Sydney, the Royal Australian Navy's light cruiser, built in the United Kingdom, arrived in Australia in 1913. [AWM negative EN0194]

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) was formed on 10 July 1911.

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1 November 1911

Introduction of compulsory military training.

From 1903–1914
The Australian 'slouch hat', with the left brim turned up, became the most common standard head-dress for the Australian Army.

1911–1915
Five Commonwealth Government factories were established in New South Wales and Victoria to supply Commonwealth forces with basic arms and equipment.

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20 September 1912

The Australian Flying Corps (AFC), the forerunner of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), was officially formed on 20 September 1912.

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