Source: Australian War Memorial

Statistics relating to the First World War are notoriously variable. They vary between sources and research methodologies. As such, statistics quoted below should be used as estimates only.

 

According to the 1911 Commonwealth census, the last official census before the outbreak of the First World War, there were 207,358 people residing in South Australia. From this figure 34,959 enlisted for service in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF).[1] This figure amounted to 8.5 per cent of the South Australian population at the time, and 37 per cent of South Australian men aged between 18 and 44.[2]

A total of 416,809 men enlisted in the AIF of which 331,781 served overseas.[3] Over 60,000 died on active service[4] while 155,133 were wounded in action (including those who sustained wounds from gassing, who suffered shell-shock and who were wounded multiple times).

There were 4,044 Australian’s who were taken prisoner in World War 1, while 43,448 suffered from sickness and non-battle related injuries.[5]

AIF Headquarters never broke down its casualty statistics based on the state in which troops resided or were born, so it is unknown what percentage of the above casualties were South Australians. But based on the number of names commemorated on the National War Memorial on North Terrace in Adelaide, it has been estimated over 5,000 South Australians died on active service during the First World War.[6]

Of the 63 Victoria Crosses awarded to Australian troops during the First World War, four were awarded to South Australians.[7]


 

Key dates associated with South Australia in World War 1.

AIF recruitment was regional. This means the following AIF units were raised in South Australia and maintained with reinforcements from South Australia throughout the war:

3rd Light Horse Regiment
9th Light Horse Regiment
11th Light Horse Regiment
10th Battalion
16th Battalion
27th Battalion
32nd Battalion
43rd Battalion
48th Battalion
50th Battalion
18th Battery

Below are the key conflicts of the First World War in which each of these units fought:

3rd Light Horse Regiment (with TAS):

  • Suez Canal (18 May 1916)
  • Romani (4 August 1916)
  • Maghdaba (23 December 1916)
  • Rafa (9 January 1917)
  • Gaza (19 April 1917)
  • Amman (24-27 February 1918)
  • Es Salt (30 April – 4 May).

9th Light Horse Regiment (with VIC):

  • Hill 60 (27 August 1915)
  • Romani (4 August 1916)
  • Maghdaba (23 December 1916)
  • Rafa (9 January 1917)
  • Gaza (27 March and 19 April 1917)
  • Jenin (20 September 1918)
  • Damascus (1 October 1918)

11th Light Horse Regiment (with QLD):

  • Suez Canal (20 July 1916)
  • Gaza (19 April 1917)
  • Sheria (7 November 1917)
  • Semakh (25 September 1918)

10th Battalion:

  • Gallipoli Campaign  (From 25 April 1915)
  • Pozières (23 July 1916)
  • Lagnicourt (15 April 1917)
  • Polygon Wood (26 September 1917)
  • Broodseinde (4 October 1917)
  • Celtic Wood (9 October 1917)
  • Hazebrouck (April 1918)
  • Merris (June 1918)
  • Amiens (8 August 1918)

12th Battalion (with Tasmania & WA): 3 Brigade

  • Gallipoli Landings (25 April 1915)
  • Lone Pine, Gallipoli August Offensive (August 1915)
  • Pozières (28 July – 5 August 1916)
  • 2nd Battle of Ypres, Flanders (1916)
  • Pozières (Nov – Dec 1916)
  • 3rd Battle of Ypres (1917)
  • Amiens (8 August 1918)

16th Battalion (with WA):

  • Gallipoli, Assault on Hill 971 (7 August 1915)
  • Pozières (July-August 1916)
  • Bullecourt (11 April 1917)
  • Hamel (4 July 1918)
  • Amiens (8 August 1918)

27th Battalion:

  • Pozières (28 July – 5 August 1916)
  • Menin Road (20 September 1917)
  • Broodseinde (4 October 1917)
  • Defence of Amiens (April 1918)
  • Morlancourt (10 June 1918)
  • Hamel (4 July 1918)
  • Amiens (8 August 1918)
  • Beaurevoir (October 1918)

32nd Battalion (with WA):

  • Fromelles (19 July 1916)
  • Advance to the Hindenburg Line (February-April 1917)
  • Polygon Wood (26 September 1917)
  • Amiens (8 August 1918)
  • St Quentin Canal (29 September-1 October 1918)


43rd Battalion:

  • Messines (7 June 1917)
  • Warneton (31 July 1917)
  • Broodseinde (4 October 1917)
  • Passchendaele (12 October 1917)
  • Hamel (4 July 1918)
  • Amiens (8 August 1918)
  • St Quentin Canal (29 September – 2 October 1918)

48th Battalion (with WA):

  • Pozières (5-7 August; 12-15 August 1916)
  • Bullecourt (11 April 1917)
  • Amiens (8 August 1918)
  • Hindenburg Line (18-20 September 1918)

50th Battalion:

  • Mouquet Farm (13-15 August 1916)
  • Noreuil (2 April 1917)
  • Messines (7 June 1917)
  • Polygon Wood (26 September 1917)
  • Dernancourt (5 April 1918)
  • Villers-Bretonneux (24 April 1918)
  • Amiens (8 August 1918)
  • Hindenburg Line (18 September 1918)

52nd Battalion:

  • Mouquet Farm (13-15 August 1916)
  • Mouquet Farm (3 September, 1916)
  • Noreuil (2 April 1917)
  • Messines (7 – 12 June 1917)
  • Polygon Wood (26 September 1917)
  • Dernancourt (5 April 1918)
  • Villers-Bretonneux (25 April 1918)

18th Battery:

 

 World War 1 battles in which Australian units participated

References:

[1] Bureau of Census and Statistics, The First Commonwealth Census, 3rd April 1911, (Melbourne, J. Kemp Government Printer, 1911), p. 390; E. Scott, ‘Australia during the war’, vol. XI, Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, (Canberra, Australian War Memorial, 1943), p. 889.

[2] Scott, ‘Australia during the war’, p. 874

[3] A. G. Butler, ‘Special Problems and Services’, The Official History of the Australian Army Medical Services in the War of 1914-1918, (Canberra, Australian War Memorial, 1943), p. 882

[4] The Australian War Memorial’s Roll of Honour records the number of Australian deaths during the First World War as 61,514. This includes deaths until the formal disbandment of the AIF on 31 March 1921. Between 4 August 1914 and 11 November 1918, there were 59,357 deaths, which on average amount to 38 Australian troops dying on every one of the 1,560 days of the First World War.

[5] Butler, ‘Special Problems and Services’, pp.896-97; Scott, ‘Australia During the War’, p.874.

[6] Judith Jeffery, ‘World War I’ in Wilfred Prest, The Wakefield Companion to South Australian History, (Adelaide, Wakefield Press, 2001), p. 592

[7] https://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/enlistment/ww1/, viewed 20 March 2015