Glossary - Australia and World War I


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Australia and World War I


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AIF- Australian Imperial Force. This title was given to all volunteer Australian Army forces dispatched to fight overseas during World War I and World War II

Alien - term describing people of German background in Australia during World War I

Alliance- an agreement between nations to work together for a common purpose or for mutual help and support

Ally - a person, group, or state that is joined in an alliance

Anglophobia - dislike or hatred of things British

ANZAC - Australia and New Zealand Army Corps

Armistice - an end to fighting

Artillery - mounted projectile-firing guns or missile launchers, cannons, howitzers, mortars, etc, of calibre greater than 20 mm

Assassination - the murder of an important political or religious figure

Atrocities - brutal acts of violence

Australian Comforts Fund - women’s organisation that sent parcels to Australian soldiers overseas

Bias - an unfair preference for or dislike of something

Carnage - massive loss of a life in a battle

Casualties – those killed. wounded or captured during wartime

Cavalry - Troops trained to fight on horseback


Civil Liberties - the basic freedoms of speech , of movement sand of political and religious beliefs

Conscientious Objector - someone whose conscience prevents them from participating in military service

Conscription - forcible enlistment of men into the army

Digger - affectionate term given to Australian soldiers. Originated because they had to dig trenches

‘Crimson thread of kinship’ – a term used to describe Australia’s strong links of loyalty to Britain

Dominion - a term used for former ‘colonies’ of Great Britain that still maintained loyalty to Britain

Dysentery - severe diarrhoea, often accompanied by the passing of blood and mucus

Home front - term describing situation inside Australia during the war

Hysteria - uncontrollable emotion, such as fear or panic

Imperialism – Economic and political control over weaker nations

Infantry - Soldiers armed and trained to fight on foot:


Legend – a story or belief which has special significance within a particular group or culture

Larrikin – although originally a negative label, the term evolved to mean mischievous but goodhearted

Militarism – policy of maintaining a strong military organisation in aggressive preparedness for war

Nationalism – a devotion to the interests and culture of one’s nation

No-man’s land - area between two sets of enemy trenches

Propaganda- information designed to persuade people to think a certain way

Referendum - a national vote on a proposed change to the Constitution

RSL - Returned Services League

Schlieffen Plan - In 1914, Germany believed war with Russia was very likely. If war broke out Germany assumed France, an ally of Russia, would also attack in revenge for the lost provinces of Alsace and Lorraine. The Schlieffen Plan was designed to prevent facing a war on two fronts. Following the plan they first declared war on Russia and then attacked France by going through neutral Belgium. They planned to quickly defeat France in the few weeks that it would take for Russia to mobilise their forces. They would then be able to concentrate the majority of their forces for a major offensive against Russia.

Social Class - a group with common economic and/or cultural status. The Upper Class is the social class composed of those who are wealthy, well-born, or both. They usually wield the greatest political power. Generally they are within the wealthiest 1 or 2 percent of the population. The Middle Class is the broad group of people in society who fall socio-economically between the lower and upper classes. Middle class workers are sometimes called "white-collar workers". Lower Class (also described as working class) are those employed in low-paying wage jobs with very little economic security. Their economic position prevents them from wielding significant political influence. Members of the working class are sometimes called “blue-collar workers”.

Stalemate – a situation in war where there is no movement on either side

Trench foot – a painful and severe condition caused by prolonged standing in freezing water and muddy trenches dampness, similar to frostbite. Gangrene could set in and result in the amputation of the foot.

War of attrition - method of fighting aimed at exhausting the enemy