Primary materials

Atzera Range Papua New Guinea

A Primary Source is evidence that was produced contemporaneous to the event being studied. This can include newspaper articles, diaries, maps, drawings, journals, orders, reports, instructions, photographs, film or physical objects/artefacts.

AWM P01796.002 Probably Parramatta, NSW, c. 1910. The Machine Gun Section of the 4th Light Horse Regiment (Hunter River Lancers) training with a Colt 1895 pattern .303 inch machine gun, probably at the unit's annual camp.

Colonial and Pre-Federation

Starting with the arrival of British Army units in 1788, this period covers the emergence of military units in each of the Australian colonies prior to Federation, including contributions to both the New Zealand Wars during the 1860s and to the Sudan in 1885.

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AWM P01258 Group portrait of a cadet training unit of students at the agricultural high school.

Pre World War One 1903 to 1913

Between Federation and WWI, the Australian Commonwealth raised an Army. Compulsory Military Training, the visit of Lord Kitchener and establishment of the Royal Military College at Duntroon were all key developments of this period.

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AWM E00771 Two unidentified water carriers of the 47th Battalion, AIF, near 'Albania', following the guiding tape to the front line 300 yards away.

World War One 1914 to 1918

The Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was raised in late 1914 to serve overseas in support of Empire. Sent initially to Egypt, Australian troops fought at Gallipoli, in Palestine and on the Western Front.

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AWM P02307.026 c.1930. Group portrait of militia unit.

Between the Wars 1919 to 1938

After WWI, Australia’s reduced appetite for war resulted in rapidly shrinking Defence budgets. Misplaced trust in the British Singapore Strategy, chronic underfunding and lack of equipment and training left Australia seriously exposed to threat on the outbreak of WWII.

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AWM 006083 Troops rushing through the streets of ruined Bardia in search of any stray enemy.

World War Two 1939 to 1945

From the advance across North Africa against Italian and German forces in 1941 and the fall of Malaya and Singapore to the Japanese in 1942, Australian troops of the Second AIF and later, the Militia, fought a long and gruelling war through North Africa, Syria, Greece, Crete, Malaya, New Guinea and the South-West Pacific.

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AWM HOBJ2068 Korea. c 1951. Troops of 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR), had a busy time in brushes with Communist troops as the Korean winter fades to a freezing, slushy end. Seen here are unidentified troops of B Company giving covering fire to one of their sections, pinned down in front of a Communist position.

Post War and Korea 1946 to 1953

Japanese defeat in WWII led to Australian troops joining the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) in Japan, while in September 1947 the Australian Regular Army was formed. Australia joined a multinational force on the Korean peninsula to fight North Korean and Chinese Communist forces in a short, but bloody war between 1950 and 1953 that has technically not ended.

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AWM 56 0660 Lance Corporal Sam Farmer, of Brisbane Qld, 9 Platoon, C Company, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, is fully loaded up with about 65 pounds of equipment including his Owen gun as he prepares to board a helicopter that will take him and 9 Pl deep into the jungle on a 14 day patrol hunting for Communist terrorists.

South East Asian Conflicts 1954 to 1961

As part of a British Commonwealth response, Australian units deployed to Malaya to counter guerrilla activity by communist Chinese insurgents in Malaya. Australians also deployed to Borneo during Konfrontasi between Indonesia and Malaysia to support the establishment of the Malaysian nation.

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Australian Army Soldiers in Vietnam

Vietnam 1962 to 1972

Commencing in 1962 with the deployment of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV), the Australian Army commitment to the Vietnam War lasted until 1972. Based mainly in Phuoc Tuy province, the Army’s commitment included artillery, infantry, special forces and armoured elements.

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Australian Army soldier with children.

Peacekeeping 1973 to 1998

Sending troops to UN peacekeeping operations since 1947, the Australian Army has a proud history of contributing to security and stability missions around the world under UN Mandate. Peacekeeping engagements remain an important role for Army.

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Colour Patches of various Australian Army Units

Unit Histories and Formations

The Australian Army History Unit is proud to make available Unit histories. Unit histories are valuable resources for researchers. They provide unique insights into the formation, purpose and functions of Units - particularly during war periods.

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