The 1st Division was raised on 15 August 1914 as part of the First Australian Imperial Force (1st AIF), playing a significant part in the Gallipoli campaign of 1915, before going on to fight on the Western Front. The 1st Division captured the town on Pozieres in its first major battle and went on to play significant parts in battles at Mouquet Farm, Bullecourt, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde, Poelcapelle, Passchendaele, Amiens and the Hindenburg.
In World War II a large element of the existing Headquarters 1st Division staff formed the command element of Milne Force under Major General Clowes. Milne Force was tasked to secure the right flank of the Australian defensive line in Papua New Guinea, defeating a major Japanese amphibious assault at a key point in the campaign.
In 1965 the 1st Division was tasked with certifying the operational readiness of units deploying to Vietnam and in 1973 The Headquarters for 1st Division moved from NSW to Enoggera, Brisbane. Throughout the 1980s and 1990’s Headquarters 1st Division personnel were deployed on United Nations peacekeeping operations in Namibia, Western Sahara, Cambodia, Somalia and Rwanda.
In1997 Headquarters 1st Division assumed the additional task of providing the ADF with a two star Deployable Joint Force Headquarters (DJFHQ) for the command of joint assets during large-scale operations, both in Australia and overseas. In 1999 DJFHQ constituted Headquarters International Force East Timor (INTERFET) and deployed to East Timor on 20 September 1999 on OP WARDEN.
From the completion of OP WARDEN in 2000 Headquarters 1st Division formed the core of a number of Joint Task Forces which were established to command deployed forces on Peace Support and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations throughout the region. These operations include OP PLUMBOB (2000) and OP ANODE (2003) in the Solomon Islands and OP SUMATRA ASSIST (2005) and OP PADANG ASSIST (2006) in Indonesia.
In 2009, Headquarters 1st Division was restructured as part of the “Adaptive Army” initiative which re-assigned the regular manoeuvre brigades and the majority of Direct Command Units to the newly formed Forces Command. Headquarters 1st Division was appointed as the Land Component to Headquarters Joint Operations Command (HQJOC) and continued to maintain its short notice command and control capabilities for contingency operations. Accordingly Headquarters 1st Division provided a Joint Task Force for many domestic and regional operations including; OP QUEENSLAND FLOODS ASSIST (2011), OP CATHEDERAL (2012) in Papua New Guinea, OP PHILLIPINES ASSIST (2013), OP OKRA (2014) in Iraq and OP HAWICK (2014) in The Hague and Ukraine.
In 2012, Commander 1st Division/DJFHQ was jointly appointed by the Chief of Army and Chief of Navy to act as the Joint and Army Lead Authority to develop the Australian Defence Force’s emerging amphibious capability.