This week in Mallorca, I am catching up on research with The War at Home, volume 4 of The Centenary History of Australia and the Great War. It’s the perfect book for my current WIP. It does point out the contradictions in Australian society, the country of the Fair Go. Where women got the vote much earlier than in the UK and where men achieved a living wage before WWI but where the Hughes government became quite despotic about patriotism and the threat of Bolshevism. Conscription was voted down twice but those considered alien were kept in the most horrific conditions. 4,500 Australian born nationals, but of German stock, were kept in 3 sided huts for years in NSW, on limited rations to the point were some went mad. Economically, the war was disastrous with Australia thrown into depression earlier than the US or Britain. Women were not drafted into men’s jobs as they were in Britain and were rebuffed if they volunteered. A third of eligible men volunteered which declined as the war went on and death rates rose. Initially many men were rejected as unfit but eventually they accepted men of 5 ft. We tend to think of Australians as tall, strapping men but the depression of the 1890s meant that was not the case in WW1.
I have found all this fascinating. Much of it won’t get used but it helps me understand the atmosphere of the time.