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The anatomy of a division : the 1st Australian Division in the Great War, 1914-1919

Stevenson, Robert, Humanities & Social Sciences, Australian Defence Force Academy, UNSW

2010

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  • Title:
    The anatomy of a division : the 1st Australian Division in the Great War, 1914-1919
  • Author/Creator/Curator: Stevenson, Robert, Humanities & Social Sciences, Australian Defence Force Academy, UNSW
  • Subjects: Word War I : Defensice Operations; World War I : Offensive Operations; World War I : Campaigns; 1st Australian Division in World War I; Australian Military History; Australian Imperial Force
  • Resource type: Thesis
  • Type of thesis: Ph.D.
  • Date: 2010
  • Supervisor: Prior, Robin; Humanities & Social Sciences, Australian Defence Force Academy, UNSW; Grey, Jeffrey; Humanities & Social Sciences, Australian Defence Force Academy, UNSW
  • Language: English
  • Permissions: This work can be used in accordance with the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license.
    Please see additional information at https://library.unsw.edu.au/copyright/for-researchers-and-creators/unsworks

  • Description: The study of higher military organisations is a neglected theme in Australian studies of the Great War. Although the 'digger' looms large in national military historiography, the role of the larger organisations to which these soldiers belonged is often all but lost in the aura that surrounds the digger's legendary battlefield performance. This thesis examines the history of the 1st Australian Division during the Great War. This formation was the longest-serving Australian division during that conflict; more soldiers served in its ranks and it suffered more casualties than any equivalent Australian organisation. The study analyses how this division was raised, how it was organised and what it did during its service. Based on an analysis of its daily activities as recorded in its war diaries, the thesis identifies that the three activities the division spent most of its time engaged in were administration, training and operations - devoting about a quarter of its time to various types of administrative activity; another quarter training; and only half of its time committed to operations with the enemy. It suggests that the success of the division on the battlefield depended on the capacity of its commanders and staff to administer, train and adapt to the changing conditions they experienced and less on the innate qualities of the division's soldiers. It embraces the following: Pre-war expeditionary force plans and the mobilisation of the 1st Division. The organisation of the 1st Division and how it adapted. The administrative system and how this sustained the division. The development of the divisional training system. The division's first operations on Gallipoli and why they failed. The development of divisional defensive and offensive operations on the Western Front. Demobilisation and the repatriation of the division's veterans.

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