Australian units in World War I

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The armed forces of the Commonwealth of Australia consisted of two services: the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Navy.

Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918 at the Australian War Memorial.

See also naming conventions for Australian units.

Australian Army

Known as "Commonwealth Military Forces" or "Australian Military Forces". Formed after federation and governed by 1903 Defence Act, which made it illegal for a standing force of infantry to exist, and for conscripts to serve overseas. The head of the Army was the Chief of General Staff. All branches of the army were under the Australian General Staff.

Before the First World War, the two branches were:

  • Permanent Force
  • Citizen Military Force

During the First World War, two expeditionary forces were raised. These were effectively new branches of the army:

See also Australian War Memorial: One army, two armies? and Wikipedia:History of the Australian Army.

The main administrative corps and departments of the home forces were:

Australia was divided into military districts, one for each state of the federation:


Australian Imperial Force

Early in the war this was sometimes known as the Expeditionary Force, or large Expeditionary Force, but it's more commonly known by its official title, Australian Imperial Force. This was an all-volunteer force raised for overseas service in the First World War. Legally separate from the Permanent Force and Citizen Military Force (see below) to avoid the limitations imposed by the 1903 Defence Act, but organized by the exising general staff, and many officers and soldiers from the Permanent and Citizen forces volunteered to transfer to the AIF. Disbanded 1 April 1921 but Citizen Military Force inherited the names of its battalions and divisions.

See also Wikipedia:First Australian Imperial Force.

Divisions and corps

Australian units also formed a large part of Desert Mounted Corps (which country did the corps headquarters belong to?).

Infantry battalions and brigades

As part of 1st Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of 2nd Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of 3rd Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of 4th Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of 5th Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of 6th Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of 7th Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of 8th Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of 9th Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of 10th Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of 11th Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of 12th Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of 13th Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of 14th Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of 15th Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

Unknown brigade in the planned 6th Australian Division:

As part of Overseas Training Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

Training brigades:

Training battalions that need matching to training brigades:

Mounted units and brigades


As part of 1st Light Horse Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of 2nd Light Horse Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of 3rd Light Horse Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of 4th Light Horse Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of 5th Light Horse Brigade, Australian Imperial Force (AIF)

As part of Imperial Camel Brigade (a brigade-sized formation including Australian, New Zealand, British and Indian units, administratively under the Imperial Camel Corps):

Cyclists:

Machine gun units

These battalions probably attached to the Australian divisions with the same number:

These companies were probably attached to the AIF infantry brigades with the same number:

These companies were probably attached to divisions:

These were mounted units, probably attached to light horse:

Other machine gun units:

Medical, Dental & Nursing

Also the Australian Army Nursing Service and Australian Voluntary Hospital.

Artillery

See also list of artillery war diaries.

Field artillery brigades


Field artillery batteries

Should these be merged with their parent brigades?


Divisional ammunition columns

These were attached to the divisions they're named after.


Heavy artillery
Heavy and medium trench mortars

These were attached to divisions or corps.

Light trench mortars

These were probably attached to the infantry brigades with the same number.

Engineers, tunnelling and signals

See also list of engineering war diaries.

Logistics

Veterinary

Australian Flying Corps (AFC)

Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force

Also known as First Expeditionary Force, and later as Tropical Force. Another volunteer land force, administratively separate from the AIF, raised in August 1914 to invade and occupy German colonies in the Pacific. Operated with Royal Australian Navy ships, but infantry battalions organized by Army general staff.


See also AWM search results for unit pages.

Citizen Military Force

Also known as the Militia. Conscripted in peace-time for training and could be called out for home defence, but not legally allowed to be sent overseas. Mobilized for home defence at the start of the First World War.

See also Wikipedia:Australian Army Reserve.

The 1914 Army List contains a complete list of pre-war CMF units, including:

Infantry Brigades


Infantry Regiments


Light Horse Brigades


Light Horse Regiments


Engineers and Signals


Artillery


Medical


Logistics

Permanent Force

Full-time regulars. Not legally allowed to include infantry. Mostly staff officers, administrators and instructors, but there were a few Permanent Force artillery and engineer units. Only the Permanent Force branches of the artillery and engineers were allowed the title "Royal" in this period.

1914 Army List gives a list of Permanent Force officers and units.

There were also Permanent sections of:

Royal Australian Navy

The navy was formed after the federation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901 as Commonwealth Naval Forces. Granted the title Royal Australian Navy in 1911. Put under British command immediately after start of First World War and served in many theatres.

See also Wikipedia:History of the Royal Australian Navy.

Transport ships