In the cities and in the countryside of Australia, the Great War of 1914-1918 marched to somewhat different tempos. The author evokes the wartime experience of all rural Australians by capturing the moods of the country towns and hamlets of North Eastern Victoria.
Every aspect of the war: recruiting, fund-raising and, eventually, homecoming and the design of the war memorial - was marked by a mixture of small-minded local politics, heroism and sacrifice, and grief. Individuals, whether journalists, town councillors or leading local citizens, shaped the recurring battles on the home front.
The conscription debates were particularly vicious, as the countryside exhausted its pool of volunteers long before the cities. In small communities the 'shirker' could not hide; everyone knew which families had sent men to the front, and who had genuine reasons for staying home. This intimacy worked in favour of the many German Australians: country people knew them as trusted neighbours, but in the cities they were reviled as enemy aliens.
'Rural Australia and the Great War' is unique among writing on the First World War in creating a richly detailed picture of wartime in a particular part of country Australia. For country and city readers alike, this is fascinating social history.
1. The Region in 1914
2. British First, Australia Second: August 1914 to April 1915
3. How Can Your Stay?: Recruitment, May 1915 to September 1916
4. Free Men or Shirkers?: Conscription, September to December 1916
5. By the Scruff of the Neck: The War's Last Years
6. Whose War?: A Fracturing War Effort
7. To 'wait and weep'?: Women and the War
8. True Britons: Teachers, Children and Youth
9. Doing Their Share?: Catholics
10. Who Are You?: German Australians
11. He Saw His Duty: The Soilders' War
12. Only Peace?: The Post-war Years