- Australian Imperial Force
a special army of volunteers for overseas service which began enlistment in 1914; formed again in World War II. Abbrev.: AIF
In 1914, following the outbreak of World War I, the 1st Australian Imperial Force, was raised by voluntary enlistment for service overseas (existing militia forces were unable to serve overseas). In November 1914 the first contingent, consisting of 20 000 men – one infantry division and the 1st Light Horse – set sail for war training camps in Egypt. In February 1915 they were joined by a second contingent which included New Zealand troops and all were grouped together as the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, under the command of Major General Birdwood. In April 1915 it was sent into action on the Gallipoli peninsula.
By the end of World War I the 1st AIF comprised five infantry divisions and made up most of two mounted divisions. More than 330 000 men, about one-fifth of whom were recruited from country districts, served in Egypt, Gallipoli, Sinai, Palestine, Britain and on the Western Front in France and Belgium. Almost half of those were wounded and 59 000 died on active service. About 2100 women served with the 1st AIF, mainly as nurses. Australia was the only country with an all-volunteer army in World War I.
In World War II more than 690 000 men and 35 000 women enlisted in the 2nd AIF, which fought as part of British formations in the Mediterranean campaigns and served with Australian militia divisions in the Pacific.
Australian English dictionary. 2014.
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