In honor of Armistice Day, celebrating the end of World War I on November 11, 1918, our monthly banner features a recruiting train pulling into the station at Emerald, in southeast Queensland, Australia.
Australia was an early and enthusiastic participant on the Allied side in WW I, with troops seeing action mostly in New Guinea and the Middle East. Their involvement in the amphibious invasion of Gallipoli, fighting as a unified force with their neighbors from New Zealand as the “ANZACs,” is of more historical prominence, though that operation was both costly and unsuccessful. It marked Australia’s entrance as an actor on the global stage.
Australia is also notable in WW I history as one of only two nations that did not resort to conscription to raise its expeditionary army, though it employed conscription to man its home guard. A move to initiate conscription in support of the war effort was defeated by public vote in 1916. This made recruiting efforts to attract volunteers, like this train, very important.
As with all locomotives making whistle stops in the Frederation, this Aussie recruiting train runs on subjective time, which would prove to be a very long and difficult passage indeed for the brave young men who climbed aboard. Some never returned, and we honor this sacrifice of our long-time friends and allies who fought gallantly with us, then and many times thereafter.