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Men of legend: the social composition of the 3rd Battalion First AIF

posted on 28.02.2017, 01:16 authored by Kowal, Seth Steven
This thesis challenges myths about the social composition of the First Australian Imperial Force and its 3rd Battalion. It aims to debunk some of the stereotypes inherent in C.E.W. Bean's Anzac legend along with generalisations presented by 3rd Battalion historian Eric Wren in his 1935 publication From Randwick to Hargicourt. Chapter 1 challenges Wren's statement that the 3rd Battalion existed as a country formation. It explores the significance of agricultural workers in the 3rd Battalion and examines residential composition of 3rd Battalion soldiers. Chapter 2 contests Bean's notion that the Australian bush lifestyle created half-soldiers due to the time Australian service members had spent in the countryside during their youth. It probes the significance of the 3rd Battalion's foreign-born component and analyses how long these immigrant diggers lived in Australia prior to enlistment. Chapter 3 questions Bean's idea that the AIF existed as an egalitarian military organisation, where social class and religious beliefs did not determine military rank. It investigates the pre-war occupations, height and religious affiliations of 3rd Battalion officers, non-commissioned officers and the rank and file to determine if any significant differences existed in the social backgrounds of 3rd Battalion soldiers from different military ranks.


Principal supervisor

Alistair Thomson

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

School of Philosophical, Historical & International Studies

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts