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Coming home: Australians’ sorties de guerre after the First World War
journal contributionposted on 2019-01-01, 00:00 authored by R Fathi, Bart ZiinoBart Ziino
This article considers the homecomings of Australian servicemen and women. Homecoming was not a singular or linear event that came to close the First World War chapter in Australia’s history; homecoming was a lengthy, costly and demanding process both for those who returned and for those who had stayed. Our aim is to reposition Australia’s passage out of war as a critical period in shaping twentieth-century Australia rather than merely the afterword to 1914–18. The phases of Australia’s demobilisation varied and modulated as between the military process of repatriation, the medical and welfare-orientated agencies of the state, and the persistence of the culture of the war in important elements of Australian life. The transition out of war demanded new mobilisations, rededicated efforts to deal with the immediate burdens of the conflict, and a concerted effort to make sense of the war that extended well beyond the lives of those most intimately involved. The scale of that work was significant, and few anticipated how much longer than the conflict itself it would continue. Australia’s ‘exiting’ from the First World War has been a century-long process, one that is perhaps, on a cultural level, unfinished.