Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918

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Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918
AuthorC.E.W. Bean (editor)
SubjectMilitary history of Australia during World War I
GenreMilitary history
PublisherAustralian War Memorial
Publication date
Followed byAustralia in the War of 1939–1945 

The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918 is a 12-volume series covering Australian involvement in the First World War. The series was edited by C.E.W. Bean, who also wrote six of the volumes and was published between 1920 and 1942. The first seven volumes deal with the Australian Imperial Force while other volumes deal with the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force at Rabaul, the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Flying Corps and the home front; the final volume is a photographic record.

Unlike other official histories which have been aimed at military staff, Bean intended the Australian history to be accessible to a non-military audience. The relatively small size of the Australian forces, enabled the history to be presented in great detail, giving accounts of individual actions that would not have been possible when covering a larger force. Bean devoted over 100 pages to the Battle of Fromelles, a relatively small action intended as a diversion during the Battle of the Somme, which lasted one night and involved the 5th Australian Division. Fromelles was also the first time that the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF) saw action on the Western Front and was very costly for the Australians, with 5,533 men killed, wounded or captured.


C.E.W. Bean studying Army documents while working on the official history in 1935

Other volumes[edit]

The three volumes of the Official History of the Australian Army Medical Services, 1914–1918, mostly written by Arthur Butler, are also considered by the Australian War Memorial to be Volumes XIII, XIV & XV of the Official History.

Following the publication of the final volume, Bean compiled Anzac to Amiens, a condensed history in one volume aimed at the general public, which was published in 1946. This was followed in 1948 by Gallipoli Mission which detailed how he and his team had researched what had happened in Gallipoli.

See also[edit]

  • Military Operations – 29-volume British official history of the war on land, edited by Brigadier-General Sir James Edmonds, part of the 109 volumes of the History of the Great War based on Official Documents by Direction of the Committee of Imperial Defence (1922–1949).


  • Bean, C. E. W. (1970). "The Writing of the Australian History of the War of 1914–1918: Sources, Methods, and Some Conclusions". In Higham, R. D. S. (ed.). Official Histories. Essays and Bibliographies from Around the World. Kansas. State University Library Bibliography: 8. Manhattan, Kansas: Kansas State University Library. OCLC 500573764.
  • Dennis, Peter (1995). The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-553227-9.
  • Hirst, Megan (1999). "Narrative In The War Histories Of C. E. W. Bean" (PDF). Access: History. Brisbane: University of Queensland. 2 (2). ISSN 1440-8449. Retrieved 30 August 2008.
  • Stanley, Peter. "Charles Bean and the Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  • Stanley, Peter (2004). "Bean's History". Wartime. Canberra: Australian War Memorial/Media Marketing Group (25). ISSN 1328-2727.

External links[edit]