Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918

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Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918
Author C.E.W. Bean (editor)
Country Australia
Language English
Subject Military history of Australia during World War I
Genre Military history
Publisher Australian War Memorial
Publication date
Followed by Australia 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.

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.


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

Other volumes[edit]

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

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".


  • Bean, C.E.W. (1970). "The Writing of the Australian History of the War of 1914–1918: Sources, Methods, and Some Conclusions". In Robin Higham. Official Histories. Essays and bibliographies from around the world. Manhattan, Kansas: Kansas State University Library. 
  • 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). Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  • Stanley, Peter. "Charles Bean and the Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 2008-08-17. 
  • Stanley, Peter (2004). "Bean's History". Wartime (Canberra: Australian War Memorial) (25). 

External links[edit]