Photograph - Soldiers Voting
Photograph - Men of the 44th Battalion recording their votes on the Referendum at the unit polling booth at Neuve Eglise,
Australian War Memorial,
Australian War Memorial
Both before and after the first referendum, the ‘soldiers’ vote’ was considered to be of vital importance. Prime Minister Hughes tried to influence this vote but in the end soldiers voted in a similar way to Australians at home.
Prime Minister Hughes exerted pressure on the Australian General Birdwood in a number of ways. Hughes wanted the serving soldiers to hold meetings and pass resolutions in favour of conscription so that he could use that in his campaign. Birdwood rejected this suggestion as impractical. Hughes then insisted that Birdwood issue a statement in favour of conscription. Birdwood was reluctant to do this, fearing that soldiers would see that as an order from a commanding officer. When Hughes insisted, Birdwood finally released a statement which while claiming to be neutral, said that the current system of recruitment was inadequate, and praising Hughes’ manifesto on conscription.
Hughes had expected a large majority for ‘Yes’ from the serving soldiers. The vote in Australia was so close that in the days after the referendum many conscriptionists thought that the soldiers’ vote could still secure a ‘Yes’ majority. In fact some of the first votes counted at the front line showed ‘No’ majorities. In the end the published figures from the 1916 referendum were for a slight ‘Yes’ majority from soldiers, by 72 399 to 58 894. This was much smaller than Hughes had anticipated, and not nearly enough to overturn the home ‘No’ vote. In the 1917 referendum this ‘Yes’ majority from soldiers was reduced further. Despite all the pressure brought to bear by Hughes, many serving soldiers voted ‘No’, feeling that no one should be forced to endure the horrors of the war.
Australia and World War One
Photograph - Send-off to the Brunswick Soldiers
Photograph - Brunswick Town Hall Honour Board
Memorial Plaque - Leonard William Telford
Poster - 'Australia has Promised Britain 50,000 More Men'
Labour Activists of Brunswick and Coburg
Photograph - Frank Anstey
Photograph - John Curtin
Photograph - Frank Hyett
Photograph - Maurice Blackburn
The Trade Unions' Anti-conscription Campaign
Handbill - 'The Blood Vote'
Cartoon - 'The Charge of the Would to God Brigade'
Handbill - Slave Conspiracy
The Women's Movement During the War
Photograph - Vida Goldstein
Photograph - Adela Pankhurst
Handbill - Conscription and Woman's Loyalty
Photograph - 'Women's No Conscription Demonstration'
Bella Lavender - Brunswick Campaigner
Photograph - Bella Lavender
Cartoon - Bella Lavender
Letter - Bella Lavender to Education Department
Photograph - Labor Women's Anti-conscription Committee
Religious Perspectives on Conscription
Handbill - Conscription and Christianity
Handbill - Conscription Questions for Voters
Handbill - How Would Christ Vote?
The Catholic Church and Conscription
Photograph - Daniel Mannix
Article - Cause of the War
Article - Revolt Victims
Cartoon - Australian Workman's Burden
Brunswick and Coburg During the Campaigns
Article - No Anti-conscription Meetings in Brunswick
Handbill - Public Meeting Against Conscription
Advertisement - Recruitment Meeting
Article - Remarkably Quiet Day
The Two Referendums
Handbill - Vote Thus Against Conscription
Article - Military Service Referendum Poll
Article - Conscription. Mr Hughes in Queensland
Article - 'Bourke'
The Soldiers' Votes
Diary - Claude Ewart
Photograph - Jack and Bert Grinton
Handbill - Returned Soldiers' No Conscription League Manifesto
Photograph - Soldiers Voting
Consequences for the Campaigners
Inscription - Police Just Raided
Article - 'Failure to Enrol'
Letter - Adela Pankhurst to Sallie Walsh
Article - 'Serenading Miss Pankhurst'
Story education resources
Education Against the Odds: The Victory over Conscription in WW1 Education Resource
The Against The Odds Education Resource provides a stimulating range of activities for students undertaking the compulsory Victorian History Curriculum Level 9/10 unit Australia at war (1914 – 1945). It helps students reflect on the complexities of the conscription debate through a range of analytical, creative and research tasks.
Education Against the Odds: The Victory over Conscription in WW1 Walking Map
The Against the Odds: The Victory over Conscription in WW1 Walking Map is a map of some of the sites described in the digital story or related to individuals therein. Download the map to use it for a self-guided tour in the area.