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War and Australia

A selection of resources highlighting New South Wales' involvement in a number of military conflicts during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

World War II: 1942 Gallery

Browse a selection of records relating to New South Wales’ involvement in World War II, including the construction of roads, bridges and airfields in the Northern Territory, New Caledonia and Norfolk Island, along with war time activities on the home front.

Visit the WWII Gallery
War and Australia - Protecting NSW WWII

World War I: Anzac spirit

Anzac is the name given to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who landed on the beaches of the Gallipoli Peninsula in modern-day Turkey on 25 April 1915. The Gallipoli campaign has been described as the moment of birth of nationhood for both Australia and New Zealand.

NSW Anzac Centenary website

State Records is proud to honour the Centenary of World War I and Anzac with a website that draws from the archive’s vast collection to look at New South Wales life during the war years.

The NSW Anzac Centenary website looks at three key themes:

  • In Service – enlistment and the response of the Government and people of NSW
  • On the Home Front -  what day-to-day life was like for people in Sydney and NSW during the war years
  • In Remembrance – how the war was commemorated across NSW, in particular through war memorials

Visit the NSW Anzac Centenary website
New South Wales AIF soldiers, unknown military camp c.1915


The NSW Anzac Centenary website features online research guides to help family historians retrieve their WW1 stories from government records. The guides identify research pathways for tracing the stories of NSW soldiers and nurses, and highlight resources from our collection that provide background information to life in New South Wales at the time of the war.

Content will be regularly added to the web site over the course of the Anzac Centenary, 2014-2018.

Boer War

The war between the British and the two Dutch South African republics - the Boer War - began on 11 October 1899 when the Boers declared war on the British. It lasted until 31 May 1902 when Lord Kitchener and General Botha signed the peace treaty, the Peace of Vereeniging, ending the war.  The first colonial contingents arrived in South Africa between November 1899 and March 1900; the second between December 1899 and February 1900; the third between April and May 1900 and the fourth between May and June 1900. The unification of Australia's defences began following Federation on 1 January 1901. After 1901 additional contingents of soldiers were sent to South Africa to form battalions with squadrons from each state.  These battalions were first numbered as units of the Commonwealth Contingent. Later the entire force was designated as the Australian Commonwealth Horse. The total Australian casualities numbered about 1,400. These included 251 who died in action or from wounds sustained in battle, 267 who died of disease and 43 who were reported missing.

Browse the Boer War photos
Camp of Bushmen's contingent, Kensington Racecourse, Sydney, NSW, c.1900.  Photo Investigator digital id 1254_a011_a011000019r.jpg


This photo dates from about 1870-90 and could well be soldiers departing for the Sudan (based on military uniform worn).  Digital id 4481_a026_000695In the early 1880s the British-backed Egyptian regime in the Sudan came under threat from local supporters of Muhammed Ahmed, also known as the Mahdi. In 1883 the Egyptian government was sent south to crush the revolt, but instead of destroying the Mahdi's forces, the Egyptians were soundly defeated. On March 29, 1885 a NSW contingent arrived in Sudan, the first time Australian troops fought in an imperial war.

The NSW contingent consisted of an infantry battalion and an artillery battery, totalling 758 men. They left Sydney on March 3 and returned on June 19, 1885.  While the contingent did not fight in any major battles, there were three wounded soldiers and seven deaths from fever or dysentery.

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