Over 8 million never returned;
more than half the men were wounded.
It was unlike any other conflict experienced in human history.
For Australia, it was a time when the notions of duty and responsibility were debated, when elements of our national identity began to evolve and, overwhelmingly, there was the experience of shock, grief and loss.
In a military sense, the Western Front, which stretched 750 kilometres from the Belgian coast, through France to the Swiss border, was a baptism of fire for the new nation of Australia, who for the first time 'engaged the main army of the main enemy in the main theatre of war'.
During the conflict, around 300,000 Australians served in this part of Europe. These were ordinary young men and women, from towns and cities across Australia, who fought, nursed, cooked, dug tunnels and trenches, drove ambulances and did whatever else was necessary in the service of 'King and country'.
They're not heroes. They do not intend to be thought or spoken of as heroes. They're just ordinary Australians, doing their particular work as their country would wish them to do it. And pray God, Australians in days to come will be worthy of them.
C. E. W. Bean, journalist, war correspondent, historian and author of the Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918.
The statistics for the Great War of 1914 - 1918 are seen below. The total number of Australian enlistments was 416,809. That is a large number for such a small country - approx 14% of the white male population.
This week I have written four blog posts on just one family that were killed in 1917, three brothers Reg, Arnold and Ray Bartram and their cousin Les Krause. To read their story click on each name.
Leslie Norman KRAUSE (1896 - 1917) died aged 20 in France
Reginald Percy BARTRAM (1880 - 1917) died aged 36 in Belgium
Arnold Roy BARTRAM (1895 - 1917) died aged 21 in France
Raymond Everard BARTRAM (1892 - 1917) died aged 23 in Belgium