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This article is extracted from 1933 Statistician's Report, (Cat. no. 2110.0) (pp. 397)
A special feature of the Australian Census of 1933 was an inquiry as to war service abroad with the Australian Forces in the War of 1914-1919. One important reason for the inquiry was its value for war pensions administration. The actual form of the inquiry on the Personal Slip was as follows:-
Supplemented by the following instruction:-
GENERAL VIEW OF THE STATISTICS OF PERSONS WITH WAR SERVICE.
Summary of Numbers of Soldiers, Sailors and Nurses who served abroad with the Australian Forces, 1914-1919 - The following table is a summary statement of the numbers of returned soldiers, sailors and nurses enumerated at the 1933 Census in each State and Territory, who served abroad with the Australian Forces in the War of 1914-1919:-
It will be seen that the numbers shown at the Census as having served abroad were 226,438 males and 1,844 females. Thus 11 per cent. of the adult male population of Australia at 30th June, 1933, and 14.6 per cent. of the male population aged 30 years and over were ex-members of the Australian Forces with oversea service. Of this number 4,339 served with the naval forces, so that the number of ex-members of the Australian Imperial Force in Australia at that date was 222,099. According to official records, 265,000 members of the Australian Imperial Force were discharged in Australia upon return from service overseas, but, as this figure included duplications for those persons who enlisted on more than one occasion and consequently were discharged on more than one occasion, a special detailed examination of Australian Imperial Force records at the Defence Department, Melbourne, was made in order to ascertain the net number of individuals who were discharged upon return to Australia. This inquiry disclosed that 257,519 soldiers and 1,665 nurses returned to Australia, and that 7,030 soldiers and nurses were discharged overseas. As shown in the table above, the number of soldiers in Australia at the date of the 1933 Census totalled 222,099, which indicates a reduction of 35,420, or 13.75 per cent., in the number of returned soldiers since their return to Australia.
The particulars ascertained from the 1933 Census and the results of the special statistical inquiry instituted at Base Records, Department of Defence, were referred to Mr. F. W. Barford, M.A., A.I.A., Actuary of the Commonwealth Superannuation Board. Although it was not possible from these data to construct a life table comparable to the Australian Life Tables of 1932-1934, it was possible to make some comparison between the two experiences- national and returned soldiers. It was ascertained, as a result of these calculations, that the mortality amongst returned soldiers since discharge exceeds that of a body of males of the same age constitution drawn from the general population by about 13 per cent.
The next table shows the distribution at 30th June, 1933, of males and females who served abroad with the Australian Forces in the War of 1914-1919 in urban and rural divisions of each State and Territory:-
(a) Persons on board ships and railway trains
For Australia as a whole, whereas 10.63 per cent. of the male population aged 20 and over at 30th June, 1933, were ex-members of the Australian Forces with oversea service, the corresponding proportion of the metropolitan male population was 12.18 per cent., of the urban provincial male population 9.29 per cent., and of the rural male population 9.49 per cent. Ex-members of the Australian Forces at the same date were 14.58 per cent. of the total male population aged 30 and over, whereas the corresponding proportion in the metropolitan male population was 16.29 per cent., in the urban provincial male population 12.68 per cent., and in the rural male population 13.32 per cent.
In the following table the number of returned males in the metropolitan, urban provincial and rural divisions respectively of each State are shown as a proportion per cent. of the total number returned males in each State:-
There was thus considerable disparity between the States in respect of the proportions of ex-members of the Australian Forces distributed between metropolitan, urban provincial and rural areas in June, 1933. In South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales the proportions were characterised by high percentages in the metropolitan areas, and in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania by relatively high percentages in the rural areas. In the urban provincial areas percentages were high, relatively, to the urban provincial areas of Australia as a whole, in Tasmania, Queensland and New South Wales.
Age Grouping of Persons with War Service, by States and Territories.-The next table shows the distribution at 30th June, 1933, in each State and Territory, and in tropical and non-tropical regions, of persons who served abroad with the Australian Forces in the War of 1914-1919 according to age:-
In every State, Territory and region of the Commonwealth the most representative age group of these returned persons by 30th June, 1933, was 35-39. For Australia as a whole the modal or most representative age for returned soldiers and sailors was 38 (soldiers, 17,361 instances; sailors, 333 instances), and for returned nurses 45 (151 instances). The weighted mean age for returned soldiers was 43.24 years, for returned sailors 40.76 years, and for returned soldiers and sailors combined 43.19 years. For returned nurses the mean age was 48.37 years. The mean age for returned soldiers, sailors and nurses combined was 43.23 years. It will be seen that nearly one-fifth (19.34 per cent.) of all returned persons in the country at the date of the Census had been born outside Australia.
1. The Inquiry as to war service at the New Zealand Census of 24th March, 1936, asked the name of the war to which the person served as a member (including nurse) of the New Zealand or other British Force; the name of the Force served with; and whether the person was in receipt of a War Pension from any Government. <return to article>
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