National Library of Australia

Teachers notes: “Our Bit” in the Great War


A student:

  • counts, places in order, estimates and describes with common and decimal fractions, e.g. places in order the weight data of some babies.
  • identifies, continues and invents number patterns involving multiplication and division, e.g. 2, 6, 18, 54,... ; one half, one quarter, one eighth,...
  • uses an understanding of numbers and number relationships to make and complete equations, e.g. uses the signs = for equal to, > for greater than, < for less than.
  • makes suitable choices about when and which of the four number operations (+, −, x, and ÷) to use.
  • uses a variety of ways to mentally calculate involving both exact and approximate answers.
  • adds and subtracts numbers having the same number of decimal places, multiplies and divides whole numbers and decimals by single digit numbers when working with numbers, money and measurement.
  • uses a calculator to carry out tasks using decimals and when more than one operation is needed.

World War 1 caused the greatest loss of life and number of casualties the world had ever seen.


  • In 1914 Australia had a population of 5 million people. If 300 000 men enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), what percentage of the population does that represent?
  • Joseph Cook declared on 5 August 1914: ‘When the Empire is at war, so is Australia.’ If World War I ended on 11 November 1918, for exactly how many days was Australia at war?
  • During World War I, 216 000 Australian men were either killed, wounded, gassed or taken prisoner. On average, how many casualties a day does this represent?
  • In July of 1916, the AIF suffered 5533 casualties at Fromelles in just 24 hours. How many casualties is this per hour?
  • The Allied demands on Germany at the conclusion of the War included the surrender of the following: Arms including 5000 cannon, 30 000 machine guns, 3000 trench mortars, 2000 planes; and transport including 5000 locomotives, 150 000 railway coaches, 10 000 trucks. Without using a calculator, how many individual items in this list? Are there more transport items or arms?
  • It could take two months for a ship to travel from Australia to the U.K. If it cost £2 per week for each soldier on the journey, how much would it have cost to ship 3800 soldiers? How much would it cost per day?
  • The distance between Sydney and London is 16 984 km. If the journey takes two months, approximately how many kilometres a day does the ship travel?