This article provides references to books and web pages that should give you a relatively quick overview of nearly all military conflicts involving Australia.


In studying military history, a military professional might find it helpful to understand the broader conflict in which air, land and maritime power has been applied. The purpose of this article is to recommend reading that can provide the reader with a relatively brief overview of the various military conflicts in which Australia has been involved.


'Australians contributed to, and suffered greatly in, the British Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command. Of the 55,000 aircrew who 'failed to return' or were 'missing air operations' during World War II, 3486 were Australians of Bomber Command. These men represented 20% of all Australian service personnel 'killed in action' in all theatres of the war'. 
To understand what USAF, RAF and RAAF aircrew were fighting against it helps if you know what was happening in Nazi Germany and how the Germans treated conquered countries. See: GERMAN RULE IN OCCUPIED EUROPE HOLOCAUST ENCYCLOPEDIA
The following publications/resources can provide the reader with a quick overview of a particular conflict:
Australian War Memorial 
History in an Hour 
Oxford Very Short Introductions 
The AWM provides extensive resources and covers Australian Military History in detail. See: AWM Home Page
History in an Hour is a series of books that takes a big subject and condenses it to sixty minutes' reading. For example, readers will get a basic introduction to the momentous events of 1939 to '45 in World War Two 'In An Hour'. I call it 'history for busy people'. Taken from: Interview History in an Hour
VSI books are written by credible academic experts and can be cited.
Aerial Warfare: A Very Short Introduction Frank Ledwidge
'Offers a concise history of air warfare, analysing its influence on wars, campaigns and conflicts from the pre-WW1 period to today and beyond.
Considers how military operations from the air impact upon political decisions on the ground
Discusses the advances in air power technology and capabilities and the impact this has on warfare. 'Taken from: VSI Aerial Warfare
War and Technology: A Very Short Introduction Alex Roland 
Worth also reading an overview of the application of military technology.
'A compact history of 300,000 years of military technology.
Shows that technology is the primary driver of changes in warfare, and that military needs constantly generate technological innovation.
Reveals the modern trend toward dual-use technologies, such as airplanes, radio, rockets, and computers, which have both military and civilian applications.
Explains why technology has always favoured victory in warfare but has never guaranteed it.'
SECOND BOER WAR: 1899 - 1901
Australian War Memorial Second Boer War Levels 1 - 4 Australia and the Boer War, 1899-1901
WW1: 1914 - 1918
Australian War Memorial WW1  First World War 1914–18
 World War One: History in an Hour—Rupert Colley 
'The 'Great War', from July 1914 to November 1918, was without parallel. It brought to an end four dynasties, ignited revolution, and forged new nations'.
The First World War: A Very Short Introduction—Michael Howard 
'The First World War: A Very Short Introduction is a concise history of the 'Great War', focusing on why it happened, how it was fought, and why it had the consequences it did. It examines the state of Europe in 1914 and the outbreak of war; the onset of attrition and crisis; the role of the USA; the collapse of Russia; and the weakening and eventual surrender of the Central Powers. It also investigates the historical controversies surrounding the causes and conduct of war'.
Taken from: VSI WW1 Contents
  1. Europe in 1914
  2. The Coming of War
  3. 1914: The Opening Campaigns
  4. 1915: The War Continues
  5. 1916: The War of Attrition
  6. The United States Enters the War
  7. 1917: The Year of Crisis
  8. 1918: The Year of Decision
  9. The Settlement
WW2: 1939 – 1945
Australian War Memorial  AWM Second World War, 1939–45
World War Two: History in an Hour—Rupert Colley Level 1&2
'Lasting six years and a day, the Second World War saw the lives of millions—soldiers and civilians, young and old—changed forever. During the conflict, a thousand people died for each and every hour it lasted. With eighty-one of the world's nations involved and affected in some way, this was war on a truly global scale.'
World War II: A Very Short Introduction Gerhard L. Weinberg 
'Examines the origins, course, and impact of the Second World War on those who fought and the ordinary citizens who lived through it. Starting with the inter-war years and the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, it examines how the war progressed by examining a number of key events': 
Taken from: VSI WW2
  1. The inter-war years
  2. World War II begins
  3. War in the West: 1940
  4. Barbarossa: the German invasion of the Soviet Union
  5. Japan expands its war with China
  6. The turning tide: autumn 1942-spring 1944
  7. Developments on the home front and in technical and medical fields
  8. Allied victory, 1944-5
COLD WAR: 1950 – 89
Australian War Memorial: Australia and the Cold War: 1949-1955
The Cold War: History in an Hour Rupert Colley 
'From the end of World War Two to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia and America eyed each other with suspicion and hostility as the world lived in the shadow of the Cold War. As post-war Europe was rebuilt, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin struggled to maintain peace among the former Eastern and Western Allies. Two ideologies, two political systems, two cultures, two superpowers became entrenched in a fight for dominance, each firm in the belief that history would prove them right.' Taken from; The Cold War History in an Hour
The Cold War: A Very Short Introduction—Robert McMahon
'….argues that the massive disorder and economic ruin following the Second World War inevitably predetermined the scope and intensity of the Cold War. But why did it last so long? And what impact did it have on the United States, the Soviet Union, Europe, and the Third World? Finally, how did it affect the broader history of the second half of the twentieth century — what were the human and financial costs? This VSI addresses all of these questions as it explores the key players, developments and dimensions of the Cold War era'.
Taken from: VSI COLD WAR Contents
  1. World War II and the destruction of the old order
  2. The origins of the Cold War in Europe, 1945–50
  3. Towards 'Hot War' in Asia, 1945–50
  4. A global Cold War, 1950–8
  5. From confrontation to detente, 1958–68
  6. Cold wars at home
  7. The rise and fall of superpower detente, 1968–79
  8. The final phase, 1980–90
See Australian War Memorial  Korean War, 1950-53
The Korean War: History in an Hour: Andrew Mulholland Level 1&2
'Bringing together the military mights of the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United Nations States, the Korean War raged for three years from 1950 to 1953. Not only the result of a carving of Korean territories following the Pacific conflicts of the Second World War, it was also a battle of ideologies as General MacArthur's American military forces occupied the southern half and Stalin's Soviet forced supported the northern half'. Taken from Korean War History in Hour
See Australian War Memorial   Vietnam War 1962–75
The Vietnam War: History in an Hour by Neil Smith 
'...... the most important Cold War-era conflict fought between the United States and the Viet Cong, the Vietnam People's Army and their Communist allies. It was one of the most traumatic military conflicts America has ever been involved in – and provoked a backlash of anti-war protests at home'.
GULF WAR & IRAQ 1990-91
See Australian War Memorial  Gulf War & Iraq
From AWM: 'On 2 August 1990 Iraq invaded its rival oil-exporting neighbour Kuwait. The invasion was widely condemned, and four days later the United Nations (UN) Security Council unanimously approved a trade embargo against Iraq. A blockade of Iraq’s access to the sea followed within weeks, as the United States assembled a large multinational task force in the Persian Gulf, while another was formed in Saudi Arabia.'
See Australian War Memorial   Second Gulf war
From AWM: 'On 20 March 2003, a combined force of American, British and Australian troops under US leadership invaded Iraq in what was termed "the Second Gulf War". Their object was to locate and destroy suspected weapons of mass destruction.'
See Australian War Memorial   Post9/11 Afghanistan and Iraq 
From AWM: 'On 20 March 2003, a combined force of American, British and Australian troops under US leadership invaded Iraq in what was termed "the Second Gulf War". Their object was to locate and destroy suspected weapons of mass destruction.'