In 1914, The Rocks and Millers Point was a hard, working class area condemned as a slum. The State Government had taken possession of the area in 1901, planning to demolish and reconstruct the neighbourhood, but the war intervened.
Most men who volunteered to join the Australian Imperial Forces were unskilled labourers. The thought of overseas travel and fighting for the British Empire was more exciting than hard work and poor pay at home. As well as the thrill of adventure there was the element of bravado. They were tough and wanted to prove that Australians were not only loyal to King and Country but keen to establish a heroic image for the young Australian nation.
More than 340 men and women who lived in The Rocks and Millers Point enlisted in the AIF and served in four theatres of war; New Guinea, Middle East, Gallipoli and the Western Front. Of these, 69 lost their lives.
- 77 married men, many with children.
- 62 returned; 36 were discharged medically unfit
- 13 died
- 2 men deserted the AIF and their families
- 261 single men
- 14 were over 40, and 23 were only 18
- 4 boys who were under age lied to join up
- 55 died
- 9 deserted and were never heard from again
- 5 Widowers
- 3 came home, all medically unfit
- 1 was killed, 1 deserted
- 3 men were made prisoners of war
- At least 50 families had more than one man serving in the AIF, many were brothers
- Members of several extended families served; for example 14 men, including a father and son, were descended from the Byrne family of Cumberland Street
- 2 women joined the Australian Army Nursing Corps and served overseas
- Two Distinguished Conduct Medals
- Four Mentions in Despatches
- One Meritorious Service Medal
- Seven Military Medals
- One soldier was awarded both the Military Medal and the Distinguished Conduct Medal