According to this article, by 1917 the Victorian town of Beech Forest had halved it's original population of around 250 people. Leading up to this time, nearly 100 residents from this farming town in Victoria's Otway region had left to fight with the Australian Imperial Forces in Europe.

From the ABC News article: 

Private Ernest Hall was the son of dairy farmers and was 19 when he left rural Victoria for the war. 

"I have seen a few of the men [from Beech Forest] that came before me, but it is like looking for a needle in a haystack — there are thousands of men here," he wrote from Egypt in February 1916.

Key points from the article: 

  • Beech Forest, like other regional communities, struggled as the Great War progressed
  • Local agriculture suffered from a lack of working-age men and key events were cancelled
  • The war's impact was felt most directly when letters arrived informing the town of deceased servicemen

The full article can be viewed here.