Soldier settlement was a key scheme in a suite of repatriation policies enacted in the aftermath of World War I. Across Australia thousands of returned men, including over 9,000 in New South Wales, took up the challenge and tried their luck on the land. Thousands failed. Through the voices of individual soldier settlers and using extensive and only recently released Department of Lands loan files, this article focuses on one aspect of the soldier settlement experience: their sense of moral economy. It argues that many soldier settlers drew on the labour movement's expectations of their rights and entitlements in an effort to deal with government bureaucracy within a context of failing markets, poor land and rising costs.