07 August 2008

Weapons and Armies: ANZACs

By Anne Whitfield

In 1914, when England declared war, the people in its colonies followed the call to arms, despite being miles of oceans away. England was the mother country and they'd defend it to the death. And die they did, in the thousands.

The young men and women of Australia and New Zealand proudly served their countries in numerous wars, collectively the were known as the ANZACs.

The ANZAC Acronym

ANZAC is the acronym formed from the initial letters of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, the formation into which Australian and New Zealand soldiers were grouped in Egypt prior to the landing at Gallipoli in April 1915. First written as A. & N. Z. Army Corps, it soon became A. N. Z. A. C. and the new word was so obvious that the full stops were omitted. The word was initially used to refer to the cove where the Australians and New Zealanders landed and soon after, to the men themselves. An ANZAC was a man who was at the Landing and who fought at Gallipoli, but later it came to mean any Australian or New Zealand soldier of the First World War. An ANZAC who served at Gallipoli was given an A badge which was attached to his colour patch.

In later years the term ANZAC was applied to any man or women serving in any of the wars.

The Anzacs lost 8,000 men in Gallipoli and a further 18,000 were wounded. The Anzacs went on to serve with distinction in Palestine and on the western front in France. The Anzacs were in many of the major battles and were commended for their bravery and courage. Many times the Anzacs were the first soldiers sent into a battle or an occupied area by their British superior officers. They were thought to be expendable, but they soon showed the world how the men from the harsh pioneering countries had the endurance and spirit to overcome such a fearsome enemy.

Australia had a population of five million--330,000 served in the war, and 59,000 were killed. New Zealand with a population of one million lost 18,000 men out of 110,000 and had 55,000 wounded. These New Zealand figures (62%) represent the highest percentage of all units from the Anglo-Saxon world.

The picture above right is the Casualty clearing station, Menin Road, Belgium.

Every year Australians and New Zealand celebrate the mateship, the bond of our two countries that were united against a common enemy. April 25th is ANZAC Day, (the day the men landed at Gallipoli). It's a day when a whole nation comes together to remember those who fought for our freedom and those who made the greatest sacrifice of their lives.

Lest We Forget

For more information read on the ANZACS and their contribution to the fighting forces of world wars visit the following websites.
ANZAC France
Australian War Memorial