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.

General William Riddell Birdwood near Hill 60, October 1915 General William Riddell Birdwood, General Officer Commanding, Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACS), near Hill 60 in October, 1915.
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Following the allied withdrawal from Gallipoli and the expansion of Australian and New Zealand forces in Egypt early in 1916, the ANZAC was split into two new formations called I ANZAC Corps and II ANZAC Corps – despite the repetition of the word Corps in their name. These formations, I ANZAC Corps comprising three Australian divisions and II ANZAC Corps made up of the 4th and 5th Australian divisions and the New Zealand Division, were transferred to France and fought on the Western Front until 1917, when the five Australian formations were grouped into a single Australian Corps. Also in March 1916, the ANZAC Mounted Division was formed from three Australian Light Horse Brigades and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade for service in Sinai and Palestine. In 1916 – 1917 a joint signals unit, the 1st (ANZAC) Wireless Signal Squadron, operated with the British expeditionary force in Mesopotamia (now Iraq).

In the Second World War, a new ANZAC was formed during the short Greek campaign of April 1941 when the 6th Australian Division and the New Zealand Division were joined under command of the headquarters of I Australian Corps (redesignated as ANZAC Corps).

Proposals for the formation of an "ANZAC" Brigade during the Korean War came to nothing, but in the Vietnam conflict New Zealand infantry companies were attached to Australian battalions which were then designated as ANZAC battalions.

Source

  • Peter Dennis et al., The Oxford companion to Australian military history (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1995)

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