The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) was a First World War army corps of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. It was formed in Egypt in December 1914, and operated during the Battle of Gallipoli. General William Birdwood commanded the corps, which comprised troops from the First Australian Imperial Force and 1st New Zealand Expeditionary Force. The corps disbanded in 1916, following the Allied evacuation of the Gallipoli peninsula and the formation of I ANZAC Corps and II ANZAC Corps. The Corps was reestablished, briefly, in the Second World War during the Battle of Greece in 1942.
As to the origin of the word Sir Ian Hamilton in his foreword to “Crusading at Anzac,” claims to have been “The man who first, seeking to save himself trouble, omitted the five full stops of the official designation of the Corps and brazenly coined the word Anzac.” Credit for the introduction of the word is also claimed by General Birdwood, who has said “When I took over the command of the Australian and New Zealand Corps in Egypt, I was asked to select a telegraphic-code address and adopted the name Anzac.” According to the Australian official war-history, a British Army Service Corps officer, Lieut. A.T. White, Superintending Clerk at the Australian and New Zealand Corps headquarters at Cairo, first suggested the name for telegraphic code purposes as an abbreviation of the long, cumbrous title, and a staff-officer, taking it from him, proposed it to General Birdwood. The heroic feats of the Australians and New Zealanders on Gallipoli made Anzac a term of the highest honour, specially associated with the Dardanelles operations. It had eventually to be officially notified that “Anzac” was restricted to men who had fought at Gallipoli; owing to the loose way people in general used the word often for Australians and New Zealanders who had never been there at all.
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Glossary of terms and customs
This page forms part of our glossary of words and phrases of the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom of Great Britain during the Great War, which also includes: technicalities, trench slang, expressions in everyday use, nicknames, sobriquets, the titles and origins of British and Commonwealth Regiments, and warfare in general. Please feel free to help expand and improve this content.
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