ANZAC is the acronym for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps was a World War 1 army corps of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force which was formed in Egypt in 1915 and operated during the Battle of Gallipoli.
The corps was disbanded in 1916 following the evacuation of Gallipoli. The corps is best remembered today as the source of the acronym ANZAC which has since become a term, “Anzac”, for a person from Australia or New Zealand.
At the outset the corps comprised only one complete division, the Australian 1st Division. In addition there were the New Zealand Infantry Brigade and two mounted brigades — the Australian 1st Light Horse Brigade (1st LH) and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade (NZMR). Another convoy transporting an Australian infantry brigade (the 4th) and two light horse brigades arrived shortly afterwards. Initially the brigades were arranged by combining the two extra infantry brigades into the “New Zealand Division” and the mounted brigades into the “Mounted Division” but this was deemed unsatisfactory.
Instead the New Zealand and Australian Division was formed with the two infantry brigades plus two mounted brigades (1st LH and NZMR). The remaining light horse brigades became corps troops. These two divisions would remain the core of ANZAC for the duration of its existence.
Despite being synonymous with Australia and New Zealand, ANZAC was a multi-national body. In addition to the many British officers in the corps and division staffs, ANZAC contained at various times :
– the 7th Brigade of the Indian Mountain Artillery (corps artillery)
– the Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps (150 men, corps troops)
– the Zion Mule Corps (transport)
– two half-brigades (4 battalions) of the Royal Naval Division
– the British 13th (Western) Division
– one brigade of the British 10th (Irish) Division
– the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade
The Gallipoli campaign was a costly failure for the Allies, with an estimated 27,000 French, and 115,000 British and dominion troops (Great Britain and Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Newfoundland) killed or wounded. Over half these casualties (73,485) were British and Irish troops.
I will be chastised for this but reading more it seems:
Somehow the impression has taken root that in that terrible Battle of Gallipoli (1915) only the Anzac troops fought and suffered in Turkey. The reality is different, but the overwhelming attention that Australia and New Zealand place on Gallipoli is understandable – see below.
The Battle of Gallipoli took place on a small peninsula on two, later three, different battlefields, not far from each other. On one of these fields merely Anzac soldiers (from Australia and New Zealand) fought – and died. In the other two places British and French troops took the Turkish blow.
The casualty figures give a good understanding of who suffered:
- Australia: 18.500 wounded and missing – 7,594 killed.
- New Zealand : 5,150 wounded and missing – 2,431 killed.
- British Empire (excl. Anzac) : 198,000 wounded and missing – 22,000 killed.
- France : 23,000 wounded and missing – 27,000 killed.
- Ottoman Empire (Turkey) : 109,042 wounded and missing – 57,084 killed.
- Furthermore 1.700 Indians died in Gallipoli, plus an unknown number of Germans, Newfoundlanders and Senegalese.
While most of the Australian Imperial Force went to France in 1916, the bulk of Australia’s mounted forces remained in Egypt to fight the Turks threatening the Suez Canal. After 1916 the threat to the canal was over, and with victory at Romani in August 1916, the Light Horse advanced into Turkish territory. In 1917 they entered Palestine and in 1918 advanced into Jordan and Syria. The campaign ended on 31 October 1918, a few weeks after the capture of Damascus.
So began Australia’s very long and proud association with Israel.
This is very well worth reading a history few outside of Australia know of..