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Thursday, 15 May 2008
Anzac v ANZAC
Topic: Gen - Legends

A Legend from Misunderstanding

Anzac v ANZAC


Now the intentional institutional changes to our language and ultimately, our history.

In house, 10 years ago, the AWM began the policy of capitalising the word Anzac to become ANZAC, both grammatically and spelling wise incorrect. However, this is the policy. Here is the official version of this policy as given to me in response to my query by the regarding this very issue:

"But to pass on to your main point: whether to write "ANZAC" or "Anzac".

"The instances of "ANZAC" you adduce in this document are neither "typos" nor evidence of a "policy to redefine history", but rather simply examples of the author and his editor following a particular house style. All institutions have house styles: they are necessary to provide consistency and a professional look for the institution's various publications. Now, ANZAC (all caps) is the Memorial's preferred style for this word, and this is what individual writers or editors for the Memorial's publications must adhere to, regardless of their personal views.

"Even book titles need to conform to an institution's house style; to take the example you quote, even though a publisher may have The Shores of Gallipoli: Naval Aspects of the Anzac Campaign (or even THE SHORES OF GALLIPOLI: NAVAL ASPECTS OF THE ANZAC CAMPAIGN) on the title page, it is quite acceptable editorial practice to make this The shores of Gallipoli: naval aspects of the ANZAC campaign in a list of references. (Otherwise you might end up with differing styles in the same list.)"

Well that leaves me speechless. Had I not seen it with my own eyes I would not have believed it. Basically the AWM has taken it upon itself to redefine the English language and shape it into its own mould. What was acceptable English usage a decade ago has now suddenly been expunged. It is the AWM "in house" policy to capitalise Anzac regardless of context and in so doing, change the titles of books. Here is an example at:


Their entry reads:

C.E.W. Bean, "The Story of the ANZAC", Official History of Australia in the War 1914-1918 vol 1 and vol 2

"The Story of Anzac" is the original title.

This indicates that the person who made the entry does not understand that Bean meant his title to refer to 'Anzac' - the PLACE - but instead thinks he meant to refer to the army corps ("The ANZAC'). Whatever the person though, however, altering others' work on that basis. Bean knew what he meant to write. So instead of the word "Anzac" in Bean's book, for the purposes of conformity with the web site in house operation, it is now "ANZAC", a totally different concept to that portrayed by Bean in his book title. Indeed, this in house practice flies in the face of everything produced then an now. Very deliberate.

Of course, once this ball starts rolling, it compounds into unbelievable howlers. Here is a quote from the AWM [April 2008] email newsletter:

    Fri 25 March

    93rd anniversary of ANZAC Day

Apart from changing the date of Anzac Day, they have also changed its spelling. Yes, I accept that the date change is probably a typo, but it is a sloppy one born of the lack.

The renaming of Anzac Day is a bit strange because it celebrates the landings at Anzac Cove by the ANZAC forces who were known as Anzacs. It was a celebration of the Anzacs who landed, not the defunct military formation. A combination of hubris and lack of care.

There still is some contention as to whether it is the 93rd anniversary of the landing at Anzac by the Anzacs or the 92nd Anniversary of Anzac Day - the first Anzac day in some states was celebrated in 1915 when they renamed "8 Hour Day" for that year "Anzac Day" so it could still be the 93rd anniversary of Anzac Day.

One of the best articles produced on the subject was by Bruce Topperwien called 'The word "Anzac" '; which was published in Sabretache, the official journal of the Military Historical Society of Australia (MHSA), Melbourne, July - September 1997, pp. 33 - 36 which is extracted below.

I've heard from some people that the word 'Anzac' should always be spelled with capital letters, but others say it shouldn't be. What do you think about this? 

To say that 'Anzac' should always be spelled in capitals ignores both the rules of English grammar and the word's historical usage.

I use both forms, but for different purposes. I certainly do not believe that the word should always be capitalised, for any reason.

Insisting that the word should always be capitalised is implying that everybody in the past - including the Anzacs themselves - used the term incorrectly. This is insulting.

The full capitalisation is fine so long as it is actually the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps - that is, the army formation - being referred to. However, when 'Anzac' is used as a proper noun, as in 'Anzac Cove', 'Anzac Day', or 'the Anzacs', the word does not refer to the army formation but forms one of the other six uses of the term as identified by Dr. Charles Bean in the Official History of Australia in World War 1.

The following definitions of the word 'Anzac' are from Bean, C.E.W. The Official History of Australia In The War of 1914 - 1918 Vol 1. The Story Of Anzac p 609. [I have not changed any of the capitalisation from the original].

(1) Originally, code name for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (see p. 124) ;

(2) Name given to the beach where the A. & N.Z. Army Corps landed on Gallipoli;

(3) Official name of the two A. & N.Z. Army Corps in France (1st Anzac Corps, 2nd Anzac Corps) ;

(4) Term universally applied by British troops in France to the Australians and New Zealanders of the two Anzac Corps (the Anzacs);

(5) In Palestine, often used to denote men of the Anzac Mounted Division as distinguished from those of the Australian Mounted Division;

(6) In Australia (and eventually in the A.I.F.), used to denote Australians and New Zealanders who served on Gallipoli.
The generally accepted uses of the term are (1), (2), (3), and (6).

Clearly Bean has indicated that while originally the term ANZAC was, as is well known, a short-hand way of referring to the actual army corps, a new word - 'Anzac' - sprang from this which almost immediately evolved to have different meanings and uses.

Most authors since 1915 have used the proper noun 'Anzacs' or 'Anzac' to refer to the troops, the sector of Gallipoli and the actual cove.

It's ludicrous for anybody now to suggest that each and every one of these writers used the term incorrectly because they did not entirely capitalise it, and insulting to imply that they didn't know any better - but that 'we' do.

Consider exactly who used or uses the noun 'Anzac' :

The official Australian historian, Dr. Charles Bean;
The official British and New Zealand historians;
The Australian Imperial Force and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in their official documents;
Those who wrote articles for the RSL in Reveille and other returned servicemen's magazines;
Those who wrote the unit histories (Australian, New Zealand and English);
Those that have written for the Australian War Memorial's Journal; the Gallipolian magazine; the Army Journal; the Defence Force Journal; the New Zealand Defence Quarterly and others.
Other authors on the subject (including French, Americans, Canadians and Turks);
All the newspapers of the day;
The Macquarie, Oxford and Collins dictionaries;
The compilers of the Imperial War Graves Commission's cemetery registers.
ALL used 'Anzac' when referring to the place, the holiday, or the men. They did not fully capitalise the proper noun because not only would that be an incorrect use of the term, it would also be incorrect use of basic grammar.
Almost every writer since 1915 has accepted that the word has different facets representing different concepts, that it is a word - a proper noun (or in some cases an adjective) - and we all (should) know that neither a proper noun nor an adjective is ever entirely capitalised.

Fully-capitalised acronyms may be used as words in order to avoid confusion with a word of the same spelling and pronunciation if that word already exists (for example PIN or AIDS - both these words - 'pin' and 'aids' already existed, so retaining the capitalisation for the new acronym helps avoid confusion). Obviously this is not the case with 'Anzac'. The word was invented in 1915, so there was no chance of confusion with an already-existing word (other examples of acronyms which evolved into nouns in the same way are 'Qantas', 'Fiat', 'scuba', 'laser' and 'radar'). The fully-capitalised acronym ANZAC refers only to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

It should not be used when referring to the sector at Gallipoli (the Anzac sector), the soldiers (the Anzacs), the name of the cove (Anzac Cove), the national holiday in Australia and New Zealand (Anzac Day), and it should not be used when writing of the Campaign Honours Landing at Anzac, Defence of Anzac and Withdrawal from Anzac.

To fully capitalise 'Anzac' in any of these cases is both historically and grammatically incorrect. The fully capitalised 'ANZAC' refers only to the army formation which came into existence in 1915 and which was disbanded in early 1916, and that's how I use it on this site. That's how almost every writer has used it since 1915.

From Hart's Rules, Oxford University Press 1983:

"As a general rule, abbreviations and contractions should be followed by a full point unless the shortened form consists [entirely] of upper-case initials or is a recognized acronym pronounced as a single word: thus print BBC, HMS, OUP, PAYE, PLC, SDP, SPCK, TUC, WEA; Anzac, Aslib, Fiat, Naafi (or NAAFI). Abbreviations and contractions consisting of a mixture of upper and lower case take full points, as in I.o.W. (Isle of Wight), Bt. (Baronet), Kt. (Knight), Ltd. (Limited), St. (Street), and university degrees (D.Litt., D.Phil., Ph.D., etc.); exceptions to be made for Dr (Doctor), Revd (Reverend; not Rev), Mr, Mrs, Mme, Mlle, St (Saint); here full points are not required."

I have increasingly often seen quotes taken from Bean and other authors where those doing the quoting - either in a magazine article, on a web site, or in a book - have capitalised the word 'Anzac' when it was NOT capitalised in the original document. I can only conclude that this is done to back the author's contention that the word should always be written in capitals. At worst, this is deliberate deception, and at best, sloppy research.

Most people will never read the original documents or official histories, and it's only reasonable for them to expect to be able to trust authors to have quoted truly and accurately from them.

Following are extracts from sources which have correctly used the word 'Anzac':

Sydney Morning Herald - Anzac


"Anzac" in the Sydney Morning Herald, 18 August 1915, p. 13.

'Turkish prisoners at Anzac Cove. The name "Anzac" is made up of the initials in "Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The cove is just north of Gaba Tepe, and the troops all land there.'

Anzac Park, Nelson, NZ


Anzac Park, Nelson, New Zealand.

One of the reasons sometimes given for fully-capitalising Anzac is that it is 'disrespectful' to New Zealand not to. Seems New Zealanders haven't had a problem with it though. The card above shows 'Anzac Park', in the South Island city of Nelson.

2nd NZEF Anzac Spirit poster

The poster below shows a 2nd World War NZEF Recruiting Poster. Note that 'The Spirit of Anzac' is calling.


2nd NZEF Anzac Spirit poster


Royal Australian Mint, the 1999 $1.00 Anzac coin


Royal Australian Mint, the 1999 $1.00 Anzac coin detail on their pamphlet


From the Royal Australian Mint; the 1999 $1.00 Anzac coin pamphlet which uses the term both as capitalised and as a proper noun. Here 'Anzac' refers to the soldiers ('Anzacs'), and to the spirit - 'Anzac'

'Reveille', the RSL journal, 1936 


'Reveille', the RSL journal, 1936


Origin of word 'Anzac', no comment necessary - from 'Reveille', the RSL journal, 1936 (and written by a New Zealander).

The Anzac Day Commemoration Committee of Queensland


The Anzac Day Commemoration Committee of Queensland


From the Anzac Day Commemoration Committee of Queensland's 'Anzac Day 1921 - 1929'

Anzac Square sign, Brisbane


Anzac Square sign, Brisbane


While some in Queensland are insisting 'Anzac Square' in Brisbane is, and always has been, called 'ANZAC Square', they've been caught out because someone forgot to change the sign. Photographed 2007.

Army Form B. 103 (Casualty Form - Active Service)


Army Form B. 103 (Casualty Form - Active Service)


Extract from Army Form B. 103 (Casualty Form - Active Service) for Lieutenant Wilfred Bert Granger, 8th Battalion, AIF.
Died of Wounds at 'Anzac', 22nd August 1915. Buried Beach cemetery, Anzac.

Anzac Day 1916 commemoration at Winton, Queensland.


Anzac Day 1916 commemoration at Winton, Queensland.


Anzac Day 1916 commemoration at Winton, Queensland.
Note that in this photo 'Anzac' refers (in different signs) both to the sector at Gallipoli ('Quinn's Post, Anzac'),
AND to the holiday ('Anzac Day').

Were these men - who had been to Gallipoli - wrong, and the people who are pushing NOW, 92 years later,
to have 'Anzac' always fully-capitalised - right?


Anzac Day anthology and Anzac Gallipoli Landing

Anzac Day anthology and Anzac Gallipoli Landing


One for 'Anzac Day', one by 'a Returned Anzac'.

Anzacs in snow

Anzacs in snow postcard



Anzac Pier


Watson's Pier at 'Anzac Beach'


Watson's Pier at, according to the card, 'Anzac Beach'

Bruce Topperwien was a Director in the Legal Services Group of the Australian Department of Veteran's Affairs (which administers the Protection of word "Anzac" Regulations), when he wrote an article on this subject.

The article argues for the use of the historically correct 'Anzac' over the baseless assertion that 'Anzac' should always be written fully capitalised.

Reference for the article is:

Topperwien, B. 'The word "Anzac" ', Sabretache, published by the Military Historical Society of Australia (MHSA), Melbourne. July / September 1997, pp. 33 - 36.

The article may also be downloaded from Mr Topperwien's web site at:


See also the New Zealand Anzac Day site, maintained by the Heritage Group of the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs.


This section, 'The Anzacs', examines the development of the word 'Anzac' from the original acronym for 'Australian and New Zealand Army Corps'.

The above item was taken in toto with minor edits from Anzac officers died at Gallipoli, an excellent site produced by Bryn Dolan.


After reading this essay, no one should be left in any doubt as to the correct English usage of the terms. It also clearly demonstrates the hubris displayed by the AWM in this circumstance. It is not in the market to change language and create confusion but to promote understanding of an aspect of the Australian story.


Further Reading:

Myths and Legends

Great War, August 1914

Battles where Australians fought, 1899-1920


Citation: Anzac v ANZAC

Posted by Project Leader at 11:36 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 25 July 2010 12:18 PM EADT

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