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With the centenary of the First World War upon us and the spotlight fixed on the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign it is a significant time for many Australians and New Zealanders to recall the military service of their ancestors. Some may take pride in the fact that an ancestor served at Gallipoli and was a soldier in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps whose members became known as Anzacs.
Research for a recent family history enquiry at the National Library revealed an ‘Anzac’ in the midst of search results totally unrelated to the original enquiry yet this ‘Anzac’ was not one that was expected.
As we know, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, from which the acronym ANZAC was derived, was formed only a century ago as part of our nations’ contribution to Great Britain’s fight against Germany and her allies. From their dawn landings on 25 April 1915 until their evacuation in December 1915, the actions and exploits of its soldiers, created a new sense of national pride and patriotic sentiment.
The name Anzac entered our lexicon and some enterprising people soon sought to use and capitalise on the sentiment that the name inspired. Yet the government, the military and a number of citizens soon had other thoughts and soon War Precautions Regulations made the word Anzac prohibited to be used for commercial purposes – cashing in on a national asset was made taboo.
Although the Regulations made illegal the use of the name for such enterprises as barber shops and bands as well as racehorses, it did not apparently apply to either pet lambs or our nation’s offspring.
Beginning in 1915 a number of wartime parents across Australia and New Zealand looked at their newborn offspring with pride and patriotism and christened them ‘Anzac’. Some children were similarly blessed with the names of the location of our soldiers’ exploits - ‘Gallipoli’, ‘Dardanelles’ or ‘Dardanella’. The vast majority received these as middle names yet a small number, including girls, received them as a first name and their lives would be forever in the shadow of the legend created at or near the time of their birth.
From the family history resources available at or through the National Library of Australia some numbers of these Australian-born Anzacs, Gallipolis and Dardanellas have been revealed:
In Victoria for instance, in 1915, seven children were given the name Anzac, one with the name Gallipoli and 24 with Dardanelles or a variation. However, 1916 was the boom year with 153 children named ‘Anzac’ before a rapid drop to just five in 1917, three in 1918, four in 1919 and four in 1920.
All other states also recorded the births of Anzacs with South Australia having 95 named children between 30 May 1915 and 25 April 1928. 24 registrations were made in 1915. This nearly doubled to 46 in 1916 but dropped to just two in 1917, eight in 1918, five in 1919 and a trickle of others to just one born on Anzac Day in 1928. In addition one child in South Australia in each of the years 1915, 1916 and 1918 was named Gallipoli whereas the name Dardanella or similar was given to 19, 43, 10 and four in each of the years 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1918 respectively.
Across the ditch in New Zealand there was a similar trend. In 1915 there were nine children named Anzac with two as first names, four with the name of Gallipoli (one as first name) and 38 with the name of Dardanelles, Dardanella or similar. The following year again saw a relative spike in numbers with 97 children now named Anzac (six as first name), four with the name Gallipoli (one as first) and 32 with the name of Dardanelles or a variation.
A few of our wartime children were blessed with a combination, including Thomas Anzac Gallipoli DOHERTY born in Roma, Queensland in April 1916; Anzac Gallipoli Claude Dudley WILTON born in 1916 in Narrabri, New South Wales; and Dardanella Anzac COX born in Kooringa, South Australia in May 1916.
And yes, there were at least two ‘Anzac Days’ ie: Robert Henry Anzac DAY born in Victoria in 1919 and Anzac Day GARDNER, born in Queensland in 1916.
Of course, those Anzacs who were born during the First World War were of age to enlist and serve their countries during the Second World War. Two of them paid the supreme sacrifice in that war – 22 year old Private Anzac Joseph PINDER who served with the 2nd AIF and was killed at Tobruk in North Africa in June 1941; and 23 year old Sergeant Anzac Piripi Tamihana LEWIS who served with the Royal New Zealand Air Force and died in May 1941.
Just as our original Anzac soldiers have now gone, many of the wartime children so-named in patriotic gesture would, near a century on, be also gone but hopefully not forgotten.
So, do you have an ‘Anzac’ in your family tree, a ‘Gallipoli’ as a forebear or relation, or even a little ‘Dardanelles’ or ‘Dardanella’ running around in your family’s recent past?