Gallipoli and the Anzacs

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Anzac: a national heirloom

Applications to use the word ‘Anzac’

The Gallipoli campaign of 1915 made the word ‘Anzac’ instantly recognisable throughout Australia and New Zealand. Even before the evacuation of Gallipoli, individuals, organisations and businesses began to use the word for a variety of purposes. Some uses were purely personal, such as those who wished to name children Anzac; others wanted to give this name to their homes in memory of a son, brother or relative who had been on Gallipoli. Organisations, such as those raising money or preparing comforts for the troops, wanted to incorporate the name Anzac into their title. Businesses looked to attract custom by using the word to describe a product or in the name of the business itself. Then there were those who wished to copyright some article which was associated with Anzac – songs, photographs, cards, designs etc.

Thomas Drane’s handwritten request letter to use the name ‘Anzac’ for his son

George ‘Anzac’ Drane, Forbes New South Wales. Mr Thomas Drane wrote that he had been the first man to voluneer from Forbes, and he requested permission to call his first-born baby, George ‘Anzac’ . He was informed that ‘there is no legal objection to the use of the word “Anzac” in the naming of children’. [Item 29/3484, Part 19, a432/66, National Archives of Australia]... Read a transcript of Mr Drane’s letter.

In 1916, concerned that the word Anzac might be misused, especially by commercial concerns, the Commonwealth Government issued ‘Paragraph (2)’ of the ‘War Precautions (Supplementary) Regulation’. This prohibited the use of the word in any ‘trade, business, calling or profession’. By the time the regulation appeared, many people had already begun using the word to describe a business or a product. Some now sought permission to continue using it because they had gone to some expense to have stationary printed or signs made.

Members of the public often reported breaches of the regulation to either the police or the Commonwealth Attorney General's Department. The staff at the Attorney General’s Department administered the regulation rigorously, and later amendments to the ‘War Precautions Act’ prevented even Gallipoli veterans from naming their homes ‘Anzac’.

In the collections of the National Archives of Australia there are many files dealing with applications to use the word Anzac or to copyright material associated with Gallipoli and the remembrance of the campaign. These files sometimes contain the actual object for which the applicant sought copyright or permission to use the word. Each file also contains material relating to the decision of the Attorney General concerning the case. This section of the site features some of that material.

‘Day by day – a national heirloom’

Facsimile of newspaper article titled 'Day by Day' which discusses use of the word 'Anzac'

The undated newspaper article above regarded the word ‘Anzac’ as ‘a national heirloom’. [National Archives of Australia]

Amongst the National Archives of Australia files is an undated newspaper article which relates to public concern about the use of the word Anzac.


The Acting Attorney-General, Mr Mahon, has done the right thing in reserving the word “Anzac” as a national heirloom by refusing applications to register it for trade purposes. We do not want the Anzac Hotel in every town of the Commonwealth, where its sign board would inevitably arise but for the Minister’s prohibition. The Anzac Liver Pill would have been a sordid certainty, and the Anzac brand of tea would rise up and perpetuate the referendum light with Anzac whisky. Fortunately we are to be spared all this vulgar bill posting on the monument “more durable than brass” that Australian valor has raised at such awful cost. But the naming children is another question. Unfortunately, the persons who will have to bear the name of Anzac have no say in the matter. A question has already arisen as to whether Anzac is a more appropriate name for a girl or a boy, and probably both sexes will have to bear the burden of it. This the Government need not interfere with, but it has power to refuse registration of the name as a trade mark or sign of any kind, and by exercising that power the enterprising salesman who might otherwise secure a monopoly of the use of the word will be very properly blocked. The word Anzac is coined out of material more precious than gold, and it is a coinage which no one should be allowed to debase.