Syria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia – Been There, Freed That

Since January 2011 we have seen autocratic leaders deposed in Tunisia and Egypt. Currently facing threat are the leaders of Syria and Libya.

While hope is taken from witnessing movements driven by ‘the people’ in gaining self-determination, as a New Zealander I follow the news with a heavy heart.

New Zealand sacrifice and involvement has contributed to ‘liberating’ these counties once before; during the Second World War.

Bellow is a brief timeline of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force involvement with combined allied forces in North Africa during WWII.

Following is an  introduction to a some of the books written by New Zealanders involved, I hope that on Anzac Day 2011 it will contribute to the picture that continues to unfold for the descendants of these once ‘freed’ countries. All power to them in achieving something that really should have happened years ago.

2 NZEF timeline during the Campaign for North Africa in World War II 

The North African Campaign resulted in a total of 2989 New Zealanders dead, 7000 wounded and 4041 Prisoners of War.

Passage to Tobruk by F. Jackson | Pic Ink Eats Man Tripoli and Beyond by F. Martyn | Pic Ink Eats Man


23 February 1942, 2 NZEF moves from Egypt to assist in the protection of Syria and Lebanon from threat of German invasion via Turkey.

The German advance on Tobruk and imminent threat of a breakthrough to the Suez Canal prompts the recall of 2 NZEF, they drive 1500 km in under a week to stand at Egypt’s Western Desert.


31 August 1942 (approx finish), The First Battle of El Alamein, New Zealand casualties are 922 killed, 2080 wounded, 1819 POW.

21 November 1942 (approx finish), The Second Battle of El Alamein, New Zealand casualties are 380 killed, 1290 wounded and 41 POW.


4 February 1943, victory parade to celebrate the liberation of Libya. New Zealand casualties are 74 killed, 239 wounded and 8 POW.

2 NZEF has advanced an astounding 2000 km since the stand at El Alamein.


13 May 1943, the Italian and German commanders surrender to 2NZEF, ending the Battle for Tunisia, between 1 May and 13 May the NZ Division suffers a staggering 385 killed, 1284 wounded and 31 POW.

Fights & Furloughs by A. S. Helm | Pic Ink Eats Man Turning Point by M. Reid | Pic Ink Eats Man

The Books

Anzacs into Battle
by Tahu Hole
London, Hodder and Stoughton Limited 1942 (Jan.)

The Turning Point: With the New Zealand Engineers at El Alamein
by Murray Reid
Auckland, Collins Bros. and Co. Ltd
nd circa 1944

Tripoli and Beyond
by Furneaux Martyn
Auckland, Collins
nd circa 1944

Passage To Tobruk: the diary of a Kiwi in the Middle East
by Francis Jackson
Wellington, A. H. and A.W. Reed

Fights and Furloughs in the Middle East: A Story of Soldiering and Travel in Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Greece, Crete, Trans Jordan, Syria, Irak and Iran.
by A. SA. Helm
Christchurch, Whitcombe & Tombs Limited
nd circa 1946

Anzacs into Battle by T. Hole | Pic Ink Eats Man


A Kid Called Anzac

A kid called Anzac

In late 2004 when an Australian mum and her New Zealand partner named their son ‘Anzac’ a collective show of hubris clouded the intentions of the young parents from Melbourne.

Angry veterans were reported to have flooded the phone lines of the Victorian Returned and Services League to protest.

RSL state president Major-General David McLachlan insisted that the acronym had been used improperly, consequently “many veterans are unhappy this has occurred,” he said.

With an uncompromising attitude, Ben Furby, president of the New Zealand sub-branch of the RSL in Sydney said, “we don’t like the name being used light-heartedly… neither of the parents have been to war and seen friends killed – that’s the way I see it.”

Danna Vale, Australian Federal Minister for Veteran Affairs, initially acknowledging that children had been named Anzac after WWI, tempered this by saying “this was in the spirit of the times.” As the controversy teetered towards fever pitch Vale said she would speak to the RSL about what action could be taken to stop a child being christened Anzac.

It’s hard to say just how the “spirit” of Anzac had been compromised since WWI. The veterans’ hierarchy didn’t explain their point of view adequately, they certainly appeared out of touch with younger members of their community, the motives of the parents being completely misunderstood, despite the father being reported as saying, “Its not meant to be offend” and he himself “would be honoured if I was named Anzac.”

Fortunately the controversy was saved from extended debate following a Melbourne Herald Sun editorial siding with the parents, “how better to preserve the spirit of Anzac than to entrust it to the young.” After the newspaper conducted a poll in which 65% of the replies said parents were entitled to name a child Anzac, Major-General McLauchlan was reported to have “backed away” from Federal Minister Vale’s offer of intervention.

Anzac, the kid with the neat name would have started school last year. I hope his name is heard.

‘Anzac’ protected

The use of the word Anzac is governed beyond traditional Trade Mark and Copyright controls. In Australia and New Zealand it has been protected from commercial use by legislation.

In Australia the Veterans’ Affairs department governs the “Protection of Word ‘Anzac’ Regulations:

…no person may use the word ‘Anzac’, or any word resembling it, in connection with: any trade, business, calling or profession or in connexion with any entertainment or any lottery or art union or as the name or part of a name of any private residence, boat, vehicle of charitable or other institution, or other institution, or any building …

In New Zealand it is governed by the Internal Affairs department under the “Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act” which:

…prohibits the use in connection with any business, trade, or occupation of the word ‘Anzac’ or of any other word that so closely resembles the word ‘Anzac’ as to be likely to deceive or mislead any person. Every person commits an offence against this Act who uses the word ‘Anzac’ or any other word that so closely resembles the word ““Anzac”” as to be likely to deceive or mislead any person in contravention of any provision of an order made under subsection (1)…

It seems that both countries allow exceptions if advertising an event that occurs on Anzac Day itself, while legislation refers to ‘entertainment’ and in the Australian case, designated as a fund raiser, however I have seen plenty of ‘Anzac Sales’ advertised. Street names are generally exempt also, although it seems they should be near or contain a WWI or WWII memorial.

Enlistment Poster
Photo: Ink Eats Man

Historical Use

A New Zealand All-round Combination

A New Zealand All-round Cobination I Photo: Richard Wolfe

A New Zealand All-round Cobination I Photo: Richard Wolfe

Early attempts to cash in on Anzac fame have been documented by Richard Wolfe in his book Well Made New Zealand:

…a number of would-be businesses attempted to capitalise on the situation by registering ANZAC for a wide range of products. By comparison with dried fruit, polishing preparations, coal and cigars the ANZAC Magic Grease Exterminator, attempted by Douglas Chinnery Brown of Auckland, at least showed some imagination.

While these and many other applications went unapproved there was nothing to stop The Allies Hand Protector & Polisher proclaiming its product a New Zealand All-round Combination.

Poster Boys

During WWII New Zealand recruitment posters drew on the fame and gallantry of our forebears by using the phrase “The Spirit of Anzac Calls You.” They weren’t alone in recalling the famous WWI exploits of Australian and New Zealand soldiers. During the early years of the Second World War – before the entry of America – a 1941 Life magazine cover story profiled the Australian Imperial Forces and New Zealand Expeditionary Force in Egypt by introducing the “ANZAC CONQUERORS” to their readers.

Life magazine April 1941 | Pic: Ink Eats Man

Achtung Anzac

It has been a tradition for aircrew to name their aircraft, this proved no less the exception during the Second World War. Amongst the first Wellington bomber crews to leave New Zealand to form 76 Squadron was my work colleague’s father, Ivan Sullivan. He and his crew named their aircraft ‘ACHTUNG ANZAC.’ And just to inject more humour into the situation, the Hammer and Sickle emblem is reversed, the hammer head becoming a bomb, all this to poke fun at a Kiwi named ‘Ivan.’

Ivan Sullivan – far right
Photo: Sean Sullivan

What’s ‘is name

I’m not sure if the New Zealand actor Anzac Wallace was christened Anzac or if this is his stage name. Either way he has a great name and it looks so neat among a movie’s credits.

Anzac Biscuits

Recognised as a traditional recipe and as being part of both countries’ cultural landscape for many years, another exemption to the unlawful use of Anzac is in the name of the Anzac biscuit. Its use still carries strong recommendations however, for example under the Australian legislation:

It should be noted that approvals for the word ‘Anzac’ to be used on biscuit products have been given provided that the product generally conforms to the traditional recipe and shape, is not advertised in any way that would play on Australia’s military heritage, and is not used in association with the word ‘cookies’, with its non-Australian overtones.  For instance, an application for Anzac biscuits dipped in chocolate would not be approved as they would not conform with the traditional recipe.

Such is the popularity of the Anzac biscuit that for more than a decade now the Australian biscuit manufacturer, Unibic, has had a fund raising partnership with the RSL in Australia and the RNZRSA in New Zealand. The Anzac biscuit has been packaged with the respective organisation’s logo. Such is the fundraising potential for New Zealand Returned Services Association welfare programmes that the partnership was launched in March 2002 by then Prime Minister Helen Clarke, aboard HMNZS Te Kaha while berthed in Wellington.

Official Anzac Biscuits
Photo: Ink Eats Man


“Uproar over baby Anzac”
New Zealand Herald
– The Weekend Herald February 7-8 2004

Governing the use of Anzac
New Zealand: Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act

Australia: Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Act

Commercial Use
Wolfe, Richard Well Made New Zealand; a century of trademarks. Auckland, Reed Meuthuen 1987

Anzac Wallace

Anzac Biscuits
RSA Review April 2002

RSA Review April 2005