In the jungles of Vietnam, a familiar ally helped carry the burden of conflict. Australian and New Zealand soldiers served with great distinction in the war, further cementing the legacy of the ANZAC’s.
The first joint coalition of Australian and New Zealand troops serving under a single banner occurred during World War I. Formed as the Australian/New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), this unit served as an expeditionary force for the Allies in the Mediterranean. The first combat action ANZAC troops experienced was during the failed campaign at Gallipoli. With the Ottoman Empires entry into World War I, the Allied leaders wanted to strike against the Turkish capital. The Dardanelles, the narrow strait connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara, was an important chokepoint for the Allied and Central Power naval forces operating in the Black Sea. ANZAC troops fought alongside British, Indian, and Newfoundland soldiers in their attempt to seize the Gallipoli Peninsula. While the Turks were able to maintain control over the peninsula, the Allied withdrawal from the peninsula preserved its dignity and is still celebrated in Australia and New Zealand.
Australian and New Zealand troops fought in World War II as a joint coalition. During the Battle of Greece, divisions from New Zealand and Australia were combined to form the ANZAC Corps. Forced to retreat from Greece, ANZAC troops were sent to strengthen the defense of Crete. The German invasion of Crete was met with stiff resistance by the forces of the British Commonwealth. Despite the valorous attempt to hold the island, ANZAC forces were again forced to retreat, escaping by ship to Alexandria in Egypt. While no longer a combined corps, Australian and New Zealand troops continued to fight in North Africa, helping defeat the German and Italian assault and driving them from the continent.
The forces of Australia and New Zealand combined yet again during the Vietnam War. New Zealand infantrymen were integrated into the Royal Australian Regiment, forming ANZAC battalions. These troops continued the legacy of the ANZAC heritage, performing great feats of valor and heroism on the battlefield in Vietnam. After the Vietnam War, Australians and New Zealand troops formed the ANZAC Battle Group for operations in Timor Leste as part of Operation Astute from 2006-2013.
The ANZAC legacy continues into the 21st century. As part of an international training partnership with the English-speaking militaries, Australian and New Zealand troops participate in ABCA (America, Britain, Canada, ANZAC) training operations.