ANZAC program to run four years|
The Royal Australian Mint has launched a four-year coin program to celebrate the centenary of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC).
World War I was the first time Australian and New Zealand troops served together as a distinct unit within the British Army. The troops had been on their way to Europe in early 1915 when a decision was taken to divert them to Egypt. The British High Command had learned from the Canadian Expeditionary Force that it was not a great idea to have troops pitch camp on Salisbury Plain in an English winter.
It had been intended to name the new corps the Australasian Army Corps. Protests from New Zealand saw this name changed to Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. When administration clerks found that title too cumbersome it was quickly abbreviated to ANZAC. And so it has remained, with forces from both countries frequently serving alongside one another as recently as 2006.
The blooding of the ANZACs came not at the Western Front but at the Çanakkale Peninsula in the Dardanelles, better known as Gallipoli.
Subsequently, King George V reflected, “The Australian and New Zealand troops have indeed proved themselves worthy sons of the Empire.”
Down Under the centenary is a major item to be reflected upon over the coming four years. The RAM’s Anzac Centenary Commemorative Coin Program has been developed in partnership with the Australian War Memorial and the Department of Veterans Affairs. It centers on the history, service and sacrifice of Australians at war and will, “not only commemorate one hundred years since the First World War but also other significant events that have occurred over the last one hundred years and beyond.”
The first issue is a triangular, proof 22.23 gram .999 fine silver Lest We Forget $5 with a mintage of 10,000. The reverse design by Aleksandra Stokic shows poppies growing in Flanders Fields and provides a backdrop to the poignant words of Robert Laurence Binyon: AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.
The official launch of the $5 coin and the ANZAC coin program took place on the evening of March 27. Prior to the launch the media was invited on to the factory floor to watch the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, The Hon Steve Ciobo, strike the first triangular coin.
Mr Ciobo observed, “This is a fitting way to pay homage to all Australians who served in not only the First World War, but over a century of service. The actions of these brave Australian men and women during the critical years of 1914-1918 will not be forgotten; they helped to shape the nation we are today.”
The launch was attended by Senator the Honorable Michael Ronaldson, Minister for Veteran’s Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Centenary of ANZAC, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston AC, AFC (Ret’d) and Australian War Memorial Director Dr. Brendan Nelson.
A special aluminum-bronze ANZAC Aussie dollar was placed in circulation in February. The RAM was at pains to make it clear this dollar was not part of the official ANZAC commemorative coin program nor would it be available for purchase. However, the coin has since become part of an Australia Post PNC. Collectors seeking one could do worse that try Australia Post collectables (http://shop.auspost.com.au/stamp-coin-collectables) although the PNC will set you back AUD15.95 plus postage and handling.
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