The Australian Numismatic Society


Mysteries of ANZAC banknotes

By Shlomo Tepper
Translated by Amos Fabian

During the early stages of the war, Australian forces operated in Iraq, and a portion of the Australian airborne corps assisted the British forces in the region. Some of the Australian POWs, who died in Turkish captivity, are also buried in Iraq.
The corps included 16 Australian battalions, four New Zealand battalions and a few soldiers from India and Nepal. The soldiers left Egypt on March 7, 1915 and sailed to Gallipoli in 150 ships. The goal of the invasion of Gallipoli was twofold: to confine the Turkish army to Gallipoli, thus easing the pressure on German troops in the western front by Germany sending reinforcements to the Turkish troops, and to conquer Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire.
The corps landed in Gallipoli on April 25, 1915 and fought difficult battles against the Turkish army. The number of fatalities was huge. About 36,000 soldiers from the British expeditionary force died in the Gallipoli campaign. ANZAC suffered 8,000 dead and 18,000 injured. British high command realized within a few months, that the price is hefty and there are slim chances to penetrate Turkish army lines and advance toward Constantinople, and decided to withdraw. The corps withdrew from Gallipoli in two waves, the first on Dec. 9-10, 1915; the second in January 1916.
The Australian and New Zealander soldiers returned to Egypt and trained in advance of the invasion of Palestine. On Jan. 9, 1917, British and ANZAQ troops headed toward Palestine, under the command of General Edmund Allenby. The army stopped south of Gaza, near the villages of Rafah (probably Rafiach), Khan Yunis and Deir al-Balah. On Oct. 31, 1917, Beer Sheva was conquered, followed by Jerusalem on Dec. 9, 1917. Limited military operations took place between December 1917 and September 1918. Such operations intensified in September 1918 and concluded with the truce signed on Dec. 12, 1918. While the battles ended, Palestine remained under military rule until determining its political status. During the San Remo conference, April 25, 1920, Britain was given a mandate over Eretz Israel.

Disagreements and Conclusions Concerning the ANZAC Banknotes


These were banknotes worth 10 shillings and 1 pound sterling, overprinted in Turkish using Arabic letters. On the 10-shillings overprint, the Turkish stated that the banknote was worth 60 Turkish pennies in silver' while the 1 pound sterling banknotes stated it was worth 120 Turkish pennies in silver (There was a difference between money with golden nominal values vs. silver nominal values). The banknotes included the signature of John Bradbury and the banknotes were shipped from London to Malta and Alexandria.

Time of Issuance

According to Haim Langelban, in a publication by the Association of Banknotes, Coins and Medal Collectors in Israel, issuance took place one day after ANZAC soldiers landed in Gallipoli, i.e. April 26, 1915.
According to British Treasury document number T1/11863, the issuance was executed in May-June 1915. This version supports the answer Shlomo Tepper received from Dr. John Bullen of the Imperial War Museum in London, Dec. 12, 2001. Dr. Bullen examined Inland Revenue documents and found that the issuance took place on May 21, 1915. His letter further supports the claim that the banknotes were shipped to Malta and Alexandria.

Purpose of Issuance

The Gallipoli front, since they had no military canteens, to purchase whatever they need from local residents.According to Benjamin White, in his book "The Currency of the Great War, published in 1921, these banknotes were issued after the British received a protectorate over Egypt in December 1914, for the use of the whole British army in conquered territories.

Duration of Use of the Banknotes

The soldiers interviewed by Fred Philipson recounted different versions as to the duration of the use of these banknotes. One soldier stated that the banknotes were distributed to them in Gallipoli but collected from them 3 days later, when it became clear that they couldn't come in contact with the locals in warzones. Another soldier stated they were never paid while in Gallipoli for lack of canteens or local stores in the warzones. He said they were paid upon return to Egypt in Egyptian currency. In other words, there were no "Gallipoli banknotes." A third soldier, an officer, stated that banknotes were distributed in Gallipoli but removed from circulation a week later, when it became clear that the Gallipoli battles will not lead to desired results and what he termed "the Gallipoli episode" was temporary.

Where the Banknotes were Used

According to a number of soldiers, the banknotes were to be used in the Gallipoli front. One soldier said they were used not in Gallipoli but in Palestine after it was conquered in the beginning of 1918. Arnold Keller, in his book "Das Papiergeld des Ersten Weltkrieges," published in Berlin- Wittenau in 1957, claimed that the banknotes were used since 1916, first in Gallipoli and then in Iraq and Palestine.
According to official document number 73A, published by the British government in Palestine on Dec. 12, 1918 and signed by Herbert Samuel, a wide variety of European payment methods were allowed to be used (French, German, Italian, English), alongside Egyptian and Turkish payment methods (see  Sylvia Haffner, The History of Modern Israel's Money 1917-1970, first published in 1967, page 166). Among the English banknotes mentioned was the pound sterling worth 97.50 Egyptian pennies, and a one-shilling banknote worth 1.85 Egyptian pennies. There was no mention of the existence of overprinting English banknotes of any kind.


The existence of banknotes worth 10 shillings and 1 pound sterling, overprinted in Turkish, is a fact.
Seemingly, some of the ANZAC soldiers received these banknotes, but they were not used for lack of local residents in warzones with whom they could trade. These banknotes were probably issued not just for the use of ANZAC soldiers, but for all of the soldiers serving under His Majesty King George V, who appears on these banknotes, throughout the region conquered from Turkey. British Treasury document number T1/11863T clearly stated that the banknotes were for the use of the British Navy and Land Expeditionary Force in the Middle East. The document stated that issuance was executed because of shortage in payment methods in occupied areas and it stands to reason that the issuance took place May-June 1915. If they were used in Egypt, it was only for a short while because a decision was made to use Egyptian money, while in Palestine they were just one payment method among others, not the most important one. Philipson thought that a few of these banknotes remained with the battalions' adjutancy, received in Gallipoli and, perhaps, used in Palestine. Egyptian payment methods were more popular in Egypt and Palestine.


The "Gallipoli Banknotes" or "ANZAC Banknotes," probably received these nicknames later because they were first sent to ANZAC soldiers in Gallipoli. Regardless of whether the banknotes were in use, it was definitely a unique issuance, rare numismatic items for banknote\ collectors.
"The Standard Catalog of World Paper Money," 4th edition, catalogued the banknotes (without overprinting) as follows: 107 – 10 shilling banknote, 108 – a banknote of 1 pound sterling.
These banknotes were mentioned in the Turkish department, titled: "Banknotes under British Occupation during WWI" (these banknotes included the Turkish overprinting) numbered as follows: M1 – a 10-shilling banknote, M2 – a banknote of 1 pound sterling.

Sylvia Haffner, The History of Modern Israel’s Money 1917-1970, 1976
Samuel Lachman, Some Remarks about the Galipoli Notes, IBNS, Vol. 15, no. 3, 1976
Fred Philipson, Research on the Galipoli Notes, IBNS, Vol. 10, no. 4, 1971
Fred Philipson, More Remarks on the Galipoli Notes Issue, IBNS, vol.15 no. 4, 1976
Letter - Dr. John Bullen, Imperial War Museum, London, to Shlomo Tepper, 12 12.01
Letter - Malcolm Shemmonds, Bank of England, to Shlomo Tepper, 17.12.01

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20th September 2014