At the outbreak of WW1 Sargeant Keith Little left New Zealand, attached to General Godley’s staff as a clerk. He was there in Egypt on the arrival of General William Riddell Birdwood at Head Quarters in Cairo, Egypt 1914.
At the Headquarters of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Forces (MEF), there was a specific meeting to decide on the new code word for the new division. At that meeting Sgt. Little came up with the acronym of ANZAC.
When in later years there were questions about the attribution of the origin of the term, Keith Little wrote a letter from his home in Feilding that was included in the 1936 Australian Returned Services League’s ‘Reveille’ publication verifying the claim that he was responsible for the name.
“Regarding the passing of Major A. T. White, by my wartime friend Mr. H. J. MacLennan (Mac), is slightly out in attributing to White the coining of the word ‘Anzac’.
Present in the room in Shepheard’s at the time of the birth of the word were White, Garside, MacLennan, Frank Shaw, and myself.
Major Wagstaff or Colonel Leslie came in and told us to endeavour to hit upon a suitable word for a code address for our headquarters.
We set about the job in a listless fashion, and I distinctly remember the concoctions we produced, such as “Ausnew,” and various such combinations of the long-winded title.
It was while pondering on the business that I sorted out the letters (A.N.Z.A.C.), and made the suggestion to White that perhaps the word they formed would serve. At that moment, Leslie came into our room, and White offered the suggestion to him. He said, ‘Anzac!’ H’mm, sounds all right, I’ll see the General.’
He left to consult General Birdwood, and finally the name was adopted.”
Keith Little was a journalist after the war and settled in Feilding.
Feilding's Home Guard March during the 1950's, showing Keith Little front row left.
During World War II he became a commanding officer in Feilding’s Home Guard.
His obituary listed associations both business and social.
“He was agent for AA Wanganui - Feilding Branch; secretary of the Victuallers’ Association; Secretary of the Wellington Central Provincial Executive of Federated Farmers and honorary auditor of several local clubs. He was a member of the Feilding Club and assisted on many organisations including the Oroua Bowling Club as secretary, the Feilding Golf Club as secretary and the New Zealand Polo Association in a similar capacity.”
Marilyn Wightman – archivist, Feilding & Districts Community Archive
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