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The New Zealanders at Gallipoli

The Problem of a Mixed Coinage

The Problem of a Mixed Coinage.

The troops certainly had plenty of money to spend, and indulged in orgies of tinned fish, tinned fruit, and tinned sausages from the naval canteens, supplemented by melons, grapes, figs and eggs bought from the villagers. The Mudros shopkeeper made a small fortune out of the exchange of English money. Generally we had English treasury notes for one pound and ten shillings. These were over-printed in Turkish, so that their value might be comprehended in captured villages, but so far Kuchuk Anafarta and Krithia had resisted our efforts to make them legal tender!

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Perhaps the strangest thing of all was the readiness with which Australian silver was accepted. A few years ago it was not legal tender in New Zealand, but away up here in the Levant, and all over Egypt, it was not questioned. The emu and kangaroo signified nothing to these simple folk, but did not the other side picture King George of England?

Black and white photograph of Greeks being guarded while drawing water from the village pump.

[Photo by the Author.
The Village Pump.
A sentry on guard at Mudros. Greeks drawing water with the ubiquitous kerosene tin.

The change given for an English pound was enough to make the soldier join the scientists in praying for the early adoption of a universal coinage. French Colonials from Senegal and Tunis brought their own money with them; French territorials contributed francs and centimes to the medley; Egyptian labourers tendered their piastres and millemes; Greek, Turkish and Italian money circulated freely; English and Australian was as good as the best—so, when a man got his change, the silver would be Australian, the nickels would be endorsed with an inscription which was Greek in more ways than one, while the coppers bore on one side a meaningless Arabic scrawl and “Tunis” on the other!