Sir John Monash (1865-1931)

John Monash borne on 27 June 1865. His parents were Jewish came from Prussia. He was a pupil on the famous Scotch College of Melbourne. Then, he studied in Melbourne University where he was graduated engineer in 1893 and in law in 1895. He worked as civil engineer and joined the army reserve artillery. In 1913, he was colonel and had already published many hints for company officers, which became after a training manual. He landed in 1914 in Gallipoli with the 4th brigade. He was rapidly remarked because of his independent mind during a bugles campaign. The same year, he could not avoid his brigade the futile August& September operations against Turkey.

Near June 1916, he arrived in France as major general, leading the new 3rd division. He intensively trained his men. There he used raiding tactics badly considered by British High Command. Nevertheless, he impressed by his sense of detail, his precision in a war difficult to lead. During the third battle of Yper, his reputation and Australians’ one increased under general Plumer command (2nd British Army). He always trained his troops to reach the highest efficiency degree.

He had understood how to coordinate the use of infantry, air power, and artillery and tanks. In June 1918, he succeeded general Birdwood as Australian Corps commander. At the battle of Hamel, on 4 July 1918, his tactics allowed a victory very useful for the Allied. On 12 August 1918, king Georges V made Monash knight on the field in Bertangles. Then the Australians advanced in France. Diggers were used as shock troops in a series of amazing victories: August 1918 offensive, Chuignes, Mont-Saint-Quentin, Péronne, Hargicourt and finally the Hindenburg line.

For many observers, none of the generals at this war compared with him in charisma, management, ingenuity or intellect. He won the respect and loyalty of diggers. Even if British senior officers often reminded him that he was only a simple Jewish colonel. Sir John Monash, certainly one of the founders of modern Australia, died on 8 October 1931. He had state funeral attended by nearly 300,000 people.