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In the early years of the 20th century the depression of the 1890’s is replaced by a building boom. New construction contracts are abundant, pipe sales are booming and reinforced concrete construction is approved for a growing range of uses. John’s income grows to 7,000 pounds in 1909, over $2,000,000 in today’s money. He is able to devote more time to his militia interests.

In 1907 the Australian Intelligence Corps is formed. John accepts an offer to transfer and is appointed to command the Victorian section and is promoted to Lieutenant Colonel taking charge of the making of military maps. He joins the founding committee of the Australian Aerial League to study how aircraft might be adapted for military use.


German colonisation in the Pacific and Japan’s defeat of the Russian fleet cause concern within Australia and Britain. Alfred Deakin. the Australian Prime Minister,  introduces a bill in the federal parliament for compulsory military training.

Lord Kitchener visits to advise on the composition of the Australian Army and John acts as his chaperone for most of his tour. John organises manoeuvers at Seymour to demonstrate the prowess of Australian troops and prepares all of the maps required. The exercise is a great success and attracts glowing reports from Kitchener in respect of the organisation and the quality of the maps. John’s map work is described as “a marvel of detail & accuracy. Kitchener endorses Deakin’s bill for compulsory military training.


In 1909 at the invitation of the Prime Minister of Australia, Alfred Deakin, Kitchener arranged his 1910 visit to Australia to advise the Australian military on the best means of providing land defence.

The Monash family take an extended tour of Europe and are in London for the funeral of King Edward VII as a distinguished citizen of the Dominions.


He meets Kaiser Wilhelm II, grandson of Queen Victoria, who is dressed in the uniform of a British Field Marshall and accompanied by Archduke Franz Ferdinand. He meets nine kings but is astute enough to conclude that Europe is a powder keg ready to explode.


Kaiser Willhelm II in uniform of British Field Marshall

1911 brings an avalanche of new construction work and the new transcontinental railway consumes huge quantities of Monier pipes. In February he presides over and settles a dispute within the Victorian Boy Scout movement resulting in his appointment as Vice President of the Imperial Boy Scouts. He sees the scouts as a beneficial prelude to military training. He is the subject of large feature article in Punch which describes him as the “finest citizen officer in the Commonwealth”. His military workload increases with compiling of a detailed map of the Kilmore district and appointment to the District Defence Officers Promotion Board.


John intensifies his military studies concentrating on the uses of air power as a military arm. His ambitions are badly dented however when the head of Military Intelligence quits his post and the Intelligence Corps is disbanded and his acting command appointment ends on 5th December. His disappointment is salved by his continuing business successes but he does not have to wait for long to climb the military ladder. On 1st July, 1913 he is given command of the 13th Infantry Brigade and gains promotion to full colonel. He is intent on instructing his officers to be prepared for war.


Colonel John Monash inspecting men of the 13th Australian Infantry Battalion, part of his 4th Brigade, at Liverpool, New South Wales, in 1914.

His brigade holds large scale manoeuvers for eight days at Lilydale in February, 1914 under the eye of Sir Ian Hamilton, Inspector General of British Overseas Forces. The exercises are an outstanding success impressing the observing British officers with the commitment of Australian citizen soldiers. Hamilton describes John as “an outstanding force of character and has the makings of a first-rate commander.

On 28th June, 1914, Franz Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated in Sarajevo.



WW1 begins on 28th July. John Monash is appointed Chief Censor on 9th August, a post he will hold for one month. Eric Ludendorff is awarded the Blue Max by Kaiser Wilhelm. Paul von Hindenberg is recalled from retirement to lead the German Army with Ludendorff as his chief of staff. Australia commits to sending 20,000 troops to England, there is a rush of volunteers to join up and three brigades are formed as the First AIF.



On 15th September John is appointed commander of the 4th Infantry Brigade scheduled to leave in seven weeks. A clique of old militia adversaries petition the government to dump him on account of his German parentage. The protests are also directed to other officers of foreign background but fall on deaf ears The Military Board however eventually stops commissioning officers of foreign background.

The battalions of the 4th Brigade are drawn from four states and they are all assembled at Broadmeadows Camp. 10,000 men under canvas. Their departure is delayed by the need to assemble so many men from so far afield. On 22nd December they entrain at Broadmeadows en route to Port Melbourne. Monash is the senior military officer and commander of this, the second fleet to depart with the next contingent of the AIF. 20,000 men were promised and 52,561 have enlisted by the end of 1914. The convoy assembles at Albany on 27th December. John has a busy time with men and provisions loaded into wrong ships, naval officers and some of his own disobeying his orders and a strike by tug-boat masters but he sorts it out and the convoy departs on 31st December.


Anzacs departing Albany in 1914.

On arriving in Egypt the brigade undergoes constant training with adequate time off to visit the bars and nightlife of Cairo. Sir Ian Hamilton is appointed commander of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. He has 70,000 troops under his command and issues orders for the invasion of Gallipoli. On 21st April John writes his battle orders and the troops go through a full dress rehearsal.


Bivouac of the 4th Infantry Brigade at the foot of Sari Bair ridge. Brigadier General Monash together with Lieutenant Colonel McGlynn preparing to occupy a German officer's dugout and camp in Australia Gully. 1915

On the morning of 25th April the 4th Brigade lands as the second wave and immediately suffers heavy casualties. John lands on the 26th. He is surrounded by heavy fighting and has several near misses from snipers who account for troops and officers standing in close proximity. The 4th Brigade area of operations is named Monash Valley. Over the next two days with bayonet and grenade they push the Turks back but not far enough.

Birdwood, the ANZAC commander orders a general advance against the advice of Monash and some other officers.

Monash’s 16th Battalion reached the targeted ridge but are forced to withdraw through lack of coordination with flanking support. By 2nd of May this battalion has been reduced from 959 to 229 men. The 15th Battalion has been reduced from 934 to 350. Out of a total of just over 4,000 when they left Egypt, the 4th Brigade has been reduced to 1,811 fit to fight. Monash disagrees with the tactics and orders being handed down by the British officers in command. His battalions are exhausted after 22 days of continuous fighting but the orders to attack keep coming.


The video is well worth watching - thanks to The Knight Watchman

On 15th May Monash is due to meet with the senior officers. General William Bridges, CIC of the AIF is walking to the rendezvous when he is hit in the leg by a snipers bullet which severs his femoral artery. Monash and another officer get him to the beach for evacuation but he dies from loss of blood, at sea, two days later. On 19th May the Turks mount a full-frontal assault on the Australian positions. The 14th Battalion is in the heaviest of the attack. It is during this assault that Albert Jacka wins his VC by single handedly disposing of about 20 Turks with bayonet and grenade. The Turkish attack fails with the loss of 13,000 casualties including 3,000 dead. The accumulation of dead bodies is considered to be a health hazard. A Turkish officer is brought to Monash to discuss a ceasefire so that both sides can remove the dead and wounded. Birdwood agrees and on 24th May a ceasefire takes place


On 26th May, Hamilton withdraws Monash from the front line for some rest and puts him in command of his personal bodyguard. He returns to the front on 28th May and learns that he has been awarded a MID (mentioned in despatches). On 1st June, the 4th Brigade is taken out of the line Monash is very angry that the exploits of the ANZACs have been under valued. He is particularly angry that C.W.E.Bean, the official historian has not mentioned their heroics in the same way as he had done with the all-Australian 1st. Division and creates a lifetime enemy among the Australian press. Eleven ANZACs have been awarded the VC, Billy Sing, a crack shot and a sniper runs up over 300 kills yet little recognition is recorded in newspapers at home.


Insult is added to injury when Colonel Legge, Chief of the General Staff, is appointed to replace Bridges as commander of the 1st Division and is promoted to general. After complaints from Monash that Australian officers hold lower rank than British officers with the same responsibility, he and six others are promoted to Brigadier General on 21st July.

About this time rumours abound that Monash has been executed for being a German spy. Others that he has been forced to resign his commission and is being sent home. An officer in Cairo send home a message to say that his enemies there have been stirring up trouble against him. The source of the rumours is not found and they are quashed when General Godley issues an official communique stating that they are all untrue.

The fighting continues and casualties mount. Monash is increasingly scathing in his assessment of the British officers and the quality of their troops. In September a visit by Keith Murdoch of the Melbourne Herald results in a letter being composed by a group of correspondents for delivery to the British prime minister Asquith. It is intercepted by a British officer and confiscated. Murdoch does another letter which reaches Asquith. Sir Ian Hamilton is recalled to London in mid-October. He is relieved of command.


Keith Murdoch outside Charles Bean's dugout during his visit to Anzac Cove in September 1915.CREDIT:AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL

On 13th November Kitchener arrives for discussions with the senior staff.


Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. November 1915. Lord Kitchener shaking hands with the French Commander-in-Chief. The officer behind Lord Kitchener is Lieutenant-General Sir William Riddell Birdwood, commanding Anzac Corps.

A decision is made to withdraw from the Peninsular. Evacuation begins on 13th December. Monash is among the last to leave. He selects 170 of the best men to be the rear guard to depart on 20th December at 2.00am. The last man leaves at 1.55am.

The Gallipoli Campaign is over.

video thanks to The Knight Watchman


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