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General Sir John Monash is one of the truly great Australians. He was an Australian military and civilian leader as well as a great contributor to Australian life. His achievements are outstanding. In my opinion, Monash was not just our most outstanding military leader but our most outstanding citizen of all time.

The achievements of John Monash are so extensive and comprehensive that I cannot condense them into a single post. 

We will explore the life of this man, John Monash; from his early years that started with the Gold Rush; how he met Ned Kelly the infamous bushranger; how he turned from a boy to a young man and how he turned from the son of migrants to one of our finest Australians. It is truly a tale worth telling and a story that should be taught in every school across our great country that we call Australia.   


John Monash was born in Melbourne on 27th June, 1865. His parents were Jewish by both race and religion and had migrated from a region in Prussia which is now part of Poland. At the time, people from that region were regarded as German thus the family was regarded as a German family. Their name at the time of their migration was Monasz.

Their family history contained a long line of rabbis and rabbinistic teachers. John’s grandparents had a book binding and publishing business producing Jewish religious literature but due to some poor investments, the business shrank to the point where John’s father, Louis, could no longer be supported as an employee. An outbreak of Cholera infected the little town and killed off many of Louis’ siblings and cousins. With the help of an eminent Jewish historian, Louis and his brother got jobs with a trading house in Berlin.

In April, 1852, six ships sailed up the Thames in London with 8 tons of gold from the Victorian goldfields. Gold fever erupted throughout Europe and Louis decided to change career and go to Victoria.


the Thames of old London, carrying away the filth and debris of the city and, in return, delivering the riches of the world upon the flood tide rising.

His employer gave him 2,000 marks worth of goods on credit to establish a trading house in Melbourne. He arrived in January, 1854 and set up business in Flinders Lane under the name of Martin & Monash, Anglicising his name to make it more acceptable to the Anglo-Saxon majority.

Louis became a successful businessman and at the age of 32 decided he wanted a traditional Jewish wife. He returned to Europe and in 1863 he married his 22 year old sister-in-law, Bertha Manasse,then returned to Melbourne. They settled in St.Kilda and moved soon after to West Melbourne where John was to be born.


Swanston St from Flinders Lane circa 1875

Coincidentally, in a nearby town to Louis’ old home town in Prussia another baby was born to another Jewish family. He was named Eric Ludendorff whose name will appear in the third episode.

In 1866 there was a universal financial collapse. Martin & Monash went bankrupt. Martin suffered a stroke and returned to Germany. Louis continued to trade but is himself declared bankrupt in 1868. The household language spoken is German but John’s mother read to him each night in English. John spoke with a slight German accent until by sheer determination eliminated it from his speech by the time he reached adulthood. His mother was an accomplished pianist and, by the age of six, John was able to perform before an audience.

In 1871, prosperity permitted Louis to buy a house in Richmond which he named Germania Cottage. John started school at St.Stephen’s Church of England School, the church that Church Street, Richmond is named after. He impressed his teachers with his hard work and intelligence. His first report card after three years stated “Industry seems to be his chief characteristic”. At the end of 2nd form he won first prize for his schoolwork.


John Monash 3 years old [1868] / Davies & Co., Photographers, Melbourne

At age 8, his grandfather in Germany, now on his deathbed wrote him a birthday greeting letter.

 “I am glad to hear you are doing well at school. If you go on like that you will become a great, good and famous man”.

A prophetic message written in German. The old man was alone. His children had all migrated to Australia and America.

Financial misfortune continued to plague Louis and in 1875 he sold up and moved to Jerilderie in NSW. He opened a branch of his brother’s merchant business. John started at the local school of 70 pupils in 2nd. Form. He is made assistant to the 24 year old Irish teacher, Bill Elliott, tutoring younger and slower students. Within two years he is promoted to form 6. Elliott takes John for extra lessons after hours in Latin, higher mathematics, English literature and geography.

They became lifelong friends and in later life John credits Elliott with laying the foundations of his career. In 1876 however, his mother, Bertha, has had enough of the grind of life in Jerilderie and returned to Melbourne with John and his sister. John was enrolled at South Yarra College. After 6 weeks Bertha had a change of heart and returned to Jerilderie. The principal wrote to her stating how sorry he was to be losing one of his most promising scholars.


John returned to school in Jerilderie for 18 months. Elliott told his parents that their boy genius was going to waste at a bush school. Elliott recommended his old school in Sydney but Bertha did not want the family to be broken up so the next recommendation was Scotch College in Melbourne. Bertha wanted John to become a doctor. Elliott said to put him in engineering because of his aptitude in mathematics At the time John was studying the third book of Euclid, the “Father of Geometry” and was just 12 years of age.

Bertha and her children returned to Germania Cottage leaving Louis in Jerilderie to run his store. She decided that John would grow up as an Australian in priority to their Germanic background. She cultivated a wide variety of eminent and influential people. The children had to read to her every night passages from books by the scions of English literature.

John was enrolled at Scotch College in October 1877 and placed in the upper third of students. At the end of term, he went back to Jerilderie for the holidays and it was then, in 1878, that he encountered an experience that has become part of Australian folk law.


Bank of NSW Jerilderie

The Kelly gang were regular visitors to Jerilderie. There they sold horses stolen from Victorian farms. Louis was in need of a new horse and bought four horses from Ned. John took the horses back to the Monash farm and, as he tells the story, Ned paid him one shilling for holding his horse. In February, 1879, the Kelly gang returned to Jerilderie and robbed the Bank of NSW. While the robbery was taking place Bill Elliott arrived at the bank to deposit the collection from the local Methodist Church. At gunpoint, Bill is made to hold open a bag into which the gang tipped the proceeds of the robbery.

Samuel Gill, a local resident, suspected that something was wrong, and went to the police station where he found the police and some townspeople captive in the cells. Gill rushed to Louis’ store to raise the alarm. Nobody believes him. He tries to contact the Deniliquin police station but the telegraph has been cut off by the gang cutting down the poles. He raced out to a farm 10 miles away to contact Deniliquin. The Kelly gang rounded up as many townspeople as they could and locked them in Louis’ store and rode off.


Soon after Louis sold the Jerilderie store. His brother Max came down from Narrandera to get married and decided to return to Prussia. Louis took over Max’s store in Narrandera. John went with him but decided that this was not the kind of life for him and returned to Scotch College in 1879 where he, at 13, was placed in the matriculation class.

In October of that year he sat for the matriculation and civil service exam. He is one of only five candidates out of several hundred to pass all nine subjects. He was 14 at that time. The next year he received the prizes for mathematics and literature hoping to progress to a Bachelor of Arts degree at Melbourne University in1881.

Dr. Morrison, headmaster of Scotch College, offered him a scholarship to remain at school for another year. John accepted the offer and in that year became Dux of Scotch College earning the prize of five guineas. At the same time, he entered the public examination for university acceptance and won the mathematics exhibition with first class honours also in French and German. Thanks to him, Scotch College becomes the most successful school in the state. John entered university in 1882 at age 16.


The independence brought by his academic success had undermined the orthodoxy instilled in him as a boy by his mentors. Although he retained his Jewish religion he rejects as bunkum much of his earlier religious instruction. He rejected the Bible as false in favour of practical developments such as electricity, telephone, steam engines and coaxial cable. He planned to complete his arts degree and proceed to engineering. Financially his fees and book had been covered by the 25 pound reward from his mathematics exhibition. His father sent him one pound per month from Narrandera for his living expenses to supplement his earnings from tutoring other students.

The latitude provided by university life as opposed to school distracted him from his academic pursuits. He now devoted much of his time to social activities and he failed badly in his first year exams for his star subjects of higher mathematics, Greek and Latin. He passed his lower subjects. His failure almost tempted him to leave university and start a career in journalism. He decided to stay at university and throw himself into his studies with greater fervour than before and took on studies in arts and literature. He decided to discard his German traits and considered it no longer relevant to his Australian life.


Louis sold his Narrandera business and returned to Melbourne. The family moved from Germania Cottage to a new large house in Hawthorn. John’s activities expanded into new fields of interest in gymnastics and healthy living. Physically he developed into a strong impressive young man with an assertive personality that attracts attention.

In 1884 he succeeded in a project that he has worked on since entering university; the establishment of a Student’s Union. At the inaugural meeting in June 1884 he is elected to the committee and is made editor of The Melbourne University Review.

At the same time, the British government sent officers to Australia to advise the colonial governments on national defense. Melbourne University created a Company and John was one of the first eleven students to enlist in D Company, 4th Battalion, Victorian Rifles. He drilled every day on top of his already busy schedule. At the 1884 exams he passed his second year arts exams and the prerequisites for an engineering degree.

The death of Gordon of Khartoum, Britain’s war in Afghanistan and the perceived threat of invasion by the Russian fleet heightened militia activity. John is promoted to sergeant. Otherwise, 1885 is a bad year for John. Bertha died on 18th October, his father had failed in business again, John had no money and could not pay the 1885 exam fees. He abandoned university until February, 1886 but is compelled to find a job.


In 1885 he secured a job with David Munro & Co which had just been awarded the contract to construct a new bridge over the Yarra River linking Swanston Street and St.Kilda Road; Princes Bridge.

It would symbolise his crossing from boyhood to manhood and the beginning of a journey that would see him travel across the world far greater than he probably realised was possible. 

The self indulgence, bordering on arrogance, that lead to his academic failures in 1885 was replaced by a greater self-determination to succeed and resume his place, as he saw it, in the future of the colony. David Munro & Co was the biggest employer of labour in Victoria at the time. The securing of the contract to build the Princes Bridge and widen the Yarra River at that point was the most prestigious and the biggest project undertaken in Melbourne. Monash sees this as the key to restoring his family’s fortunes. Monash signs on as an employee for 30/- per week. He is 20 years old. continued on from Monash - the early years

His job was to draw a complete set of courses for the masonry, a task of huge responsibility as the finished cutting and placing of the blocks will depend on these drawings. Notwithstanding, his social life, part-time study and military activity continue unabated. He is conscious that his red coat uniform is a magnet for the fairer sex. He joins the German Club. He applies, and fails, to secure a commission with the Victoria Engineers unit but the diminishing threat of a Russian invasion reduces general community interest in the militia and the university regiment is disbanded in July, 1886.



University Company, Victorian Rifles, from back left: Color Sgt. John Monash, Sgt. Farlow, Cpl. McWilliams, Cpl. T. Hodjson, Sgt. Major Sullivan; front left: Cpl. Pringle, Cpl. McCay, Sgt. Chase. 1885

Remaining members of the university militia unit transfer to the North Melbourne Battery of the Garrison Artillery which is responsible for defending all of Victoria’s ports. His militia activities create scope for an expanding social life and business contacts. He is given more responsibility by his employer y planning the excavations for machinery foundations for setting the stone, the establishment of a supply yard, and a quarry 16kms from Melbourne. His academic studies continue fervently and he passes his third-year arts degree. His social life is in turmoil and there are several broken encounters with budding eligible girls. His arrogant streak is returning but professionally his career is rising with recognition of his various roles on the Princes Bridge project. On completion of one year’s service with Munro & Co his salary rises to 2 pounds per week.

In April, 1887 he is promoted to lieutenant in the North Melbourne Battery.


Brigade [Garrison Artillery] officers, 1895 (Monash front row, fifth from left)

His officers’ uniform enhances his amorous social activities beyond his earlier expectations and he now sees a full time military career as a fall-back position if his academic and engineering ambitions fail.

However, his arrogance does not do him any good. He is ostracised by fellow officers and betray him for “utter want of tact”. His position is protected by his friend, Major Goldstein of Jewish and Polish extraction, who assigns Monash more responsible duties in preference to more senior fellow officers. He embarks on additional military studies along with his continuing academic obligations. He passes his exams in October and as the Princes Bridge project is nearing completion he is also promoted by Munro & Co to take control of a new project, the construction of Queens Bridge, a few hundred metres downstream from Princes Bridge.


His elation is rudely interrupted. On 18th February 1888, he is in charge of the battery’s shooting practice at the Williamstown rifle range. A target spotter is hit and killed by a ricocheting bullet. Monash is summoned to the Coroner’s inquest fearful of serious consequences. To his relief, the finding was accidental death but the shock to his system causes him to defer further academic studies for two years. He embarks on a 5 day walking expedition to Gippsland to clear his mind and on return his mentor, Jim Lewis, dean of the engineering faculty at Melbourne University persuades him to apply for the role of running the construction of the Outer Circle Railway. This is another major project for Melbourne and is a story in itself. It was a 17 km route to divert rail traffic from Gippsland past the CBD linking Oakleigh and Fairfield through the eastern suburbs. As part of the route there were 16 bridges and 25km of roads to be built.

He is appointed to head the project at a salary of 7 pounds per week and resigns from Munro & Co. He is 22. He acquires a property at Hartwell with a vacant house as a site office. He allows his clerk, Fred, and his wife, Anne, to reside there. A highly passionate affair develops between John and Annie. Fred discovers them together several times but it all blows over until Anne discovers she is pregnant. After a further reconciliation with Fred the affair fires up again and culminates in a public altercation between Fred, Anne and John on a tram heading down Johnston Street, Collingwood. Fred threatens to kill John, hands in his notice and separates from Anne. Anne returns to her home town of Ballarat and John returns to his regular social scene with gusto.

When an early girlfriend told him that his only fault was that he made women adore him, Monash could think of only one reply.

“How very true.”


At the same time, he passes his militia captain’s exam but is not promoted in rank. In his new role, he presses Major Goldstein to seek more funding for more military activities.                  

He advocates more realistic training at the state’s forts and bigger allowances for volunteers to devote extended time to training. He is elected to the Naval & Military Club. He becomes less enamoured with the German Club where he has fallen out of favour because he has become “too Anglo-Saxon”. His work schedule and militia activities are running at full pace and he has more women in his life than he can handle.

Among this avalanche of female admiration, Anne reappears and the passionate union resumes briefly. Anne’s husband Fred, to whom she is now pregnant, soon emerges and another public altercation occurs. Finally, Anne decides that the affair is over and returns to Fred. Almost simultaneously John takes up with a new conquest named Victoria Moss. They become engaged to be married. Their relationship is tempestuous but it survives and on 8th April, 1891 they are married.

 During this period of personal turmoil, Johns career continues unabated. Despite a strike and extensions of the Outer Circle contract due to alterations to the plans, the contract is successfully completed and John passes all of his exams.

He is awarded his Bachelor of Engineering degree shortly before his wedding day. His financial situation turns sour soon after the wedding. Australia is in the grip of a deep depression, there is widespread industrial unrest, and funds for carrying out new public works dries up. His wife's previously adequate private income disappears and John has no employment to replace the completed Outer Circle contract. Victoria will not curb her spendthrift ways and tension develops over domestic financial matters.


“You look round the rooms, the kitchen with its empty shelves, the fireless grate,the solitary crust on a plate placed high up on the dresser to be out of the reach of the children till the time comes for its use, and you wonder with curious and unpleasant wonder how long you yourself could endure such a condition of affairs,” The Age reported in 1893.

 John maintains small amounts of income from casual engineering assignments on continuing public works projects but no permanency until he lands a mundane job with the Melbourne Harbour Trust. He also enrols as a student at the Supreme Court. He sees an opportunity for an engineering expert with a law degree to preside over legal disputes. Work on various Harbour Trust projects earns him promotion to the point where his income and life style return to their former level.

His military career continues to impress but he cannot gain promotion. He comes to the conclusion that there is prejudice against him because he is a Jew. In May, 1892, he is promoted to Chief Draughtsman at the Harbour Trust on a salary of 260 pounds per year. Double the average wage. This is a timely break because Victoria becomes pregnant. John takes leave from the Harbour Trust to preside over a legal arbitration for the contractors of the Outer Circle project. His fee is 5 guineas per day plus loss of salary. A huge fee five times his normal daily wage. The experience propels him into more legal study and in December passes his first four subjects. On 22nd January 1893 he becomes a father.


1893 Victoria with Bertha

On 30th April, 1893 the Victorian government declares that the banks have suspended all payments and will close for five days. The crash has arrived. Most of John’s engineering contemporaries are unemployed and is informed that his job may soon terminate. He survives by appealing to one of the Trust commissioners who is also a leader in the Jewish community and a member of parliament. His military career takes a strong upward advance when in August he delivers a talk, with demonstrations, on the Implements of War. His engineering knowledge is a vital factor on the topics he discusses and receives glowing reports from senior officers in attendance. His personal skill scores in marksmanship are also impressive but still no promotion.

He attains his Masters degree in engineering and secures another major legal case representing David Syme, proprietor of The Age newspaper. The case lasts for 98 days then an appeal of 86 days. His fee is 40 pounds.

By August the only professional staff at the Harbour Trust are John and two inspectors. His finances are precarious and he has to borrow 10 pounds for the fees to sit his next lot of law exams. He passes the exams and qualifies as a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Law in December 1893. However, he has to wait another two years until he has paid all of the university fees. His military reputation advances again when he delivers a paper to officers describing new techniques in the design and use of artillery pieces and enhanced power of explosives. This is followed by an offer for him to attend an artillery course with the Royal Artillery in England. Apart from transport he has to pay his own way but does not have the funds. He loses his job at the Harbour Trust in April, 1894 and his wife Victoria leaves him after constant quarrelling over money.


Railway Pier Port Melbourne, ca.1870. Credit: Charles Nettleton/State Library of Victoria

In June, 1894 he joins forces with Josh Anderson, a former lecturer and now another out-of-work engineer. They form a partnership of Monash & Anderson, consulting engineers. The business is immediately successful. Anderson the salesman and Monash the engineer. His finances steadily recover but his marriage steadily declines and comes to an end when Victoria walks out and starts divorce proceedings. Then in December, his father, Louis, dies, aged 63. On the bright side his Bachelor of Laws is conferred. He now has three bachelors and one masters degree and in July there is a reconciliation with his wife. The worst of the depression has passed and the family finances are restored again. Then in October he is at last promoted to captain. In July, 1896 he is made acting commander of the North Melbourne Battery and passes his exams to make major and is promoted in 1897.

The following years are prosperous for Monash & Anderson with work flowing from all parts of Australia. Then while John is handling a very large legal assignment in Queensland, Anderson makes a deal with a Sydney contractor, Carter, Gummow & Co, which will revolutionise the construction industry. Gummow holds the Australian patent for a system of reinforced concrete construction developed by a French gardener, Joseph Monier, to stop his flower pits from falling apart. Anderson sees the potential and the firm become Gummow’s Victorian agent. Three bridge contracts are soon awarded. Three 90 metre Monier arches are used in the construction of the Anderson Street bridge over the Yarra. The biggest ever made at that time.


John is heavily involved in legal matters in Western Australia. His first case there was an outstanding success and further assignments are awarded to him. He remains in Perth for over 12 months earning large fees. During his absence, the Anderson Street Bridge contract continues and comes to a conclusion. The final tests of a 15 ton road roller and hundreds of tons of earth trucked onto the bridge pass with flying colours. Two weeks later a 160 foot span for Monash & Anderson’s North Mt.Lyell Railway in Tasmania, the biggest steel span structure manufactured in Victoria, is unveiled.

As the 19th century draws to a close the North Melbourne Battery farewells a contingent of 260 mounted troops to South Africa, John Monash farewells Alfred Deakin and Edmund Barton off to London to oversee the passage of the Federation Bill through the British Parliament and Monash & Anderson embark on the production of Monier pipes for sale to the Board of Works.

A new Century is about to bring in a new phase of John Monash's life and, while he has become a man, he is still to become the man that fought on the fields of battle and made Australian history at Gallipoli.

In my next article I will tell you about the journey from man to military man. 

A time when he started to hone his skills. much like the newly born country of Australia as a Federation. 

John Monash was about to test himself on the battlefield and. almost like his engineering skills, see how tough and strong he really was. Could he hold the load?

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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