United States Distinguished Service Medal : Lieutenant General Sir J Monash, AIF

Place Europe: Western Front
Accession Number REL/12508.012
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Medal
Physical description Bronze, Enamel
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Western Front 1918: General Monash
Maker Unknown
Place made United States of America
Date made c 1918-1919
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

United States of America Distinguished Service Medal.

History / Summary

John Monash was born in Melbourne on 27 June 1865. He was dux of Scotch College and studied arts and engineering at Melbourne University, where he was also involved in debating and student politics. Outside of university he dabbled in acting. In 1884 he joined the university company of the 4th Battalion, Victorian Rifles.

Monash finished his studies in 1895 and, having decided to combine engineering with a military career, was promoted to captain in the Garrison Artillery that year. In 1897 Monash was promoted to major in the North Melbourne Battery and served there for 11 years.

Monash was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the Australian Intelligence Corps in 1908. In 1913 he took command of the 13th Infantry Brigade.

After the outbreak of war, Monash took command of the AIF's 4th Infantry Brigade, landing at Gallipoli on 26 April 1915. In July he was promoted to brigadier. Monash took his brigade to France in June 1916. He became a major general in July and took command of the 3rd Division. The division's first major battle, Messines, was hailed as a great success. Further success followed and in May 1918, Monash was promoted to lieutenant general and given command of the Australian Corps. His first battle in this role, Hamel, came to be considered the 'perfect battle'. Monash remained in command through the victorious battles in the last months of the war.

In London in 1919, while he was overseeing the repatriation of the AIF troops, the United States of America presented him with the Distinguished Service Medal. The recommendation for the award reads: 'Recommended for the D.S.M. for exceptionally meritorious service to the United States Government in a position of great responsibility in time of war and for his valuable assistance during the operations which culminated in the breaking of the Hindenburg Line on September 29th, 1918. The Australian Corps, under his brilliant leadership, fought side by side with their American comrades on that day and it was largely due to the support of Australian Artillery and Infantry that the II CORPS was enabled to gain their final objectives. His skill in attack was one of the main factors in the success of these operations'.

After spending eight months in London overseeing the repatriation of the AIF, Monash was welcomed home in Melbourne by an enthusiastic public on Boxing Day 1919. He returned to business and in 1920 became manager of Victoria's State Electricity Commission. An advocate for returned soldiers, Monash also held a range of high-level positions. His opinions were widely sought and he became a leading figure in Melbourne's Jewish community.

Monash died of heart disease in Melbourne on 8 October 1931 and was given a state funeral attended by some 250,000 mourners.