British Pattern 1822 Artillery Officer's Sword : Lieutenant General Sir John Monash, AIF

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Bertangles
Accession Number REL/16089.001
Collection type Technology
Object type Edged weapon or club
Physical description Leather, Nickel-plated steel, Silver, Steel
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Western Front 1918: General Monash
Place made United Kingdom: England
Date made c 1912
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

British Pattern 1822 Artillery Officer's sword. The hilt has a nickel plated steel three bar guard and checkered backstrap. The fishskin grip is bound with silver wire and has a silver plate attached with rivets stating 'THIS SWORD WAS USED BY HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE V WHEN BESTOWING THE ACCOLADE OF A KNIGHTHOOD UPON SIR JOHN MONASH ON THE FIELD OF BATTLE AT BERTANGLES FRANCE ON AUGUST 12th 1918'. The straight blade has a single fuller to each side and is etched for three quarters on the right side with a floral pattern and in the centre has a winged lightening bolt design over ARTILLERY. On the left side is the Royal Coat of arms, the royal GVR cypher and a field gun. The ricasso has the military outfitter's name of MADE ESPECIALLY FOR W. CHORLEY & Co.

History / Summary

Lieutenant General Sir John Monash was an arts, engineering and law student who went on to become one of Australia’s most highly respected commanders of the First World War. He was made Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath 'for valuable services rendered in connection with military operations in the field' in the New Year’s Honours list of 1918.

Events of the war delayed the formal conferring of the knighthood until 12 August 1918, four days after the Battle of Amiens when King George V visited the site of the battle. Only learning of the King’s arrival the day before and his intention to confer the honour in the field, Monash asked one of his subordinates, Major Walter Berry, to locate a suitable sword for the occasion.

The nearest sword, in storage at Abbeville some 50 kilometres away, belonged to the Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General at the Australian Corps Headquarters, Major Edmund Osborn Milne. A car was quickly organised and Milne managed to retrieve the sword and clean it in time for the ceremony.

The scene was described by Monash: 'A square of carpet had been arranged in the centre of the piazza and on it stood a small table, a footstool, and a drawn sword. The King then had my name called and I stepped up before him and, at his behest, knelt and received the accolade of knighthood (i.e. was 'dubbed' on the shoulder with the sword) and, when he had bidden me rise, he presented me with the Insignia of a Knight Commander of Bath'. It was the first knighthood bestowed on a commander in the field in nearly two centuries.

Some years after the war Milne offered the sword to Monash as a keepsake, which he gladly accepted. Milne’s only conditions were that Monash 'should attach a statement to the sword and that at some time in the distant future his family should hand it over to the National War Memorial Museum, so that people could see it when they visited Canberra.'