Biography

Birth date: 27 June 1865
Birth place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Death date: 08 October 1931
Death place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Final rank: General
Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
Units:
  • Corps Headquarters
  • New Zealand and Australian Division Brigade Headquarters
  • AC
  • Australian Corps
  • Staff
  • 3rd Australian Division
  • 4th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • 13th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • 14th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • 15th Australian Infantry Battalion

John Monash is considered one of the war’s outstanding commanders. 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 was a driven young man, ambitious and intelligent. He worked on the construction of the Princes Bridge in Melbourne and in 1888 was placed in charge of constructing a new railway even though he had yet to complete his degree. Monash married Hannah Moss in April 1891, finished his studies in 1895 and, having long since 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.

Meanwhile, he and a friend had established a private engineering practice in 1894. The business grew steadily but a series of setbacks left him with large debts in 1902. Starting again, Monash recovered and his business prospered. He also gained promotion to lieutenant colonel in the Australian Intelligence Corps in 1908 in 1913 took command of the 13th Infantry Brigade.

After the outbreak of war, Monash was given command of the AIF's 4th Infantry Brigade, landing at Gallipoli on 26 April 1915. In July he was promoted to brigadier. Despite having encountered some criticism for his performance on Gallipoli, 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, of which he wrote: "the operation is a striking example of the success which invariably results from careful preparation and coordinated action: and will serve as a model and the standard of the fighting efficiency of the Australian corps". Monash remained in command through the victorious battles in the last months of the war. He was an innovative leader who earned high praise from many leading political and military figures.

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.

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Rolls and Awards

  • Rank: Colonel
  • Date of embarkation: 22 December 1914
  • Place of embarkation: Melbourne
  • Recommended for: Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George
  • Unit: 3rd Australian Division
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: 4th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: Australian Corps
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Distinguished Service Medal
  • Unit: Australian Corps
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Distinguished Service Medal
  • Unit: Australian Corps
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: 4th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: United States Distinguished Service Medal
  • Unit: Australian Corps
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: Corps Headquarters
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: New Zealand and Australian Division Brigade Headquarters
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Staff
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 4th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: AC
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: United States Distinguished Service Medal
  • Unit: AC
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Belgian Grand Officer of the Order of the Crown
  • Unit: AC
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Belgian Croix de Guerre
  • Unit: AC
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: French Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour, Second Class
  • Unit: AC
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Staff
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Order of the Bath
  • Unit: 4th Australian Infantry Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Staff
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: French Croix de Guerre
  • Unit: AC
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: French Croix de Guerre
  • Unit: AC
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Staff
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
  • Unit: Staff
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
  • Unit: AC
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Photograph

Digitised Collection

Heraldry

Timeline

Date of birth 1865-06-27 Melbourne, VIC.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1884 Enlisted as a private in the Melbourne University company the 4th Battalion, Victorian Rifles.
Date and unit at appointment (Officers) 1885 Commissioned as an officer in the Garrison Artillery.
Date graduated 1893 Graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Master of Engineering.
Date graduated 1895 Graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws.
Date promoted 1895 Promoted to captain in the Garrison Artillery.
Date promoted 1897 Promoted to major in the North Melbourne Battery.
Date promoted 1908-03 Selected to command the Victorian Section of the newly formed Australian Intelligence Corps with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Other 1912 Elected President of the Victorian Institute of Engineers.
Date promoted 1913-06-21 Promoted to colonel and given command of the 13th Infantry Brigade.
Other 1914-08-17 Appointed Deputy Chief Censor.
Other 1914-09-15 Appointed to command the 4th Infantry Brigade.
Date of embarkation 1914-12-22 Sailed for Egypt on board the convoy flagship Ulysses.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1915
Other 1915-04-26 Particpated in the landing at Anzac Cove.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1915-05-14
Date promoted 1915-07 Promoted to brigadier general, backdated to 15 September 1914.
Date of honour or award 1915-10-15 Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB).
Other 1915-12-19 Evacuated from Gallipoli with the 4th Brigade.
Other 1916-02 Appointed Commander of the 3rd Division. Monash remained with the 4th Brigade for several more months while the 3rd Division travelled from Australia to its new training areas in the United Kingdom.
Date promoted 1916-07-13 Promoted to major general.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917-10-04
Date of honour or award 1918-01 Created a Knight Commander of St Michael and St George (KCMG).
Date of honour or award 1918-01-01 Gazetted Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB).
Date promoted 1918-05-31 Promoted to lieutenant general and assumed command of the Australian Corps.
Other 1918-11-21 Left the Australian Corps to become Director General of Repatriation.
Date of honour or award 1919-01-01 Created a Knight Grand Cross of St Michael and St George (GCMG).
Date of honour or award 1919-01-29 French Legion of Honour - 2nd Class Grand Officer.
Date of honour or award 1919-04-01 Belgian Croix de Guerre.
Date of honour or award 1919-04-01 Belgium Order of La Couronne - Grand Officer
Date of honour or award 1919-07-12 US Distinguished Service Medal.
Date of honour or award 1919-08-21 French Croix de Guerre.
Date returned to Australia 1919-12-26
Other 1920 Became the manager of Victoria's State Electricity Commission.
Other 1920 Left the Army soon after being appointed to a committee to examine the future structure of the Army.
Date promoted 1929 Promoted to full general in recognition of his wartime services.
Date of death 1931-10-08 Died in Melbourne, VIC. Monash was given a state funeral.