Biography

Birth date: 16 April 1865
Birth place: Australia: New South Wales, Tabulam
Death date: 04 March 1945
Death place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Final rank: General
Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
Units:
  • Australian Division
  • Staff
  • Australian Imperial Force in Egypt
  • Divisional Headquarters
  • Desert Mounted Corps
  • 1st Australian Division
  • New Zealand and Australian Division
  • 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade
  • 1st Queensland Mounted Infantry
  • 7th Battalion, Australian Commonwealth Horse

Harry Chauvel was born in Tabulam, New South Wales, on 16 April 1865. He began his education at Sydney Grammar School before moving to Toowoomba in Queensland and attending Toowoomba Grammar. Chauvel's father was a major in the militia and had raised his own unit, the Upper Clarence Light Horse, into which Harry was commissioned at the age of 21.

By the time of the Boer War, Chauvel was a captain in the Queensland permanent forces. He commanded A Squadron of the Queensland Mounted Infantry in South Africa and returned to Australia to take command of the 7th Commonwealth Light Horse; the war ended before they saw action. Chauvel then served as Chief of Staff with the Northern Rivers District until 1911. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1909 and in July 1914, as a full colonel, he became Australia's representative on the Imperial General Staff in London.

Chauvel served on Gallipoli as commander of the 1st Light Horse Brigade. Arriving on 12 May, he took command of a sector that included Quinn's Post, Courtney's Post, and Steele's Post, each the scene of heavy fighting. Illness forced his evacuation and he spent June and July in hospital, returning to take command of the New Zealand and Australian Division in September 1915. In November he was given command of the 1st Australian Division and was promoted to major general.

Given his choice of commands in Egypt after the evacuation, Chauvel took charge of the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division; in June 1916, he became the General Officer Commanding, AIF in Egypt. Chauvel won the first decisive British victory of the war when he defeated the Turks at Romani, stopping their second attempt to reach the Suez.

In August 1917 Chauvel became the first Australian to permanently command a corps: the Desert Mounted Corps, comprising British, Australian, and New Zealand units. His appointment followed two failed attempts to take Gaza. The third attempt involved a flanking manoeuvre necessitating the capture of Beersheba, duly achieved through the famous mounted charge by the 4th Light Horse Brigade. Success there opened the way for the eventual advance through Palestine that ended with the Turkish surrender in October 1918. Chauvel has been described as a commander that understood the capabilities of his mounted troops; used them wisely, taking calculated risks and withdrawing when necessary; and kept losses to a minimum.

Chauvel returned to Australia in late 1919 and was appointed Inspector General, the Army's most senior post; he retained that position until 1930. Meanwhile, he had been promoted to lieutenant general and appointed Chief of Staff. In November 1929 he was promoted to general, becoming the first Australian to reach that rank. He retired from the Army in April 1930.

During the Second World War, Chauvel took up the post of Inspector General of the Volunteer Defence Corps; he held this post until his death on 4 March 1945.

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Rolls and Awards

  • Rank: Captain
  • Unit: 1st Queensland Mounted Infantry
  • Conflict: South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
  • Rank: Lieutenant-Colonel
  • Unit: 7th Battalion, Australian Commonwealth Horse
  • Conflict: South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
  • Rank: Colonel
  • Date of embarkation: 21 October 1914
  • Place of embarkation: Melbourne
  • Recommended for: Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
  • Unit: Australian Imperial Force in Egypt
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
  • Unit: Australian Imperial Force in Egypt
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: Divisional Headquarters
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: Australian Division
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: New Zealand and Australian Division
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: 1st Australian Division
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Promotion to Lieutenant General
  • Unit: Desert Mounted Corps
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
  • Unit: Desert Mounted Corps
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Order of the Bath
  • Unit: 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Desert Mounted Corps
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Desert Mounted Corps
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Staff
  • 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: Desert Mounted Corps
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 1st Queensland Mounted Infantry
  • Conflict: South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
  • Awarded: Egyptian Order of the Nile, Third Class
  • Unit: Staff
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Egyptian Order of the Nile, Second Class
  • Unit: Desert Mounted Corps
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Order of St Michael and St George
  • Unit: 1st Queensland Mounted Infantry
  • Conflict: South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Staff
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Staff
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Staff
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Staff
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Staff
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Desert Mounted Corps
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Desert Mounted Corps
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: French Croix de Guerre
  • Unit: Desert Mounted Corps
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
  • Unit: Desert Mounted Corps
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

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Private Record

Digitised Collection

Heraldry

Timeline

Date of birth 1865-04-16 Tabulam, NSW.
Date commissioned 1886 Commissioned into the Upper Clarence Light Horse.
Other 1888 Resigned from the Upper Clarence Light Horse when he moved to Queensland.
Date commissioned 1890 Commissioned into the Queensland Mounted Infantry.
Date promoted 1896 Made captain in the Queensland Mounted Infantry, and adjutant of the Moreton Regiment.
Other 1897 Went to England with the Queensland Jubilee Contingent.
Other 1899 Major in the 1st Queensland Mounted Infantry in the war in South Africa, and was in action at the relief of Kimberley, the advance to Pretoria, the battle of Diamond Hill, and operations in eastern Transvaal.
Date returned to Australia 1901 Took command of the 7th Australian Commonwealth Horse, with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Date of honour or award 1901-04-16 Mention in Despatches.
Date of honour or award 1901-04-19 Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG).
Date promoted 1909 Promoted to lieutenant colonel.
Other 1911 Became adjutant general and second member of the Military Board.
Other 1914-07 Promoted to colonel and appointed Australian representative on the Imperial General Staff in London.
Date of embarkation 1914-10-27
Other 1914-12 Commander of the 1st Light Horse Brigade. Posted to Egypt.
Other 1915-05-12 Arrived at Gallipoli and commanded the sector around Pope's, Quinn's and Courtney's posts.
Other 1915-06 Was evacuated from gallipoli and spent two months in hospital due to illness.
Other units 1915-07 Returned to Gallipoli to take command of the New Zealand and Australian Division.
Date of honour or award 1915-11-05 Mention in Despatches.
Other units 1915-11-06 Given command of the 1st Division.
Date promoted 1915-12 Major general. Later he was made commander of the Australian & New Zealand Mounted Division.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1915-12-09
Date of honour or award 1916-01-14 Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB).
Date of recommendation honour or award 1916-01-17
Date of honour or award 1916-01-28 Mention in Despatches.
Other units 1916-06 Appointed general officer commanding the Australian Imperial Forces in Egypt.
Date of honour or award 1916-07-13 Mention in Despatches.
Date of honour or award 1916-10-25 Mention in Despatches.
Date of honour or award 1916-11-25 Mention in Despatches.
Date of honour or award 1916-12-01 Mention in Despatches.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1917
Date of honour or award 1917-01 Appointed Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) after the battle of Maghdaba.
Date of honour or award 1917-03-09 Egyptian Order of the Nile - 3rd Class.
Date of honour or award 1917-07-06 Mention in Despatches.
Other 1917-08 Placed in command of the Desert Corps.
Date of honour or award 1918-01-25 Mention in Despatches.
Date of honour or award 1918-04-11 Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB).
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-04-15
Date of honour or award 1918-05-23 Mention in Despatches.
Date returned to Australia 1919 Returned to Australia.
Other 1919 - 1930 Appointed Inspector General, the Army's most senior post.
Date of honour or award 1919-01-22 Mention in Despatches.
Date of honour or award 1919-06-07 French Croix de Guerre.
Date of honour or award 1919-06-09 Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG).
Date of honour or award 1919-08-11 Mention in Despatches.
Date of honour or award 1919-11-09 Egyptian Order of the Nile - 2nd Class.
Date promoted 1929-11 Promoted to general.
Other 1930-04 Retired from the Army.
Date of death 1945-03-04 Melbourne, VIC.