Fifty Australians - Harry Chauvel
The first Australian corps commander. Chauvel was a professional soldier and rose to command the renowned Desert Mounted Corps during the First World War.
General Sir Henry George Chauvel, GCMG, KCB (1865–1945)
After having been an officer in a small New South Wales mounted unit, in 1896 Chauvel obtained an appointment in the Queensland Permanent Forces and embarked on a career that would take him to the top rank inGthe Australian army.
Chauvel extended his military reputation while serving in the Boer War, taking part in major actions, and was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George. After Federation, he advanced his position further in the Commonwealth forces and in 1914 was sent to London as Australian representative on the Imperial General Staff.
A thoroughly professional soldier, Chauvel was hardy and courageous. He was a reserved man who possessed both wisdom and tact. On the outbreak of war in 1914, he was appointed to command the 1st Light Horse Brigade. He went with the brigade to Gallipoli, where, for periods, he had command of a division.
The following year Chauvel became commander of the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division and all Australian forces in Egypt. From 1916 his regiments pursued the Turks through Sinai. In the 1917 reorganisation of the forces in the Middle East, Chauvel was given command of the Desert Mounted Corps, becoming Australia’s highest ranked soldier. His renowned light horsemen went on to fight across the ancient lands, capturing Jerusalem and, on 1 October 1918, entering Damascus.
Returning home, Chauvel went on to play an important part in the army in the austere post-war years; from 1923 he was chief of the general staff. In 1929 he was promoted general – the first local serving officer to attain this rank. He retired the following year but came back into uniform in the Second World War, aged 75, as inspector-in-chief of the Volunteer Defence Corps – the local home guard. He died before the war ended.