John Monash


Born in Melbourne on 27th June, 1865, to parents of Prussian-Jewish origin, Sir John Monash was educated at Scotch College and the University of Melbourne, where he studied law, arts and engineering. Until 1914 Monash set himself the task of learning the expertise of artillery and engineering. On the outbreak of war in 1914 Monash was appointed commander of the AIF\'s 4th Infantry Brigade based in Egypt as part of the ANZAC forces. Then in 1914 Monash was sent to Gallipoli were he served with distinction, here he experienced the disastrous effects of bad planning and organisation, and poor command decisions. Having served in this failed Gallipoli campaign Monash was transferred to the Western Front by the end of 1916, and was promoted to command of the 3rd Division. Working under General Sir Herbert Plumer, Monash developed a reputation as a careful and efficient commander. The Division\'s first major battle was the offensive battle at Messines in June 1917. Other battles included those at Broodseinde, Passchendaele and the defence of Amiens. In May 1918 Sir John Monash replaced General William Birdwood as commander of the Australian Corps. By 1918 John Monash was regarded as the most outstanding divisional commander in the AIF. After assuming command of the Australian corps his genius for war was to be revealed through the planning of the highly successful Battle of Hamel. He led his troops with great skill and after the capture of Mont St Quentin and Peronne he was knighted in the field by King George V. Monash is generally regarded as one of the most outstanding generals of the First World War and was also greatly respected because his tactics involved taking into account the survival of his own soldiers. This included what became known as peace penetration, a strategy that Monash used successfully at the Battle of Hamel. Monash has gained a reputation as Australia’s greatest general through his great intellect, the size and significance of his battles, along with his drive and the depth of his understanding of the science of battles.


Monash was educated at Scotch College, 1881, Melbourne, where he displayed intellectual talent, where he graduated as equal dux. He then studied arts, engineering and law at the University of Melbourne, with the intention of becoming an engineer. In 1884, he was one of the first to join the University Company of the 4th Battalion, Victorian Rifles. In 1885, due to his mother\'s fatal illness, Monash interrupted his studies and sought full-time employment. He found employment on the construction of the Prince\'s Bridge over the Yarra River. This gained Monash with valuable experience in civil engineering and he was able to continue his studies part-time. In April 1888, he was given charge of construction of Melbourne\'s Outer Circle eastern suburban railway works, which was completed by 1891. Monash then resolved to complete his studies and over the next two years he completed arts, engineering and law degrees. Also in 1891 Monash married Hannah Victoria Moss and two years later their only child, Bertha, was born. Soon after, Monash took out a master’s degree in Engineering. In 1891, Monash was employed by the Melbourne Harbour Trust and enrolled as a student of the Supreme Court. During the depression in 1894, he formed a private practice with JT Noble Anderson, Monash & Anderson, as civil, mining and mechanical engineers and patent agents. By 1905 the partnership had dissolved, so Monash, with business associates, formed the successful Reinforced Concrete and Monier Pipe Construction Co Ltd.. Throughout Monash’s studies and engineering employment he continued his military involvement. When the University Company disbanded in July 1886, he joined first the Melbourne University company of the 4th Battalion, Victoria Militia, in 1884, and then the Melbourne University\'s Metropolitan Brigade of the Garrison Artillery in 1887. By 1897, Monash had been promoted to the rank of major of the North Melbourne Battery and he commanded it for the next 11 years. In 1908, he was placed in charge of the Victorian section of the Australian Intelligence Corps. He took command of the 13th Infantry Brigade as colonel in 1913. Until the outbreak of war in 1914, Monash worked at learning the skills of artillery and engineering, as well as teaching and designing in the Australian Citizen Force.


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