Melbourne (Oct. 5)
General Sir John Monash, who commanded the Australian troops in the Great War, is lying dangerously ill at his home here, and little hope is given of his recovery.
Sir John, who has been described as “the greatest Australian”, was promoted to the rank of General in November 1929, at the same time as General Sir Henry Chauvel, Chief of the General Staff, this being the first time that the rank of General appeared in the Australian Army List. Both officers reached the retiring age last year.
Sir John is 66 years of age. He was born in Melbourne on June 27th., 1865, the son of Louis Monash, of Melbourne, and a nephew of the great Jewish historian, Professor Heinrich Graetz, a distinction of which he is extremely proud.
After studying at Melbourne University, where he graduated in arts, law and engineering, he set up in practice as a civil engineer in rail, road, bridge, and water supply design and construction, and he has been President of the Victorian Institute of Engineers.
In 1887, when he was 22, he entered the Australian Citizen Forces as a lieutenant, being promoted Captain in 1892, Major in 1900, Colonel in 1912, Major-General in 1916, Lieut.-General in 1918, and General in 1929. As Lieut.-General he commanded the Australian army corps in France, and he was mentioned in despatches eight times. Monash Valley at Anzac is named after him.
On Anzac Day, it has been Sir John who led the Australian ex-servicemen on their march through the streets of Melbourne. In an interview which he gave the J.T.A. representative in Melbourne in 1929, Sir John paid a warm tribute to the distinguished part played by Australian Jewry during the war. Incidentally, he denied in this interview a rumour which had been circulated that antisemitic prejudice had affected his reception on his return to Australia after the war. He admitted, however, that one prominent Melbourne Club had a rule debarring Jews, and he had refused to give it an opportunity of making an exception in his case.
Sir John was one of the founders of the League of British Jews, which was formed to oppose Zionism, and was a member of its Council. He was one of the twelve signatories to the famous anti-Zionist letter which appeared in the “Times”, among the other signatories being the late D. L. Alexander, then President of the Jewish Board of Deputies, Dr. Claude G. Montefiore, the President of the Anglo-Jewish Association, and the late Mr. Lucien Wolf, Secretary of the Conjoint Committee of the Board of Deputies and the Anglo-Jewish Association.
Since then, however, Sir John has shown considerable interest in Zionist affairs, and when the Zionist Federation of Australia was formed, he became its Honorary President. After the Palestine outbreak of August 1929, he presided at the protest meeting held in the Melbourne Town Hall, and in the course of his speech, he said that he could understand that the Jews were animated by feelings of great bitterness at such disaster overtaking their people, while under the protecting hand of the British Administration. He could forgive them if they said harsh things, but it would be better now to determine what practical relief could be given to those who had suffered so cruelly in the outbreak. He pointed out that the British Government had acted speedily in insisting on a thorough enquiry. What concerns us now; he went on, is what is to be the future of the Jews in Palestine? Is this to be the end of the Jewish dream? We have assurances, he declared, that the British Government will faithfully fulfil its mandatory obligations, and that Great Britain will not throw up her trust. Despite all difficulties, he said, the Jewish National Home in Palestine will be rebuilt.