General Sir John Monash Dead
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General Sir John Monash Dead

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General Sir John Monash, who commanded the Australian forces in the Great War, died this morning. He had been ill for a few days and no hope had been held out of his recovery. (A biography was given in the J.T.A. Bulletin of the 7th. inst.). He had a severe heart attack at the beginning of the week, and it was stated immediately that his condition was critical. Yesterday he was reported to be sinking rapidly.

From the day his illness was announced, the streets in the neighbourhood of his home have been thronged with Australian war veterans, anxiously enquiring for news of their war-time leader. The newspapers are full to-day of eulogies of Sir John’s services to Australia in the field and in civil life, and widespread sympathy is expressed on all sides.

The Prime Minister, Mr.Scullin, moved a vote of sympathy in Parliament to-day, and the other Party leaders joined in paying tributes to Sin John. It has been decided that he is to have a State funeral.


He was the first practising Jew to attain Army rank higher than that of Colonel in the British Empire, the “Evening News” says, in publishing a long report of Sir John’s death, to which all the afternoon papers in London are giving a great deal of space.

His men adored him, the “Evening News” goes on. Typical of the man’s independent, self-reliant courage, it proceeds, was the episode he revealed long after its occurrence. At the final evacuation of Gallipoli strict orders had gone forth that not a single scrap of paper should be left behind which could give the Turks any information. He had marched a mile and a half towards the beach when he remembered that he had left important documents in his dug-out. Rather than reveal his mistake, he walked back alone and recovered them; there was not a single soul between himself and the whole Turkish Army.

Monash Valley, in Gallipoli was named after him by the Anzacs.

Next he went to the Suez Canal, and then, in 1916, to France, as Major-General commanding the Third Australian Division, and was knighted.

General Sir John Monash, it declares, was an outstanding and brilliant example of the citizen soldier. He was an engineer who began as an “amateur fighting man” – just a Melbourne Volunteer – and at the age of 53 was commanding an army in one of the greatest battles of history, the final “100 days” battle of the Great War.

In June 1918, he succeeded General Sir William Birdwood as Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Army Corps in France. Under him the Corps won triumph after triumph in a brilliant series of attacks. He showed his engineering instincts by the great faith he placed in tanks, and devised an ingenious plan for getting them up to the front unnoticed for the battle of August 8th., 1918. He had the noise of the tanks’ engines drowned in the roar of the engines of a whole squadron of big bombing aeroplanes. Another clever move was his use of smoke shells with gas shells to mislead the enemy into believing that they always went together, so that they were tricked into wearing gas masks unnecessarily, while his own men attacked unencumbered by them.

Sir John was such an enthusiast for everything Australian, the paper recalls, that in the face of great difficulty he managed to get seven tons of Australian-grown tobacco brought to France for his men. He admired his troops, it says, even more than they adored him, and the proudest and happiest moment of his life was when he marched through the City of London with them in April 1919. He remained in London until the end of 1919, as Director-General of Demobilisation, and then returned to Australia, though rumour had been busy connecting his name with the post of Governor of Palestine.

Sir John Monash was one of the few citizen soldiers to attain the rank of General, the “Evening Standard” recalls, and it was under his direction, it says, that the Australians opened the great offensive which contributed so much to the final success of the Allies. His rapid rise in military rank, it adds, was due to his highly-trained mind and administrative ability.

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