Australia is the only country (besides Israel) to depict a Jew on its highest-denomination bank note, the $100 bill. The man in question is Sir John Monash–not a prime minister nor a member of the royal family, but the commander of the Australian military forces at the end of the First World War.
Monash (1865-1931) was a native Australian, born to German Jewish immigrants. He was a prodigy, graduating from the equivalent of high school at 14 years old (and at the head of the class). From there, Monash studied civil engineering. In addition to building many of Melbourne’s bridges, Monash worked part-time in the intelligence corps of the Australian army.
When war broke out in 1914, Monash was 49. He was immediately appointed a brigadier and sent into battle. As the child of German immigrants, he was initially regarded with public suspicion. However, he soon proved himself, gaining a reputation for leading his troops into battle and being the last to retreat.
Monash’s greatest victory came in 1915–strangely, while supervising a retreat. In a few hours, he evacuated 45,000 soldiers and millions of pounds’ worth of equipment from the middle of enemy territory. Later that year, he was promoted to major general.
In 1918, during the final months of the war, Monash was appointed commander-in-chief of the Australian armed forces. He was known as a quick thinker, an innovative strategist, and for always taking care of his men: even during battles, Monash arranged for hot meals to be delivered to the front line.