By Published On: 15th March, 2024Categories: Heritage0 Comments on Heritage 1603 words3 min read


It is now more than 100 years after the first landing of Australian troops at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915.  Much has been said about that campaign and its effects on the Australian psyche.  But Gallipoli was not Australia’s only involvement in the ‘war to end all wars’.  It seems that God’s providential hand was mighty on this youngest of nations at that time in history.  After nearly 2000 years, God’s Holy City, Jerusalem, was liberated from unpropitious occupation by the Australian Light Horse through the charge on Beersheba.  (If you haven’t read Col Stringer’s 800 Horsemen, you should).  But wait, there’s more!

Look at an Australian $100 note and you will see the face of General Sir John Monash (1865 – 1931), the son of Germanic Jewish immigrants. It was on the 26th April 1915 that he led the first reserves onto Gallipoli.  As we know, Gallipoli was not a military victory for the Allies, but throughout the campaign Monash showed extraordinary leadership abilities and achieved more than the other commanders involved.  It was he who orchestrated the successful and injury-free withdrawal of the ANZAC contingent from Gallipoli in December 1915.

He went on to command the Australian troops in Northwestern France in 1916 and became the first Australian to command not only Australian troops, but British and Allied troops as well, including Americans and Canadians.  He was the first soldier knighted on the battlefield by a reigning British monarch in 200 years, because it was he who masterminded and executed the breakthrough of the infamous Hindenburg Line of defences that the Germans had built.  It was this breakthrough, with an exceptionally low casualty rate, that caused the Germans to surrender on 5th October 1918.  In 100 days, the offensive commanded by General Monash, with the Australian Corps in the vanguard, had captured over 29,000 prisoners and had brought Germany to its knees.  The reputation of Australian troops was cemented forever in the psyche of Australians, and of the world, as being relentless, resourceful and formidable.  A Prussian General who had surrendered his troops to Monash’s forces stated that his men feared only 2 things – tanks and Australians – and when confronted by both at the same time, chose to put their weapons down and their hands up.  So, if anyone asks, “who won the first world war?”, tell ‘em, “the ANZACS, led by General Monash!”

Yet this great soldier hated war.  He wrote, “From the far off days of 1914 when the first call came until the last shot was fired, every day was filled with loathing and distress”.  Monash’s achievements earned him many awards and honours, but he was most proud of his job to repatriate the Australians back to their homeland, and did not return to his own civil career until that arduous task was completed. For only 5 years this Civil Engineer was a full-time military officer, but his influence for such a time as that, was without precedent.  And because of his Jewish lineage, and the high esteem with which Australians held him, anti-semitism in Australia was largely restrained.

After returning to his home in Melbourne, he took up the challenge of being head of Victoria’s Electricity Commission, establishing Yallourn coalfields and the distribution of that state’s electricity supplies.  Later, he became vice-chancellor of Melbourne University.  He was one of the principal organisers of the inauguration of ANZAC Day as a National observance.  His name is honoured in Monash University, the City of Monash, Monash Medical Centre, Monash Freeway, John Monash Science School, the South Australian Riverland town of Monash, the Canberra suburb of Monash, and in Israel, Kfar Monash (Monash Village).

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