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The Rock-itt : February 2012
JOHN MONASH Sir John Monash (1865-1931) was born in Melbourne on 27 June 1865 to parents of Prussian-Jewish origin and educated at Scotch College and the University of Melbourne, where he studied law, arts and engineering. Upon concluding his university studies Monash developed an interest in the army, joining 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, rising to the rank of colonel in 1913. Until the outbreak of war in 1914 Monash set himself the task of learning the skills of artillery and engineering. He published, in 1913, an army-training manual entitled 100 Hints for Company Commanders. Once war was declared in 1914 Monash was appointed commander of the AIF's 4th Infantry Brigade based in Egypt at the age of 49 as part of the ANZAC Australian-New Zealand forces. Having served in the disappointing Gallipoli Campaign in 1915, Monash was transferred to the Western Front in June 1916, receiving a promotion to Major General and taking command of 3rd Division. Through the next two years Monash led his troops through numerous actions, including the Battles of Messines Ridge, Passchendaele and Polygon Wood, using pioneering raiding techniques that, whilst somewhat frowned upon by the British high command, nonetheless impressed with their efficiency and tight planning. Major General Monash made his real mark in 1918, having been earlier appointed corps commander of the Australian forces in May, succeeding General Birdwood, a British Officer, much to the dismay of Australian War Correspondent Charles Bean who had tried with Keith Murdoch to block the appointment of Monash. Until the Armistice on 11th November Monash led his forces through fierce fighting, firstly in the Allied defence against the great German push of spring 1918. Monash planned and executed the attack at the Battle of Hamel which began on 4 July, leading to the capture of the town by combined Australian and U.S. forces (during which he demonstrated to good effect his new strategy of peaceful penetration). Other similarly successful operations followed until late October, at Chignes, Mont St. By Simon Lyon Monash presenting a medal to a soldier after the Battle of Hamel American and Australian troops and the ruined village of Hamel in the background