Childhood & Early Life
He was born on 27th June 1865, to Louis Monash and Bertha, née Manasse, in West Melbourne, Victoria.
His family shifted to the Jerilderie town located in New South Wales but to provide John with better educational opportunities, they relocated to Melbourne in 1880 and enrolled at the ‘Scotch College’.
This exceptional student joined the ‘University of Melbourne’ where he pursued subjects like Engineering, Law and Arts. He went on to earn a post-graduate degree in engineering in the year 1893. Two years later, he was awarded a dual degree in arts and law.
Continue Reading Below
He was employed as a civil engineer with contractors and engaged in construction of railways and bridges. He also helped the contractors in legal matters. He was also employed at the ‘Melbourne Harbour Trust’ for some time.
In 1904, he along with engineer J.T.N. Anderson began to work as contractors and consultants. But this collaboration ended the following year.
He then, joined hands with the builder-chemist duo David Mitchell and John Gibson to establish the ‘Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co.’. The following year, they entered into a partnership with South Australian businessmen to establish ‘S. A. Reinforced Concrete Co.’.
He earned a membership at the ‘Institute of Civil Engineers’ located in London and was also appointed as the president of ‘Victorian Institute of Engineers’.
In 1884, he entered the ‘Melbourne University Regiment’ (formerly known as the ‘University Company’) and three years later, he was made a lieutenant at the North Melbourne Battery.
In 1895, he was appointed as the captain and two years hence he was made a major.
He was promoted to the rank of a lieutenant-colonel in the intelligence corps in the year 1906.
In 1912, he was appointed in the 13th Infantry Brigade and operated as the colonel.
At the onset of World War I, in 1914, he assumed the role of chief censor in Australia and later, after the formation of the ‘Australian Imperial Force’ he was elected to the ‘4th Infantry Brigade’ as the commander. This brigade comprised of four battalions namely the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th.
Continue Reading Below
This brigade was trained by Monash and they set sail in December the same year. In 1915, the brigade sailed to Egypt and built a camp close to the Heliopolis region. They were then allotted to the ‘New Zealand and Australian Division’ led by Major General Alexander Godley.
This brigade again collaborated with Monash in the ‘Gallipoli Campaign’ and battled against the Turks before the troop was ordered to vacate the place.
In 1916, he was assigned to head his troop to the Western Front. The same year, he was appointed as the major general and given command of the ‘Australian 3rd Division’. He trained the troop and led them in battles such as ‘Battle of Messines’, ‘First Battle of Passchendaele’ and ‘Battle of Broodseinde’.
He was appointed to the position of lieutenant general in 1918, and later, he was appointed to the ‘Australian Corps’ as the commander. Even though he did not receive formal military training, he had a command over the use of aircraft, infantry, tanks and artillery.
In 1918, he led his troop along with other allied forces in the ‘Battle of Hamel’ and emerged victorious. The next victory came in the ‘Battle of Amiens’ which turned the tables in favour of the allied forces and indicated that the Germans were on the losing side.
The same year, under Monash’s guidance the Australian troop s registered many wins in battles fought at regions such as Mont St. Quentin, Chignes, Hargicourta and Peronne. However, the most important highlight of 1918 was his contribution towards the 'Battle of Hindenburg Line' which was a sign of the war nearing its end.
In October 1918, German prince and politician Prince Maximilian of Baden, requested for an armistice.
He was elected as the Director-General of ‘Repatriation and Demobilisation’ department which was constructed after the war was over. He also headed the ‘State Electricity Commission of Victoria’ in 1920.
He was one of the founding members of the ‘Rotary Club of Melbourne’, and also presided over the organization ‘Zionist Federation’ of both Australia and New Zealand.
Continue Reading Below
In 1923, he was appointed at the ‘University of Melbourne’ to the post of Vice-Chancellor and he resumed office for the rest of his life.
Awards & Achievements
In 1918, he was bestowed with the ‘Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath’, and the following year, he was made the ‘Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George’.
He was made the ‘Grand Officer of the Légion d'honneur’ and was also honoured with the ‘Croix de Guerre’ by France.
This prominent General was also made the ‘Grand Officer of the Order of the Crown’ (Grand-Officier Ordre de la Couronne) and honoured with the ‘Croix de Guerre’ by Belgium.
The United States bestowed him with the ‘Distinguished Service Medal’ which is given to individuals who excel in their services towards the United States military.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1891, John Monash married Hannah Victoria Moss and the couple was blessed with a child named Bertha. A year after the World War was over, his wife died of a fatal disease.
He authored the book entitled ‘The Australian Victories in France’ which was released in the year 1920.
On 8th October, 1931, this accomplished General suffered a cardiac arrest and breathed his last. At his funeral was attended by approximately 300,000 people who mourned his death. He was given a gun salute in the state funeral and his resting place is in ‘Brighton General Cemetery’.