Sir John Monash: He remains Australia’s most famous general and successful soldier, but Sir John Monash was more than a military man. He was an engineer, a man with a taste for the finer things in life, and a deep compassion and interest in the men he commanded.
Monash was born in Melbourne in 1865, to parents of Prussian-Jewish origin. His initial association with the military came with his service in the Metropolitan Brigade of the Garrison Artillery. After stints commanding the Victorian section of the Australian Intelligence Corps and briefly, when war broke out, Chief Censor, Monash was sent to Gallipoli in charge of the AIF’s Fourth Brigade.
But it was at Hamel and the subsequent strategic achievements during the Hundred Days that Monash’s reputation was burnished.
When he died in 1931, thousands lined Melbourne streets to pay their respects. One of Sir Monash’s most lasting legacies is our Shrine of Remembrance. His passionate speech on the need for the Shrine on Anzac Eve 1926 in the presence of the future King George IV as well as his leading 30,000 veterans in the following day’s march, led to widespread support of the Shrine in the community – accelerating fundraising and quietening media opposition to the Shrine.
Sir Monash oversaw construction of the Shrine, and crafted the final inscription for the western wall: LET ALL MEN KNOW THAT THIS IS HOLY GROUND. THIS SHRINE, ESTABLISHED IN THE HEARTS OF MEN AS ON THE SOLID EARTH, COMMEMORATES A PEOPLE’S FORTITUDE AND SACRIFICE. YE THEREFORE THAT COME AFTER, GIVE REMEMBRANCE.