Sir John Monash (1865–1931)

Portrait of Sir John Monash.

Soldier, engineer and administrator.

Sir John Monash was a distinguished military officer and engineer. Following his military service, Monash represented returned soldiers and frequently advised on military and engineering matters. He also retained an affiliation and concern for Jewish affairs.

1853: John Monash's father, Louis Monash, emigrated to Melbourne from Prussia.

1863: On a return visit to his homeland, Louis met and married Bertha Manasse.

1864: The couple returned to Melbourne.

1865: Sir John Monash was born in West Melbourne on 27 June 1865.

1877–1881: Monash was educated at Scotch College, Melbourne.

1882: Monash enrolled in arts and engineering at the University of Melbourne.

1884: He involved himself in student politics, being a co-founder of the Melbourne University Union. He was one of the first to join the University Company of the 4th Battalion, Victorian Rifles.

1885: During his mother's fatal illness, Monash interrupted his studies for full-time employment. He worked on the construction of the Prince's Bridge over the Yarra River, while continuing to study part-time.

1886: When the University Company disbanded, he joined the North Melbourne Battery of the Garrison Artillery.

1888: He oversaw construction of Melbourne's Outer Circle eastern suburban railway line.

1890: He resolved to finish his studies, and over the next two years completed arts, engineering and law degrees.

1891: Monash married Hannah Victoria Moss in 1891 and their only child, Bertha, was born two years later.

1894: After being retrenched from the Melbourne Harbour Trust during the depression in 1894, he formed a private practice with JT Noble Anderson as civil, mining and mechanical engineers and patent agents.

1897: By 1897, Monash had been promoted to the rank of Major and commanded the North Melbourne Battery, which was responsible for defending Melbourne ports, for the next 11 years.

1905: With business associates, Monash formed the successful Reinforced Concrete and Monier Pipe Construction Co Ltd.

1908: He was placed in charge of the Victorian section of the Australian Intelligence Corps.

1913: He took command of the 13th Infantry Brigade as Colonel.

1914: Soon after the outbreak of World War I, Monash was appointed commander of the 4th Infantry Brigade of the Australian Imperial Force. He trained his brigade in Egypt then commanded it throughout the Gallipoli campaign.

1915: Evacuated from Gallipoli with the 4th Infantry Brigade.

1916: Monash was given command of the 3rd Australian Division as Major-General.

1917: The Division's first major battle was at Messines in June 1917. Other battles were fought at Broodseinde and Paschendaele.

1918: Another battle fought includes one in defence of Amiens. In early 1918, Monash was made a Knight Commander of the Bath and in June was appointed commander of the Australian Corps as Lieutenant-General. His military reputation reached new heights with the success of the Battle of Hamel in July. From 8 August there was a succession of victories, culminating in the breaking of the Hindenburg Line.

1918–1919: As Director-General of Repatriation and Demobilisation, Monash streamlined procedures for the repatriation of Australian soldiers and presided over the AIF Education Scheme, which assisted their transition to civilian life.

1919: Monash returned home at the end of 1919 to a tumultuous welcome in Melbourne.

1920: His wife died early in 1920 after a long illness. Later that year Monash became general manager of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, developing the use of brown coal from the La Trobe Valley to produce economical power for Victoria.

1921: He was appointed chairman of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria.

1923: Monash was vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne from 1923, and in his final years the cause closest to his heart was the building of the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.

1931: Monash died on 8 October 1931 and was given a State funeral. An estimated 250,000 mourners, the nation's largest funeral crowd at that time, paid their respects.

1958: Melbourne's Monash University was named after him.

Further information is available in Notable Australians.