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Siir John Monash- The Great War's Premier General

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  • #31
    21 August- 1915

    The August Offensive has nearly run it's course. For the Australians, it telescopes into "linking up the beach-heads", with their own offensive operations to their front devolving yet again into stalemate.
    Stopford's landing has been "roped off" by a combination of Stopford's own timidity, the inexperience of the "New Army", and the "politeness" of General Hamilton in failing to push the good Sir Frederick. In their minds, Hill 60, on the extreme left of the Anzac beach-head assumes an importance out of all proportion. The confrontation will last on Hill 60 for ten days, and suck in one Allied unit after another. Monashes 14th and 13th Battalions take the leading attack on this day....but, like so many other attacks at Gallipoli, the bombardment falls on useless ground, and the attacking troops are cut down yet again. Worse still, the shelling sets fire to the brush, incinerating the survivors. Godley is undettered, however, and feeds in 750 more from the 18th Batt., fresh off the boats that he had intended to keep in reserve.

    Its another shambles for the 4th Brigade, with more than 200 casualties removed the next night. What Monash refers to as "survivors" dig in at a frantic pace. Monash, rightly, claims the attack is
    a rotten badly organised show
    after another attack forced on him by Cox also goes astray, costing yet another 250 men from the worn out 4th Brigade.

    Cox confronts Monash over the 4ths "failure". Monash complains of "bullying". Every officer has been killed or wounded. From a Brigade that began the Offensive with 3350 men, only 1037 attend roll call. The 4th is removed to a rest area, but Monash is not finished yet by half....
    The real cause of the failure is the poor quality of the British troops. Over and again they have allowed themselves to be driven out of positions which have been...won by Australians and New Zealanders. ..they can't soldier for sour apples. They have no grit, no stamina or endurance, poor physique and they muddle along and allow themselves to be shot down because they don't even know how to take cover
    Writing in September of the August battles, Monashes sworn enemy, Charles Bean, will echo these sentiments without realising it...
    Well, the problem of the Gallipoli campaign reduces itself to- why can't the British fight? The British social formula breeds very poor feeble specimens of men and makes sure they are kept in their place...They have neither the nerve, the physique, nor the spirit and self control to fit them for soldiers
    Of course, it's not all the fault of the "Tommy" on the line. Their choice of Hamilton as CinC was questionable in extremus, and as Les Carlyon will write in 2001, Hamilton
    looks kind and avuncular, like a character from another British film that would appear 9 years later, "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp"
    And if Hamilton is altogether unsuitable to the task set before him, Les Carlyon further states, his superior Earl Kitchener, is even more so...
    Ever since he bustled Hamilton out there in March, Kitchener had been redefining his objectives as the whim struck him. Hamilton was to garrison Constaninople; Hamilton was to occupy the Gallipoli Peninsula. He could have more men; he could not have more men. He had to take Achi Baba and any other Turkish hills he ran into, but he couldn't have proper artillery; artillery was for France. Kitchener had a war in France, another at Gallipoli, another at Egypt and now a Balkan front was opening at salonika
    Carlyon also exposes Kitchener...
    One of the myths that has travelled down the ages has Kitchener as a master of organisation. As Hamilton wrote- with affection, it should be said- Kitchener "...hated organisation with all his primitive heart and soul, because it cramped his style
    So, if blaming the individual "Tommy" is politically incorrect, and blaming Hamilton and Kitchener more so, what are the basic errors that saw Monashes 4th Brigade cut" to ribbons and reformed again and again at Gallipoli?

    1/ First and foremost, it was amateur strategy, built upon the concept of "knocking away the props" that, supposedly, "held up" the German war effort. Those props were in fact, the other way around. Germany and the great German army was the organisation holding her allies in the war, not the other way around
    2/ With point one in mind, point 2 must be that this strategy, conceived in Whitehall armchairs and around the Reform Club Fire, had no concept of Turkish dispositions, the terrain to be traversed, nor of the necessary force needed to shift Turkish troops from a rugged area. Additionally, photo recon was in it's infancy, and flat trajectory artillery does not shift troops from trenches on rugged spurs. All of this had to be learnt at a cost...in blood
    3/ As the Center-piece of the "Easterner" strategic clique, The Dardanelles Campaign was a classic example of trying to do something, anything, other than confront what author John Terraine so rightly called "The Motor of The War", The German Army. All ideas that deflected men and materiel from this purpose, if not given proper resourcing and support, were doomed to fail as sideshows, which the Dardenelles undoubtedly was.

    We will leave Gallipoli, for I feel I have demonstrated that Generals like Godley, Hunter-Weston, Stopford, Hamilton, Antill , the Suvla Generals, and many others, turned the Dardanelles into a defensive slugfest costing the lives of
    21,255 British
    10,000 (approx.) French
    8,709 Australian
    2,701 New Zealand
    and 86, 692 Turkish dead.

    Wounded-
    73,485 British
    27,000 (approx.) French
    19,441 Australian
    4,725 New Zealand
    and 251,309 Turkish

    Next time we meet, Monash goes to lead his men in France, something he believes will be
    ...a doddle compared to Gallipoli
    From the transport he writes home...
    And so ended the story of the Anzacs at Gallipoli
    of the evacuation, he quips...
    ...a most brilliant conception, brilliantly organised, and brilliantly executed- and will, I am sure, rank as the greatest joke in the whole range of military history
    Last edited by Drusus Nero; 26 Oct 18, 21:27.
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    • #32
      Mid-March 1916

      Monash finds himself again in Egypt, temporarily commanding the 40,000 odd men of the Australian Provisional Formations; this is entirely due to lack of promotion, once again. Still a Brigadier, he thunders in a letter home to wife, Vic...
      I am the only Australian Brigadier who has served continuously throughout the campaign, without a single days absence from duty; and have secured 3 "mentions in dispatches" and have been recommended for special distinction
      The Divisional 'reshuffle' leaves him again short, with Walker for 1st Division, Legge for 2nd, McCay the 5th. Chauvel is to get the Anzac "Mounted" Division, and Monash? Birdwood states categorically...
      a man of very considerable ability, and with good administrative powers, (but he has not shown Birdwood) "that resolution which is really essential"...(and also) "among a considerable number of the force a great feeling against him on account of what they consider his German extraction"
      Besides...Birdwood feels that John "cannot ride very well", always a minus mark when joining "The Club"

      The 1st and 2nd are despatched for France forthwith, whilst Monash and his aide, Durrant are to "defend Egypt" even though...
      there is not a Turk "within 50 miles of the Canal"
      Route marches, exercises and parades take the place of actual combat, and John's superior, Cox, begins to take a "shine" to the 50 year old Brigadier. Cox recommends Monash for "a trial" as divisional commander, but Birdwood prefers Harry Chauvel, who is
      not a Jew
      But, Chauvel is very much needed for the Mounted Force in the Desert. General Godley also makes no bones about John's, so called, "lack of qualifications", Despite all the politicking, intrigue and favouritism for the "old school tie",, June of 1916 sees John Monash on his way to France at last, and in command of the 3rd Division, Australian Imperial Force, but still only on a trial basis. John is still not a member of "The Club", as he refers to it, that officer "clique" that went through the Boer War and such, of which Godley and the others are members of...

      Monash and Durrant land in Calais, then to Bailleul, and thence to Erquinghem-Leys, inland 80 kilometres, where his Brigade defend a 3kilometer front in preparation for the "Somme" offensive, under Rawlinson's 4th Army
      Last edited by Drusus Nero; 27 Oct 18, 02:08.
      My Articles, ALMOST LIVE, exclusive to The Armchair!

      Soviet Submarines in WW2....The Mythology of Shiloh....(Edited) Both Sides of the Warsaw Ghetto
      GULAG Glossary....Who Really Killed The Red Baron?....Pearl Harbor At 75
      Lincoln-Douglas Debates

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      • #33
        Drusus Nero
        This is not the proper way to post sources. Please do some research on sourcing.
        Thread will be reopened after I feel you understand what is required of you.
        Thank you
        ACG Staff

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