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Siir John Monash- The Great War's Premier General

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  • Siir John Monash- The Great War's Premier General

    All quotes from the book "Monash- The Soldier Whom Shaped Australia"

    My Articles, ALMOST LIVE, exclusive to The Armchair!

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  • #2
    'The Great War's Premier General " is a very big claim.
    "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
    Samuel Johnson.

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    • #3
      Am I missing something? Quotes, elaboration, links?

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      • #4
        Not even remotely so. There is a tendency of Anglophones to think the (non-American) Anglophone generals (/armies) were the best. Personally, I would rate Charles Mangin better than any British Imperial army commander, and he may not have been the best in the French Army (though he is my favorite).

        Tuebor

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        • #5
          I'm sympathetic to that view, I think the French get a raw deal in how they are treated in the anglosphere (despite my support for Currie). Please elaborate and make your case for Mangin. I made my case for Currie.

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          • #6
            It is quite impossible to make valid claims about who was "The Great War's Premier General ".
            As I've stated before in this forum, Australians seem to lose all sense of proportion when discussing Monash- "The Outsider Who Won The War" and similar hyperbole.
            Undeniably he was a fine Corps Commander but then ,so were Currie and the Britons: Haldane,Jacob and Maxse.

            Both Monash and Currie were under the orders of Sir Henry Rawlinson, Commander 4th.Army BEF, but how much Rawlinson contributed is uncertain.

            As posted, Mangin ,before Paris in 1918 certainly deserves mention, as does Petain who held the French Army togther after Verdun (notwithstanding his WW 2 behavior). Foch,of course, was the supreme allied commander in France and therefore may be said to have "won the war".

            Personally, if it came to it I would opt for the Australian Cavalry Commander Sir Harry Chauvel, but as he did not operate on the Western Front it's impossible to compare his performance with the others.
            "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
            Samuel Johnson.

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            • #7
              I would name Sir John Monash as the best general on the Western Front in Europe; he possessed real creative originality, and the war might have been won sooner, and certainly with fewer casualties, had Haig been relieved of his command and Monash appointed to command the British Armies in his place.

              FIELD MARSHAL BERNARD MONTGOMERY, CHIEF OF THE IMPERIAL GENERAL STAFF 1946-1948
              We emerge from the Unknown, rush across the astonished earth, then plunge back into the Unknown again.

              SIR JOHN MONASH
              MONASH THE MAN

              Routine based
              Social Darwinist
              Believed attack was the best form of defence.
              Skilled bushman- John was capable and did undertake walks of sometimes hundreds of kilometres.
              Even tempered until pushed hard.
              Socially awkward- Whether this was due to his lower middle class background or his only son status is anyone's guess.
              Gutteral vowels- John could speak English, German, French, Latin and Hebrew and read and write in all of these languages. In fact, he "forgot" how to write and speak in German and French at one stage, and had to re-aquire all these skills.
              Tactless- John struggled with this all his life.
              Self assertive- John's talent for self promotion was very much a product of his social upbringing of modest proportion.
              Prodigy piano player- His mother, Bertha, played the piano excellently, and John practiced dilligently to master this instrument.
              Card trick magician- Sir John would astound social circles with this, and retreat into it when he felt left out of the picture.

              Because my web-connectivity is not so good, I'll post this in several parts
              Last edited by Drusus Nero; 22 Oct 18, 01:42.
              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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              • #8
                Sir John undertook his University entrance exams, and passed, at 16 years of age.

                Due to a combination of overwork and low funds, he failed his first sojourn due to "wayward behaviour", wasting his time attending operas and the theatre. His studies suffered, but he retained this interest all his life. No sportsman, he displayed no interest in Cricket or Rugby, which did not endear him either to his teachers or his fellow officers.

                John undertook several engineering projects before he graduated in this subject from university. His time was deflected by dalliances with Gentile females, many of them, some of them way above his social station. As a Jewish boy of Prussian descent, John did not have the required social standing to make much of a "catch". He was charming, but shy in female company. John realised that the female psyche had weakness for man in uniform, and at Scotch College, Melbourne University, he rose from Corporal to Sergeant Major in a single calender year.
                His fellow students thought him very much an object of derision, nicknaming him "Corporal Potash", but this did not prevent him from becoming a probationary Lieutenant on 5 April, 1887, and enlisting in the Militia's Garrison Artillery.
                A prickly outsider in a predominantly Anglo-Celtic society where most officials were of British origin, John was mocked mercilessly, but this only made the young prodigy even more determined to succeed.
                His tremendous lack of tact was also a source of friction, ostracizing him from other militia officers; but the ego driven young man was unable to change this aspect of his character.

                THEY thought he was pompous and arrogant. He was, in fact, a poor shot with a pistol, something unforgivable for officers of this period, but this did not prevent him from having his commission confirmed in late October/November 1887.
                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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                • #9
                  As an engineer, John's workstyle was untypical for the period, but just what might be expected of a man whose mental faculties were in overdrive....Many of these traits he carried through to his time as a general....

                  List maker_ John would make lists of tasks to be performed, right down to the last detail, and cross them off one by one.
                  Methodical- As a list maker, he could not go on to another task before completeing the list he had made previously. This trait would also serve him well in France as he struggled to unscramble the many administrative tasks set before him. Unlike Napolean, who tended to leave the fodder and food for someone else to unscramble, John undertook all these logistic problems himself, and was thus in a sometimes unique position to know exactly what was logistically possible and what was not.
                  Precise- A product of his engineering training, John was also intolerant of imprecision in other officers, another source of friction.
                  Distracted by dalliances with females- His time in France was spent outside the line with a regular mistress, a great distraction, but one that cannot be said to be unbenificial. He kept this very much a secret from his wife and family.
                  Despite hard upbringing of modest means, John Monash was a very hard boss in civilian contracts; intolerant of striking workers, he also believed fully that wages should come down rather than go up. He, personally, had worked for much lower reward than his qualifications had permitted, and was intolerant of those unable or unwilling to do the same.
                  John completed his degree as a Civil Engineer with high 2nd Class honors in march of 1891. He expected First class honors, and so did his mother and father, and it was a big disappointment to him.

                  His first year as a full engineer also saw a recession in Australia, forcing John to seek employment in the North Melbourne Harbor Trust, building bridges and railways.

                  He passed his militia Captain's exam in 1889, but recieved no formal promotion, for reasons that he could not explain. There may have been no vacancies, but John's mind formulated predjudice against his obvious talents. The Militia Garrison artillery were taking up more and more of his time, and all for no monetary compensation.
                  In July of that same year, John turned many heads in the Militia and outside it for the first time with his first mechanical design of military importance.. It was a wooden practice model of a new breech loading 5-inch cannon to replace the Garrison Artillery's old muzzle loaders guarding Victoria's ports. He received no bonus or promotion, just 140 pound for expenses.
                  Last edited by Drusus Nero; 22 Oct 18, 01:46.
                  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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                  • #10
                    John's public lectures were impromptu and often de,ivered without notes. He was a voracious reader, both of fiction and non-fiction. His father, Luois, struggled to supply John with the nececessary volumes to feed his son's reading appetite. For example, in July of 1889, he delivered a lecture on one of his favourite subjects, "Mohammedanism", for which he recieved no reward.
                    In September, his military readings came to the fore as he lectured, again impromtu, to the Garrison Artillery again, on "Gunlaying". Described by the Commander of the Victorian Artillery Forces (Lt. Col. Doug Dean-Pitt) as "One of the best ever heared", Dean-Pitt said of the audience...
                    (they) came to scoff but remained to praise
                    In August of 1890, John began work on a Legal degree, and was further invited to read a paper "The Superintendence of Contracts".

                    January 1892 sees John passing his "Water Supply Engineers" exams.

                    1892 Military- Still no promotion to full Captain as yet, despite passing all his exams. John, not for the first time feels it is
                    because he is a Jew
                    May 1892- John is appointed "Chief Draughtsman" for the Hebrew Trust on a salary of 290 pounds/year. On leave for his legal training, he sues his old company for damages. On the first day of 1893, John passes his legal degree in the subjects of Property, Obligation, Roman Law, Consitiutional and Legal History.

                    But clouds are gathering, financial clouds that will send John Monash into a spin. On the 30th April, 1893, the Melbourne stock Exchange crashes, and banks are closed for a 5 day period.

                    In the military sphere, John's shooting finally improves as he tops the score in revolver shooting. He is starting to win wide renown in this field, at least. 21 August sees him delivering yet another impromtu lecture, this time on...
                    The Implements of War....i.e.. the discovery of explosives and the uses of guncotton and gunpowder and their relative forces
                    .
                    John further explains...
                    the nature of modern firearms and the uses of modern guns including heavy fort guns, lighter field guns, the quick firing guns which the Australian Auxilliary Fleet has been armed, the machine gun and the rifle
                    John recieves...
                    a hearty vote of thanks
                    But no promotion....

                    1893 is also a banner year for John's studies, as he finally passes his Master's degree in Engineering. More court work also follows close behind, and by August, Monash
                    Is the only one of 4 professionals still employed by the Harbour Trust
                    3 October- John addresses the opening of the Annual Gunnery Course at the Metropolitan Garrison Artillery. His subject is Coastal Defence..
                    ranging from the loading of guns to the impact of the projectile, describing guns and their mountings, ammunition, and the effect of the various natures of fire upon armour plating
                    .

                    He further passes law in Wrongs, Equity and Procedure, International Law, and then in December, FINALLY, LATIN, his old bug-bear...although due to unpaid fees he will not formally graduate for another 2 years...

                    John Monash is desperately overloaded with work at this time. His Mother has already died young at 44 years, and his father's business interests, always in the red, are no better. The family breadwinner, he feels the "pinch" in extremus
                    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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                    • #11
                      The lectures of 1894 continue apace...Another impromtu performance for no reward
                      improvements in construction of cannons by the use of steel coils instead of solid metal to allow the gun to be lightened and lengthened, while charges of explosives are increased, thus achieving greater penetration
                      March 1894- Monash turns down an offer to atten an artillery course at Shoeburyness, England, declining because he has to pay for it himself. His finances are still precarious.

                      April- Harbour trust gives John three weeks notice.

                      May- Despite glittering testimonials, Monash is turned down for two jobs.

                      June- Monash's own partnership lands contract for Strzelecki Consolidated Cable Tramway for a mine in Korrumburra, Gippsland. A voracious affair with his partner's wife, leaves him "socially awkward", and "withdrawn". His partner, Vic, abducts his step-daughter and files for divorce in late 1894. Johns Gippsland contract languishes in the wake of another personal disaster.
                      To top it all, in December of 1885, John's father, Louis, dies, leaving John 1500 pounds in the red. John takes to heavy drinking, blaming himself for his father's early demise. Louis was only 64.

                      But 1895 does see John finally graduate in Law "officially".

                      To distract himself from his troubles, he takes up carpentry, sketching and plays chess very poorly. Officially broke, he is still only a Militia Lieutenant. His company of Monash and Anderson finally land their first big contract post stock market crash at Landy's Dream Goldmine, building an aerial tramway to transport quartz.

                      To make ends meet, John sells clay on the Mornington Peninsula.

                      A ray of light shines for his military career, as he is promoted full Captain on 18 October, 1885
                      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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                      • #12
                        January 1896
                        - Monash earns life membership to the Turn-Verein after donating his collection of 400 German novels, later telling a cousin that while German, in a sense, "is his mother tongue" and he can still read it fluently, he can no longer write or speak the language "except in the plainest and most infantile form
                        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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                        • #13
                          Early July 1896- Outtrim steps aside, allowing Monash to become acting Commander of the North Melbourne Gerrison Artillery.

                          2 april 1897- Makes full Major.

                          1899 Easter Camp- North Melbourne Battery win the Annual Shooting Competition with 12 hits from 16 shots.

                          At his own expense, John now tours Europe to attend the funeral of Queen Victoria. He observes and comments on what he calls
                          emerging Prussian/German militarism
                          . He describes Europe as
                          a powder keg
                          .

                          John is also a voracious reader of military history. Colonel G.F.R. Henderson is a favourite, but he also closely studies Napolean at Austerlitz, and Wellington at Waterloo. He not only uses his reading to set tests for his men, but in 1912 they
                          form the basis of an essay "The Lessons of the Wilderness Campaign", (in which) he argues that successful commanders in the Civil War were all West Point graduates, and that Grant's success was facilitated by "a lack of political interferance
                          . The essay wins the army Gold Medal prize of 1912 and is further published in the Commonwealth Military Journal.

                          But that is to jump forward. For the moment, the financially struggling Major passes his exams for Lieutenant Colonel.

                          Still no promotion, though, despite all the accolades.

                          March 7 1908- Finally promoted to full Lt Colonel, Monash is tasked with
                          testing the efficiency of Australian Coastal warning systems against invasion.
                          . It's a tall brief, based on a "Russians are Coming" scare, but it peters out.

                          January of 1909 finds John back lecturing again, this time on
                          the Use of Existing Data for the Making of Military Maps
                          . This is another brief that is right up an engineer's street, for the precision it entails. But Monash is not finished yet. He focusses his mind onto emerging technology, after Harry Houdini arrives in australia to demonstrate flying machines. August of 1909 finds John on the
                          Founding Committee of the Australian Aerial League
                          . Monash's primary involvement is to
                          see how this new technology can be applied to military purposes
                          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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                          • #14
                            In October of 1909, he is with a group of officers discussing defense and mobilization plans.

                            Lord Kitchener arrives in that year to inspect Australia's troops. Monash is the officer selected to accompany him. "The Great Man" is suitably impressed with the results, but John can only grind forward. He has much on his plate. He is absorbed by Claude Graham-White's "The Aeroplane In War", and lobby's for military funds to be allocated. But the Army has a shock in store for the Major who is turning so many heads....The Army
                            abolishes acting command intelligence offerings from "part-time militiamen"
                            They cashier Monash from all his good work. John Monash is quick to complain of
                            shabby treatment
                            but the order stands, and on 5 December, 1912, John Monash is dismissed.

                            It is helpfully suggested by by Cyril Brudendall-White that Monash apply for command of an Infantry Brigade.

                            Suddenly, though, Monash is in big demand in civilian life. His former financing arrangements have matured, and he estimates his net worth at upwards of 30,000 pounds.

                            His military studies are not over, however. He
                            Translates "Kavalleristiche Monatshefte" (Cavalry Journal Monthly) for the General Staff
                            .

                            And finally, John Monash is given command of the 13th Infantry Brigade, on the 1st of July, 1913. Almost fifty years of age, portly and out of condition, he guesses this will be his "last hurrah". He becomes a "full" Colonel in September of 1913, and in October, lectures his officers
                            telling them they are "soldiers preparing for the possibiity of war rather than social prestige"
                            and that he wants the officers to
                            keep the men informed
                            He notes three basic principles that they must all follow, based on Grant and Lee
                            1/ When battle is imminent, always be ready to fight quickly on a suitable front; this helps decide on disposition for approach
                            2/Envelopment is more effective than frontal attack; this helps select the main objective.
                            3/Keep control as long as possible; this helps concentrate the decisive point
                            .

                            He issues a pamphlet entitled, "100 Hints For Company Commanders".

                            In late 1913, he is seeking medical advice on how far soldiers should march in hot weather.




                            Last edited by Drusus Nero; 22 Oct 18, 01:47.
                            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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                            • #15
                              Popular press begin to put their views across. Monash is attacked by the Melbourne "Age" for
                              overworking his men on manoeuvres
                              John shoots back that
                              they are training for war and not for picnics
                              But war clouds are forming in Europe, just as Monsh as forseen. On the 17th of August, 1914, he is appointed "Chief Censor". By september, recruiting offices are swamped with potential recruits, but Colonel John Monash "waits for the call". He is nominally in charge of 4 companies in Victoria and South Australia. John is also on several committees, and the chairman of several scientific bodies.
                              The 10th of September sees him applying, and accepted for command of the 4th Infantry Brigade, with 4 Battalions...

                              The 13th from New South Wales
                              The 14th from Victoria
                              The 15th from Queensland
                              The 16th from South Australia and Western Australia.

                              A "Hate Campaign" surfaces based on Monash's German origins. A petetion is forwarded to dump him from command. Rumours circulate that he
                              cannot speak English properly and that he got command of the brigade because of the wives of Monash and Pearce (Defence Minister) are related
                              There is no relation, and Pearce does not listen to the gossip. Monash brushes aside these threats, and begins an inspection tour of the various brigades.
                              In late November, 1914, 10,000 men arrive at Broadmeadows, Melbourne, and are issued with the pamphlet, "100 Hints For Company Commanders".
                              On the 14th of December, the Brigade is lead by Monash from Broadmeadows to Collins Street in Melbourne. Governer General Ronald Munro-Furguson privately describes Monash as
                              a competent Jew
                              21 December- Monash and the 4th brigade farewell Australia for Gallipoli
                              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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