General Officers of the Australian Imperial Force

Discussion in 'Military Biographies' started by spidge, Jan 1, 2009.

  1. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    General Officers of the Australian Imperial Force

    Separate Biographies for each General in the following posts!

    There were four grades of general officers in the First AIF, these being from least to most senior: Brigadier General, Major General, Lieutenant General and General.

    As with all other officer ranks, they could be temporary or permanent, except for brigadier general, which was always temporary. Temporary rank was generally granted while an officer was serving in a particular capacity. When the job lapsed, the officer returned to his permanent rank. This prevented an accumulation of officers at high grades without posts for them. Below, officers are listed in order of seniority of temporary rank held. The seniority column refers to seniority in the temporary grade.

    Most officers also held temporary or permanent rank in the AMF (Australian Military Forces -- the Australian Army back at home) as well as in the AIF. Some officers were promoted within the AMF while serving with the AIF. Officers holding higher rank in the AMF than their substantive rank in the AIF were entitled to retain the higher rank as an honorary rank.

    Seniority was on the basis of the rank and date upon which one had been promoted within the AIF. Where an officer had not been promoted within the AIF, regular army officers carried their seniority according to their appointment date within the AMF. Reservists who had not been promoted ranked below all regular officers, with seniority according to their dates of appointment in the active forces. Retired officers who joined the AIF and had not been promoted carried their seniority according to the date of their appointment to the AIF, but below other officers of the same rank.

    There were some British and New Zealand officers on exchange in Australia before the war who were granted AMF rank and seniority, but not necessarily the same rank and seniority as that of the army from which they came.

    The rank of Brigadier General was unusual in that it was only held as a temporary appointment in the AIF. When the AIF was formed in 1914, infantry and light horse brigade commanders and the divisional artillery commander were graded as colonels. They were regraded as Brigadier Generals on 1 July 1915 in order to bring them into line with their British counterparts, with seniority backdated to the date of their assumption of brigade command. This affected (with seniority date) Colonels J.W. McCay (15 August 1914), J. J. T. Hobbs (15 August 1914), E. G. Sinclair-MacLagan (15 August 1914), H. N. MacLaurin (15 August 1914), J. Monash (15 September 1914), G. de L. Ryrie (19 September 1914), F. G. Hughes (17 October 1914) and H. G. Chauvel (10 December 1914). MacLaurin had already been killed on 27 April 1915, and was promoted posthumously.
  2. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    General Sir John Monash
    27 June 1865 - 8 October 1931

    The best known and most revered Australian general of the Great War, John Monash was born in Melbourne, the eldest child and only son of Louis and Bertha Monash, immigrants of Prussian-Jewish origin.

    A formidable intellect, he was educated at Scotch College, where he was equal dux of the school in 1881, and at the University of Melbourne, from whence he graduated a Master of Engineering (MEng) in 1893 and Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Laws (LLB) in 1895.

    Monash was a successful civil engineer, lending his talents to the construction of roads, bridges and railways. He became wealthy as chief engineer of a company holding patent rights for reinforced concrete construction and was elected President of the Victorian Institute of Engineers in 1912.

    All the while Monash served as a part time soldier. He enlisted as a private in the University Company in 1884 and was commissioned an officer in the Garrison Artillery in 1885. Promotion was slow and he was promoted to captain in 1895 and was only a major in March 1908 when he was tapped by Colonel J. W. McCay to command the Victorian Section of the newly formed Australian Intelligence Corps, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Monash's interest in military history and theory came to the fore in 1912 when he won the Army's Gold Medal Essay Competition for an essay on the subject "The Lessons of the Wilderness Campaign - 1864" from which he drew tactical, administrative and organisational lessons applicable to the defence of Australia. On 21 June 1913, he was promoted to full colonel and given command of the 13th Infantry Brigade. It was with this brigade that Monash earned a reputation as a trainer of troops.

    Monash's first wartime post was his appointment to succeed Colonel J. W. McCay as Deputy Chief Censor on 17 August 1914. Like McCay, his tenure was brief, as he was appointed to command the newly formed 4th Infantry Brigade of the AIF on 15 September 1914.

    The brigade sailed for Egypt with the Second Convoy on 22 December 1914, with Monash as Senior Military Officer on board the convoy flagship Ulysses. Upon arrival it became part of Major General A. J. Godley's New Zealand and Australian Division and immediately began brigade training. Monash trained the 4th Brigade with the same rigour and attention to detail that had characterised his work with the 13th.

    The 4th Brigade began landing at Anzac Cove on the evening of 25 April 1915. The brigade took over the critical left centre of the line, Quinn's, Courtney's and Steele's Posts and Pope's Hill, while the valley behind them became known as Monash Valley. Monash organised the defence so as to minimise the strain on his men, especially those holding the worst parts of the line, emphasising the defensive role of machine guns. After defeating the Turkish attack of 19 May, the 4th Brigade was withdrawn into reserve on 29 May.

    In July, Monash, along with the other brigade commanders of the AIF, was promoted to Brigadier General, an appointment backdated to his assumption of command of the 4th Infantry Brigade on 15 September 1914.

    In the August offensive, the 4th Brigade was given the difficult task of slipping around the Turkish flank and capturing Hill 971 from behind. Monash was greatly hampered by his superior, Brigadier General H. V. Cox, an Indian Army officer of controversial ability. Amongst other things, he prevented Monash from leading his brigade from the front. Movement in the dark in such rugged country proved more difficult than planned, the whole operation ran behind schedule, the troops became scattered, and Monash halted his brigade to regroup short of the objective. An attack on Hill 971 the next day was a completely fiasco in the face of strong Turkish reinforcements, and wounded men were abandoned to the Turks. Ultimately, the whole operation miscarried and left a black mark on Monash's reputation as a commander.

    The 4th Brigade remained in the line for some weeks, participating in the attack on Hill 60 on 21 August before being sent to Lemnos for a rest on 13 September 1915. After three weeks it returned to Anzac, but there was no further heavy fighting. Monash left for duty with the base in Egypt on 12 October 1915. He resumed command of his brigade on 8 November 1915, and was evacuated with it on 19 December 1915.

    Back in Egypt in February 1916, the 4th Brigade became a part of the newly formed 4th Division, the battalions being split in two to create the new 12th Brigade. Monash remained in command of his brigade. Although the Australian government wished to appoint Monash as division commander, Lieutenant General W. R. Birdwood preferred to have H. V. Cox. He saw Monash as a skilled administrator but Monash did not fit his image of a combat leader, an impression reinforced by the failure of the attack on Hill 971. Favourable reports from Major Generals H. V. Cox and A. J. Godley on his performance retraining the 4th Brigade in Egypt and as acting division commander for brief periods recommending Monash's promotion led Birdwood to designate him as commander of the 3rd Division, then training in Australia. Monash remained with the 4th Brigade, however, for several more months while the 3rd Division travelled from Australia to its new training areas in the UK. In the mean time, Monash went to France with the 4th Brigade, and profited from a month of first hand experience in the trenches of the Western Front before he finally relinquished command and was promoted to major general on 13 July 1916.

    Monash threw himself into intensively training his division on the Salisbury Plain in England, attempting to incorporate the lessons of the recent fighting in France. His training of the division was an achievement as great as any battlefield success. On 21 November 1916, the 3rd Division moved to France, taking over part of the same "nursery" sector near Armentieres where he had previously been with the 4th Brigade. The division held this quiet sector for six months, taking some 2,500 casualties. Of these, three quarters were suffered in raids. Monash was a staunch supporter of raids, but their tactical value was low, and they were detested by the men.

    The 3rd Division made its first major attack at Messines on 7 June 1917. The whole operation was the product of long preparation and detailed planning, but the Monash's orders were particularly comprehensive. The GOC-in-C of the BEF, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, was impressed with Monash and his preparations, describing him as "a clear headed and determined commander" and noting "Every detail has been thought of". At a cost of 4,122 casualties, the 3rd Division advanced two miles and captured all its objectives, taking 314 prisoners and 11 guns in the process. Monash's arrangements allowed the men in the forward trenches to eat hot meals that night, while the wounded were expeditiously evacuated all day. At one point, Monash acted decisively but unfortunately, inadvertently calling down a barrage on his own men. He was criticised for remaining at his headquarters but with one exception of the morning of 8 June, when his personal presence at the front was sorely needed, it was proven the correct thing to do. On balance, the performance of both Monash and his men was excellent.

    A few weeks later, the BEF began its major operation for the year, the Third Battle of Ypres. The 3rd Division entered the battle on 4 October 1917, in the Battle of Broodeseinde. At short notice, Monash produced another comprehensive and well thought out battle plan. The division responded with another striking success. On 12 October, the division was called on to make another attack with even less preparation time, involving a longer advance against greater opposition. His attempt to have the operation postponed to gain more time was unsuccessful. Once again, Monash was criticised for not reconnoitring the front in person, and he allowed his superiors to speed up the pace of the attack in order to try and capture all the required objectives. In the event, the attack miscarried. the weather was bad and the artillery barrage poor. As at Messines and Broodeseinde, much also depended on the success of the units on the 3rd Division's flank, and this time the New Zealanders were unable to take their objective. Monash's control of the battle was able, and he made good use of his reserves and communications. But the battle was a debacle.

    After this, the 3rd Division was withdrawn from the line. On 15 November 1917, it became part of Birdwood's Australian Corps, becoming united with the other four divisions for the first time. The division then took over part of the line around Messines for the winter. Monash was awarded a Knight Commander of the Bath (KCB) in the New Year's list in recognition of his achievements.

    Continued next post!
  3. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    Part 2.

    General Sir John Monash
    27 June 1865 - 8 October 1931

    While Monash was resting on the Riviera and his men resting out of the line, the Germans began their great offensive to end the war on the Western Front on 21 March 1918, , throwing back the British Third and Fifth Armies. The 3rd Division was ordered south on 25 March, arriving in the Somme sector the next day. Monash had little time to deploy his units before they were in action against the advancing but tiring Germans. The division held its positions through a series of attacks that went on into April. The 3rd Division maintained an active front, advancing the line and capturing prisoners.

    On 31 May 1918, Monash assumed command of the Australian Corps and was promoted to lieutenant general. His appointment was recommended by Haig, and supported by the Australian government, against the opposition of correspondents Bean and Murdoch in "perhaps the most outstanding case of sheer irresponsibility by pressmen in Australian history". With a strength of 166,000 men, the Australian Corps was the largest of the 20 corps in the BEF, and the largest field force in Australian history. As Monash noted, it was larger than the either Wellington's or Napoleon's armies at Waterloo.

    Monash's first battle as corps commander, a minor one at Hamel, was a spectacular success. The battle plan combined an innovative approach to the use of aviation and armour with the most detailed artillery and administrative preparations yet. This was but the first of a series of great victories, on which Monash's reputation as a great commander now rests. His next battle was a larger one, incorporating all the innovations of Hamel, at Amiens on 8 August 1918. Few battles of the war were so successful, the Australians and Canadians driving all before them. Some 7,925 prisoners were taken and 173 guns were captured was the corps rolled over the German gun lines. In the wake of the victory, Monash was presented with his KCB on 12 August by King George V in a ceremony at his headquarters at Bertangles.

    Monash pushed his troops forward in the wake of the attack, with diminishing results over the next few days. On 23 August Monash made another attack at Chuignes, which forced the Germans to retreat back to the Somme River. A few days later the corps won perhaps its greatest victories at Mont St Quentin and Peronne. Unlike most of of Monash's battles, which were set pieces, this was a battle of manoeuvre, in which Monash's flexibility, foresight, imagination and skill had full play, and the corps forced the Germans from positions that they could not afford to lose, compelling them to retreat to the Hindenburg Line. Monash drove both his men and himself to the limits of their endurance, pressing the Germans all the way. Perhaps as a result, Monash's attack on the Hindenburg Line went awry, but as with so many flawed attacks in the past, the diggers fought on to a successful conclusion.

    Monash clashed with the British theorist, Lieutenant General Sir Ivor Maxse over the role of technology. Maxse still thought in terms of a battalion's strength being in its manpower, and that a battalion of 900 was essential. Monash believed that its strength was in its firepower and had calculated that a battalion of 700 with more Lewis guns would be more effective, as the majority of its firepower came from its automatic weapons. Events proved Monash correct.

    The role of the Australian Corps in 1918 was indeed a remarkable one. Comprising only 9.5% of the BEF, it captured 18.5% of the German prisoners, 21.5% of the territory and 14% of the guns captured. This represented an effectiveness 1.95, 2.23 and 1.47 times that of the British Army average. These victories came at a cost, but still considerably less than that of the Somme fighting of 1916, the Passchendaele fighting of 1917 or even the fighting at Bullecourt and Messines in mid-1917 and the results were immensely greater. The casualties were more or less matched by the 25,000 German prisoners taken; that many more Germans were killed or wounded is certain but their numbers are not known. Some 623 square kilometres of France was recaptured from the enemy. For his services on the Western Front, Monash was created a Knight Grand Cross of St Michael and St George (GCMG) in the 1919 New Year's list.

    On 21 November 1918, Monash left the corps to become Director General of Repatriation. Here his prodigious ability as an administrator served his men one more time, efficiently, fairly and humanely repatriating them to Australia. Monash himself returned to Australia on 26 December 1919. In January 1920, Monash, along with Lieutenant Generals J. G. Legge, J. W. McCay, J. J. T. Hobbs and C. B. B. White, was appointed to a committee chaired by H. G. Chauvel, to examine the future structure of the army.

    Soon after this, Monash left the Army. He wrote an account of his battles, The Australian Victories in France 1918, which he submitted as his Doctor of Engineering (DEng) thesis at the University of Melbourne. He remained active in the veteran and Jewish communities.

    In August 1920, Monash became chairman of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria. Under his leadership, Open cut mining of brown coal began at Yallourn in the Latrobe Valley, transmission lines were laid to Melbourne and the foundations were laid for the electricity grid which delivers Victoria's power today. It was probably his greatest achievement as an engineer.

    In 1929, Monash was promoted to full General in recognition of his wartime services.

    Monash died on 8 October 1931, aged 66. He was accorded one of the largest state funerals ever seen in Melbourne and was buried at Brighton General Cemetery in North Road, Caulfield South, Melbourne, Victoria.

    In view of the size and significance of his battles, his great intellect, his drive and the depth of his understanding of the science of battle, Monash's reputation as Australia's greatest general is secure. His fame has only grown over recent years; Monash University was named after him in 1958 and the Monash Medical Centre, the City of Monash and the Monash Freeway have since followed, and his face now appears on the $100 note.

    Sources: Monash, John, The Australian Victories in France in 1918; Pederson, P.A., Monash as Military Commander.
  4. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    Field Marshal Lord Birdwood
    13 September 1865 - 17 May 1951

    William Riddell Birdwood was born at Kirkee, India, where his father was serving in the Indian Civil Service on 13 September 1865. Birdwood was educated at Clifton College, Bristol and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He joined the Royal Scots Fusiliers in 1883. From 1885 to 1899 he served in India as a cavalry officer with the 12th Lancers, 11th Bengal Lancers and the Viceroy's Bodyguard. He served in South Africa from 1899 to 1902 on the staff of General Lord Kitchener. Promoted to Major General in 1911, he served as Secretary of the Indian Army Department from 1912.

    In November 1914, Birdwood was tapped by Field Marshal Lord Kitchener, then British Secretary of State, to command a corps composed of the Australian and New Zealand troops in Egypt. He assembled the small staff allotted to a corps headquarters in those days from hand picked officers in India. The corps soon became known as the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps or ANZAC. Birdwood proved a good choice to command the Australians, accepting them for the way they were without trying to enforce all the customs of the British Army.

    In March 1915, Birdwood was sent by Lord Kitchener to report on the naval attack on the Dardanelles. In a series of telegrams to Kitchener, Birdwood reported that the operation could not be carried out by the navy alone and that military operations would be required. He fully expected to command these operations, but was soon superseded by a more senior officer, General Sir Ian Hamilton.

    Birdwood chose to attack with his corps at Gaba Tepe. It was a bold move but perhaps beyond the capability of his force. In deciding to land at dawn, he showed great confidence in their training. Later Birdwood developed an imaginative plan for outflanking the Turkish positions north of Anzac that was incorporated into the August offensive. It too was ultimately proven to be beyond the capacity of the troops.

    Birdwood had great physical courage. Like many other senior officers at Gallipoli, he was contemptuous of danger, and at Gallipoli was very nearly seriously wounded as a consequence. Later in France in July 1917, he made a point of not moving his headquarters in order to escape shelling by a German 14 inch gun. He liked being with his men and was a frequent visitor to the front line. As a consequence, he was far more popular with his troops than the average First World War general.

    Although a fine leader, Birdwood was not a great intellect. He was no great strategist or tactician. Birdwood was the only corps commander to oppose the evacuation of Gallipoli, although the operation was becoming extremely difficult tactically and was losing its value strategically. Nor did he have any great gift as an organiser. Nonetheless, he replaced Hamilton as GOC of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF) and was promoted to lieutenant general on 28 October 1915. On 19 November 1915 he took command of the Dardanelles Army.

    After the Gallipoli campaign ended, Birdwood found himself again in command of a corps, I ANZAC, as of 17 February 1916, the original ANZAC having been split in two. He also became commander of the AIF, a post to which he was formally appointed in September 1916, and which he held until the end of the war.

    In France, Birdwood found himself being bypassed by the GOC-in-C of the BEF, General Sir Douglas Haig, and the commander of the British Reserve (later Fifth) Army, General Sir Hubert Gough. His troops were committed to costly battles at Fromelles and Pozieres without his concurrence, and he was unable to prevent these senior commanders from interfering with operations at divisional level. Although he objected to some of the operations, he felt himself unable to dissent. Birdwood weakly agreed to commit his troops to a second, back-to-back tour of the Somme that resulted in 6,300 casualties for no worthwhile objectives.

    Birdwood dismissed most of his senior commanders over the winter of 1916-17. As at Gallipoli, and indeed throughout the war, Birdwood's preferred method for relieving subordinates was on medical grounds. Sometimes this left incompetent commanders in key positions awaiting illness. At other times, there was a natural embarrassment when, inevitably, the relieved officers were pronounced fit by medical authorities.

    At Bullecourt, Birdwood once again acquiesced to Gough's plans but after his corps was transferred to General Sir Herbert Plumer's British Second Army in 1917, Birdwood at last began to emerge as a competent corps commander and become more assertive, insisting that his corps be rested after Poelcappelle. His conduct of operations at Third Ypres was characterised by both competence and caution.

    On 23 October 1917, now the most senior officer in the Indian Army, Birdwood was promoted to full general, the only full general in command of a corps in the BEF. In November, his I ANZAC became the Australian Corps, with all five Australian divisions under his command, and the largest corps in France. He found himself under pressure from both Haig and the Australian government to replace British officers with Australians, which he did, even though many of those officers were old friends and colleagues.

    The opening of the great German Offensive on 21 March 1918 found Birdwood in England, and he flew back to rejoin his corps. On 4 April 1918, it took over most of the Somme front. Over the next weeks, Birdwood was in command of one of the most critical parts of the whole British front.

    On 31 May 1918, he was given command of the British Fifth Army, then regrouping behind the front. In the final offensive his Army played only a minor role, and it never included the Australian Corps.

    In recognition of his wartime services, he was created Baron Birdwood of Anzac and Totnes in 1919 and toured Australia to great acclaim the next year. He commanded the Northern Army in India until 1925, when he was promoted to Field Marshal and became Commander in Chief, India. After he retired from the Army in 1930, he hoped to become Governor General of Australia, but despite the wishes of the King, the Scullin government insisted on appointing an Australian to the post instead.

    He died on 17 May 1951.

    Sources: Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1899-1939, Vol 7, pp. 62-63; Bean, C. E. W., The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918. Volume II: The Story of Anzac pp. 392-396; Volume III: The AIF In France 1916, pp. 147-148, 172-175; Volume IV: The AIF In France 1917, p. 24; Birdwood Personnel File, NAA
  5. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    Brigadier General Sir Robert Anderson
    6 August 1865 - 30 December 1940

    Robert Murray McCheyne Anderson was born in The Mint, Sydney, on 6 August 1865, the third son of Robert Anderson, a police sergeant. He was educated at Sydney Grammar, from which he matriculated in 1882. He joined the Bank of New Zealand, and after service in New Zealand, became manager of the George Street, Sydney branch.

    Anderson was commissioned into the 2nd Infantry Regiment as a second lieutenant in December 1886. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1891 and then to captain on 27 April 1894. The next day he resigned his commission, but remained on the Reserve of Officers.

    Anderson served as Sydney City Treasurer from 1897 to 1900, and then became Town Clerk. He also became prominent in the shipping and timber industries, making a name for himself as a very successful businessman. In 1911-12, he headed a Royal Commission into the sugar industry on behalf of the Federal government. Then in 1915, he advised the Minister for Defence, the Hon. Senator G. F. Pearce, on the organisation of the paymaster's branch. As investigator and Royal Commissioner, Anderson's reports were notable for their acuity, thoroughness and directness.

    Thus, Anderson seemed a logical choice for Pearce to send to Egypt to remedy abuses in the supply and procurement system, and to set up canteens along business lines. Anderson was appointed to the AIF as a colonel on 8 December 1915 and given the post of Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General at the Base Depot. As such, Anderson worked under the commanders of the Base, first Brigadier General G. G. H. Irving and then Brigadier General V. C. M. Sellheim, but also reported directly to the Minister of Defence, even recommending that Sellheim be restored to command of the base. Anderson was promoted to Brigadier General on 1 January 1916.

    Anderson set to work closing loopholes for petty corruption by reforming the clothing and fodder contracts, instituting a proper audit and control system. Anderson found the British ordnance system satisfactory and contented himself with training an Australian staff in British methods. Likewise, although he had brought an expert staff from Australia to open canteens, Anderson was sufficiently impressed by the arrangements that had since been made by the British that he disbanded the staff. Anderson built up the Anzac Hostel in Cairo for the reception of soldiers on leave, where they could find accommodation and club rooms.

    In the middle of 1916, questions arose surrounding the appointment of an officer to deal with the British War Office in London in negotiations concerning the method of payment for goods and services supplied to the AIF. Keith Murdoch, a journalist with considerable political influence in Australia, urged the government to appoint Anderson. Prime Minister Hughes was also of the opinion that a businessman like Anderson would be better suited to the task than Sellheim, the incumbent Commandant of the Administrative Headquarters, a regular army officer.

    Thus, on 1 August 1916, Anderson was appointed Commandant of the Administrative Headquarters in London. In this capacity, he represented the Department of Defence in dealings with the War Office, and was also the GOC AIF, Lieutenant General Sir W. R. Birdwood's link to the AIF Training Depots in England, then under the command of Major General Sir N. J. Moore.

    Within two months, Anderson had arranged a complete financial readjustment with the War Office. Instead of attempting to account for every item of clothing, arms, equipment and other goods supplied to the AIF, a fixed rate per head was agreed upon. This saved both the AIF and the War Office an enormous amount of complicated accounting. (The calculation of the expenses up to this point took until 1921, carried out by an officer dedicated to the purpose.) Anderson even arranged for an average to be taken of the amount of artillery ammunition fired, with Australia paying a proportion. For this work Anderson was appointed a Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG) on 1 January 1917.

    The strong business staff that Anderson brought with him to London looked at every area of administration. The system of pay was overhauled, and an audit conducted of the paybook of each soldier in the force, in his or her presence, after which he or she was issued with a new form of paybook. The system of issue of clothing to men leaving hospital was improved, and a sweeping reform of postal methods was carried out. Anderson set up the War Chest Club in London, opposite AIF Headquarters in Horseferry Road along the lines of the Anzac Hostel in Cairo.

    Anderson was impatient with red tape and abhorred "officialese". He could be tactless and aggressive when thwarted. He distrusted regular soldiers, whom he considered felt threatened by outsiders of outstanding ability like Major General J. Monash. A fiercely Australian patriot, Anderson became involved in a dispute over the composition of the Imperial Mounted Division and another concerning the appointment of Australian officers to high command outside the AIF.

    In April 1917, Anderson recommended Major General J. W. McCay for the command of AIF Depots in the United Kingdom to the Australian government, which accepted his recommendation, against that of Birdwood. Birdwood subsequently decided that Anderson should return to Australia.

    Anderson relinquished the post of Commandant to Colonel T. Griffiths in April 1917. He was created a Knight Commander of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in May, and returned to Australia via France and Egypt in June. Unfortunately, he was shipwrecked en route, but finally made it.

    In 1918, Anderson chaired a committee on defence expenditure in New Zealand. Later that year he became an advisor to the Treasury. After the war he returned to business, although he advised the New South Wales government on financial and commercial matters. He became deputy chairman of Mount Kembla Colleries, chairman of Australian Mutual Fire Insurance, director of Australian Gaslight from 1927 and was deputy chairman from 1932 to 1939.

    He died at his home in Double Bay on 30 December 1940 and was cremated.

    Anderson was a man of strong drive and quick intelligence who thrived on business and administrative challenges. He had shrewd and wide insight into business affairs, and in using his talents to the full, he gave his nation exemplary service.

    Sources: Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1899-1939, Vol 7, pp. 62-63; Bean, C. E. W., The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918. Volume II: The Story of Anzac pp. 392-396; Volume III: The AIF In France 1916, pp. 147-148, 172-175; Volume IV: The AIF In France 1917, p. 24
  6. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    Major General John Antill
    26 January 1866 - 1 March 1937

    John MacQuarie Antill was born at Jarvisfield, Picton, New South Wales on 26 January 1866, the second surviving son of John MacQuarie Antill. His grandfather, Major Henry Colden Antill, had served in America and India before coming to New South Wales, where he served as aide de camp to Governor MacQuarie. Young Jack Antill was educated at Sydney Grammar where he served in the school cadet unit, and became a surveyor.

    Antill joined the local militia in 1887. In 1889, he raised a squadron of mounted infantry in Picton, of which he was given command. The Picton squadron became part of the New South Wales Mounted Rifles (as it became known in 1890), in which Antill was commissioned as a captain on 19 January 1889. Antill came to the attention of Major General Edward Hutton, the commander of the New South Wales Military Forces. Hutton arranged for Antill to do a tour of duty with the British army in India in 1893, serving with the 1st Battalion, Devonshire Regiment and the 2nd Dragoon Guards. On his return to Australia in 1894, Antill was commissioned into the state's permanent forces as a captain.

    In November 1899, Antill was promoted to major and given command of 'A' Squadron of the New South Wales Mounted Rifles, a unit specially raised for service in the Boer War. Arriving in Cape Town on 6 December 1899, the squadron participated in the cavalry sweep to relieve Kimberley that began on 13 February 1900 and the last major battle of the war, the Battle of Paardeberg on 18 February 1900. The squadron was present at Osfontein, the entry into Bloemfontein, and the capture of Pretoria, and was involved in operations Transvaal and Orange River Colony.

    Antill returned to Australia on 8 January 1901, but was back in South Africa in March as second in command of the 2nd New South Wales Mounted Rifles, taking part in the capture of Potgier's convoy on the River Vaal in May. In eastern Transvaal, Antill was involved in a series of night marches that resulted in the capture of over 1,000 prisoners. Antill was twice mentioned in dispatches, was appointed a Companion of the Bath (CB) in 1900 and was made a brevet lieutenant colonel, returning to Australia a war hero.

    From 1904 to 1906, Antill emulated his grandfather by becoming aide de camp to the Governor General, Lord Northcote. After this he retired from the army and returned to Picton.

    Antill returned to the Army in 1911as Commandant of the Instructional Staff Schools. Widely known as "Bull" Antill, or simply "Bullant", he had a reputation as a tough, square jawed disciplinarian. Antill's devastating assessment of conditions at Liverpool Camp in 1913 caused a storm of indignation and a court of inquiry found Antill harsh and tactless, his allegations unfair and unjust, but no action was taken against Antill.

    On 17 October 1914, Antill was appointed to the AIF as brigade major of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, it being the custom to pair militia brigade commanders, in this case Colonel F. G. Hughes, with an experienced regular brigade major. Antill embarked for Egypt on 25 February 1915. In May, it moved to Anzac for dismounted action, taking over the section of the line on Walker's Ridge and Russell's Top from the New Zealanders. There the 3rd Light Horse Brigade was ordered to make an attack on the Nek on 7 August 1915.

    The capture of Chunuk Bair to the rear of the position by the New Zealanders and the German Officers' Trench which enfiladed it, by the 6th Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel H. G. Bennett, had been regarded as the precondition for the attack, but neither had been accomplished by the morning on which the attack was scheduled. Thus the attack on the Nek, intended as a turning movement, instead became a frontal assault. The bombardment of the Turkish trenches lifted at what appeared to be several minutes early to the light horsemen due to their watches not being properly synchronised with that of the artillery, giving the Turks ample time to set up their machine guns. The first wave of 150 men, half of the Victorian 8th Light Horse Regiment, went over the parapet led by its commander, Lieutenant Colonel A. H. White, who had shaken Antill's hand and said goodbye to him ten minutes before. A fusillade of rifle and machine gun fire cut down most of them, although some reached the enemy's trenches. The second wave followed, with the same result.

    Then the third wave, half of the 10th Light Horse Regiment from Western Australia, took its place on the fire steps. Its commander, Lieutenant Colonel N. M. Brazier, tried to persuade Antill, who was forced to remain at brigade headquarters owing to Hughes having gone forward, to call off the attack. But Antill had little confidence in Brazier, who was widely regarded as incompetent. Thus Lieutenant Colonel A. H. White's courageous by foolhardy decision was doubly tragic, for had he added his protest to Brazier's, Antill might have called off the attack. Under orders to attack, knowing that some men had reached the Turkish trenches, and mistakenly believing Hughes to be forward controlling the brigade, Antill refused. The third wave then went to their deaths. By this time Hughes had ordered the attack discontinued; but due to a tragic confusion of orders, the fourth line also charged. Of a total of about 300 men who made the charge in the 8th Light Horse, 154 were killed and 80 wounded. In the 10th Light Horse, 80 were killed and 58 wounded.

    Antill took over acting command of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade on 20 September 1915 when Hughes was evacuated sick. He remained with the brigade until the end of the campaign, but it never took part in another major action.

    On 1 January 1916, Antill was promoted to colonel and temporary brigadier general and confirmed in command. For some reason, Antill was highly rated by the British staff at EEF GHQ and for this reason, when three double squadrons were formed at Tel El Kebir on 23 May 1916, they were attached to the 3rd Light Horse Brigade for training purposes.

    The 3rd Light Horse Brigade took over part of the defence of No. 2 Section of the Suez Canal defences. Only in August was the brigade released to join the Anzac Mounted Division at Romani, too late to be decisive, and nearly too late to join the battle at all.

    At Bir el Abd on 5 August 1916, Antill began well enough by piercing the Turkish flank and overrunning the Turkish position at Hamisah, taking 425 prisoners. But as his regiments reformed after the engagement, they came under light shell fire, and Antill decided to fall back. He appeared to have lost his nerve, perhaps still haunted by the events at the Nek. The decision cost Major General H. G. Chauvel vital hours, and removed the 3rd Light Horse Brigade from the battle.

    Shortly afterwards a cable was received from Lieutenant General W. R. Birdwood, requesting Antill's services as a spare infantry brigade commander in France. Antill elected to go and handed over command of his brigade on 9 August 1916. He didn't have long to wait for a brigade, taking charge of the 2nd Infantry Brigade on 18 September 1916. He was evacuated sick to England in November 1916.

    Antill took command of the 16th Infantry Brigade on 20 March 1917. This formation was part of the 6th Division, which was then forming on the Salisbury Plain in England. Despite efforts, Antill was unable to get the medical authorities to certify him fit for active service again. Flunking his final medical examination, he relinquished command of the brigade on 20 September 1917 and returned to Australia, where his AIF appointment was terminated in December 1917. He was awarded a Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG) and mentioned in dispatches.

    In 1918, Antill became Assistant Adjutant General. Later that year he became Commandant of the 5th Military District (South Australia). From 1921 to 1922 he was Chief Instructor at the Training Depot in Liverpool, NSW. He retired again on 26 January 1924 with the honorary rank of major general.

    In retirement, he co-authored a play about the life of William Redfern with his daughter, Rose Antill de Warren, called The Emancipist, which was published in 1936. He finally lost a three year battle against cancer on 1 March 1937.

    Brusque of manner and speech, Antill was a courageous soldier, an able leader and above all a stern disciplinarian. Many British officers considered him the very model of what a soldier should be. But in Australia he never escaped his role in those terrible hours at the Nek that became a byword for senseless self-sacrifice and probably never will.

    Sources: Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1899-1939, Vol 7, pp. 81-82; Burness, Peter, The Nek, pp. 33-42; Bean, C. E. W., The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, Volume II: The Story of Anzac, pp. 606-633; Gullett, H. S., Volume VII: The Australian Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine, pp. 116, 169, 184. AWM File 4, War Diary of 16th Infantry Brigade.
  7. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    Lieutenant General Gordon Bennett
    16 April 1887 - 1 August 1962

    Part 1

    Henry Gordon Bennett was born in Balwyn, Melbourne on 16 April 1887, the second child of George Jesse Bennett, a schoolmaster. Gordon was educated at Balwyn State and Hawthorn College, and joined Australian Mutual Provident (AMP) as an actuarial clerk.

    Bennett was commissioned in the 5th Infantry as a second lieutenant on 14 August 1908. He was rapidly promoted to lieutenant in 1909 and major on 1 July 1912. When war broke out in 1914, he was serving as a major in the 64th (City of Melbourne) Battalion.

    Bennet joined the AIF on 19 August 1914 as second in command of the 6th Battalion. The original commander of this unit, Lieutenant Colonel J. M. Semmens was considered too delicate for frontline service, and was replaced by Lieutenant Colonel W. R. McNicoll, an officer ten years older than Bennett but still six months Bennett's junior in grade.

    It was as such that he landed at Anzac on 25 April 1915. Bennett took the first two companies of the battalion to the spurs on the south of the Lone Pine plateau. From there, they attempted to advance on Pine Ridge through the thick scrub. When some men suggested that the plan had miscarried and that they should they retire, Bennett told them that he would lead them -- forward. This he did, taking up positions on Pine Ridge. Around 4pm he was wounded, shot in the wrist and shoulder, while directing fire on the Turkish positions. Bennett was evacuated to a hospital ship but jumped ship and rejoined his battalion in the front line the next day.

    Bennett's courage and leadership came to the fore at the Second Battle of Krithia on 8 May 1915. Ordered by Brigadier General J. W. McCay to advance towards the Turkish positions in broad daylight, Bennett led his men forward under heavy fire, first at a steady walk, then by rushes. Men were hit all around him, including McNicoll but Bennett miraculously remained unscathed, apparently unable to be killed by conventional means. Bennett dug in with about twenty men at the furthest point reached by the advance. He became commander of the battalion the next day, the only original officer of the 6th Battalion left standing.

    On 7 August 1915, Bennett and the 6th Battalion were ordered to capture the German Officers' Trench. It was a dangerous and desperate operation, but a necessary one, because machine guns at German Officers' enfiladed the positions at Russell's Top, Pope's Hill and Quinn's Post. As a result of the trenches and tunnels through which the advance was to begin being filled with debris by mine explosions, the attack became disorganised and was halted by the Turks. Ordered to try again by Major General H. B. Walker, who knew that the whole campaign plan required the capture of the position, Bennett and the 2nd Brigade's Brigade Major, Major C. H. Jess, reorganised the troops and made a second attempt. It too failed. Walker then ordered a third attempt which Bennett resolved to lead in person. However, Brigadier General J. K. Forsyth and Major D. J. Glasfurd managed to prevail upon Walker to cancel the attack.

    For his services at Gallipoli, Bennett was twice mentioned in dispatches and was made a Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG).

    In France, Bennett continued to add to the reputation that he had won at Gallipoli. At Pozieres, Bennett located his headquarters in a log hut that was struck by shells six times but was saved by the debris that had fallen on it. Bennett feared for his men, who were being mercilessly shelled in one of the most ferocious bombardments of the war, in which they were constantly being buried and soldiers were being driven mad. Somehow they managed to hold on. A few weeks later, while supervising a trench raid by the 8th Battalion one night, Bennett noticed that the patrol had returned without their lieutenant. Taking his runner with him, he immediately went out into No Man's Land in search of the missing officer. He found him, wounded and tangled in the wire, and brought him back. The wounded officer, Lieutenant W. D. Joynt, made a full recovery and later won the Victoria Cross.

    On 3 December 1916, Bennett took over command of the 3rd Infantry Brigade and was promoted to colonel and temporary brigadier general. At 29, he became the youngest ever general in the Australian army. He led the brigade for the rest of the war, participating in the Advance to the Hindenburg Line (March 1917), Second Bullecourt (May 1917), Menin Road (September 1917), the Lys (April 1918), Amiens (August 1918) and the Hindenburg Line (September 1918). For his services France, Bennett was mentioned in dispatches six more times and was made a Companion of the Bath (CB) in 1918.

    After the war, Bennett worked as a clothing manufacturer and a chartered accountant. He became chairman of the New South Wales State Repatriation Board in 1922. In October 1928, he became one of the three commissioners administering the City of Sydney. He was head of the New South Wales Chamber of Manufacturers from 1931 to 1933 and Australian Chamber of Manufacturers from 1933 to 1934.

    Bennett commanded the 9th Infantry Brigade from 1921 to 1926 and then the 2nd Division from 1926 to 1932. He was promoted to major general on 1 August 1930. In 1937, Bennett published a series of articles in the Sydney Sunday Sun, strongly criticising the nation's and the army's lack of preparedness for another major war and the agenda of regular officers to reserve senior commands for themselves. Eventually the Military Board asked Bennett to discontinue the series. No action was taken against Bennett but he had become a controversial figure.

    When war broke out in 1939 Bennett was the senior general on the active list and at 52, still young enough for an active command. But he was passed over for command of the AIF in favour of Major General T. A. Blamey. As new divisions were formed, Bennett was passed over again and again, although he was given charge of the Eastern Command Training Depot and like a number of Great War generals, given a command in the Volunteer Defence Corps, the Australian version of "Dad's Army". The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir C. B. B. White, when pressed, informed Bennett that he had "certain qualities and certain disqualities" for an active command.

    The death of White in a plane crash, however, gave Bennett his chance. White was replaced by Lieutenant General V. A. H. Sturdee, the commander of the 8th Division, who felt that Bennett was qualified as his replacement, and that his antipathy towards regular officers had died down. The 8th Division began to move to Malaya in February 1941 and Bennett moved there with his advanced headquarters on 4 February. A frustrating period followed, for his command was low on the global priority list. Bennett would be appointed GOC AIF Malaya, but only two brigades of his division were sent to Malaya. The remaining brigade was spread out across the islands to the north of Australia. Bennett's relations with his British superior, Lieutenant General E. A. Percival, were not be good, for Bennett never hesitated to openly criticise the British whenever he felt that it was warranted. In any event, Bennett would be the least of Percival's problems.

    On 8 December 1941, the Japanese landed in Malaya and soon gained the upper hand. Despite some local successes, such as at Gemas on 14 January 1942, Bennett and his men faired little better than the British soldiers they derided. The whole army was forced to withdraw to Singapore by the end of the month. On 8 January 1942 the Japanese landed on Singapore Island, driving the Australians back towards the city. On 15 February 1941, Percival surrendered to Lieutenant General T. Yamashita. The fall of Singapore was one of the greatest disasters in Australian history.

    Bennett elected not to surrender. He ordered his men issued with new clothing and two days' rations, and handed over command of the 8th Division to Brigadier C. A. Callaghan. With his aide, Lieutenant G. H. Walker and a staff officer, Major C. J. A. Moses, and some planters serving with the volunteer forces in Malaya, Bennett commandeered a sampan at gunpoint and slipped away from Singapore at 1am. In this they made the dangerous trip across the Malacca Straight to the east coast of Sumatra, where they transferred to a harbour launch, the Tern, in which they sailed up Sumatra's Djambi River. They were about to set off on the next stage of their journey when Bennett heard that help was urgently needed by a group of wounded women and children stranded on Singkep Island. A Dutch doctor had procured a launch, the Heather, but had no one to operate its diesel engine. Bennett asked for volunteers from the crew of the Tern and three men stepped forward. Heather duly made the trip and the three men eventually reached India. Meanwhile the three intrepid Australians reached Padang, on the west coast of Sumatra. From there they flew to Java, from whence Bennett went ahead of them on a Qantas plane to Australia, arriving in Melbourne on 2 March 1942. It is estimated that some 3,000 people escaped from Singapore. Thousands of others were not so lucky; they were killed by bombs or bullets, drowned, shipwrecked or, like the nurses of the 2/13 General Hospital, murdered by the Japanese.

    Sources: Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1940-1980, pp.164-165; AWM 183/7; Bean, C. E. W., The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918. Volume I: The Story of Anzac pp.133, 382, 411-420; Volume II: The Story of Anzac pp. 31-32, 41, 602-606; Volume III: The AIF In France 1916, pp. 589-590; Joynt, W.D., Breaking the Road for the Rest, pp. 97-104, 188-190; Wigmore, The Japanese Thrust, pp. 30-35, 381-388, 650-652
  8. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    Lieutenant General Gordon Bennett
    16 April 1887 - 1 August 1962

    Part 2

    The response to Bennett's escape was mixed. Many senior officers, including Sturdee, felt that Bennett had deserted his men. But Prime Minister John Curtin issued a statement that read:

    I desire to inform the nation that we are proud to pay tribute to the efficiency, gallantry and devotion of our forces throughout the struggle. We have expressed to Major General Bennett our confidence in him. His leadership and conduct were in complete conformity with his duty to the men under his command and to his country. He remained with his men until the end, completed all formalities in connection with the surrender, and then took the opportunity and risk of escaping.

    While Bennett may not have had many answers to the Japanese tactics, he did compile notes on the subject, and eventually published an entire manual that was circulated with the Australian Army at large.

    On 7 April 1942, Bennett was promoted to lieutenant general and given command of III Corps in Perth, responsible for guarding Western Australia. Initially this was a key post but it gradually became a backwater. On being informed by General T. A. Blamey that his chances of another active command were slim, a bitterly disappointed Bennett transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 9 May 1944.

    Bennett published his own account of the campaign in Malaya later in the year in his book Why Singapore Fell. When the war ended, Percival, released from captivity, sent a letter to Blamey accusing Bennett of relinquishing his command without permission. Instead of just tearing it up, Blamey convened a court of enquiry under Major General V. P. H. Stanke, who found that Bennett was not justified in handing over his command, or in leaving Singapore. A storm of protest erupted from men of the 8th Division, who saw their own performance on trial as well, so on 17 November 1945, Prime Minister J. B. Chifley appointed a Royal Commission under Justice G. Ligertwood to report on the circumstances surrounding Bennett's escape. The commissioner concluded that Bennett had not been a prisoner of war at the time and was under orders to surrender. Very few legal or military experts would agree with this conclusion.

    Bennett became an orchardist at Glenorie, near Sydney, until 1955. He wrote a number of articles on military topics and continued to publicly defend his actions. He died on 1 August 1962 and was cremated.

    Bennett's World War I career has been completely overshadowed by he events of the first weeks of the Pacific war. But his courage should not be forgotten.

    Sources: Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1940-1980, pp.164-165; AWM 183/7; Bean, C. E. W., The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918. Volume I: The Story of Anzac pp.133, 382, 411-420; Volume II: The Story of Anzac pp. 31-32, 41, 602-606; Volume III: The AIF In France 1916, pp. 589-590; Joynt, W.D., Breaking the Road for the Rest, pp. 97-104, 188-190; Wigmore, The Japanese Thrust, pp. 30-35, 381-388, 650-652
  9. spidge

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    Brigadier General Alfred Bessell-Browne
    3 September 1877 - 3 August 1947

    Alfred Joseph Bessell-Browne was born in Auckland, New Zealand, on 3 September 1877, the son of an insurance inspector. The family immigrated to New South Wales where Bessell-Browne attended Camden Grammar. They later moved to Western Australia where he attended Perth High School. Bessell-Browne took a job as a clerk in the patents office in 1896.

    Bessell-Browne enlisted in the Perth Artillery Volunteers and was a sergeant in 1899 when he volunteered for South Africa, enlisting in the 1st Western Australian (Mounted Infantry) Contingent as a private. His unit reached Cape Town in November 1899 and participated in the Kimberley Relief Force and operations at Colesburg, Hoot Neck, Zand River, Klipps River, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Diamond Hill, Wittenbergen, Bothaville, the Orange Free State, Transvaal and Cape Colony. Bessell-Browne was promoted through all the NCOS ranks and was commissioned as a lieutenant on 21 April 1900. He returned to Australia in March 1901 but immediately joined the 5th Western Australian Contingent as a lieutenant, serving as adjutant and then second in command. He was promoted to captain in June 1901 and in July was was mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). From March to May 1902 he was attached to the staff of General F. Wing.

    Bessell-Browne returned to Australia in May 1902 and rejoined the 1st Western Australian Field Battery with the rank of lieutenant and honorary captain. He was promoted to captain in 1908 and the next year took the Diploma of Military Science course at the University of Sydney in the same class as Lieutenant Colonel J. J. T. Hobbs. He was promoted to major on 28 August 1911, and took command of his battery, now known as the 37th Field Battery.

    On 28 August 1914, Bessell-Browne was appointed to the AIF with the rank of major and given command of the 8th Field Artillery Battery. Calling for volunteers from his battery, the whole parade stepped forward. The youngest of the trainees were rejected and their places filled by older trained men. Otherwise the battery went as it stood, departing Fremantle for Egypt on 2 November 1914 and arriving there on 12 December 1914.

    Due to the difficulty of locating gun positions in the rugged terrain at Anzac, Bessell-Browne's 8th Battery was not landed until 1 May 1915, when two guns were hauled by 160 men to a point below the crest of the 400 Plateau. On 3 May 1915, Major General W. T. Bridges ordered Bessell Browne to move his guns up to the Plateau. On the night of 4 May, Bessell-Browne complied but at dawn it was discovered that they were in visible to the Turks. The guns were covered up with bushes and withdrawn at nightfall. Bridges went in person to Bessell-Browne and explained what he wanted done. As a result, at 4pm that afternoon, in full view of the Turks, the crews of the two guns hauled them up to the 400 Plateau on ropes, ran then forward in the infantry's trenches, fired fourteen shots as rapidly as possible at the Turks at 450 yards range, and withdrew before anyone became a casualty.

    Bridges determined that the operation should be repeated, and so it was, on 6 May, with 20 more rounds being fired without loss. Bridges then ordered a third shoot. The commander of the 1st Division Artillery, Colonel J. J. T. Hobbs, whose own son was among the gunners, objected but was overruled. The shoot was carried out a third time at 7pm. By this time the Turks were starting to reply quicker and two men were wounded. Hobbs recommended Bessell-Browne and Sergeants J. R. Braidwood and W. D. Wallis for decorations. Braidwood and Wallis were awarded the Military Medal.

    On 9 May, guns were finally dragged up the Pimple, a protruding part of the line on the 400 Plateau. During the Turkish attack on 19 May 1915, Bessell-Browne feared that his guns might be lost and ordered the breech blocks removed but the crisis passed. The battery was frequently shelled from two sides. From 13 to 17 July, the 8th Battery was involved in a daily duel with the Turkish field artillery. On 2 August 1915, Bessell-Browne took over as commander of the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade. He was switched to the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade on 27 August, back to the 3rd again on 8 September and then back to the 2nd on 13 September. During the evacuation of Anzac he commanded the Rear Party Artillery. The last round fired was from a gun of the 8th Battery. Explosives were ten laid in each remaining guns to wreck them. For his services at Gallipoli, Bessell-Browne was made a Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG) and mentioned in dispatches.

    Bessell-Browne was promoted to temporary lieutenant colonel on 15 October 1915, a promotion made permanent on 1 January 1916. He was evacuated to Egypt sick on 12 January 1916. He rejoined the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade in Egypt on 19 February 1916. It embarked for France on 12 March. Bessell-Browne's brigade participated in the attack on the Pozieres, which saw first use of a creeping barrage by Australian troops. On 8 September 1916 he was attached to the 1st Division Artillery and commanded it from 28 September 1916 to 18 January 1917 in the absence of Brigadier General J. J. T. Hobbs.

    On 18 January 1917, Bessell-Browne became commander of the 5th Division Artillery. Two days later he was promoted to colonel and temporary brigadier general. He commanded the 5th Division Artillery at Bullecourt and Third Ypres, where he employed artillery to cover the flank. In the mobile warfare that followed the German offensive of 1918, Bessell-Browne showed himself adaptable and flexible and pioneered new tactics to provide close support for the infantry. In the attack on Bellicourt, he was able to put down an accurate barrage at 90 degrees from the line of sight to cover the attack at Le Catelet. From 16 to 24 October 1918, Bessell-Browne commanded the US 30th Division's artillery, for which he was awarded the American Distinguished Service Medal.

    On 8 November 1918, Bessell-Browne took Anzac leave to return to Australia on furlough. The war ended three days later so he rejoined the 5th Division artillery on 1 December 1918. He finally returned to Australia in 19 April 1919 and was demobilised in July. For his services on the Western Front, Bessell-Browne was made a Companion of the Bath (CB). In all, he had been mentioned in dispatches no less than nine times.

    After the war, he established an indent agents' firm. During World War II he commanded the Volunteer Defence Corps in Western Australia. He retired as a brigadier general in 1942.

    Bessell-Browne died on 3 August 1947 and was cremated with full military honours.

    Sources: Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1899-1939, Vol 7, pp.278-279; AWM 183/7; Bean, C. E. W., The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918. Volume I: The Story of Anzac p. 58; Volume II: The Story of Anzac pp. 67-70, 143, 349

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    Field Marshall
    BLAMEY, Sir THOMAS ALBERT (1884-1951),

    Part 1

    Army officer and commissioner of police, was born on 24 January 1884 at Lake Albert, near Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, seventh child of Richard Henwood Blamey, butcher, and his native-born wife Margaret Louisa, née Murray. Born in Cornwall, England, Richard had come to Australia in 1862 at the age of 16. Having worked as a cattleman in Queensland, he moved to the Wagga Wagga district where he took up a small property, and also found jobs as a contract drover and as an overseer of shearing-sheds.

    Educated at Wagga Wagga Superior Public School, Thomas was employed from 1899 as a local pupil-teacher and participated enthusiastically in the school cadets. In July 1903 he became an assistant-teacher at Fremantle Boys' School, Western Australia. There he continued to develop his leadership skills, particularly in the cadets. He attended Claremont Methodist Church, organized church activities and preached occasional sermons. By early 1906 he had been offered the post of probationary minister at Carnarvon, but, before accepting, saw an advertisement inviting applications for commissions in the Commonwealth Cadet Forces. In an Australia-wide military examination Blamey was placed third; he was appointed lieutenant on the Administrative and Instructional Staff in November, and posted to Melbourne.

    Throughout the next five years he applied himself to his work with the cadets and endeavoured to improve his military knowledge. On 8 September 1909 he married 34-year-old Minnie Caroline Millard with Anglican rites in her parents' home, Hylands, at Toorak. They were to have two sons: Charles, known as 'Dolf' (b. 1910), died in an aeroplane crash in 1932 while serving with the Royal Australian Air Force; Thomas (b. 1914) became a solicitor and served in the Australian Imperial Force in World War II. In 1910 their father had transferred to the Australian Military Forces and was promoted captain.

    Following a competitive examination, in 1912 Blamey began the course at the Staff College, Quetta, India, indicating his resolve to make a success of his career. Initially unaccompanied by his family, he lived in the mess for a year. Late in 1913 he graduated with a B pass. In his report the commandant claimed that Blamey 'came here uneducated (in a military sense) but all his work during his first year was characterised by a very genuine determination to overcome this defect. By the end of the first year he had succeeded beyond all expectation'. The commandant also noted: 'If he is not gifted with a large amount of tact he is not, in any way, conspicuously devoid of that very necessary quality'. When Blamey was sent to England in May 1914 for further experience, his family sailed home to Melbourne.

    On the outbreak of World War I Major Blamey served briefly at the War Office in London before joining the 1st Australian Division in Egypt as general staff officer, 3rd grade (intelligence). He landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, with Major General (Sir) William Bridges and Colonel (Sir) Brudenell White, and next month led a small patrol behind enemy lines in a daring effort to locate Turkish guns. In July Blamey was promoted temporary lieutenant colonel and went back to Egypt to help form the 2nd Division; he returned to Gallipoli in September and was appointed the division's assistant-adjutant and quartermaster general.

    In the early months of 1916 the A.I.F. began moving to France. By July, when the 1st Division was in action on the Somme, Blamey had succeeded White as chief of staff. After short periods in command of a battalion and a brigade (in which he saw no action), Blamey continued as G.S.O.1, 1st Division, until June 1918. He was then promoted temporary brigadier and made chief of staff of the Australian Corps under Lieutenant General Sir John Monash.

    Working in close partnership with his commander, Blamey helped to plan the successful battle at Hamel in July, the offensive beginning on 8 August and the subsequent breaking of the Hindenburg line. Blamey was not the driving force behind the corps' achievements—with a commander of Monash's calibre that was not possible. Nor was he was a mere clerk, responding to Monash's directions. With strong views on the conduct of operations, he was not afraid to express his opinions to Monash and—on his commander's behalf—kept a firm grip on activities throughout the corps. Blamey bore wide responsibility and gained a deep understanding of all facets of contemporary warfare. The demanding Monash thought that Blamey 'possessed a mind cultured far above the average, widely informed, alert and prehensile. He had an infinite capacity for taking pains'. General William Birdwood, the commander of the A.I.F., described him as 'an exceedingly able little man, though by no means a pleasing personality'. Blamey was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (1917) and the French Croix de Guerre (1919); he was appointed C.M.G. (1918) and C.B. (1919), and was mentioned in dispatches seven times.

    Returning to Melbourne in October 1919, he was posted as director of military operations at Army Headquarters. Next year he became deputy chief of the General Staff. In 1922 he was sent to the high commissioner's office in London as colonel, General Staff, and Australian representative on the Imperial General Staff. By March 1925 he was back in Australia as second chief of the General Staff. His military career seemed assured, but his rapid rise had engendered considerable jealousy. The Australian army was still largely a citizen force and there were young militia brigadiers who, unlike Blamey, had commanded troops in battle. Furthermore, his fellow regular officers, such as Sir Harry Chauvel, James Legge, Victor Sellheim, (Sir) Julius Bruche, Walter Coxen, Cecil Foott, Charles Brand and Thomas Dodds, were senior to him, and some of them made it clear to the minister for defence that they would 'resent most strongly being passed over' if Blamey were to be promoted.

    P. Hasluck, The Government and the People 1939-1941 (Canb, 1952); G. Long, To Benghazi (Canb, 1952); G. Long, Greece, Crete and Syria (Canb, 1953); G. Long, The Final Campaigns (Canb, 1963); P. Hasluck, 1942-1945 (Canb, 1970); J. Hetherington, Blamey, Controversial Soldier (Canb, 1973); S. F. Rowell, Full Circle (Melb, 1974); D. M. Horner, Crisis of Command (Canb, 1978); N. D. Carlyon, I Remember Blamey (Melb, 1980); D. M. Horner, High Command (Canb, 1982); R. Haldane, The People's Force (Melb, 1986); M. Cathcart, Defending the National Tuckshop (Melb, 1988); J. Hetherington, Blamey, Field-Marshal Sir Thomas Albert (typescript, copy in ADB file); D. H. Dwyer, Interlude with Blamey (typescript, 1970, copy held by author); Blamey papers (Australian War Memorial); Dept of Defence files (Australian War Memorial); Shedden papers (National Archives of Australia). More on the resources

    Author: D. M. Horner

    Print Publication Details: D. M. Horner, 'Blamey, Sir Thomas Albert (1884 - 1951)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, Melbourne University Press, 1993, pp 196-201.
  11. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    Field Marshall
    BLAMEY, Sir THOMAS ALBERT (1884-1951),

    Part 2

    In 1925 (Sir) Stanley Argyle, the Victorian chief secretary, offered Blamey the post of chief commissioner of police, at an annual salary of £1500. He decided to leave the regular army. Transferring to the Militia on 1 September, he took office that day. Lingering dissension over the 1923 strike by officers of the Police Force of Victoria and community tension during the Depression were to make his tenure difficult. His administration began, however, with controversy of a more personal nature. On 21 October police raided a brothel and found a man with Blamey's police badge. Blamey privately maintained that he had lent his key ring, including the badge, to a friend, but refused to name him. Publicly, he claimed that the badge had been stolen.

    The Labor government of Premier Ned Hogan, which took office in 1929, saw Blamey as a member of the conservative establishment. It has been recently suggested that, while chief commissioner, Blamey was head of the 'White Army', a right-wing, secret army prepared to defend the state if there were an attempt at a communist or Catholic takeover. Although the evidence of Blamey's leadership is circumstantial, by training and instinct he was an autocrat; he considered himself to be the supreme commander of the police force and acted accordingly. The force's official historian observed that 'Blamey's style of dealing with public protest was confrontationalist, readily violent, and generally ruthless'. While he did much to improve the standard of the police, he broke their union. On the recommendation of Argyle's United Australia Party government, he was knighted in 1935, but on 9 July 1936 (Sir) Albert Dunstan's Country Party administration forced him to resign for issuing an untrue statement in an attempt to protect the reputation of one of his senior police officers.

    Blamey's life was at its nadir. His wife had died in 1935. In 1937 he relinquished command of the 3rd (Militia) Division, which he had held for six years as a major general, and went on the Unattached List, his career apparently over. Nevertheless, he retained the support of such men as (Sir) Robert Menzies, Richard Gavin (Baron) Casey and (Sir) Frederick Shedden. From early 1938 Blamey supplemented his income by making radio broadcasts on international affairs. At Shedden's suggestion, that year Blamey was appointed chairman of the Commonwealth government's Manpower Committee and controller-general of recruiting. Shedden later explained: 'The aim was twofold. His military experience and organizing ability would be most valuable to the Committee, and he would be brought back into the Defence Organization as the most probable Army Commander in the event of war'. On 5 April 1939 Blamey married a 35-year-old artist Olga Ora Farnsworth at St John's Anglican Church, Toorak.

    War was declared in September and on 13 October Blamey was promoted lieutenant general and appointed to command the 6th Division, the first raised for the new A.I.F. In early 1940 the government decided to raise another division. Blamey received the resulting corps command, as well as a charter spelling out his responsibilities as commander of the A.I.F. His advancements reflected his quickness of mind and force of personality more than a scarcity of other suitable officers. In Gavin Long's view, he 'had a mind which comprehended the largest military and politico-military problems with singular clarity, and by experience and temperament was well-equipped to cope with the special difficulties which face the commander of a national contingent which is part of a coalition army in a foreign theatre of war'.

    Yet, Blamey was out of touch with recent developments in military technology and his immediate background had prepared him for high command rather than for commanding a corps or division on the battlefield. His strengths and weaknesses were revealed in the Middle East. As commander of the A.I.F. (gazetted December 1940), he fought long and hard to maintain its integrity against the designs of the British commanders-in-chief, General (Earl) Wavell and General Sir Claude Auchinleck. Blamey's performance was uneven. His most obvious error was his failure to inform the Australian government early enough that he had strong doubts about the wisdom of the Greek campaign. Learning this lesson well, he never again failed to let the government know his views. He commanded the Australian Corps (briefly renamed the Anzac Corps, as it included the New Zealand division) in April 1941 during its skilful withdrawal down the Greek peninsula and its evacuation from beaches previously reconnoitred by him in expectation of such an eventuality.

    His chief of staff Brigadier (Sir) Sydney Rowell has claimed that at the height of the withdrawal Blamey was 'physically and mentally broken'. The allegation has had some corroboration, but has been fervently denied by a number of senior officers, and Blamey's aide-de-camp recalled that in Greece he never saw him 'fearful or abnormally troubled'. Whatever the truth regarding his performance in the field—and Wavell was favourably impressed—Blamey angered his senior staff when he chose his son to fill the one remaining seat on the aircraft carrying him out of Greece.

    On 23 April 1941 Blamey was appointed deputy commander-in-chief, British Forces in the Middle East. He was reluctant to give up the corps command and continued to make his presence felt. In June he intervened in the Syrian campaign to alter the strategy of General (Baron) Wilson whom he believed was exercising insufficient control. Seeking to reassemble the A.I.F. as one formation, Blamey successfully demanded that the tiring 9th Division be relieved at Tobruk in August-October. On 24 September he was promoted general.

    He never had the classical physique of a commander in the field. Sporting a grey-white moustache, he was rotund and only 5 ft 6½ ins (169 cm) tall, but both Wavell and Auchinleck had quickly learned not to underestimate his determination or energy. Next year Wavell described Blamey as: 'Probably the best soldier we had in the Middle East. Not an easy man to deal with but a very satisfactory man to deal with'. Auchinleck was less complimentary; he found Blamey likeable, but held that 'he wasn't a general I should have chosen to command an operation'.

    Although Blamey enhanced his reputation in the Middle East, he failed to win the unanimous support of a small and influential group of senior A.I.F. officers. There were many tensions in the force's upper echelons where ambitious, and sometimes disaffected, regular and militia officers vied for commands. Perhaps Blamey could never have kept them all contented. It was not his style to curry favour with subordinates, but he seems occasionally to have provoked antipathy towards himself rather than to have tried to dissipate it. His relations with soldiers were also strained. Rarely able to inspire their complete loyalty and trust, he enjoyed life to the full in a manner which they understood but did not expect to find in their commanders.
  12. spidge

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    Field Marshall
    BLAMEY, Sir THOMAS ALBERT (1884-1951),

    Part 3

    By the end of 1941 (Sir) Winston Churchill, the British prime minister, was close to asking the Australian government to recall Blamey, mainly because of his stand on Tobruk. The start of hostilities in the Far East rendered the request unnecessary and in March 1942 Blamey arrived in Melbourne to take up his new appointment as commander-in-chief of the Australian Military Forces. The task he faced was immense and complicated, overshadowing that presented to any previous Australian military leader. In early 1942 the country seemed in danger of attack by the more powerful Japanese, and Blamey had to prepare for his country's defence with the forces then available. Although the Australian army appeared numerically large, it was predominantly composed of partly-trained militiamen. He was to be responsible for training, administering and expanding the army to some twelve divisions and their associated support establishments.

    The American General Douglas MacArthur had been appointed supreme commander of the South-West Pacific Area with authority over all Australian, American and Dutch forces in the region. Blamey became commander of the Allied Land Forces and was responsible to MacArthur for both the land defence of Australia and the offensive operations planned by MacArthur. When John Curtin established the Prime Minister's War Conference—consisting usually of himself and MacArthur—as the senior body for the high direction of the war, MacArthur became the government's principal strategic adviser. Shedden acted as secretary and liaised between the prime minister and supreme commander. Blamey resented his exclusion from strategic policy making. In response to his threat to resign, he was told that he would retain his direct access to the prime minister on matters of broad military policy.

    Blamey's role as Allied Land Forces commander was to cause him the most problems. MacArthur intended to carry out the function himself and to conduct operations by means of task forces under his immediate control. After the Japanese landed on the north coast of Papua in July 1942, additional Australian troops were rushed north and placed under the command of Lieutenant General Rowell. The Japanese were defeated at Milne Bay in September, but there was disquiet at MacArthur's headquarters (which had moved to Brisbane) about the concurrent Australian withdrawal along the Kokoda Track. Faced with a possible defeat, MacArthur persuaded Curtin to send Blamey to Port Moresby to take personal command—in effect to become the task force commander.

    Rowell saw Blamey's arrival on 23 September as a reflection on his ability. He had lost respect for Blamey in Greece, and had neither the forbearance nor goodwill to make the arrangement work. For his part, Blamey was fighting for his professional life. MacArthur had the ear of the prime minister and there were Australian senior officers who either coveted Blamey's position or felt that he had damaged their careers by the favouritism he had shown to others. Blamey could not afford to show weakness and on 28 September relieved Rowell of his command. There was probably no alternative, but Blamey's decision polarized feeling among senior Australian officers. About this time MacArthur privately considered Blamey to be a 'sensual, slothful and doubtful character but a tough commander likely to shine like a power-light in an emergency. The best of the local bunch'.

    Next month Blamey removed Major General Arthur Allen who had been commanding the 7th Division on its counter-offensive along the Kokoda Track. Blamey thought that he was not in a sufficiently strong position to resist the constant demands for a faster advance from MacArthur who was still in Brisbane. In November Blamey addressed troops of the 21st Brigade—who had been hammered by superior Japanese forces on the Kokoda Track—and seemed to accuse them of having run like rabbits. Whether his words were misunderstood or not, the soldiers were indignant.

    The Australians and later the Americans drove the Japanese back to a beach-head on the north coast of Papua where they were vanquished by late January 1943. While the victory was costly, both in battle casualties and in sickness, Blamey partially re-established his standing with MacArthur. American reversals had even given him an opportunity to tell MacArthur that he preferred Australian troops to Americans, for at least he knew that the Australians would fight. MacArthur, nevertheless, had already decided to use the task force arrangement to ensure that Americans would never again serve under Australian command. Retaining Blamey as formal Allied Land Forces commander, in February he established a separate task force for United States formations, the deployment of which was to be beyond Blamey's control. In Long's words, the new organization was achieved 'by stealth and by the employment of subterfuges that were undignified, and at times absurd'.

    There is no evidence that Blamey was worried by MacArthur's machinations at this stage. Rather, he was more concerned with preparing for the coming offensives of 1943. For much of the year either Lieutenant General Sir Edmund Herring or Lieutenant General Sir Iven Mackay commanded New Guinea Force, but Blamey bore the final responsibility for planning and execution, and MacArthur insisted that Blamey was the task force commander. Major operations included the advance towards Salamaua (May to August), the seizing of Lae in September, the subsequent advance up the Markham and Ramu valleys, the landing at Finschhafen (September) and the fighting at Sattelberg in November. An impressive orchestration of land, sea and air forces which brought quick victories for relatively slight losses, the 1943 campaigns were a justification of Blamey's training policies and an indication of the high level of expertise that had been developed in the Australian army.

    By early 1944 the strategic situation had changed markedly and it was clear that henceforward the Americans would provide the bulk of land forces in the South-West Pacific theatre. Blamey realized that MacArthur planned to give the Australian army a minor role for at least the next year. In April he accompanied Curtin on his visits to the United States and Britain. In London Blamey was attracted by a British proposal for a joint British and Australian force to advance north from Darwin into the Netherlands East Indies. The proposal was vigorously opposed by MacArthur and did not come to pass. Curtin and Shedden supported MacArthur, and Blamey found himself increasingly at odds with the Australian government.
  13. spidge

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    Field Marshall
    BLAMEY, Sir THOMAS ALBERT (1884-1951),

    Part 4

    At the outset Blamey had established a good working relationship with Curtin and later claimed that he had 'no need to worry about rear armour'. He continued to hold Curtin in high regard, but in late 1944 clashed with the prime minister and Shedden over manpower issues. Discontent over Blamey's administration of the army was a further source of friction. In a large citizen army, thrown together by a democracy in a war for survival, inequities, inefficiency and tensions were inevitable. Despite his prodigious capacity for work, Blamey had taken too many tasks upon himself. Yet, he refused to relinquish his administrative duties, his operational responsibilities, or his nominal command of Allied Land Forces. In his view, he needed to retain his authority to safeguard Australia's interests against the Americans, and he believed that he was the only Australian commander who could do so effectively.

    In early 1945 Blamey was criticized in Federal parliament for maintaining too many generals, for side-tracking potential rivals, for conducting unnecessary operations in New Guinea and on Bougainville, and for providing insufficient administrative support to the forces therein engaged. Many of these claims were without foundation. For example, the Bougainville campaign was approved by the government and administrative support was provided. Moreover, problems over the size of the army related to its future use, and Blamey found himself making decisions without any clear strategic directive from the politicians. For all that, he was open to charges of favouritism over some of his appointments.

    The issues concerning the operations of I Australian Corps in Borneo underlined Blamey's difficulties. MacArthur planned that I Corps would report directly to his headquarters, thus by-passing Blamey. When Blamey objected, he was permitted to place a senior liaison officer at MacArthur's headquarters in Manila. Troops of the 9th Australian Division captured Tarakan in May-June 1945, and Labuan and Brunei in June. MacArthur's directive that the 7th Division seize Balikpapan in July had been questioned by Blamey who persuaded the acting prime minister Ben Chifley to suggest that the idea be abandoned. MacArthur replied that the plan had to proceed because it had been ordered by the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff. He did not add that the joint chiefs had given their approval only after he had told them that not to do so would 'produce grave repercussions with the Australian government and people'. Curtin remained loyal to MacArthur and agreed to the operation in which 229 Australians died and 634 were wounded. Japan did not surrender one minute earlier as a result of the action.

    Blamey's disputes with the government and MacArthur should not overshadow the importance of his contribution to Australia in World War II. While he had little opportunity to display his ability as a field commander in the Pacific, he quickly grasped the nature of the war: the need to use sea and air resources, the debilitating effects of climate and terrain, the necessity for thorough training and fitness, and for frequent reliefs for commanders and soldiers, the importance of logistics and the value of accurate intelligence. He did not immerse himself in detail, preferring to leave it to his first-rate chief of staff Lieutenant General (Sir) Frank Berryman, but he had a clear and at times astonishing grasp of detail. Apart from his miscalculation over the use of Bren-gun carriers at Buna, Papua, in December 1942, Blamey did not waste Australian lives. And he always protected Australian interests. Brigadier (Sir) Kenneth Wills, controller of the Allied Intelligence Bureau, commented: 'Few people realize how much of the credit of the successful Australian operations, both in the Middle East and in New Guinea, was due to the Chief's personal control and planning'.

    In 1942 Blamey had made it clear that he would resign as commander-in-chief at the war's end. Having attended the surrender ceremony in Tokyo in September 1945 as the Australian representative, he offered to resign that month. For a time the government chose to retain him, informing him in early November that the complexity of the problems confronting the army made it desirable for him to remain in office. In mid-November the minister for the army suddenly advised Blamey that he was to be relieved on 1 December. This peremptory dismissal of the government's top military adviser—without accompanying recognition or reward—showed the depth of feeling against him in some quarters of the Labor Party. He had been appointed K.C.B. (1941) and G.B.E. (1943), and was awarded the Greek Military Cross (1941), the United States' Distinguished Service Cross (1943) and the Netherlands' Grand Cross of the Order of Oranje-Nassau (1946).

    Blamey's critics have assigned personal motives to his actions. To them, he was a self-seeking, devious manipulator who struggled ruthlessly to retain his powerful position and to bolster his ego. In contrast, his supporters have called him Australia's greatest general. To them, he was a wise and forceful administrator who fought relentlessly to maintain Australian independence in military matters and who had a genuine concern for the welfare of his troops. A credible evaluation of Blamey's character lies somewhere between these two views, probably closer to the second. In retrospect it is hard to think of another Australian general with the prestige, force of personality and understanding of politics who could have filled his role.

    He had serious flaws in his character, but, as Curtin said, 'when Blamey was appointed the Government was seeking a military leader not a Sunday School teacher'. Unwilling to admit his own faults and unremitting in the pursuit of personal enemies, Blamey was blunt and, on occasions, tactless. Perhaps the stories of his womanizing and drinking grew with the telling, but he never seemed to understand that a public figure cannot expect to keep his private life to himself. Possibly his greatest failing was that he did not appreciate the importance of public relations. Conversely, there was a sensitive side to Blamey's nature which few saw and he had interests beyond military and public affairs, such as his involvement in the early discussions to found the Australian National University.

    Retiring to Melbourne, he devoted himself to business affairs, to writing and to promoting the welfare of ex-service personnel. In the late 1940s he became involved in 'The Association': similar to the earlier 'White Army', it was established to counter a possible communist coup. After Menzies came to power, on 8 June 1950 Blamey was promoted field marshal. A few days later he fell gravely ill. On 16 September, in hospital, he received his field marshal's baton from the governor-general. Survived by his wife and by his son Thomas, Blamey died of hypertensive cerebral haemorrhage on 27 May 1951 at the Repatriation General Hospital, Heidelberg, and was cremated. Crowds estimated at 250,000 lined the streets of Melbourne at his state funeral. His estate was sworn for probate at £27,899.

    A portrait of Blamey by (Sir) Ivor Hele is held by the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. Portraits by (Sir) William Dargie are in the rooms of the Commercial Travellers' Association of Victoria, and the Naval and Military Club, Melbourne. A statue by Raymond Ewers stands in Kings Domain, Melbourne, adjacent to the Shrine of Remembrance. The main Department of Defence buildings in Canberra are grouped around Sir Thomas Blamey Square where a bas-relief likeness of him was unveiled in 1984.
    Select Bibliography
  14. spidge

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    Brigadier General Charles Brand
    4 September 1873 - 31 July 1961

    ART02999 McInnes, W, Brigadier General Charles Brand (1921), oil on canvas, 66.4 x 59 cm, AWM copyright

    Charles Henry Brand was born in Ipswich, Queensland, on 4 September 1873, the fifth child of a farmer. He was educated at Bundaberg and Maryborough State Schools and joined the Department of Public Instruction as a trainee teacher in November 1887.

    On 17 February 1898, Brand was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Queensland Volunteer Infantry. On the outbreak of war in South Africa, he enlisted as a sergeant in the 3rd Queensland (Mounted Infantry) Contingent. He served with the Rhodesian Field Force from 26 April 1900 to 25 May 1900. He was promoted to lieutenant on 25 June 1900 and then in the Transvaal from July 1900 to 31 January 1901 participating in the action at Renosterkop on 29 November 1900. He then served in the Orange Free State, the Cape Colony and finally the Transvaal again in January through March 1901. He returned to Australia in June 1901, but in May 1902, he volunteered for a second tour, and became a captain in command of a squadron the 7th Commonwealth Light Horse. However peace was declared before the unit reached South Africa.

    On returning to Australia a second time, Brand resumed his pre-war career as a teacher, teaching at Charter Towers State School from 1903 to 1904. He was promoted to captain in the Queensland Volunteer Infantry on 27 March 1903, serving as adjutant from 1 September 1902 to 30 November 1905.

    In 1905, Brand joined the permanent forces as a lieutenant and joined the Administrative and Instructional Corps in Melbourne. He was promoted to captain in July 1909. In 1910, he was sent to India on exchange. He served as a General Staff Officer (GSO) at Secunderbad, as Deputy Adjutant and Quartermaster General of the 1st and 2nd Secunderbad Infantry Brigades, as a staff captain with the Secunderbad Cavalry Brigade. He also attended the musketry and transport schools in 1911.

    Returning to Australia, Brand was a General Staff Officer (third grade) (GSO3) in Adelaide from 1 September 1911 to 26 November 1913. He was acting commandant of the 4th Military District (South Australia) from 26 November 1913 until 30 June 1914, when he resumed as GSO3.

    Brand joined the AIF as a major on 15 August 1914. Major General W. T. Bridges arranged for each of the three infantry brigades of the 1st Division to have a regular officer for a brigade major and he selected Brand as the brigade major of the 3rd Infantry Brigade. Brand embarked for Egypt on board the Orvieto on 21 October 1914. There he became a recognisable sight, going about his duties on a donkey when other transport was scare.

    The 3rd Brigade was the first ashore at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915 and Brand came ashore at around 7am. There he met his brigade commander, Colonel E. G. Sinclair-MacLagan who set off for Plugge's Plateau on the left, and sent Brand to the 400 Plateau on the right. On reaching the plateau, Brand was surprised to see a battery of Turkish guns, and sent Lieutenant N. M. Loutit to deal with them. Owing to the somewhat confusing nature of the ground, this took some time, but the guns, three Krupp field pieces, were eventually captured and Brand attempted to create a defensive position on the 400 Plateau at Lone Pine with elements of the 9th and 10th Battalions.

    On 16 May 1915, Brand took over temporary command of the 3rd Infantry Battalion. Then on 20 May he was transferred to the 8th Infantry Battalion. The next day he was wounded when a German naval shell struck its headquarters but remained on duty. On 2 June 1915, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO), the first Australian to receive for the Gallipoli campaign. On 14 July 1915, took over command of the 8th Battalion, and was promoted to lieutenant colonel. The 8th Battalion relieved the 6th and 7th Battalions at Steele's Post on 18 July so that they could participate in the attacks on the German Officers' Trench and Lone Pine. The 8th battalion held Steele's Post for the rest of the campaign, except for a rest break on Lemnos in November.

    The 8th Battalion moved to the Western Front in March 1916. From 6 to 27 June 1916, Brand was acting commander of the 6th Infantry Brigade, standing in for Brigadier General J. Gellibrand, who had been wounded. After this, Brand was marked for the next brigade appointment, and on 10 July 1916, he succeeded Brigadier General J. Monash in command of the 4th Infantry Brigade, and was promoted to colonel and temporary brigadier general. Brand led the brigade at Pozieres in July 1916. On 1 December 1915, he was promoted to brevet lieutenant colonel in the AMF.

    Brand opposed the attack on Bullecourt in April 1917 which cost his brigade 2,339 casualties out of 3,000 engaged, of whom about 1,000 were prisoners. Later Brand and Lieutenant General W. R. Birdwood apologised to the brigade, with tears in their eyes.

    The brigade fought at Messines in June. On 6 July 1917, the staff of the 4th Brigade was sitting down to dinner when a German 5.9 inch shell landed among them. The intelligence officer, Lieutenant G. W. Markam was killed and Brand, his brigade major, Major C. M. Johnston, staff captain, Captain H. Thomson, and signal officer, Lieutenant W. Beazley, were all wounded. Brand rejoined the brigade on 18 July and led it at Third Ypres. On 24 September 1917, he was promoted to brevet colonel in the AMF.

    During the German Offensive of 1918, the 4th Brigade was sent to cover a gap around Hebuterne, which it held for three weeks. From 9 to 25 July 1918, Brand was acting commander of the 4th Division. During the attack on the Hindenburg Line, Brand was the head of the 109 Australian advisors attached to the US 27th Division and helped lead it through its first battle as a division.

    On 5 October 1918 Brand left the 4th Brigade to return to Australia on Anzac Leave. Before sailing for Australia he was invested with the Companion of the Bath (CB), Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG) and Distinguished Service Order (DSO) at Buckingham Palace. For his services he had been mentioned in dispatches eight times. Brand arrived back in Australia on 21 December 1918 and his appointment to the AIF was terminated on 21 February 1919.

    From 1919 to 1920, Brand was commandant of the 3rd Military District (Victoria). He was confirmed in the rank of brigadier general on 1 April 1920 and was base commandant of the 2nd Military District (New South Wales) from 1921 to 1925. He became 2nd Chief of the General Staff (CGS) and a member of the Military Board in 1926. From 1928 to 1933 he was Quartermaster General. He retired in 1933 with the rank of major general.

    In 1934 Brand won a Victorian Senate seat for the United Australia Party which he held until June 1947. He was most concerned with defence policy and veterans' affairs and was chairman of the Parliamentary Ex-Servicemen's Committee from 1942 to 1947.

    Brand died on 31 July 1961 and was cremated with full military honours.

    Sources: Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1899-1939, Vol 7, pp. 390-391; AWM 183/9; Bean, C. E. W., The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918. Volume I: The Story of Anzac pp. 134-135, 275, 338-344;Volume II: The Story of Anzac pp. 342-344;Volume IV: The AIF in France 1917 pp. 343, 350-351, 713
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    Major General Sir William Throsby Bridges
    18 February 1861 - 18 May 1915

    ART03355 Rodway, Florence, Major General Sir William Bridges (1920), oil on canvas, 75 x 62.2 cm (sight), AWM copyright

    William Throsby Bridges was born at Greenock, Scotland, on 18 February 1861, the son of a English Royal Navy captain stationed there at the time. He was educated at Ryde on the Isle of Wight, at the Royal Navy School at New Cross, London and at Trinity College, Port Hope, Ontario, Canada. In 1877 he entered the Royal Military College at Kingston but dropped out in 1879 and rejoined his family who had settled in his mother's home town of Moss Vale, New South Wales. There he took a job with the Department of Roads and Bridges.

    In 1886, Bridges applied for and obtained a commission in the New South Wales Permanent Artillery and was stationed at Middle Head, part of the harbour defences of Sydney. In 1891 he was sent to England for training at Royal Military Academy at Woolwich and the Royal School of Gunnery at Shoeburyness. On his return in 1893, he became Chief Instructor at the School of Gunnery at Middle Head.

    Bridges volunteered for service in South Africa in 1899, and from December 1899 to May 1900 he served on secondment as a major of artillery with Major General John French's cavalry division. He participated in the cavalry sweep to relieve Kimberley that began on 13 February 1900 and the last major battle of the war, the Battle of Paardeberg on 18 February 1900. In May he was evacuated to England with typhoid, and then returned to Australia in September 1900, where he resumed his duties as Chief Instructor at Middle Head.

    In 1903, Bridges moved to headquarters in Melbourne as Assistant Quartermaster-General. He became Chief of Military Intelligence in 1904 and then the first Chief of the General Staff on 1 January 1909. His work in Melbourne was mostly concerned with the new Universal Service Scheme, and with Imperial Cooperation. He travelled to Europe for discussions with the Imperial Committee on Defence. On 25 April 1909 he relinquished the post of CGS and travelled to England to become the Australian representative on the Imperial General Staff.

    Bridges returned to Australia in May 1910 to become the first Commandant of the Royal Military College at Duntroon, with the rank of brigadier general, the first Australian to reach that rank. He personally chose the site, the old Campbell homestead of "Duntroon", at the foot of Mount Pleasant, surrounded by countryside that would one day become the new capital city of Canberra. In line with the recommendations of Lord Kitchener, Bridges modelled Duntroon on the US Military Academy at West Point, rather than its counterparts in Europe, as Bridges felt that the West Point model was far better adapted to the democratic native of Australian society. The first class of 41 cadets, 31 from Australia and 10 from New Zealand, moved in and the college was officially opened on 27 June 1911.

    In May 1914, Bridges was appointed Inspector General, the Army's top post. He was in Queensland when the war crisis began, but arrived in Melbourne on 5 August 1914. Bridges met with cabinet and was charged with the creation of an expeditionary force for overseas service of 20,000 men. Bridges determined that the force -- which Bridges named the Australian Imperial Force because of its dual Australian and Imperial mission -- should be organised as an infantry division and a light horse brigade, and should be composed of men from all states. Bridges was chosen to command the 1st Division, becoming the first Australian (and the first attendee of Kingston) to be promoted to major general, and the first to command a division. Bridges' service at the War Office came in handy here; the British Army Council accepted his appointment without demur.

    Bridges had a fairly free hand to choose his own subordinates and his choices had far reaching effects. He drew heavily on the few available staff college graduates for his staff, choosing Majors C. B. B. White, D. J. Glasfurd and C. H. Foott and Captains T. A. Blamey and J. Gellibrand. Colonel V. C. M. Sellheim was his choice for his AA & QMG. For his brigade commanders, he chose Lieutenant Colonel E. G. Sinclair MacLagan, a British officer on exchange at Duntroon, whom he knew from his experience there, Colonel J. W. McCay, with whom he had dealt while McCay was Minister of Defence in 1904-5, and Lieutenant Colonel H. N. MacLaurin. For his artillery commander, he chose Colonel J. J. T. Hobbs, whom he had met in England in 1907, and for the light horse brigade, Colonel H. G. Chauvel.

    Bridges determined to take a number of Duntroon graduates with him. The first class and second classes were graduated early and, curiously, posted to regimental rather than staff positions, where many of them were killed. Bridges believed that cadets could learn best about the Army from serving in such positions. Ironically, Bridges himself had never served in a regimental position; his own career was entirely staff oriented.

    Having his troops scattered around Australia made training difficult, and Bridges protested the Prime Minister's September decision to delay sailing for a month due to the activity of German warships. Bridges saw his command together for the first time when it sailed from Albany, Western Australia, on 26 October 1914. En route, the destination was changed from England to Egypt at the instigation of Chauvel, and Bridges arrived there on 30 November 1914.

    Once in Egypt, Bridges took steps to divest himself of the administrative side of his responsibilities, creating an Australian Intermediate Base Depot under Sellheim, with whom he had quarrelled. His concentration on commanding the 1st Division rather than on administering the AIF had many unfortunate consequences, especially in the area of medical administration. Bridges not only neglected Sellheim's command, starving it of the officers he needed to staff it, he gave him no support whatsoever in turf battles against the British, he used it as a dumping ground for men he disliked.

    Bridges landed at Anzac Cove at around 7:30am on 25 April 1915 and immediately conducted a two-hour reconnaissance before setting up his headquarters at a spot not far from the beach chosen by the 1st Signal Company, who provided him with telephone links to McCay and MacLagan. A furious day of battle followed against the counterattacking Turks. Bridges was forced to commit his units piecemeal as they arrived on the beach, in response to one crisis after another.

    Given that nowhere had the day's objectives been achieved, there was practically no chance of capturing them with the troops available, no substantial reinforcements could be expected and a major Turkish counterattack was probable, Bridges recommended a withdrawal to Hamilton. Considering a number of factors, Hamilton ordered Bridges to hold his Anzac beachhead, which Bridges and his men managed to do.

    Bridges found the situation at Anzac, particularly the ineffectiveness of his own arm, the artillery, extremely frustrating, and he clashed with Hobbs over the proper employment of the guns. This was made all the more galling when the Turks managed to shell his headquarters on 6 May 1915, ultimately forcing it to be moved from the beach to Headquarters Gully.

    Bridges was not a men to get the best out of his subordinates. He was known for kicking stragglers and men found asleep at their posts. He was disliked by most of his staff. His aide de camp requested a transfer back to his regiment. Bridges expected his Deputy assistant quartermaster General (DAQMG), Major J. Gellibrand, to organise a proper officers' mess at Gallipoli and was annoyed at the poor quality of what Gellibrand had scrounged from ships' canteen supplies. Yet he did share the hardships of his men, and made a point of daily excursions about the position on which he routinely ignored enemy fire and constantly exposed himself to danger.

    On the morning of 15 May 1915, he was on such an excursion in Monash Valley when he was shot by a sniper, severing his femoral artery. A stretcher bearer dragged him to safety and he received medical attention from the medical officer of the 1st Battalion, Captain Clive Thompson. On 18 May 1915 he was evacuated to hospital ship Gascon. Unfortunately, infection set in. Amputation of his leg was considered out of the question as Bridges had lost a great deal of blood. In those days before blood transfusion, little could be done and he died on 18 May 1915.

    Bridges was made a Knight Companion of the Bath (KCB) by the King the day before he died, becoming the first Australian general to earn a knighthood. His body was returned to Australia, one of only two dead Australian soldiers to return home. He was given a state funeral at St Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne and buried on 3 September 1915 on the slopes of Mount Pleasant, in a grave designed by the architect of Canberra, Walter Burley Griffen.

    Bridges legacy was enormous. The effects of his creation of the AIF and his founding of Duntroon would be felt for decades to come. An aloof man that many found difficult to like, he nonetheless won widespread respect.

    Sources: Sessional Papers of the Government of Canada and British Parliamentary Papers; C.C. Coulthard-Clark: A Heritage of Spirit: A Biography of Major General Sir William Throsby Bridges; Bean, C. E. W., The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918. Volume I: The Story of Anzac, pp. 485, Volume II: The Story of Anzac, pp. 129-130
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    Brigadier General Reginald Spencer Browne
    13 July 1856 - 9 November 1943

    Reginald Spencer Browne was born at Oaklands, Appin, New South Wales on 13 July 1856, the son of a pastoralist. His father, also native born, was a superintending officer of yeomanry. Browne was educated at Appin and in England. He became journalist, working for the Deniliquin Pastoral Times and the Albury Banner, becoming sub editor of the Townsville Herald in 1877, editor of the Cooktown Herald in 1878 and editor of the Brisbane Observer in 1881. In 1882 he joined the Brisbane Courier.

    Browne was commissioned a lieutenant in the Queensland Mounted Infantry in 1887. Although sympathetic to unions, he commanded a flying column during the shearers' strike of 1891. Browne was promoted to captain in 1891 and major in 1896.

    Browne volunteered for service in South Africa, and sailed in November 1899 with the 1st Queensland Contingent. For his services, he was awarded a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) and mentioned in dispatches. He was invalided back to Australia in November 1900.

    In 1903 Browne became commanding officer of the 13th Light Horse Regiment with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Then in 1906 he became commander of the 5th Light Horse Brigade and a full colonel. He was transferred to the Reserve of Officers in 1911.

    Browne joined the AIF on 16 March 1915 as commander of the 4th Light Horse Brigade. This brigade was sent to Egypt dismounted and there broken up on 26 August 1915. The 13th Light Horse Regiment was assigned to the newly formed 2nd Division, with which it served at Anzac; the 11th and 12th Light Horse Regiments were sent to Anzac where they were broken up into squadrons, with one squadron being attached to each of the six other light horse regiments from New South Wales and Queensland.

    On 28 August 1915, Browne was appointed officer commanding Australian Details Egypt, responsible for training reinforcements. Then in September Major General J. G. Legge sent for him to replace Colonel R. Linton, the commander of the 6th Infantry Brigade who had drowned following the torpedoing of the Southland. Browne took over the brigade on 8 September 1915 and served at Lone Pine and Quinn's Post but at 59 was simply too old for the rigours of the campaign. Nonetheless he stayed until he was evacuated on 10 December 1915.

    Back in Egypt, Browne was transferred to the Training and General Base Depot at Tel el Kebir, Egypt. He was promoted to temporary brigadier general on 16 March 1916 and appointed to command the Depot on 20 March 1916. When the Base moved to England, Browne went with it, taking command of the Training Depots in England on 14 June 1916. In both posts, Browne was responsible for a large and important training organisation. On 25 July 1916, his command was abolished and merged with the convalescent depots as AIF depots in the United Kingdom under Major General Sir N. J. Moore. Browne took charge of the 2nd Command Depot at Weymouth, England. This unit was responsible for receiving men unfit for service within six months and therefore to be returned to Australia.

    On 12 October 1917, Browne was declared medically unfit and listed for return to Australia. He paid a visit to France, and then embarked for Australia on 24 November 1917. On 10 February 1918, Browne was appointed to command the new Molonglo Concentration Camp near Canberra, where German internees were held. He was discharged from the army on 17 December 1918.

    From 1925 to 1927, Browne contributed weekly articles to the Courier on his memories of people and events in 19th century Queensland. These were collected and published as A Journalist's Memories in 1927. The book is considered a source of much information on the history and legends of Queensland.

    Browne died on 9 November 1943 and was cremated.

    Sources: Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 7, 1899-1939, Vol 7, pp. 448-449; Bean, C. E. W., The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918. Volume III: The AIF In France 1916, p. 170-1; AWM 183/9
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    Major General Sir William Sinclair-Burgess
    18 February 1880 - 3 April 1964

    William Livingstone Hatchwell Sinclair was born in Kirkmanshulme, near Manchester, Lancashire, England on 18 February 1880, the son of a shipping merchant. His parents later divorced and his mother married George Burgess, a Congregational minister, and William took the surname Burgess. The family emigrated from England and settled in New Zealand in the early 1890s.

    William worked as a carpenter and engineer and joined the New Zealand Volunteer Force, serving with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles in Timaru. He transferred to the New Zealand Regiment of Field Artillery Volunteers in Auckland in 1902 and became a captain in 1909. In 1911 he accepted a regular commission as a lieutenant in the New Zealand Staff Corps. He became adjutant of the 16th (Waikato) Regiment and commanded No. 4 Area Group in Hamilton. On 11 June 1913, he was promoted to captain.

    On 4 November 1913, Burgess was seconded to the AMF for 12 months duty as an exchange officer. This year would eventually become six. Burgess became Brigade Major on the staff of the 6th Military District in Hobart, Tasmania, where he was serving when the war broke out. Burgess' initial tasks were handling the partial mobilisation prior to the outbreak of war, and preparing for the raising and embarking of a Tasmanian contingent of the AIF.

    On 17 August 1914, Burgess was appointed to the AIF as a captain, and given command of the 9th Field Artillery Battery, a unit was formed from a cadre provided by the Hobart Battery of the AMF who volunteered to a man at a night parade the day after the war was declared. Burgess was promoted to major on 17 September 1914, and the battery embarked from Hobart on 20 October 1914.

    After training in Egypt, the 9th Battery came ashore at Anzac on 5 May 1915 and began moving into positions on Bolton's Ridge. On that same day, a shell fired from a Turkish battery in the area south of Gaba Tepe that came to be known as the Olive Grove burst in Lieutenant Colonel C. Rosenthal's headquarters dugout, wounding both Rosenthal and Burgess, who was evacuated. Burgess returned to Anzac on 16 May 1915. The Olive Grove guns were to be the nemesis of the 9th Battery for the rest of the campaign. Burgess remained in command of his battery until 1 October 1915 when he was evacuated sick with paratyphoid. For his performance at Gallipoli, Burgess was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) .

    Burgess arrived on Lemnos to rejoin his battery, only to find that it had already sailed for Egypt. He eventually rejoined it there, where on 24 February 1915, he become commander of the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade, replacing Rosenthal, who had been appointed as Commander, Royal Artillery (CRA) of the newly formed 4th Division. Burgess was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 12 March 1916, just two weeks before embarking for France on 23 March 1916. His brigade began firing again on 29 April 1916.

    Burgess commanded the brigade through the fighting at Pozieres, and briefly commanded the 1st Division artillery for a few days in December 1916. On 20 January 1917, the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade became an Army Brigade, no longer part of the 1st Division, but available for service anywhere. His brigade participated in the advance to the Hindenburg Line and the fighting around Bullecourt. Burgess commanded a group -- an ad hoc grouping of brigades -- at Messines.

    On 25 August 1917, Burgess once again succeeded Rosenthal, this time as CRA of the 4th Division, and on 25 September 1917 he was promoted to full colonel and temporary brigadier general. Burgess commanded his brigade through difficult times at Third Ypres, when it took casualties in men and guns so heavy that it had to be pulled out of the line without relief and the batteries temporarily reduced from six guns to four.

    For the Battle of Hamel, Burgess had command of sixteen brigades of artillery. The artillery demonstrated a tactical and administrative capability of an order undreamt of before the war. This was put to use on a gigantic scale at Amiens.

    Burgess was made a Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1918 and a Companion of the Bath (CB) in the 1919 New Year's List. In all he was mentioned in dispatches six times. From 15 December 1918 to 11 January 1919, he was acting commander of the 4th Division.

    Burgess returned to New Zealand after the war, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1921 he became chief of staff at Army Headquarters. In January 1924 he became Director of Military Intelligence and Training and then in April Chief of the General Staff with the rank of full colonel.

    In 1926, Burgess officially changed his surname to Sinclair-Burgess, a form that he had employed on his marriage certificate five years earlier.

    Sinclair-Burgess was appointed General Officer Commanding the New Zealand forces in 1931, a post he held concurrently with the Chief of the General staff until 1937. He was promoted to Major General in 1931, and created a knight bachelor in 1934, and a Knight of the British Empire in 1934. When compulsory training was abolished during the Depression he reorganised the army on a volunteer basis. From 1933 onwards, he urged preparations for another world war.

    He was known in the New Zealand Army as "Sinky-Boo" after a character in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, on account of his holding down multiple jobs and for a certain flamboyance that involved frequently wearing his full dress uniform. Sinclair-Burgess offered his services during the Second World War but was apparently turned down, although it is said that he worked for the security services.

    He built his own house at Mahina Bay near Wellington with his own hands, employing his pre-war carpentry skills. When it burned down in 1959 with the loss of all his papers and belongings, fellow army officers subscribed to replace his medals and insignia.

    Sinclair-Burgess died in Lower Hutt on 3 April 1964. He was remembered as his country's longest serving and most decorated Chief of the General Staff, the one who held it together through the Great Depression. In Australia, he was remembered as one of the New Zealanders without whom Anzac would lose half its meaning.

    Sources: New Zealand Dictionary of Biography, pp. 476-477; AWM 183/10; Horner, David, The Gunners: A History of Australian Artillery, p. 80; Bean, C. E. W., The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918. Volume II: The Story of Anzac, pp. 76-77
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    Major General James Cannan
    29 August 1882 - 23 May 1976

    James Harold Cannan was born in Townsville, Queensland on 29 August 1882, the sixth child of a bank manager. He was educated at Brisbane central Boys' and Brisbane Grammar. James worked for a firm of hardware merchants and for seven years with New Zealand Insurance. He became chief agent at the Queensland Branch of Patriotic Assurance Co. From 1910 he was state manager of the Insurance Office of Australia Ltd.

    Cannan was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 1st Queensland (Moreton) (later the 9th Infantry) on 27 March 1903. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant on 27 November 1903, captain on 24 September 1907 and major on 14 August 1911. On 1 July 1912 he transferred to the 8th Infantry (Oxley Battalion). He took command of the battalion and was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 9 May 1914.

    When war broke out Cannan was appointed to command the Lytton Defences, holding this post from 5 to 31 August 1914. He was appointed to the AIF on 23 September 1914 with the rank of lieutenant colonel, commanding the 15th Infantry Battalion, the Queensland battalion of Colonel J. Monash's 4th Infantry Brigade.

    Arriving at Anzac on the evening of 25 April 1915, Cannan was sent with half of his battalion to fill the gap between the 2nd and 3rd Infantry Brigades. Moving in the dark through the thick scrub of the Razorback, the 15th found in the scrub the empty positions that it was sent to fill. The 15th Battalion was soon switched to Quinn's Post, with Cannan becoming post commander. In the attack on the Sari Bair Range on 8 August 1915, Cannan's battalion suffered heavily, having seven officers killed, including his brother, Major D. H. Cannan, and most of the rest wounded. Cannan's decision to withdraw probably saved the 15th from destruction. Cannan was evacuated sick in October, only rejoining the 15th Battalion in Egypt after the evacuation of Anzac. For his part in the campaign, he was made a Companion of the Bath (CB).

    In June 1916, the 15th Battalion left Egypt for France where Cannan led his battalion into action again at Pozieres and Mouquet farm. On 30 August 1916, he was appointed to command the 11th Infantry Brigade by Major General J. Monash, now commander of the 3rd Division, who specifically requested Cannan for the job. Cannan's energetic leadership and his direct experience of conditions on the Western Front was exactly what his new command needed. The result was evident at Messines in June 1917 and Broodeseinde in October 1917, when the brigade performed superbly. The 11th Brigade was the first to check the German advance towards Amiens in April 1918 and in July it was selected from the brigades of the 3rd Division to participate in the Battle of Hamel. The 11th Brigade went on to fight through the Battle of Amiens and the campaigns of the final 100 days. For the battles of August and September, Cannan was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO).

    After the Armistice, Cannan studied insurance practice in London under the Army Education Scheme devised by Brigadier General G. M. Long. On termination of his appointment to the AIF in Brisbane on 13 December 1919, he returned to his former job. He became manger of his company's Sydney office in 1932 and presided over the Insurance Institute of New South Wales from 1936 to 1937. He was also president of the Queensland branch of the Returned Soldiers' and Sailors' Imperial League of Australia from 1920 to 1921, and of Brisbane Legacy in 1928.

    Cannan commanded the 2/15th Infantry from 1 October 1918 to 30 June 1920, although he did not take up command until 14 December 1919. He had already been made a brevet colonel on 24 September 1917. On 1 July 1920 he became a substantive colonel and honorary brigadier general on 1 July 1920 when he took over command of the 2nd Infantry Brigade from 1 July 1920 to 30 April 1921. He then commanded the 11th Mixed Brigade from 1 May 1921 to 30 April 1925, when he was transferred to the unattached list. Cannan was also aide de camp to the Governor General from 1 April 1920 to 21 March 1923 and honorary colonel of the 47th Infantry Battalion from 19 June 1930.

    On 27 May 1940, Cannan was appointed Inspector General of Administration at the Department of Defence Coordination. Although his tenure was brief, Cannan gained valuable experience working with the Department of Defence. On 7 July 1940, Cannan was promoted to temporary major general and took over command of the 2nd Division. On 24 October 1940, he became Quartermaster General and a member of the Military Board. The appointment of a militia officer the board was opposed by the Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General V. A. H. Sturdee, but when he was overruled by Prime Minister R. G. Menzies, Sturdee offered the post to Cannan. Cannan offered to resign in 1942 so that his post could be given to a regular officer, but General T. A. Blamey refused his offer.

    As Quartermaster General, Cannan was responsible for supply, transport and engineering services throughout Australia and the South West Pacific Area. It was the most important logistical command in Australian history. In carrying it out, he clashed with the Department of Defence in its attempt to maintain financial controls. Cannan had to work long hours and use all of his skills both as a soldier and a business. He had to attempt to keep ahead of the plans at General Headquarters in order to ensure that the required logistical support would be there on time. Cannan travelled widely in the combat areas to see conditions at first hand. In October 1944, Cannan travelled with General T. A. Blamey to visit General D. MacArthur in Hollandia in order to prepare for the employment of Australians in the Philippines, only to discover that MacArthur had decided not to employ them if he could avoid it.

    Blamey nominated Cannan for a Knight of the British Empire (KBE) in September 1943, but it was refused, it not being the Labor government's policy to award knighthoods at this time. In November 1945, Blamey was abruptly dismissed by the government. Asked if he wanted any honours for himself, Blamey declined, instead requesting knighthoods for his generals, including Cannan. His request was refused. In December 1949, the government changed and Blamey wrote to the new Prime Minister, R. G. Menzies, once again recommending knighthoods a number of his generals, including Cannan. All were accepted except Cannan. Of Cannan, it was said that his contribution was immense, his responsibility gigantic and his acknowledgement nil.

    Cannan retired as a major general in 1946. His abilities as an administrator were still in demand. He was Director of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in the South West Pacific from 1946 to 1947, of the Queensland division of the Australian Red Cross Society from 1950 to 1951, and of the Services Canteens Trust from 1948 to 1957. He was director of several companies.

    He died on 23 May 1976, the last of Australia's Great War generals to pass away. He was cremated with full military honours.

    Sources: Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1940-1980, pp. 362-363; Bean, C. E. W., The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918. Volume I: The Story of Anzac pp. 467-468; Volume II: The Story of Anzac pp. 657-661
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    General Sir Harry Chauvel
    16 April 1865 - 4 March 1945

    Part 1

    Henry George Chauvel was born in Tabulam, New South Wales on 16 April 1865 and was educated at Sydney Grammar before doing his final year at Toowoomba Grammar. He was commissioned into the Upper Clarence Light Horse, a militia unit raised by his father, Major C. H. E. Chauvel, in 1886. Two years later the family moved to Queensland and he resigned his commission and took up one in the Queensland Mounted Infantry. In 1896, Chauvel transferred to the Queensland Permanent Forces with the rank of captain.

    Chauvel commanded A Squadron of the Queensland Mounted Infantry in the Boer War, where he was mentioned in dispatches and was made a Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG). He returned to Australia to take command of the 7th Commonwealth Light Horse, but did not get back to South Africa with it until after the war had ended.

    After the war he returned to Australia where he served as a staff officer with the Northern Rivers District near Townsville. He was chief of staff there from 1904 to 1911, being promoted to lieutenant colonel in December 1909. Appointed to the Military Board as Adjutant General in 1911, Chauvel was involved in the implementation of the compulsory training scheme. On 3 July 1914, Chauvel replaced Colonel J. G. Legge as the Australian representative on the Imperial General Staff in London, with the rank of full colonel. He was offered the post of Commandant of the Military College at Duntroon on completing his posting there, but the outbreak of war intervened.

    On the outbreak of war, Chauvel was appointed to command the 1st Light Horse Brigade. He remained in England however, because that was where the brigade was scheduled to train. While his brigade was en route to join him, Chauvel became convinced that the proposed camps on the Salisbury Plain would not be ready on time. He persuaded the High Commissioner in London, former Prime Minister Sir George Reid, to approach Lord Kitchener with an alternate plan of diverting the AIF to Egypt, which was done. Chauvel finally sailed for Egypt with Major T. A. Blamey on 14 November 1914.

    When the light horse were called upon to provide reinforcements for the Gallipoli Campaign, Chauvel and the other light horse leaders protested that they would serve better intact. Their arguments won out, and the light horse were sent to fight at Gallipoli dismounted. The campaign would be a very different one from the open warfare for which the light horsemen had trained. Chauvel arrived on 12 May 1915 and took over the critical sector which included Quinn's, Courtney's and Steele's Posts from Brigadier General J. Monash. Open to Turkish observation on two sides, these four advanced posts at the top of Monash Valley were the linchpin of the defence. Chauvel reorganised the defence, appointing permanent commanders for the posts. He also formed special sniper groups who eventually managed to suppress the Turkish snipers, making it safe even for mule trains to move up Monash Valley.

    Chauvel's brigade soon found itself under heavy pressure from the Turks. On 29 May 1915, the Turks fired a mine under Quinn's Post and broke into it. As fate would have it, the permanent commander of the post, Lieutenant Colonel J. H. Cannan was absent, having been invited by General Sir Ian Hamilton to spend two days rest on his flagship, Arcadian and the acting commander, Lieutenant Colonel G. J. Burnage was wounded in the fighting. Chauvel responded by bringing up reserves and appointing a temporary post commander, Lieutenant Colonel H. Pope, with orders to drive the Turks out at all costs. Fortunately, Major S. C. E. Herring was miraculously able to charge across the open practically unscathed, his attack having coincided with a Turkish one on another part of the post and the Turkish machine gunners could not shoot without hitting their own men. In fact, there were only about seventeen Turks in the post, who eventually surrendered. Chauvel's decision may have have been the wrong one, but it was decisive. He was also lucky.

    Chauvel spent six weeks in Egypt in June and July in hospital. He took over acting command of the New Zealand and Australian Division on 19 September 1915, a position that became permanent on 2 October 1915. Then on 6 November 1915, he became commander of the 1st Division, and was promoted to Major General. He commanded this division through the final phase of the Gallipoli Campaign, the evacuation, and the reorganisation in Egypt in February and March 1916. On 15 March 1916, Chauvel, offered his choice of appointments, chose to take command of the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division rather than take the 1st Division to France. His new command consisted of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Light Horse Brigades, and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, supported by three brigades of British horse artillery. In June 1916, Chauvel also took over the role of GOC AIF Egypt from Lieutenant General A. J. Godley. He was therefore answerable both to the British GOC-in-C of the EEF, General Sir A. J. Murray and to the GOC AIF in France, Lieutenant General Sir W. R. Birdwood.

    Once again, Chauvel's campaign started with being attacked by the Turks. His division was committed to No. 3 Section of the Suez Canal Defences, the northern part of the Suez Canal, under Major General H. A. Lawrence. Arrangements were far from ideal. Command was divided between Chauvel and Lawrence. The British infantry commanders would not take orders from Chauvel, and Lawrence was too far away to control the battle. Lawrence's dispositions were faulty, with the British infantry located too far away to support the mounted troops, which resulted in the burden of defence falling on the mounted troops. Chauvel chose his ground carefully, reconnoitring it from the ground and the air, and selecting both forward and fall back positions. His luck held; the German commander selected the same position as the forming up area for his attack.

    Chauvel's was unable to do more than direct the defence of his position as two of his brigades had been taken away from him by Murray. Under Lawrence's command, they did not move until too late. The counterattack that Chauvel had been calling for all day did not materialise until dusk. At Katia and again at Bir el Abd, Chauvel attempted to sweep around the Turkish flank but wound up making frontal attacks on the Turkish rearguard and was beaten off by determined counterattacks and by the timidity of Brigadier J. M. Antill, who withdrew under light shelling. Despite a haul of over 4,000 prisoners, Chauvel felt frustrated, his failure to rout and destroy the Turks rankling him. However, for the Anzac horsemen, who suffered over 900 of the 1130 British casualties at Romani, it was a clear-cut victory, their first decisive victory and the turning point of the campaign. Later Chauvel realised that it was the first decisive British victory of the war outside Africa. And it was Chauvel's victory, almost single handed and in spite of Murray and Lawrence. Afterwards Chauvel visited each of his brigade and personally congratulated them for the way that they had fought, a gesture that became a habit.

    Afterwards, the command arrangements were altered. A new command, Eastern Force, was formed under Lieutenant General Sir Charles Dobell, and its advance troops, including Chauvel's Anzacs, became part of the Desert Column under Lieutenant General Sir Phillip Chetwode, a capable British cavalry baronet with a keen and insightful mind. Chauvel soon won victories over the Turks at Magdhaba and Rafa. In these battles, Chauvel had a free hand, answerable only to Chetwode, instead of the cumbersome arrangements on the Canal. His men and commanders were more experienced, and his tactics simpler and easier for them to follow, and intelligence on enemy dispositions considerably better thanks to the work of the aviators of No. 1 Squadron, AFC. And still he was lucky, the battle at Magdhaba being won after he gave the order to break off, and the Rafa being won in spite of the same mistake by Chetwode, thanks to Brigadier General C. F. "Fighting Charlie" Cox ignoring the order. For these victories, Chauvel was created a Knight Commander of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in the 1917 New Year's List.

    In February 1917, a second mounted division, the Imperial Mounted Division, was formed from the 3rd and 4th Light Horse Brigades and two British mounted brigades. A British regular army officer, Major General Sir H. W. Hodgson was appointed to command, with an all-British staff. The deliberate mixing of Australian and Imperial troops was done with Chauvel's approval but was contrary to the policy of the Australian Government, which soon registered its displeasure, sending Brigadier General R. M. McC. Anderson to Cairo to discuss the matter frankly with Chauvel and his superiors. As a result, the Imperial Mounted Division was renamed the Australian Mounted Division.

    Sources: Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1899-1939, Vol 7, pp. 624-628; Hill, A. J., "General Sir Harry Chauvel" in Horner (ed), The Commanders
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    General Sir Harry Chauvel
    16 April 1865 - 4 March 1945

    Part 2

    In the First Battle of Gaza, Chauvel's mission was similar to Rafa and Magdhaba, but on a larger scale. He encircled the town while the British infantry was to capture it. When this failed, Chetwode ordered Chauvel to attempt to capture it from the rear. Chauvel successfully improvised a 4pm assault on Gaza and captured the town despite the barriers of high cactus hedges and fierce enemy opposition, entering it after dark, only to have an out-of-touch Dobell order the mounted troops to withdraw, despite Chauvel's protests. This time his brigadiers at the front, Brigadier Generals G. de L. Ryrie and E. J. Chaytor, felt compelled to obey, as they could not see the whole battle. All guns, including captured ones were hauled away, as were all unwounded prisoners, the wounded and even the dead. Chauvel ensured that the Turkish wounded were each left with a full water bottle.

    Dobell decided to launch the Second Battle of Gaza as a full scale frontal assault with heavy artillery, tanks and poison gas. It ended even more unsatisfactorily, and Dobell was relieved, his place taken by Chetwode, while Chauvel took over the Desert Column. Shortly after General Sir Edmund Allenby took over the EEF and moved to regularise the command set-up. The Desert Column became the Desert Corps, with the Anzac Mounted Division, the Australian Mounted Division, the British Yeomanry Division and the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade assigned. Although some thought that Allenby would replace Chauvel with a British officer, Allenby retained him in command. Chauvel thus, on 2 August 1917, became the first Australian to permanently command a corps, and the first to reach the rank of Lieutenant General.

    In the Third Battle of Gaza, it was again Chauvel who had the critical role. Chetwode believed that the EEF did not have the resources to defeat the Turks in their fixed positions so he planned to drive the Turks from them by turning the enemy flank at Beersheba. Beersheba lay on the edge of the enemy line, in a waterless area. The Desert Mounted Corps would have a long overnight approach over waterless desert and would have to capture the town quickly with its wells intact or perish from thirst. Once again the battle went right down to the line, but the mission was accomplished, albeit not without a wild mounted bayonet charge by the 4th Light Horse Brigade -- the last of history's great cavalry charges -- to capture the town and its vital water supply. Few battles have been won in such spectacular fashion. For this decisive victory, and the subsequent capture of Jerusalem, Chauvel was created a Knight Commander of the Bath (KCB) in the 1918 New Years List.

    Chauvel, however, was still disappointed at the failure to destroy the Turkish army. The Turks had fought hard, forcing the commitment of the Desert Mounted Corps in much fighting before the moment for a sweeping pursuit came. When it did, the men and horses were too tired and could not summon the required energy. Once again, Chauvel studied his mistakes, determined to learn from them. In February 1918, the Desert Mounted Corps began a series of operations across the Jordan. Chauvel faced great difficulties with the terrain, the weather and a tenacious enemy. The campaign was not a success. The Desert Mounted Corps found itself fighting outnumbered, with Turkish reinforcements closing in from all sides. Chauvel was forced to withdraw back to the West Bank of the Jordan. His handling of the withdrawal was as skilful as any operation he undertook.

    Chauvel soon found his British troops diverted to France, to be replaced by two Indian cavalry divisions, and the Australian Mounted Division faced a similar fate for a time. Its Yeomanry brigade was disbanded and Chauvel replaced it with a new 5th Light Horse Brigade formed from the Australian and New Zealand components of the now disbanded Imperial Camel Corps Brigade, and a French cavalry regiment. In the final campaign he was able to effect a secret redeployment of three of his mounted divisions, launch a surprise attack on the enemy, win the Battle of Megiddo and follow up this victory with one of the fastest pursuits in military history -- an astonishing 167 km in just three days. It was not just a great victory, but one of the greatest of all time. This time he succeeded in destroying the Turkish army at last. At a cost of 533 battle casualties, the Desert Mounted Corps had taken over 70,000 prisoners.

    The Desert Mounted Corps moved across the Golan Heights and captured Damascus on 1 October. To restore calm in the city, Chauvel ordered a show of force. This was later lampooned by Lieutenant Colonel T. E. Lawrence as a "triumphal entry" but was actually a shrewd political stroke, freeing Chauvel's forces to advance another 300 km to Aleppo, which was captured on 25 October 1918. Five days later, Turkey surrendered. For his services as commander of the Desert Mounted Corps, Chauvel was created a Knight Grand Cross of St Michael and St George (GCMG) in the 1919 New Year's list.

    Chauvel returned to Australia in late 1919 and was appointed Inspector General, the Army's most senior post, which he held until 1930. In February 1920, he was promoted to the substantive rank of lieutenant general, back dated to 31 December 1919. In January 1920, Chauvel chaired a committee to examine the future structure of the army. This proved next to impossible in the face of defence cuts that were imposed in 1920 and 1922. On Lieutenant General C. B. B. White's retirement in 1923, Chauvel also assumed the post of Chief of Staff as well. In November 1929, he was promoted to the rank of full general, becoming the first Australian to reach that rank. Chauvel attempted to maintain an increasingly hollow structure in place. As Chief of the General Staff, Chauvel had tried to keep standards up by arranging for regular officers to be posted to British staff colleges at Camberley and Quetta, and the Imperial Defence College. When conscription was abolished by the Scullin government in 1929, it was left up to Chauvel to make the new volunteer system work. He retired in April 1930.

    During the Second World War, he was recalled to duty as Inspector General of the Volunteer Defence Corps, the Australian version of the home guard. He held this post until he died on 4 March 1945. He is commemorated in a bronze plaque in of St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne. His sword is in Christ Church, South Yarra, Melbourne and his uniform in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. There is also a memorial window in the chapel of Royal Military College at Duntroon.

    As Inspector General and Chief of the General Staff, Chauvel fought long and hard to ensure that the nucleus of a well trained army would be available to meet the next great challenge, which eventually came in 1939, but it will be as the leader of the light horse that he shall be remembered. Chauvel's employment of his mounted troops was characterised by a firm understanding of their capabilities. His leadership was characterised by painstaking preparations and careful staff work. He exploited the mobility of the light horse, took carefully calculated risks and, if things did not work out, quickly withdrew. He employed his troops boldly in the tradition of the cavalry, and thereby achieved great results, yet still kept his losses to a minimum. The capture of Beersheba, and the final battle at Megiddo remain some of the finest feats achieved by mounted troops in any war.

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