“The Hon. Ted Baillieu, former Victorian State Premier, delivered a most timely and illuminating Address focussing on the history of our ANZAC’s and their families.
The figures stated are what nightmares are made of. In 1917 the number of Australian soldiers killed in battle totalled 20,036 plus 895 dying of Shell Shock. When Sir John Monash assumed Command in 1918 he was General Officer Commanding the Australian Army Corps which was the largest Command in World War One. Between 1st June and 11th. November 1918 he had under his direct command 208,000 men comprising 166,000 Australians including the equivalent of 3 divisions of Canadians, US and British troops at times in the campaign. In 1918 a total of 12,189 troops died in conflict on the Western Front and 116 died of Shell Shock.
Most military historians agree that the 1918 achievements of the Australian Army Corps and international forces under Sir John Monash played a significant role in shortening the War. Also, that the innovative and expert use of the new technologies of was planned by Monash, despite incidences of necessary ruthlessness, had a profound effect in saving the lives of especially infantrymen who ‘went over the top.’ The contrast between Monash’s methods and the hitherto practice of using troops as ‘cannon fodder’ is stark and generally accepted.
Currently the making of Flanders Poppies and the ceremonies taking place in France and Allied countries brings a timely reminder of the blood left seeping from the bodies of the thousands of brave young men who sailed to a foreign land seeking a big adventure. What carnage, what tragedy, what heartache, not only to the brave young heroes but to the loving mothers who gave life to their beautiful sons only to have it snuffed out by a bullet fired by a brave young hero, son to a loving mother but one who spoke a different language. Their brave blood was exactly the same colour, their fear as equal and their heroics as palpable. General Ludendorff when surrendering to General Monash declared he, Monash, brought World War One to an end two years ahead of time thus saving the lives of an unknown number of young men from both sides.
Sir John Monash was, and still is, a hero by all measures and one who clearly deserves to be posthumously promoted to the rank of Field Marshal. Ted Baillieu more than capably supported by Cathy, his Research Officer, gave all attendees a most outstanding dissertation of the human side of war and the inhumanity of man’s greed.
Perhaps it is time for the Rotary Club of Melbourne to commence a movement to rename the Portsea Quarantine Station the ‘Field Marshal Sir John Monash Peace Park’ in time for the centenary of the end of World War One on the 11th. November 2018. After all, Sir John was our second President. l