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The 1918 Monash Diary

 

As the centenary year 2018 of the time when Monash proving to be the most advanced thinker of all senior officers on the Western Front worked for a democratic future.

Month by month as the year unfolds the current month will display, you can also click on the other month buttons below to read what happened. Click again on the same button to hide the detail for that month.






Further miniature battles like the one conducted on 30 April 1918 were also fought in rapid succession on the 3, 6, and 7 May by 9 and 10 Brigades who were in line. Not only did the Division capture hundreds of prisoners and numerous machine guns, but also advanced the whole line by a distance of 1.5 kilometres (see map). This deprived the enemy of valuable observation and forced back his artillery.

Miniature Battles 3 Div May 1918

The constant stream of prisoners gathered by the mini battles and aggressive nightly patrolling were proving to be sufficiently demoralised so as to talk freely. A mass of information about conditions behind the German lines was being assembled.

South of the river Somme, our line had not moved, this exaggerated the advantage afforded by the enemy through his possession of the Hamel salient. In particular his artillery concealed in Vaire and Hamel Woods.

11 May saw 3 Div relieved in the line by 2 Div. A well earned rest for Monash’s troops after six weeks of trench duty.

On 12 May, Monash was summoned to Bertangles. Birdwood was to be promoted General, commanding the new Fifth British Army. Monash was to be promoted to Lieutenant General commanding the Australian corps. There were to be other changes, Glasgow to command 1 Div, still in Flanders, Rosenthal 2 Div and Gellibrand to succeed Monash as GOC 3 Div. Brigadier General Blamey was to be Monash’s chief of staff.

Australian Corps Headquarters 1918

The change took place on 30 May 1918, giving time for command to switch while Monash’s division was out of the line. Faced with a scope of operations six times that of his former command would have swamped and demoralised a lesser intellect, Monash was thrilled and well up to the task.

A farewell order was passed to the Third Division:

"As I am about to take up other duties the time has come when I must relinquish the command of the Division.

Closely associated with you as I have been, since the days of your first assembly and War Training in England, and, later, throughout all your magnificent work during the past nineteen months in the war zone, it is naturally a severe wrench for me to part from you.

I find it quite impossible to give adequate expression to my feelings of gratitude towards all ranks for the splendid and loyal support which you have, at all times, accorded to me. I am deeply indebted to my Staff, to all Commanders and to the officers and troops of all Arms and Services for a whole-hearted co-operation upon which, more than upon any other factor, the success of the Division has depended.

It is my earnest hope, and also my sincere conviction, that the fine spirit and the high efficiency of the Division will be maintained under the leadership of my successor, Brigadier-General Gellibrand; and if the men of the Division feel, as I trust they do, an obligation to perpetuate for my sake the traditions built up by them during the period of my command, they can do so in no better way than by rendering to him a service as thorough and a support as loyal as I have been privileged to enjoy at their hands.

In formally wishing the Division goodbye and good luck, I wish simply, but none the less sincerely, to thank each and all of you, for all that you have done.

(Signed) JOHN MONASH,
Major-General.
"


Australian Corps Staff May 1918
Lieutenant General Sir John Monash KCMG KCB VD, General Officer Commanding, Australian Corps (seated), with senior Staff Officers of the Australian Corps at Bertangles Chateau. Back row, left to right: Brigadier General C. H. Foott, Chief Engineer, Brigadier General R. A. Carruthers, Deputy Adjutant and Quartermaster General, Brigadier General T. A. Blamey, Brigadier General, General Staff, Brigadier General L. D. Fraser, Brigadier General, Heavy Artillery, and Brigadier General W. A. Coxen, Brigadier General, Royal Artillery.

John Howells 2018










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