Born on 27 June 1865 to parents of Prussian-Jewish origin.
Educated at prestigious Scotch College and graduated an engineer from
Melbourne University in 1893 and arts/law in 1895. Worked as an engineer
and joined the Garrison Artillery (Army Reserve). By 1913 he was a colonel
and had published 100 Hints for Company Commanders - later an army training
manual. Sent with the 4th Brigade (1,000 men) to Gallipoli in 1915 where he
made a name for himself for his independent decisions in a bungled
campaign. But even he could not save his brigade from the futile
August/September offensives against the Turks in that year.
By June 1916 he was in France, with the rank of major-general and in charge of the new 3rd
Division which he trained mercilessly. Once again he used raiding techniques
frowned on by the British High Command, but they were impressed by his
detail and precision in a war that was going very badly. By 1917 he was made
corps commander. He trained his troops to a high degree of efficiency and
coordinated the use of infantry, air-power, artillery and tanks.
It was at the Battle of Hamel Hill on 4-July-1918 that his tactics won a well needed
victory for the Allies. On 12-Aug-1918, Monash was knighted on the field
by King George V. Thereafter the A.I.F. smashed its way through France, used
as shock troops in an amazing series of victories against the Germans - at
Chignes, Mont St Quentin, Peronne and Hargicourt and breaking the
None of the generals at the time compared with him in intellect, personal
magnetism, management and ingenuity. However, he was often reminded that he
was a Jewish colonel with no formal army background by many members of the
British High Command. He won the respect and loyalty of his troops.