A truly great man
As the centenary of Armistice Day, November 11, 1918 draws near, I’ve been reading Sir John Monash’s own account of the final months of the Great War, ‘The Australian Victories in France in 1918’. It was written in 1919, when Monash was still in Europe, and while the momentous events of 1918 were still fresh in his mind, and their extensive documentation was close at hand.
In March 1918, five Australian divisions were brought together for the first time in France to form the Australian Army Corps, commanded by Monash. The Corps joined battle on March 27 in the defence of Amiens and the subsequent advance along the Somme to the breaching of the Hindenburg Line in the week of September 29 to October 5, the final Australian action on the Western Front, 100 years ago last week.
One measure of the sustained intensity of this campaign is that 29 Victoria Crosses were awarded from March 28 to October 5, including four in its last, climactic week. The VC citations record almost unbelievable courage and valour, yet those actions were only the crest of a tidal wave of bravery otherwise recognised, or unrecognised officially, and sacrifice.
Monash is unstinting in praise of his troops: ‘Success depended first and foremost on the military proficiency of the Australian private soldier and his glorious spirit of heroism.’ His concern for their welfare is always evident in measures taken to prevent unnecessary casualties and minimise inevitable losses.
In his foreword to the 2015 edition, Bruce Haigh writes: ‘Monash understood, as few other generals did, the changed nature of warfare. …. Monash the engineer saw that war was a matter of machines, timetables, roads, railways, resupply and – above all – meticulous planning. The machinery of war, with its massive destructive power, was best deployed to advance and protect men.’
Sir John writes lucidly and compellingly of the triumphant achievements of the Australian Army Corps in 1918, yet: ‘Let it not be assumed on that account that the humble part which it fell my lot to perform afforded me any satisfaction or prompted any enthusiasm for war. Quite the contrary.
Brickbats by the load to the Federal Government for charging seniors 80 years old and over, $300 per injection for the prevention of the painful infection, shingles, (pensioners included), while 70 to 79 years old get theirs free.
A big bouquet and thanks to the kind lady who could see my wife and I were over 90-years-old and paid our $40 grocery bill at the supermarket We are thankful there are still people around who care for older people and their struggle to be independent. Over 70 years married is a blessing.
A bouquet to the car drivers who stop their cars and let us cross busy roads safely on our mobility scooters but bricks to Baw Baw Shire for the rough entrances to road crossings.
Bouquet to whoever picked up my dropped purse in Drouin’s main street and took it to the police station.
The surprise return brightened a stressful week, especially as it still held all the cash and cards. last week.