Fischer ramps up Monash campaign

Tim Fischer speaking at the book launch. Photo: Shane Desiatnik

THE push for the posthumous promotion of General Sir John Monash to Field Marshal gained further momentum on November 26 when former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer officially launched Professor Roland Perry’s latest book, Monash and Chauvel: How Australia’s Two Greatest Generals Changed the Course of World History.

Fischer, who chairs the Saluting Monash Council (SMC), described the thoroughness of Perry’s research as “outstanding”, and said the book’s content, approach and timing is very significant as the campaign to elevate Monash’s rank by November 11, 2018 – “to right a wrong” – approaches a critical stage.

He also said it will ensure the monumental achievements of Monash and Chauvel are properly recognised – and not downplayed or overlooked – in broader international coverage next year of the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI.

“This book is a further great leap forward in mounting the case, and it will help ensure we don’t get run over by the British and US portrayal of the last 12 months of the war, as they would seek to dominate the history books next year,” Fischer said.

“Monash was discriminated against [as a Jew with German heritage and for emerging as a reservist], and we need to correct this.

“The case does stack up [to promote both Monash and Chauvel] because it is unfinished business.”

Perry delved deep into primary sources, including correspondence between Monash and Chauvel and diary entries about Monash by British Expeditionary Force commander Field Marshal Douglas Haig, to produce a gripping narrative that explores both Australian generals’ groundbreaking military achievements, tactical nous and care for the welfare of their troops – Monash on the Western Front and Chauvel in the Sinai–Palestine and Syria campaigns.

Fischer said SMC is hopeful Monash’s promotion will be approved by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in time for it to be officially announced on Anzac Day eve at the new Sir John Monash Centre near Villers-Bretonneux, France.

“The big push must come now,” Fischer said. “I appeal to the electors of Wentworth to write to their representative and Prime Minister, in support.”

Special guest at the launch, former NSW Governor Dame Marie Bashir, told The AJN she identifies strongly with Monash through his immigrant background and determination to serve his country.

“Of Jewish heritage, Monash went on to become one of the most revered and respected figures in modern Australia,” she said.

Kingsford-Smith MP Matt Thistlethwaite, who also supports the promotion of Monash, said “I’m confident we can achieve this as a nation.”

“Monash revolutionised how war was fought and how the world viewed Australian soldiers”.

Kate Ashmor – chairman of the Committee for Monash and a Jewish resident of North Caulfield – also spoke at the launch, backing a current campaign to rename the federal electorate of Melbourne Ports in honour of Monash.

SHANE DESIATNIK

From left: John Moore, Kate Ashmor, Dame Marie Bashir, Professor Roland Perry and Tim Fischer. Photo: Shane Desiatnik