Honour Monash - A great Australian
|The Battle has not been won AND the Fight is not over yet ...||
The decision and announcement by the Prime Minister on 17 April 2018 not to award Monash the posthumous military title of Field Marshal was a huge disappointment to the many Australians from all walks of life who gave their support to the Saluting Monash Council campaign and to long time advocate SMC Chairman the Hon Tim Fischer AC. It was a missed opportunity, it would have coincided with the Prime Minister being in France for the opening of the Sir John Monash Interpretive centre, a short distance from Le Hamel where Monash showed how to fight a modern battle.
Rest assured, however, that the campaign is not over, especially since the leader of the Opposition has declared that, if Labor is elected they will overturn the Prime Ministers decision. We are saddened that the rejection by the Prime Minister using spurious and unjustifiable arguments has led to a predictable outcome of Sir John Monash becoming a political football.
Our advocacy will continue with the support of many in Federal and State parliamentarians.
Given Malcolm Turnbull's stated support for the field marshal promotion on 5 July 2013 as expressed in the John Monash Oration at the Jewish Museum in Sydney, the 17 April 2018 decision was extremely disappointing and, a lost opportunity because the promotion could have been a uniting factor across the community who believe in the Aussie "Fair Go" and a strong example of non-partisan politics.
A positive decision would have finally put to rest the prejudices, professional jealousy and political machinations that Sir John was subject to when he returned to Australia in December 1919. In other words - a formal acknowledgement that today's government desires to rebut totally the actions and attitudes of the 1920's and an affirmation that the prejudices are no longer acceptable in today's liberal democracy.
Particularly disappointing are the reasons advanced primarily by some military and government opponents:-
1. It changes history. NO, it corrects the shameful, prejudiced stain and completes our WW1 history.
2. It will open the floodgates. NO, this is pure supposition and in any case the only other candidate would be General Sir Harry Chauvel, elevation of Monash does not prejudice the concurrent or subsequent elevation of Chauvel.
3. The rank, Lieutenant General, that Monash ended World War 1 wearing is correct for a Corps Commander and honorary elevation one step beyond the rank exercised in command only is appropriate. YES, but this was no ordinary corps the five Australian Divisions would nominally raise it to Army status, not to mention the additional British Division and United States Corps of two Divisions placed under Monash's headquarters. AND history shows that Monash's, vision for victory, achievements, influence, size of command, leadership of international forces, use of innovative new battlefield practices, respect shown him by the awarding of military honours from the UK, France, Belgium and the US and reputation as "the Father of Modern Combined Arms Warfare" clearly sets him apart.
4. It demeans the rank of Field Marshal. NO, quite the opposite. By including Sir John Monash, recognised as Australia's greatest soldier, it would raise the profile and status of the rank in Australia and add kudos and public recognition of both Birdwood and Blamey who received symbolic promotions as sought for Monash.
5. No precedent. NO there are numerous precedents for posthumous promotions, in fact in some respects Blamey was a precedent though not quite posthumous. In any case a Prime Minister has the right to create a precedent for appointing a field marshal
6. The promotion to General in 1929 corrects any injustice. NO, it should have been done in 1919 when he was made Director General of Demobilisation and in the same year when Canadian Arthur Currie was promoted to full General. The fact that it took until 1929 amplifies the injustice of former years.
Unfortunately the decision has the potential to be seen as perpetuating the past treatment of Monash as historically acceptable and therefore unalterable, and by the response on social media the announcement is extremely unpopular - except to some in the senior military clique and some historians who are obviously trying to diminish the standing and influence of Monash - possibly for the same reasons as in post WW1.
It is a conundrum. The public question why anyone in the Military would oppose the promotion of Monash especially given the very obvious praise bestowed on him. It is very clear that every effort and much nitpicking is being tabled to argue AGAINST the promotion rather than considering the reasons FOR.
Even the Hon Brendan Nelson, for whom we have enormous respect for, has gone on record as stating that Monash deserves a Field Marshal rank though he rejects the appointment on the retrospectivity (floodgates) issue. Surely the point is whether it is deserving and justified not that it may lead, by supposition, to some unwelcome candidates for posthumous promotions below Field Marshal rank.
With the Centenary of the Monash's masterpiece the Battle of Hamel and the achievements during the 100 Day Offensive beginning on 8 August, the breaking of the Hindenburg Line and finally the Armistice on 11 November, Monash's name and the proposed Field Marshal promotion will remain an issue until finally actioned.
We ask that you continue to advocate and state your support whenever possible.
YES the forces of darkness did ensure that Monash was not honoured in 2018, the centenary year; but that should not hold us back. With the passing of Tim Fischer on 22 August 2019 our resolve for the ultimate promotion must be strengthened, this campaign was Tim's last, very close to his heart; the forces of bureaucratic darkness should not be allowed to prevail. Monash deserves the posthumous award of the title Field Marshal.
© New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated ABN 94 630 140 881