Honour Monash - A great Australian
|Why and How||
Effective 1 June, 1918 Monash was given command of the Australian Army Corps and promoted to Lieutenant General under General Rawlinson Commander of the Fourth Army.
This Australian Corps was the largest Corps in the Allies Armies comprising, at its peak, 208,000 personnel and at various times Monash commanded Canadians, British, Americans, Tank, air force and auxiliary personnel needed to support the attack forces. A total at one stage of eight Divisions.
It was two and a half times the size of Napoleon's army at the Battle of Waterloo.
So, despite the nomenclature of an Army Corps it was, in character, an army and the responsibilities of planning, coordination and implementation of battle plans (primarily drawn up by Monash and his chief of staff Blamey) for Hamel, Amiens, Mont St Quentin etc - all triumphs and central to the demise of the German forces and the suing for peace and the armistice.
A Corps is nominally two or more divisions, an Army two or more corps. Thus by definition Monash commanded a force at least the size of an Army. An Army is commanded by a General, so arguably Monash should have ended the war with that rank.
In 1929 the Australian senior officers were honoured by promotion to an honorary rank one higher than what they held in 1918. Monash was promoted from Lieutenant General to General. If he had been holding the rank of General as he should have been in 1918; he would have been promoted to Field Marshal.
Monash would already be a field marshal if he had accepted the bait laid in a plot hatched by conspirators Murdoch and Bean. They suggested he accept administrative command of the AIF, a general's posting in lieu of the command of the Australian Corps. This would have allowed Brunell White (a soldier of undoubted ability as a staff officer but with no senior combat command experience), to be given the Corps command. Bean was irrationally anti-Semitic, Murdoch saw White as able to be manipulated. Murdoch was a trusted advisor to the Australian Prime Minister William (Billy) Hughes, if Monash had taken the bait, it is most likely he would have been given the AIF command, promoted general and thus promoted to field marshal on 11 November 1929, date of his and other senior Australian officers being promoted one rank in honour of their wartime service. Monash, however, saw that he would better serve his nation as its combat commander; foresight vindicated by history; at Le Hamel and the advance to the Hindenburg Line, he showed the world how to lead soldiers and orchestrate technology to secure victory. What other Australian WW1 soldier would have his work quoted and saluted by Heinz Guderian; the German officer credited with WW2 Blitzkreig theory.
The promotion would right a wrong.
Posthumous promotion would set a precedent in Australia, not so in the USA, where it has been done (see PRECEDENT).
Only the Governor-General of Australia (not the nominal monarch who is not an Australian), on the recommendation of the Prime Minister of Australia, can appoint officers to the rank of field marshal.
So the Prime Minister, with the backing of the Australian Parliament, makes a recommendation to the Governor General, and the posthumous promotion, certified by appropriate authorised documentation, takes place.