Apr 28, 2020
John Lanser
What You Dont Know About General Sir John Monash

John Lanser

Born in Waverley (Sydney), educated at Gordon Public School and Barker College, graduate of Sydney, New South Wales and London Universities, retired solicitor, part time university lecturer and member of the RAAF Specialist Legal Reserve, former chairman of the NSWAFL Disciplinary Tribunal, past president of the Australasian Pioneers’ Club, member of Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, the National Trust, the Royal Australian Historical Society and the Australian Cinematographers Society.

Topic; General Sir John Monash

Reflection, and some quick revision of past research from an earlier project, leads me to suggest a “backstory” about General Sir John Monash ... a “What You Didn’t Know About Monash” theme.  Monash’s military achievements need no revisiting but his formative years were in Jerilderie, the small Riverina town most notable for Ned Kelly’s visit in 1879 to make a “withdrawal” from the local branch of the Bank of NSW.  Monash’s boyhood house still stands in the main street and the town holds an annual Monash Dinner, past speakers at which include the late Tim Fischer, Professor Marie Bashir and Air Chief Marshall Sir Angus Houston.

Historians have speculated about why Kelly chose Jerilderie for his cross-border excursion from Victoria and there is reasonable circumstantial evidence that he was already familiar with the town, having had “business” dealings with Monash’s father (a storekeeper) involving horses acquired by the Kellys other than in the conventional way. John Monash, at a dinner in the UK, acknowledged having (as a boy) met Kelly (but prior to the gang’s raid).  

The other significant element is the influence of William Elliott, teacher at the local school in Monash’s time.  One writer calls Elliott “the man who made Monash” and while there is some licence in this overstatement it was Elliott who quickly recognised young Monash’s genius and persuaded his parents to send the boy to Scotch College in Melbourne.  Monash continued, during his illustrious career, to correspond with his old teacher and mentor until Monash predeceased Elliott in 1931.