Digger lives on at war memorial

The Anzac landing on the beaches of Gallipoli in 1915 loomed and John Monash, in charge of the 4th Infantry Brigade, contemplated his own death.

He wrote a letter to his wife Hannah, marking on the envelope that it should be delivered "in the event of my falling in action".

"Dearest wife," Monash began. "We have received our sailing orders and inside of a few hours shall be in the thick of the greatest combined naval and military operation in history, with Australia in the pride of place.

"That we shall succeed I do not entertain any doubt, but that I shall come through unscathed and alive is not so certain."

History records that Monash was wrong about the success of the Gallipoli campaign but also that he did live through it to go on to greatness leading the Anzacs on the Western Front.

In July 1918 he was a Lieutenant-General in command of the Australian Corps that led a stunning and crucial victory at Hamel, helped by US and British forces.

The meticulously planned operation came to be considered as the first "modern" battle involving co-ordinated use of tanks, artillery, infantry and aircraft, and it paved the way for further advances as the Allied forces pushed the German army towards surrender in November.

Lt-Gen. Monash was knighted by King George V and is remembered as one of Australia's greatest military commanders.

Yesterday, Sir John's letter to his wife and a map of the Hamel campaign were among more than 10,000 pages of his wartime records officially released online by the Australian War Memorial.

The West Australian

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