Posted by Gordon Cheyne
At a dinner of the Riverside Cluster of Rotary Clubs, Dr Robert Webster, OAM, President of the Victorian RSL introduced The Honorable Ted Bailleau, former Premier of Victoria, with a resumé of the First World War.
 
 
Ted Bailleau is of course known to us all as a member of Glenferrie Rotary Club: he is also Chairman, the Victorian Anzac Centenary Committee. He studied architecture at Melbourne University and throughout his public life has retained a keen interest in planning. Before entering Parliament, Ted was a Director of Knight Frank for 20 years; a Trustee of the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Trust; a Board Member of Tourism Victoria, and a Partner with Mayne & Baillieu Architects. He has also served as a Board Member of the Melbourne Comedy Festival and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation.
 
His topic was  “Sir John Monash: his life and legacy”
 
“In my mind,” he said, “Sir John Monash is the greatest Australian of all time. I say that not just for his military service, but for civic service as well, and intellectual service. He was an artist, a writer, a military man, engineer, lawyer, aesthete, designer and a leader. A leader amongst leaders.”
 
As this is Rotary Foundation Month, and “Peace” is an area of focus, Ted focussed his dissertation on the ending of the First World War, and the peace process that followed. 
 
This process actually took longer than the war: from early 1918 to 1923!  Although Germany signed the Armistice on 11thNovember 1918, a Peace Conference was held in Paris in January 1919 and the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919. Later Treaties were signed with Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Turkey, but unrest continued in Germany, with civil war in Ireland and Russia. There were frontier conflicts between Greece and Turkey, Russia and Poland.
Agreements such at the San Remo Declaration (1920), Balfour Declaration (1917), The British Mandate of Mesopotamia (1921) The British Mandate for Palestine (1922) The resulting unrest from these imperfect treaties would continue until the Second World War broke out in 1939..
 
Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes was noted as being disruptive at peace conferences, seeking to maximise reparations from Germany, preserving the “White Australia Policy” and mistrusting Japan, controlling Australia’s gateways, and being against Woodrow Wilson’s concept of a “League of Nations”.
 
Rather than directing Monash to the peace proocess, Hughes appointed him as General Director of Repatriation.  There were 160,000 Australian troops to be returned, and 151,738 of these were returned on 16 troop ships by September 1919. To counter the boredom on the trip, there were 29 courses available: in History, Politics, Economics, Latin, Fruit and Irrigation,  Wheat and Sheep, Safe Opertion of Railways.
 
 
 
On 12 August 1918, at Château de Bertangles, Monash was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on the battlefield by King George V, the first time a British monarch had honoured a commander in such a way in 200 years. He also received numerous foreign honours – the French appointed him a Grand Officer of the Légion d'honneur and awarded him the Croix de Guerre, the Belgians appointed him a Grand Officer of the Order of the Crown and awarded him the Croix de Guerre, and the United States awarded him the Distinguished Service Medal.
 
He had faced many prejudices in his life: some personal but including that he was a “Colonial”, Jewish with German parents, and an intellectual, speaaking four languages and had degrees in Arts, Law and Engineering. 
 
There were 300,000 mourners at his State Funeral in 1931.
 
Much has already been written on Monash’s life: you can read some at:  https://lens.monash.edu/2018/04/24/1347820/sir-john-monash-the-man   
 
Some photos of the Cluster Dinner are at: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Agfd2QggtnKHZpZq6