The Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) has been widely considered the finest fighting force to take the field during World War I. In May 1918, command of Australian forces in Europe was given to General John Monash—a Jew. But Monash was not the only Australian Jew to distinguish himself on the battlefield. The Jewish Community Center in Canberra has just completed a memorial to the country’s Jewish war dead, as Katie Burgess writes:
A new national war memorial was unveiled [on Sunday] to remember the 341 Jewish servicemen who laid down their lives fighting for Australia, 100 years to the day since Monash was knighted on the battlefield. . . . Around 9,000 Australian Jewish men and women have served in Australia’s defense forces since the Boer War. Around 1,800 of those served in World War I.
Monash, an engineer and tactician of Prussian Jewish heritage, was the most famous of the Jewish servicemen who fought in the Great War. By the end of the war, Monash had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general and was knighted by King George V outside Villers-Bretonneux in the south of France. But despite this, Monash was denied the rank of field marshal in part because of his Jewish heritage. . . .
But . . . Monash [was] by no means the only exceptional Jewish military leader. There’s Lieutenant Leonard Maurice Keysor, who was awarded a Victoria Cross during the battle of Lone Pine in August 1915 [during the Gallipoli campaign]. For 50 hours he smothered bombs that landed in his trench or threw them back at Turkish soldiers, in some cases catching them mid-flight before lobbing them back at the Turks. Sergeant Issy Smith also won a Victoria Cross for carrying a wounded man 750 feet to safety under machine-gun and rifle fire during the second battle of Ypres [in 1915]. . . .
Then there are the heroes who did not make it back home. . . . Adolf [Hoffman] is one of the servicemen honored on the [memorial’s] cenotaph. The twenty-two-year-old navigator and bombardier died when his Lancaster bomber was shot down over Belgium on ANZAC Day [April 25] in 1944.
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