Australian Field Marshal Rank Facts
by Tim Fischer AC
When a window of opportunity comes along to correct a wrong that goes to the core fabric of the nation, then citizens should step up and seek to ensure action is taken to rectify the wrong. This window exists from now until 11 November 2018, the centenary of Armistice or Remembrance Day.
The Jerilderie Proposition relating to Sir John Monash sets out clearly the objective of the Saluting Monash Council for your consideration and is detailed below, it seeks to right a wrong. However firstly, some matters of fact should be laid out with regard to the rank of Australian Field Marshal:
- The rank of Australian Field Marshal is not suspended or abolished, it exists today and there is one current living holder of the rank, the Consort of the Queen of Australia, Prince Philip is an Australian Field Marshal created by then PM Robert Menzies on 1 April 1954.
- All four Australian Field Marshals, 1925 Birdwood, 1950 Blamey, 1938 George VI, 1954 Prince Philip were created in peace time, for symbolic reasons, at the time of their appointments none were in command of an AIF or ADF force of the size normally relating to Field Marshal command.
- Minister Dan Tehan has recently laid out some observations on Field Marshal rank as follows below. The Minister admits the ‘implicit’ requirement to be ‘living’ but it is not an ‘outright’ requirement. He also further emphasizes one step in rank as a desirable aspect. Promoting Sir John Monash posthumously to Field Marshal would represent one step in rank and like Blamey, when he was promoted in 1950, some years had elapsed since he was on active command duty.
EXTRACT OF LETTER FROM MINISTER DAN TEHAN:
“The careful after the fact confirmation of General Blamey’s legal status as an officer on the Active List reinforces the importance of this requirement. Implicit in the requirement for the recipient to be a serving officer is the requirement that the person be alive.” ENDS
- In the 21st century it is clearly a matter within the capability of the ADF, Minister for Defence and the Australian Prime Minister of the day to make senior promotions and appointments, it is not a matter that Whitehall or the Palace can prevent or obstruct. It is essentially an Australian matter for determination, one way or another and with indirect precedent re AIF Colonel MacLaurin in 1915. Note Minister Josh Frydenberg has said that a precedent is not essential to have re the promotion of Sir John Monash, he also states clearly and correctly it would complete but not alter history when implemented.
- In 1976 George Washington was promoted one step in rank from General to General of the Armies / Field Marshal equivalent. Great Britain continues to appoint Field Marshals, the most recent is Lord or Baron C R L Guthrie who was deservedly promoted to Field Marshal (Honorary) after he retired as head of the British Defence Force in June 2012, the same month Prince Charles was appointed Field Marshal. Staying with the limitation of one step in rank only, there are only some dozen Australian Generals ever appointed, three alive today, who notionally are eligible of one step in rank promotion to Field Marshal. In reality only one maximum two are within the remit for consideration of promotion to Field Marshal.
Following on the outstanding contribution of Sir John Monash to State and Nation before, during and after World War One and reflecting the fact that Sir John Monash received no Australian Awards or Honours post 11 November 1918, the Prime Minister approve by Government Gazette publication, the posthumous promotion of one step in rank of General Sir John Monash to the rank of Australian Field Marshal, with effect 11 November 1930, one year after Sir John Monash was eventually promoted to the rank of General.
Please visit www.salutingmonash.org.au for more information.