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Great- Cavalry Leader

The death late yesterday afternoon of General Sir Harry Chauvel, of 49

Murphy st, South Yarra, removes a figure who, as a dashing cavalry leader in the Middle East in the last war, won resounding victories ending in the capture of Damascus and Aleppo in October, 1918. He and the late Sir John Monash were the first two Australian officers to attain the rank of full General.

General Sir Henry George Chauvel, GCMG, KCB (more generally known as General Sir Harry Chauvel), reached the apex of his long and brilliant military career in 1918 as the greatest cavalry general of modern times, He Was one of the most romantic fig- ures of the 1914-18 wai-the last world war in which cavalry, as cavalry, participated on a big scale. This was before the era of mechan- ised "cavalry" of the present war. It was truly said that Sir Harry Chauvel was born to the saddle.

His birthplace was Tabulam, on the Clarence River, NSW, and he was born on April 16, 1865, son of the late Mr C. H. E. Chauvel, of Canning Downs, South Queensland, and Tabulam, NSW. He was edu- cated at Sydney and Toowoomba grammar schools, and although he wished from the beginning to enter the Army circumstances forced him to begin life on a Queensland sta- tion. At 21, however, he was com- missioned second-lieutenant in a NSW Light Horse regiment, and in 1890 he was transferred to a Queensland mounted infantry regi- ment, of which he became a cap- tain in 1891. He served with the Queensland Mounted Police, with the temporary rank of sub-inspec- tor, in 1894-5, and was appointed to the Queensland Permanent Mili- tary Forces in 1896 at the age of 31. For three years he was adju- tant of a Queensland Volunteer Regiment. Toward the end of 1899 he was promoted to the rank of major, and went to the South Afri- can war with a Queensland con- tingent.


In South Africa he served as adju- tant and later as commander of his contingent, and in the later months of 1900 he commanded a force known as Chauvel's Mounted Infantry. A year later he became commander of the 7th Battalion, Australian Commonwealth Horse, in South Africa. He served for more than two years in South Africa, and was present at the relief of Kim- berley. For his services he was pro- moted to the brevet rank of lieut- colonel, mentioned in despatches, awarded the Queen's Medal, four clasps, and was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG).

After his return to Australia Lieut-Col Chauvel held several staff appointments, and from 1904 to 1911 was on the staff of the First Military District (Queensland). It was not until 1911, when he was 46, that he was transferred to Army HQ in Melbourne as Adjutant-Gen- eral. This was the period of re- organisation of the Australian Mili- tary Forces following introduction of compulsory training. He held this appointment until July, 1914, when he went to London to succeed Colonel (later Major-General) J. G. Legge as Commonwealth representa- tive on the Imperial General Staff, with the rank of colonel.

He had not reached London when war was declared, and, as a pro- fessional soldier who had seen long service as a regimental commander in the South African War, he was selected to command the 1st Light Horse Brigade of the AIF. It was on his strong recommendation that the then High Commissioner (the late Sir George Reid) persuaded Lord Kitchener to order that the Australians should disembark in Egypt. Here Chauvel joined his brigade on its arrival in December, 1914. After five months' training he took the brigade to Gallipoli, where he served throughout the campaign

on the peninsula.


When the AIF was reorganised in Egypt in the early months of 1916 he was given the choice of taking his division to France or of remain- ing with the cavalry in Egypt. He chose to remain with the cavalry, and was made commander of the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division, which he led at Romani and during the advance into Palestine. In April, 1917, he suc- ceeded Sir Philip Chetwode as GOC Desert Column, thus becoming the first Australian officer to attain com- mand of an Army Corps. His corps consisted at first of three and later of five cavalry divisions, and in- cluded Australian, New Zealand, British, Indian, and French units. He commanded this huge cavalry force (180,000), which later became known as the Desert Mounted Corps, at the victories of Beersheeba (October, 1917), Megiddo (September, 1918), and in the advance toward and cap- ture of Damascus and Aleppo (Octo- ber, 1918).

Those who served with him were impressed by his calmness in the critical, sometimes risky, operations     of the Army in Palestine, and by his continual courtesy to all ranks, as

much as by his great ability as an


From June, 1916, onwards Chauvel

had been in command of the Austra- lian Imperial Force in Egypt. For his war services he was created a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 1916, a KCMG in 1917, KCB in 1918, and GCMG in 1919. He was mentioned in despatches nine times, and in 1918 was also awarded 3rd

and 2nd Classes, Order of the Nile, and the French Croix de Guerre.

In the period which followed the war, when he was for 10 years the senior officer of the Australian Army, the public heard little of him except when, once a year, his reports as Inspector-General of Australian Mili- tary Forces directed attention to our declining military strength.


Upon his return to Australia in 1919 he was appointed to that office, and in 1923, on retirement of the late Major-General Sir Brudenell White, he was given the additional post of Chief of the General Staff. He was promoted lieut-general in December, 1919, having already held that rank in the AIF. He was raised to full general in 1929. He and the late General Sir John Monash were the first two Australian officers to attain that rank. Sir Harry Chauvel retired from the Army in 1930.

He led the Australian contingent at the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in May, 1937, and two days later he commanded a parade of nearly 1,500 Dominion, Indian, and Colonial troops at Buck- ingham Palace, at which Their Majesties the King and Queen pre- sented the Coronation Medals to the troops.

His interest in military affairs and in the welfare of returned soldiers was maintained throughout his career, and for many years he was a popular figure at the head of the Anzac Day marches in the city.

His last official connection with the Army was as Inspector-in-Chief of the Volunteer Defence Corps, formed during the present war. By his in- spiration the corps developed into an effective and well-equipped Home Guard, the value of which was gen- erally recognised in the dark days when danger of a Japanese invasion hung over the Commonwealth.

After severing his long connection with the Army he became a director of the National Bank and of the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society and chairman of the Australian board of the General Accident, Fire, and Life Assurance Corporation. He was a member of the Melbourne, Naval and Military, and Queensland Clubs, and also of the Cavalry Club, London.


He had a wide variety of other interests, in which the welfare of servicemen and former servicemen and their dependants predominated. He was chairman of the Shrine of Remembrance trustees till recently, and was chairman of the National War Memorial at Canberra up to the time of his death. He was chair- man of trustees of the Victorian Blinded Soldiers' Welfare Trust, senior patron of the Legacy Club, and was also actively associated with the YMCA, Toc H, and the Red Cross Society. He was a leading Anglican, having been a member of Synod for many years, representing Christ Church, South Yarra. He was a parochial nominator of Christ Church, as well as a member of its vestry. He was also for some years a lay canon of St Paul's Cathedral.

In 1906 Sir Harry Chauvel married Sybil Campbell Keith Jopp, daughter of Mr G. Keith Jopp, of Karaba, Brisbane. Lady Chauvel, who was awarded the OBE in 1939, has been Chief Commissioner for Girl Guides in Victoria since 1934. The family consists of two sons and two daugh- ters. The sons are Lieut-Colonel Ian Chauvel, now serving, on head- quarters of the 8th Indian Division in Italy; and Lieut-Colonel Edward Chauvel, serving with the Indian Army. Both graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, to become members of the Australian Staff Corps and both eventually went to the Army in India. The daughters are Mrs Tom Mitchell, of Corryong, whose husband is a prisoner of war in Japanese hands, and Miss Eve Chauvel, who is a member of the WRANS.