El Arish North Queensland

Places, Faces and Events of an Historical Soldier Settlement town

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El Arish Salutes our Generals

 These images and biographies form the six new signs that will be made to stand at the entrance to each of the Generals' streets in El Arish.  The signs have been made possible by a Department of Veterans Affairs Australian Government's Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program which was very kindly facilitated through the Office of the Federal Minister for Kennedy, Bob Katter.

 We are honouring "our" Generals in El Arish for their role in contributing to the safety of those servicemen who returned and named these streets. 

We have a great respect for the town's establishment as a soldier settlement and we wanted to give more substance and relevance to our role in the growing support for Anzac Day throughout the country.



Harry Chauvel was born in New South Wales at Tabulam on 16th April, 1865.  He was commissioned to his father’s militia unit, “the Upper Clarence Light Horse,” in 1886.  He became commander of A squadron, Queensland Mounted Infantry in South Africa.  He took command of the 7th Commonwealth Light Horse, but the war ended and saw no action.

He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1909, then Colonel in 1914 and was on the Imperial General Staff in London.

At the outbreak of W.W. 1, Chauvel was action at Gallipoli as commander of the 1st Light Horse Brigade.  After two months in hospital he took command of the New Zealand and Australian Division in September, 1915.  His promotion to Major General of the 1st Australian Division came two months later.

After the evacuation of Gallipoli, he won the first British victory of the war against the Turkish at Romani, as the General Officer Commanding the A.I.F. in Egypt.  He took command of the Desert Mounted Corp in August, 1917.   After the battles of Beersheba and the famous charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade, he advanced through Palestine and the Turks surrendered in October, 1918.

Chauvel returned to Australia in September, 1919 and was appointed Inspector General until retiring in 1930.  He had also been promoted to Lieutenant General and Chief of Staff and he became General – the first Australian to do so – in November, 1929.

He became Inspector General of the Volunteer Defence Corp during W.W. 2 and remained so until his passing on 4th March, 1945.

“Chauvels’ courage and calmness were matched by his humanity ….. sleeping in his greatcoat on the sand”- The Australian Dictionary of Biography.




Granville Ryrie was born in Michelago, New South Wales on 1st July, 1865. His was a grazing family, although his father was an M.L.A. The young Ryrie,

an expert shot, horseman and boxer, was managing the family property, “Micalago” when the Boer War broke out. He had joined the volunteer movement as a trooper but was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the 1st Australian Horse. During the Boer War he was Captain, 6th Imperial Bushmen, New South Wales, seeing action in Rhodesia, Transvaal, Cape Colony and Orange River Colony.  He was badly wounded in September 1900 and became Honorary Major in November.

 He entered politics in 1906 and at the outbreak of WWI was appointed Brigadier General of the 2nd Light Horse. His famous horse was known as ‘Plain Bill’, while he himself was known by his men as ‘The Old Brig’ or ‘Bull’. Ryrie and his brigade landed at Gallipoli in May 1915. He was twice wounded during this campaign before being sent on to Egypt under Major General Harry Chauvel. Ryrie’s brigade served at Romani and Gaza, Beersheba and Es Salt, Amman and Ziza. Whenever Ryrie captured Turkish soldiers, he protected them from the Arab tribesmen who were always certain to seek revenge.

 After Chauvel’s departure in 1919, Ryrie temporarily held the office of Major General. During his tenure he investigated the disappearance of one of his Ghurkha sentries, enlisting the help of two Australian Aborigines to find the body. Once Ryrie learned that the murderers were from a nearby village, he approached the head man, hoping for the culprits to be handed over. When arbitration failed, the village was taken and burned.

 On his return to Australia, he again became politically active as Minister of Defence from February 1920 to December 1921. He had also returned to the Australian Military Forces in June 1920 as a Major General, a position he held for seven years until his retirement.

 He represented Australia at the League of Nations in Geneva, famously saying: “cut the cackle and let’s get down to business.”

He passed away in Sydney on 2nd October, 1937 and is buried at Michelago.


John Monash was a Melbourne boy, born there on 27th June, 1865 to Prussian- Jewish parents.   While at university in 1884, from where he graduated with an engineering qualification, he joined the 4th Battalion, Victorian Rifles.  He was promoted to Major in the North Melbourne Battery in 1897, where he served for eleven years.  After a stint in the Australian Intelligence Corps where he studied military tactics, he took command, as their Colonel, of  the 13th Infantry Brigade.

 He was sent to Gallipoli with the 4th Infantry Brigade, arriving on 26th April 1915.  Shortly after that he became Brigadier.  On 21st August, Monash’s men attacked Hill 60.  In April 1916, they were in Egypt at Tel-el-Kebir where they commemorated the first Anzac Day.  He distributed red ribbons to the men who had fought on the 25th April 1915, and blue ribbons to the troops who had fought after that day.

 Monash was sent to France in June 1916, and in July he received his commission as Major General of  the 3rd Division in July.  He saw a successful battle at Messines and was promoted to Lieutenant General of  the Australian Corps.  He was involved in numerous battles, some of  which were Broodseinde and the First Battle of  Passchendaele, Villiers-Bretonneux and Hamel, on the way to the Hindenburg Line.  A few of  these included Broodseinde and the First Battle of  Passchendaele, Villiers-Bretonneux and Hamel.

 After the war, Monash spent eight months in London overseeing the repatriation of  the A.I.F. before a public welcome home on Boxing Day 1919.  He remained a consultant with the army and managed Victoria’s State Electricity Commission in a civilian capacity.  He also maintained an active role in the Jewish community. In 1929 he was promoted to full General in recognition of  his wartime service.

‘Bootstrap’ Monash, as he was affectionately known, passed away in Melbourne on the 8th October 1931.



Lachlan Chisholm Wilson was born in July 1871 into a pioneer family who were farming sugar cane at the Logan River in southern Queensland.  He began work for the Department of  Lands, studying for a law degree at the same time.  He qualified as a barrister in 1895.

 He saw action in the Boer War and was taken prisoner, refusing to abandon his wounded friend David Buchanan, Wilson was taken prisoner.  The two of  them were held for four days before a prisoner exchange secured their release.

Upon his return from Africa, he practised in Townsville where he married Nellie Grant Hartley in 1903.

 He joined the AIF in 1914 as a Major and saw action in North Africa and then Gallipoli as second- in- command with the 5th Light Horse Regiment.  He became Lieutenant Colonel in charge after the death of  his superior.  Wilson was awarded the CMG on General Birdwood’s recommendation.

 After the Gallipoli campaign, the 5th were sent to Egypt and Palestine, becoming the first Australian Regiment to cross the Suez Canal.  The 5th were involved in the battles at Katia, Romani and Gaza.  Wilson used the Queensland spear point pump to tap the wells in the desert, thus facilitating a mobile and easy way of getting water: it is no wonder he was well-loved by his men.

 In 1917, Wilson took over the 2nd Light Horse for almost five months, becoming Colonel and acting  Brigadier General in command of  the 3rd Light Horse Brigade before moving on to assist in the capture of  Beersheba.

1st May 1918, after a short rest period, Wilson and his men took Es Salt.  Kefr Adan and Jenin followed on, pre-empting the direct successful entry into Damascus on October 1st.

 He retained his links to the military after returning home and to work, becoming active in public life, particularly with the RSSAILA and his position as State Commander of  the Queensland Volunteer Defence Corps from 1941 to 1945.

 Wilson passed away 7th April 1947.