Lieutenant General Sir “Harry” Chauvel


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

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 WWI, 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 WWII and remained so until his passing on 4th March, 1945.


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