Leslie Morshead

Leslie Morshead

Leslie Morshead was born in Ballarat Victoria, Australia on 18th September, 1897. He worked as a schoolmaster until joining the Australian Corps in 1914. During the First World War he served in Gallipoli and the Western Front in France. By the end of the war he had been mentioned six times in dispatches and had reached the rank of lieutenant colonel.

After the war Morshead went into business and became Sydney manager for the Orient Line. He remained in contact with the army by heading a reserve battalion.

On the outbreak of the Second World War Morshead was given command of the 18th Brigade and was sent to North Africa.

In February 1941 Morshead was appointed commander of the recently formed 9th Australian Division. When General Archibald Wavell captured the port of Tobruk in Libya from the Italian Army he gave Morshead the responsibility of defending this vital forward supply base against the enemy. Morshead successfully held the port for eight months and on 4th December, 1941, General Erwin Rommel decided to abandon the siege of Tobruk.

When General Thomas Blamey returned to Australia in March 1942 Morshead was given command of the Australian Imperial Forces and took part in the famous victory at El Alamein.

Under threat from a possible invasion by the Japanese Army Morshead was recalled to Australia. In 1944 Morshead was promoted to commander of the 1st Australian Corps and sent to New Guinea. The following year he joined General Douglas MacArthur in the liberation of Borneo.

Leslie Morshead, who returned to civilian life after the Second World War on 26th September 1959. His funeral was one of the largest in Australia's history.