Books

Book Preview

William Holmes

The Soldiers' General

(6 customer reviews)
Authors: Geoffrey Travers
01/Jun/2020
Military History, Australian History
424
Hardback
230mm x 153mm
9781922387004
$34.99

Buy E-books

“This is a well written tribute to a leader of whom Australians should know more.”Hon John Howard OM AC

“In this meticulously researched and comprehensive study Travers gets to the core of Holmes’ character and fine leadership, highlighting the values that made him such a respected officer to those who served under him. Highly recommended” – Brigadier Chris Roberts AM, CSC (retd)

Holmes didn’t live to promote his own memory but here, after a century, is a fine biography of a great warrior and citizen, a WW1 general we hardly ever knew.”David Marr

**********************************

The road that first leads people from Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney is named General Holmes Drive, but nowadays few Australians know anything about General Holmes.

William Holmes could be remembered for his lifelong public service in developing Sydney’s water supply and sewerage system — but he should be remembered as one of the foremost Australian citizen soldiers of his time. Holmes commanded Australia’s first independent military expeditionary force in World War I, and in New Guinea accepted the first German surrender for Australia. At Gallipoli, Pozières, Bullecourt and Messines, Holmes earned a reputation for fearlessness in battle, believing that at critical times and even during pauses in engagement, reconnaissance should be conducted by the officers in command making the decisions. He was known to all his soldiers and his leadership inspired their affection and loyalty. Philosophical about the risks he took on the battlefield, it was cruel irony indeed that Holmes was killed on the day he took extra safety precautions.

Holmes, a contemporary of John Monash, arguably achieved more in his early career than his peer and would certainly have been a contender for command of the Australian Corps in 1918 had he still been alive.

This is his story.

Geoffrey Travers

Geoffrey Travers

Geoffrey Travers was educated at Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore) and Sydney University where he graduated in economics and law. Although not a soldier himself, he comes from a long line of soldiers: his great-great-grandfathers, Captain William Holmes and Lieutenant Henry Green of the New South Wales Force; his great-grandfather, Major General William […]

Read More

6 reviews for William Holmes

  1. Geoff Travers has written a brilliant biography of William Holmes perhaps the most significant of Australian Generals of the First World War. He shows clearly that Holmes was a leader in peace and war. From the 1880s he helped to reorganize the Sydney Water Board establishing dams, pipes and drains to improve the life of Sydney. In the War, with his extensive career in the militia, he prepared strategic plans for battle, while maintaining close contact with the troops under his command, constantly visiting the Front. Killed in July 1917, many mourned his loss as perhaps the finest of all the Australian commanders. This biography should ensure that he will continue to be remembered.

  2. A great piece of biographical history. It is grounded in careful research and engages the reader throughout the text. I can now see why the title is so significant. And I understand more fully why ‘Billee’s’ death was so significant given the timing of when he was killed. The comparison of the different styles of Monash and Holmes is really pertinent. Holmes was obviously more in tune with the Australian troops while Monash’s influence lay with the British commanders such as Haig.

  3. Holmes didn’t live to promote his own memory but here, after a century, is a fine biography of a great warrior and citizen, a WW1 general we hardly ever knew.

  4. A long overdue biography of a man whose service and sacrifice has, after a century, been properly chronicled. Saluting the great Australian citizen soldier tradition, this book traces the career of someone who contributed, enduringly, to the daily life of those who call Sydney home, and then displayed heroic leadership through the horrors of Gallipoli, and the trenches of the Western Front. William Holmes won the respect of his men, not only for his military skills and tactical ability, but also because he exposed himself as much as possible to the dangers and rigours of the average digger’s travail. He was killed at the Front before the war ended. This is a well written tribute to a leader of whom Australians should know more.

  5. In this meticulously researched and comprehensive study Travers gets to the core of Holmes’ character and fine leadership, highlighting the values that made him such a respected officer to those who served under him. A fine piece of historical writing that fills a long overdue gap in Australia’s historiography. It will be the standard work on one of Australia’s best divisional commanders on the Western Front for years to come. Highly recommended.

  6. This is not only an interesting and well written book, it is important. We too easily fail to appreciate the lessons of history and this book tells us a great deal about how, for all the stumbles along the way, a young and very small Australia was amazingly outward looking and prepared for the great calamity of WWi, and was able to punch well above its weight in that terrible event. Furthermore it brings to life the story of a man who should not have been forgotten: C W Bean, astonishingly, wrote on reflection that he had not done Holmes justice, and that he had a ‘power of command’ that exceeded Monash.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Monash $34.99
  • No products in cart.