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John Gellibrand

Australian politician

Died when: 72 years 180 days (869 months)
Star Sign: Sagittarius

 

John Gellibrand

Major General Sir John Gellibrand, (5 December 1872 – 3 June 1945) was a senior Australian Army officer in the First World War, Chief Commissioner of the Victoria Police from 1920 to 1922, and a member of the Australian House of Representatives, representing the Tasmanian Division of Denison for the Nationalist Party from 1925 to 1928.

The scion of a prominent Tasmanian family, Gellibrand graduated top of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the South Lancashire Regiment (The Prince of Wales's Volunteers) in October 1893.

He served in the South African War, participating in the Relief of Ladysmith.In May 1900 he was promoted to captain in the Manchester Regiment, and served on St Helena where its primary task was guarding Boer prisoners of war.

He graduated from the Staff College, Camberley, in December 1907, and served on the staff of the garrison commander in Ceylon.

Frustrated at the poor prospects for promotion, he resigned his British Army commission in April 1912 and returned to Tasmania to grow apples.

When the First World War broke out in August 1914, Gellibrand offered his services, and was appointed to the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF) as a captain on the staff of the 1st Division.

He landed at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915, and served in the Gallipoli Campaign until he was wounded on 11 May.He returned to Anzac on 31 May 1915, but put in for a transfer to the staff of the 2nd Division.

In December, he was given command of the 12th Infantry Battalion, the 1st Division's Tasmanian battalion, then resting on Lemnos, but did not return to Anzac, which was evacuated in December.

On 1 March 1916 he was promoted to brigadier general and given command of the 6th Infantry Brigade, which he led in the Battle of Pozières and Second Battle of Bullecourt.

He was relieved of his command at his own request, and posted to the AIF Depots in the United Kingdom.

He returned to the Western Front in November 1917 to command of the 12th Infantry Brigade, which he led in the Battle of Dernancourt in April 1918.

He was promoted to major general on 1 June 1918, and commanded the 3rd Division in the Battle of Amiens and the Battle of the Hindenburg Line.

After the war, Gellibrand returned to Tasmania.In 1919 he accepted the post of Public Service Commissioner in Tasmania.He investigated the conditions of the service, and recommended reforms.

He then took up a position as Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police in Victoria, but failed to get the Victorian government to agree with his recommendations for reform, and resigned in 1922.

While in Melbourne, Gellibrand commanded the 3rd Division, but had to resign when he returned to Tasmania in 1922.He entered Federal politics in 1925, and was elected the member for Denison.

He was defeated in the 1928 and 1929 elections, and returned to farming, first in Tasmania, and then in Victoria.In the late 1930s, he was consulted by Prime Ministers Joseph Lyons and Robert Menzies about defence matters.

He campaigned for an increase in the size of the Australian Army, and, after the outbreak of the Second World War, lobbied the Menzies government to appoint Major General Sir Thomas Blamey as Commander in Chief of the Army.

In June 1940, he was appointed commandant of the Victorian Volunteer Defence Corps, the Australian version of the British Home Guard, but ill-health forced him to resign.


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