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Tuesday, 16 August 1921

The Minister,

In accordance with your instructions, I beg to submit the following report concerning the statements by Colonel (Honorary BrigadierGeneral) H. E. Elliott, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., D.C.M.:-

1.   On Thursday, 4th August, 1921, I directed that a search should be made for the letter referred to in the Age and Argus. In the course of the day it was reported to me that athoroughsearchhadbeenmadeofallcon- fidential, andordinary files, . and that no trace, could be found of any such letter, nor of the reply 'from General Elliott thereto. Therecord clerks in District Head-Quartersstated that theyhad norecord ofthe despatchof any such letter.

2.   I thereupon Bent the following telegram to General Brand in Sydney " Confidential. - Following statement by General Elliott appears to-day's Argus: - Before any appointments were announced I received a letter from the Head-Quarters, (Third Military District, asking if I would accept a divisional command if recommended to the Minister.' Cannot find any trace above letter. Was any such letter sent by you either officially or personally. Wire reply.

Sellheim

The following reply wasreceived from General Brand next morning, 5th August:. - " No offer made to Elliott, official or personal.

Brand

3.   Acting on your instructions and in view of the further statement by Brigadier-General Elliott in the Senate on Thursday,11th August, 1921, I caused further inquiries to be made amongstthe records of the Third District Head-Quarters, and arranged for an officer from the Inspector-General's Branch to search the files, but without result.

4.   On Friday morning, 12th August, 1921, General Brand was communicated with on the telephone, and he made a statement which he subsequently confirmed in writing as follows: -

Anticipating that the Military Board would ask Commandants to recommend officers as Brigade Commanders under the re-organization scheme, I wrote a personal note to General Elliott saying, "In the event of your getting one of the Divisional Commands, whom do you recommend to succeed you in command of the 15th Brigade, Citizen Forces?"

I desired Elliott's opinion of certain senior battalion commanders so as to effect transfer, thus having my nominees in the brigades to which they might be eventually appointed to command. The reply from General Elliott was to the effect that my note was the first intimation that he had of the likelihood of a Divisional Command. He also gave me his opinion as to the relative capabilities of the Battalion Commanders in has brigade - the information asked for.

In the course of conversation later, or a personal letter on other matters, I told General Elliott that as he was one of the senior brigadiers in the Australian Imperial Force, his claim to a. divisional command could not be overlooked.

As Commandants were not eventually asked to nominate Brigade Commanders, that responsibility resting on the new Divisional Commanders, I destroyed all such correspondence on relinquishing the position of Commandant, '3rd Military 'District.

C.   H.Brand, Major-General.

Sydney,12th August, 1921

5.   On the 15thAugust, 1921, a further telegram,wassent General Brand,asfollows : -

Confidential- Reference this office telegram 3598, General Elliott, in Argus of same date stated following:-" I wrote in reply in effect that untilI "had had an opportunityof considering the whole ofthe Government'sproposals, I would not bind myselftoacceptany appointment under the scheme." Your statement does not mention this. Can yourecollect it, and if so, state to which of. your communications it was in reply.

To which the following telegram, in reply was received: -

To the best of my recollection General Elliott'sstatement in reply to my original letter is correct. Not being asked by the Military Board or any one else to sound him, I naturally placed theletter in my personal 'file, and took action only as regards merits of Battalion Commanders.

Brand

6.   I submit that the file of papers presented to you is complete-: General Brand having stated definitely that the correspondence with General Elliott, to which attention has been drawn, was personal, and, in any case, it hasno relation to the selection of Divisional Commanders.

7.   It willbe observed that General Brand does not admit that an offer of a divisional command was made to General Elliott. No District. Commandant, of course, had any authority to take such action; moreover, it would have been highly irregular andunusual for him to do so.

V.   C. M. Sellheim, Major-General, AdjutantGeneral. 16th August, 1921.

I wish to inform the Senate that the procedure followed in the selection of officers for appointment to the higher commands is as follows: - The Head-Quarters Promotion and Selection Committee, consisting, of the Inspector-General, the Chief of the General Staff, and the Adjutant-General, makes the first selection, and refers the names to the Military Board for consideration and recommendation to the Minister for his approval or otherwise.

This system was followed in the case in which Commanders were required for the Divisions recently created under the new organization.

On receipt of the recommendation from the Military Board, I sent for the Chief of the General Staff, and discussed the- matterwithhim,andthendirectedhim tocallonLieut.GeneralSirJohnMonash, to whom- I had personally written' on thesubject,andobtainfromhimhis views.- Sir JohnMonash definitely con- curred in the choice' made by the Selection Committee, and stated'that the- officers proposed were' the best' available.

Before finally giving my approval, I instructed the! Military Board to- communicate: confidentially with the officers named, to inform them of the proposals and of the conditions' under which they would be expected to- serve, and to ascertain whether their services would be available.

The replies being all satisf actory, I approved of the appointments. Until the confidential letter referred to was sent by the Military Board- by my direction, no officer had been approached on the matter, and no officer, either at Head-Quarters- or elsewhere, had any authority to- approach any one on the question of such appointments.

I maintain, asI have reason to do, that the' file which' I laid upon the table of the Library' at the request of Senator Duncan is complete.


Senator Gardiner -I think Senator Elliott's position has been- made much stronger, as what he said is practically correct.







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