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About Leslie James Morshead
Lieutenant General Sir Leslie James Morshead KCB, KBE, CMG, DSO, ED (18 September 1889 – 26 September 1959) was an Australian soldier, teacher, businessman, and farmer, with a distinguished military career that spanned both world wars. Most notably, during the Second World War he commanded the Australian and British troops at the Siege of Tobruk and at the Second Battle of El Alamein, achieving decisive victories over the Afrika Korps, led by Erwin Rommel.
When the First World War broke out in August 1914, Morshead was working as a teacher. He resigned his teaching position and his commission in the Cadet Corps, and travelled to Sydney to enlist as a private in the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the First Australian Imperial Force. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in September. He landed at Anzac on 25 April 1915, and his battalion made the farthest advance of any Australian unit that day. Invalided to Australia, he became commander of the 33rd Infantry Battalion, which he led on the Western Front at Messines, Passchendaele, First Battle of Villers-Bretonneux and Amiens.
Between the wars he made a successful career with the Orient Line, and remained active in the part-time Militia, commanding battalions and brigades. In 1939, he was appointed to command the 18th Infantry Brigade of the 6th Division in the Second Australian Imperial Force. In 1941, he became commander of the 9th Division, which he led in the Siege of Tobruk in 1941 and the Second Battle of El Alamein in 1942. He returned to Australia in 1943, where he was appointed to command the II Corps, which he led during the New Guinea campaign. In 1945, he commanded the I Corps in the Borneo campaign. A strict and demanding officer, he came to be referred to by his soldiers humorously as "Ming the Merciless," and later simply as "Ming," after the villain in Flash Gordon comics.