Historica Wiki

John Antill.png

John Antill (26 January 1866-1 March 1937) was an Australian Army Major-General who famously commanded the Australian Light Horse during the Gallipoli campaign of World War I.


John Antill was born in Jarvisfield, New South Wales, Australia in 1866, and he joined the local militia in 1887 and became a captain in 1894. Antill served with distinction in the New South Wales Mounted Rifles during the Second Boer War, and he was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1913. In October 1914, Antill volunteered for overseas service with the Australian Imperial Force during World War I, taking command of the 3rd Brigade of the Australian Light Horse in Egypt in early 1915. In May 1915, the brigade was sent to Anatolia amid the Gallipoli campaign, and Antill became known as a strict general who cared little for the lives of his soldiers. During the August 1915 Battle of the Nek, he ordered three futile charges against the Ottoman Army across no man's land, resulting in the decimation of his command. In January 1916, following the evacuation of Gallipoli, Antill was promoted to Colonel, and his command fought in the Sinai and Palestine campaign before Antill was transferred to the Western Front in August 1916. Antill led the 2nd Infantry Brigade at the Second Battle of Ypres and the Battle of the Somme, and his deteriorating health led to him ceasing his command in September 1917. He became Assistant Adjutant General in 1918, commanded the 5th Military District in South Australia from 1918 to 1921, and served as Chief Instructor at the Training Depot in Liverpool, New South Wales from 1921 until his retirement in 1924 with the rank of Major-General. Antill died in 1937 at the age of 71.