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Bruche, Sir Julius Henry (1873–1961)

by S. F. Rowell

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

Julius Henry Bruche (1873-1961), by unknown photographer

Julius Henry Bruche (1873-1961), by unknown photographer

Australian War Memorial, 100128

Sir Julius Henry Bruche (1873-1961), soldier, was born on 6 March 1873 at North Melbourne, son of William Julius Maximilian Bruche, corn merchant, and his wife Elise Dorothea Henrietta, née Goetz, both German-born. Educated at Scotch College and the University of Melbourne, he was admitted to the Supreme Court of Victoria as a barrister and solicitor in 1898, but abandoned the legal profession that year to become a regular soldier. Seven years earlier he had been commissioned in the 1st Battalion, Victorian Rifles; in July 1898 he joined the Permanent Military Forces as a lieutenant and was promoted captain next February. In 1898-1903 he was adjutant of the 1st and 2nd Battalions.

On the outbreak of the South African War Bruche was selected for special service with the British Army and in December 1899–January 1900 was attached to the 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards, at Modder River. He served with the Australian Regiment as quartermaster and then with the Victorian Mounted Rifles as adjutant, and took part in operations in Cape Colony and the Orange Free State. He returned home in December 1900 but in February 1902 went back to South Africa with the 2nd Battalion, Australian Commonwealth Horse.

Bruche served on the Victorian administrative and instructional staff in 1903-05. On 12 April 1904 at St Thomas's Anglican Church, North Sydney, he married Dorothy Annette McFarland; there were twin daughters of the marriage. In 1905 he was made deputy assistant adjutant general and was promoted major in 1906. Next year the office of chief commissioner of police fell vacant and Bruche applied, strongly supported by his friend (Sir) John Monash who described him as 'the one real live and up to date man among our Victorian permanent officers', 'young and energetic' with a 'magnetic personality … vigour and force of character … a cultured mind … and a loyal temperament'. Bruche's application failed. He was to try for the position, again unsuccessfully and with Monash's support, in 1912, 1920 and 1922. In 1910 he went to England on a year's exchange duty and on his return was appointed D.A.A.G. in Tasmania; he was promoted lieutenant-colonel in July 1912 and next February was posted to Queensland, first as D.A.A.G. and then as assistant adjutant general.

Soon after war was declared in 1914 Bruche, who might reasonably have expected a field command, was made commandant in Western Australia. He weathered several virulent attacks made on him because of his German origins and in June 1916 was appointed to the Australian Imperial Force as colonel. He was attached to A.I.F. headquarters in London for four months before joining the 5th Australian Division on the Western Front as assistant adjutant and quartermaster general. Monash, who considered that he had been given 'a very rough spin' by the authorities, had helped secure the appointment and Bruche served with distinction until after the Armistice. The 5th Division historian was later to praise his 'great professional ability', though it was his 'character and broad humanity' that 'made his influence so profoundly and so beneficially felt throughout the division'. In January 1919 Monash chose Bruche to assist him in the Repatriation and Demobilization Department in London as director of non-military employment. He returned to Australia in December, having been mentioned in dispatches five times and appointed C.M.G. and C.B.

Bruche was promoted colonel in 1920 and major general in 1923, and from 1920 until his retirement held the highest posts the Australian Army could offer. He was commandant in New South Wales in 1920-21 and 1926-27 and in Queensland in 1921-25, and was adjutant general of the Australian forces in 1927-29. For the next two years he was senior military representative at Australia House, London, and Australian representative on the Imperial General Staff at the War Office. He returned home in May 1931 to become commandant of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, but held the position only until October when he became chief of the General Staff. He retired in 1935 and was appointed K.C.B. that year. Survived by Lady Bruche and one of his daughters, he died in Melbourne on 28 April 1961 and was cremated with Anglican rites.

Bruche maintained high standards of conduct in both his service and private lives. He was an able staff officer whose attention to detail did not tend to obscure the wider picture. He was a strict disciplinarian with a reputation, perhaps undeserved, of being a martinet. What is true is that he was almost a terror to those who did not match his own estimate of performance. His rather brusque manner could probably be attributed to innate shyness.

Select Bibliography

  • Australia Defence Department, Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa, P. L. Murray ed (Melb, 1912)
  • A. D. Ellis, The Story of the Fifth Australian Division (Lond, 1920)
  • C. E. W. Bean, The Australian Imperial Force in France, 1917, 1918 (Syd, 1933, 1942)
  • London Gazette, 3 June 1935
  • United Service (Sydney), July 1962
  • Australasian (Melbourne), 11 Nov 1899
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 25 Mar 1927, 29 Dec 1928, 14 May 1931, 2 May 1961
  • Age (Melbourne), 29 Apr 1961
  • Monash papers.

Citation details

S. F. Rowell, 'Bruche, Sir Julius Henry (1873–1961)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 26 October 2016.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

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