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Portrait of McCay, c. 1901

Sir James McCay (1864–1930) was an Australian general and politician. As a member of the Victorian Parliament (1895–99), he championed women's suffrage and federation. He became a member of the first Australian Federal Parliament in 1901 and was Minister for Defence (1904–05), where his long-lasting reforms included creating the Military Board. In World War I, McCay commanded the 2nd Infantry Brigade of the Australian Army in the landing at Anzac Cove, during the Gallipoli Campaign. He was later wounded in the Second Battle of Krithia and sent home, but returned to command the 5th Division, which he led in the Battle of Fromelles in 1916, dubbed "the worst 24 hours in Australia's entire history". His failures in difficult military operations made him a controversial figure who earned the disfavour of his superiors, and his efforts to succeed in the face of insurmountable obstacles earned him the odium of troops under his command, who blamed him for high casualties. After the war, McCay resumed his old job as Deputy Chairman of the State Bank of Victoria; his other public roles included commanding the Special Constabulary Force during the 1923 Victorian Police strike. (Full article...)

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