Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by raafbloke, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. raafbloke

    raafbloke Junior Member

    This is my introductory post but I thought it was appropriate for this thread because it also introduces my research subject that has engrossed us for the past 5 years.
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    I'm raafbloke, (Bill), from Hobart, Tasmania. I'm ex-RAAF and I'm now a documentary writer/producer specialising in WW2 topics.
    Before I finish my research on my latest documentary, which deals with the life and times of Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey, I thought I'd touch base with a few of the top WW2 chat boards just to see if there is any last minute comments about Tom Blamey from any historians, academics or veterans out there. Tom Blamey's story is fascinating because he's the least known C-i-Cs of World War 2. To those people who do know of him, he is one of the most controversial, and disliked, C-i-Cs of WW2. Yet Professor David Horner of ANU, who wrote the definitive book on Tom Blamey refers to him as "Australia's greatest soldier...".
    Love him or hate him he had an interesting life dedicated to the Australian Army. If anyone would like to discuss him or give us information about him that we can use in our documentary please drop me a post.
    Similarly, if I can assist anyone with details of my - limited but specialist - knowledge of WW2, I'd be happy to discuss and share.
    All the best,
    Bill Halliwell
    Commander-In-Chief Productions
    www.OurTom.id.au
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    This is just my first day on WW2TALK and it's late where I am so if there is any interest I'll post the first part of the Tom Blamey story in the next couple of days.
    All the best
    Bill
    raafbloke
     
  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Some files at the National Archives in London that maybe of interest:

    FO 371/69935 Visit of General Sir Thomas Blamey to Japan General Blamey's views on future of Japan. Code 23, file 14905

    CAB 106/120 Report on New Guinea operations 1943 Sept. 4-1944 Apr. 26, by General Sir Thomas Blamey, Commander Allied Land Forces, South West Pacific Area.

    CAB 106/121 Report on New Guinea operations 1943 Sept. 4-1944 Apr. 26, by General Sir Thomas Blamey, Commander Allied Land Forces, South West Pacific Area; photographs and maps.

    CAB 106/122 Report on operations in Australian Mandated Territories, Bougainville, New Britain and New Guinea, 1944 Apr. 26-1945 Aug. 15, by General Sir Thomas Blamey, Commander Allied Land Forces, South West Pacific Area.

    CAB 106/123 Report on operations in Australian Mandated Territories, Bougainville, New Britain and New Guinea, 1944 Apr. 26-1945 Aug. 15, by General Sir Thomas Blamey, Commander Allied Land Forces, South West Pacific Area; Maps.

    CAB 106/128 Report on operations in New Guinea, 1942 Sept.23-1943 Jan.23, by General Sir Thomas Blamey, Commander-in-Chief, Allied Land Forces, South West Pacific Area.

    INF 10/30/31 Australia. General Sir Thomas Blamey GBE, KCB, CB, CMG, DSO. Photograph No 107530. Press statement on reverse.
     
  3. raafbloke

    raafbloke Junior Member

    G'day Drew,
    Thanks for that... noted and we'll look up those references.

    I'm hoping someone on ww2talk might be able to help us with a blank period in Tom Blamey's career when, in 1944, he went to the US and then on to London, with the Australian Prime Minister John Curtin for the Commonwealth Heads meeting chaired by WSC at 10 Downing Street.
    One of Tom's ADCs reports that WSC took Tom upstairs at Number Ten and had a two hour session with him, over much whiskey, while the various Prime Ministers waited at a reception down stairs.
    As we are making a TV documentary we desperately need any photographs of Tom Blamey in the US and the UK, particularly with WSC. We also know that Tom met the King.
    What is the best part of the forums to ask for help on this?
    cheers,
    Bill Halliwell (raafbloke)
    C-i-C Productions
    www.OurTom.id.au
     
  4. gavmess

    gavmess Junior Member

    Hello and greetings to all!

    I am hoping you may assist me some research I am currently undertaking for a friend of mine - an Aussie WW2 veteran (NX122222 Albert Speer, MBE 2/2 Field Ambulance - yes distant relative of the German Albert Speer too!) ...with his failing memory Bert recalls a speech that Sir Thomas Blamey gave at the PNG airstrip of Wewak on October 26th 1945. It was the final parade of 6th division and he recalls the address he gave having some significance in those present time events. (side note - He also had a December '45 meeting in his tent with Ben Chifley, and a month or so later Gen. Robertson tried to get information out of him regarding Chifley! But I digress...)

    Unfortunately my research trying to find a transcript of this speech/address has proved fruitless - searches within AWM, ABC archives, NAA, Movietone, Cinseound, NLA, RUSI and the film archives have given me 2 silent films of this event, 20 or so photographs and a war diary confirming that the speech was "telling the troops the real story to set their minds at ease", but no speech! He is now thinking that maybe Blamey had them destroyed as it could have been damaging to future careers!!

    Would any of you happen to know of any further websites/departments/areas of research that could contain such information? He has been a great help to our country so it is the least I can do for him to help...
    Cheers
    Gavin
     
  5. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    A very interesting subject, Bill. I had to deal with Blamey in my own research. He reminds me of Montgomery, in that he was one of those men of whom both the best and worst things you hear were true. And just as Montgomery was the father of the modern British professional army, so Blamey was the father of the Australian. I was studying the 9th Division, and he was definitely NOT popular with the troops of the 9th. He seldom visited them (conspicuously failing to do so in Tobruk), and they booed him on Tarakan. But he seems to have allowed Morshead a more or less free hand in running his division, and that was all to the good. One of the hallmarks of a great C-in-C is knowing when not to interfere with his subordinates.
     
  6. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Bill, is this the documentary you are working on? The Blamey Enigma - Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey - Home Page

    It looks very interesting, particuarly the personal stuff from Blamey's family. I was also amazed to learn that Lady Olga (one always wants to say 'poor Olga') had written an unpublished memoir.

    I did a quick online search for images of Blamey in the US and Britain in 1944, but found almost nothing. There are some pictures of Curtin in London for the Imperial Conference, but Blamey is absent from them. I did find a three-picture sequence of Blamey visiting 455 Squadron RAAF at Leuchars, Scotland (SUK12300 | Australian War Memorial, SUK12301 | Australian War Memorial, SUK12302 | Australian War Memorial)

    The IWM has nothing, the LIFE archive doesn't seem to have anything either. I suspect you might have to try for archives of major British and American newspapers for May and June of 1944. If Blamey was in liquor on that trip as much as Horner says, then I suspect he didn't WANT to be photographed.




     
  7. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    I did a quick online search for images of Blamey in the US and Britain in 1944, but found almost nothing.



    Did you check the registries in cat houses? :)
     
  8. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  9. raafbloke

    raafbloke Junior Member

    G'day TTH,
    I've been a dedicated drinker for over 50 years and I've never come across the phrase, 'in liquor' before...how quaint.
    Anyway, yes, we are the doco makers working on a 3 part TV doco called The Blamey Enigma.
    Thank you so much for the links to those three pics of TAB at an RAF base. You're dead right about the booze, however, it wasn't so much that TAB was swimming in booze on the boat out to the US with Curtin, it was just that Curtin was on the wagon and became a boorish zealot when it came to booze. TAB and Curtin couldn't stand each others' company by the time they got to the US so they parted company and travelled to the UK separately. Once they met up again for the Commonwealth Heads meeting TAB had already met with Winston and they got on famously. Winston and TAB kept the Commonwealth Prime Ministers et al waiting for over two hours at a reception at Number 10 because Winnie and TAB were upstairs sharing a decanter of brandy and, apparently, getting on like a house on fire. This was quite different to their relations back in 41 when TAB and Menzies were making life hell for Winston over the usage of Australian forces in the Middle East. Wills (VERY SENIOR MEMBER) has kindly linked me up to Critical Past that has much footage of TAB. Good man!
    So, anyone out there who can get us stills of TAB in the US or the UK PLEASE let us know we have a huge visual hole in the documentary.
    Can contact us direct via The Blamey Enigma - Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey Contact Page. I'm too flat out to check into this forum on a regular basis, sadly. But I'll try.
    Cheers and thanks again and even to you DAVE55... I can tell you that TAB did not use "cathouses" Lady Blamey would have knackered him had he done so. TAB never had a mistress, unlike 'Dimples' Big Mac's little bit of skirt he was too afraid to tell Pinkie about... so let's not throw stones, eh.
    All the best
    Bill Halliwell
     
  10. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Ok, I'll defer to your knowledge on him. Sorry. I was only going on some of the stuff I've read. You mean if it is printed it doesn't mean it is true? :)

    Dave
     
  11. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Hello and greetings to all!

    Bert recalls a speech that Sir Thomas Blamey gave at the PNG airstrip of Wewak on October 26th 1945.



    (Should this question & my response be cut out and placed into it's own thread?)


    WATCH JAPS, SAYS BLAMEY

    WEWAK, Saturday.

    A warning to 6th Division troops to watch the Japs in their area vigilantly was issued by General Sir Thomas Blarney. 'We have 300,000 Japs in the Australian area,' he said. 'They are very docile at the moment, but strange things are occurring in Japan. It does not follow that in a few months their attitude may not change.

    The Commander-in-Chief told troops that for the next 20 years the outlook and character of the men who returned would color the whole history of Australia. 'This parent division of the A.I.F. has provided many of our greatest leaders and heroes so dear to our hearts,' he added. 'It participated in the most successful campaign of the war, resulting in the destruction of the Italian Army and the capture of 70,000 prisoners n Cyrenaica.'
     
  12. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    (This seems to be the only other reference to his speech)

    24,000 TROOPS ON ISLANDS HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

    SYDNEY, October 28.-Between 24,000 and 30,000 Australian troops in the islands who had given up hope of returning before next March will now be home for Christmas.

    General Sir Thomas Blamey told troops in New Guinea on Thursday that the large majority of them would not be home for Christmas.

    The changed plan has been made possible by the allocation to Australia of six American victory ships which will be used solely as troop transports.

    Most of the 150,000 troops now in the islands are expected to be back in Australia by next February or March instead of June.

    The Commonwealth Government made pressing representations for help from the Allied shipping pool, controlled from London and Washington.

    Ministers believe the news will be the best Christmas present they could give the troops and their families.

    The Government hopes that permission will be obtained for a third voyage by the six Victory ships early in the new year.

    LONG GARRISON JOB

    As there are still about 250,000 Japanese on the islands, Australian garrison troops will have to remain until the Japanese have been repatriated. This may take up to two years.

    Possibly the Victory ships will be able to take special garrison troops from Australia to relieve troops due to come home.
     
  13. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    You're dead right about the booze, however, it wasn't so much that TAB was swimming in booze on the boat out to the US with Curtin, it was just that Curtin was on the wagon and became a boorish zealot when it came to booze. TAB and Curtin couldn't stand each others' company by the time they got to the US so they parted company and travelled to the UK separately.

    Once they met up again for the Commonwealth Heads meeting TAB had already met with Winston and they got on famously. Winston and TAB kept the Commonwealth Prime Ministers et al waiting for over two hours at a reception at Number 10 because Winnie and TAB were upstairs sharing a decanter of brandy and, apparently, getting on like a house on fire.



    You're right - they both seemed to look happy when the boat was leaving our shores - a photo of them together when they landed in the states must have looked a bit more dour.....
     

    Attached Files:

  14. raafbloke

    raafbloke Junior Member

    Ok, I'll defer to your knowledge on him. Sorry. I was only going on some of the stuff I've read. You mean if it is printed it doesn't mean it is true? :)

    Dave

    No worries, Dave. Those who do know of Tom Blamey usually go with the common rumours. Not your fault.
    Cheers,
    Bill Halliwell
     
  15. gavmess

    gavmess Junior Member

    Hi DaveB - this sounds like either one of those snippets of information could very much be what he is referring to - can i ask where you found these particular pieces of information?

    My apologies if this was meant to be started in a new thread, i thought as it was Blamey related it fitted in here too :)

    And Bill, thank you very much for your response via email the other day regarding this too!
    Cheers
    Gavin

    ***edit*** - just Googled the titles of the newspaper cuttings and found them in the Trove website - many thanks Dave, I think the "Watch Japs" article may be the one he is thinking about, will see if any of this jolts his memory!!
     
  16. Peter16

    Peter16 Junior Member

    Bill,
    I look forward to the documentary. Blamey is a most controversial character. I have spoken with a couple of veterans who were on the Koitaki Parade. They have no illusions as to what Blamey said... one of the veterans (2/16th Bn) was venomous in his hatred (40 years on... a long time to hate!).
    Will you tackle the various allegations about Blamey's behaviour? I thought Horner 'glossed over' most of the issues. Just because he is our only Field Marshal, there shouldn't be a whitewashing of such a flawed character.
    As for 'cathouses', I thought there were several references to his frequenting of such places. Or did someone borrow his Police badge and leave it behind... again!
     
  17. raafbloke

    raafbloke Junior Member

    Bill,
    I look forward to the documentary. Blamey is a most controversial character. I have spoken with a couple of veterans who were on the Koitaki Parade. They have no illusions as to what Blamey said... one of the veterans (2/16th Bn) was venomous in his hatred (40 years on... a long time to hate!).
    Will you tackle the various allegations about Blamey's behaviour? I thought Horner 'glossed over' most of the issues. Just because he is our only Field Marshal, there shouldn't be a whitewashing of such a flawed character.
    As for 'cathouses', I thought there were several references to his frequenting of such places. Or did someone borrow his Police badge and leave it behind... again!
    G'day Peter16,
    Thanks for your post. Yes we will be tackling all of the allegations against TAB both the allegedly criminal and the behavioral accusations. On David Horner's book, one must remember that Prof. Horner writes from a position as an official historian, commissioned by the Commonwealth to examine senior military leaders in our modern history. As such he was not allowed the scope to delve into personal issues that were, and are, (as we have discovered) not corroborated. We are pleased to say that Prof Horner has volunteered to write the book of our documentary when his tenure as an official historian has come to an end. In our doco and that book many aspects of TAB's private and public life will be thoroughly examined. My co-writer/producer, Bernie McDonald and I have always kept an open mind about TAB and have not come into our research with any kind of political or social agenda. If TAB is guilty or if he is innocent of the allegations against him then we will present our findings as they come to light. Of all the allegations against TAB only his deliberate lie(s) to the Mcindoe Royal Commission can be established beyond all doubt. The Badge 80 affair is no 'affair' to us simply because the arresting officers made sworn statements (before either of them had ever met TAB that Blamey was NOT the man detained in the brothel raid. We have not read of or received any other allegations referring to TAB in any other brothel. If you know of an instance, please contact us.
    As to the dozens of other allegations; ranging from 'terrorism' to wasting men's lives, to theft, commercial corruption, drunkenness, cowardice, etc. We have spent several years looking for documentary evidence of these activities (and even more bizarre accusations) and, to date, we don't have a single shred of proof.
    We do have several hundred documents that prove TAB and Lady Olga went way beyond their duties to ensure the troops were looked after; that TAB was ruthless at punishing anyone connected with kickbacks, theft and fraud with welfare funds, canteen supplies and 2AIF funds allocated for relief of his troops; that he was open and transparent about the allocation of donations from the racing fraternity, and others, who gave money for soldiers' welfare.
    We have said that, as far as we know TAB never had a mistress. Just recently a person came to us with information on that topic and we are actively investigating every aspect of TAB's activity and movements regarding that allegation.
    As film makers we know we already have a fascinating story because TAB was a fascinating character. It matters little to us if the story line goes against him or not, as long as we have done our best to ensure we are presenting the truth then his resultant guilt or innocence is not really our concern.
    And that's the magic of this story that's kept us going for over five years! It's a great story and such a terrible historical oversight that Tom Blamey is virtually unknown in his own country. Part of our story is how it came to pass that a person, known to kings, queens, world leaders and, at the time, known to every Australian was 'erased' from our military history... it's a great yarn and we'll do our level best to make sure it's a true yarn.
    Thanks again for your post.
    Anyone in WW2TALK with info about Tom Blamey please contact us via the forum or via our website: The Blamey Enigma - Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey
    Cheers,
    raafbloke
    Bill Halliwell
     
  18. Peter16

    Peter16 Junior Member

    Bill,
    Thanks for your response.
    There is no doubt Blamey is complex. He had a difficult role, as the Commander. He had many loyal friends and at least as many 'haters'. All of which makes getting to the truth a challenge! I wish you luck.

    Re cathouses: from memory, I believe ther are mentions in Full Circle by Rowell (not a Blamey 'friend' after Greece) and Vasey by Horner.

    I'll try and track the references.

    Cheers,

    Peter
     

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