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'The Blamey Enigma' - Gallery


Tom (right) a 19 year-old teacher at the Fremantle Boys’ School with the cadet rifle team that won the Western Australian Rifle Shooting Trophy in 1903.

Young Tom (circled left) as a Pupil/Teacher at Wagga Wagga Primary School. Date unknown but between 1900 and 1903.

Tom married Minnie Caroline Millard, Toorak, Melbourne on 8th Sept 1908. Minnie bore him two sons: Charles ‘Dolf’ and Tom Junior. Minnie died in 1935 after a long illness. ‘Dolf’ who had joined the RAAF was killed in 1932 when the aircraft he was flying crashed near Richmond air base.

Lt Gen Sir John Monash, GOC AIF (seated) with Brigadier General T. Blamey standing behind him. From L to R are Brigadiers General: C.H. Foott, R.A. Carruthers, L.D. Fraser and W.A. Coxon, Royal Artillery. Taken 22nd July 1918 at Bertangles Chateau, Somme.

Tom as Victorian Chief Commissioner of Police. A rare photo of Tom in his police uniform, looking decidedly uncomfortable and without his trademark moustache. Taken in 1928 only weeks before his first controversy in the top police job: the Badge 80/Brothel Affair.

Tom takes the salute as Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies reviews the 6th Division while on a flying visit to Palestine in February 1941.
Tom and Prime Minister Menzies visit graves of Australian soldiers from World War 1 at Scohos War Cemetery in Jerusalem, February 1941.

One of the few photos extant of Australia’s Greek campaign. Here part of the town of Elasson, where Tom had his Headquarters is being heavily bombed by German aircraft. 15th April 1941. Tom ignored advice to evacuate these headquarters until just before this devastating attack.

Also serving in Greece was Tom’s son, Captain Thomas R. Blamey (left), known as Tom Junior. He’s pictured here with Lt H. Mair son of the then NSW Premier. 12th June 1940 in the Middle East. General Blamey chose to evacuate his only surviving son on his plane out of Greece. This decision was hugely controversial at the time and drove another wedge between Tom and his once close friend, General Sydney Rowell.


Tom at work in his Gaza Corps H.Q. with Captain Norman Carlyon, a friend from the Hotel Australia, in Melbourne, whom he appointed as one of his ADCs. 7th March 1940.

Tom was constantly organising entertainment for his troops in the Middle-East from symphony orchestras to surf carnivals. Here he meets players in the 2nd AIF cricket team at the Gezira Sporting Club, 2nd October 1941. The players (from the left) are: Flynn, Hunt, Chapman, Rymill, White, Rymington and Seldon.


Tom was genuinely interested in every facet of service life. Here he demonstrates to Lady Blamey the intricacies of a barber’s clippers, much to the surprise of those around him. 16th May 1943.
Blamey Gallery 13-15  

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As these four pictures indicate, Tom was an active hospital visitor. Widely accused of not caring for his troops, the archives hold over 200 photos of Tom visiting his boys in hospital, throughout every area of operation. As Commander-in-Chief Tom had an obligation to inspect hospitals but his hospital visiting went far beyond his routine duties.


During his two years in Australia General Douglas MacArthur spent around 125 days in Port Moresby - always staying at Government House - thus accounting for his neatly pressed appearance. Tom, who stayed 'in country' for a much longer periods, over that two years, lived in a modified 'grass hut' close to the fighting. Even though MacArthur claimed he made 'morale boosting' inspections of the front lines in New Guinea, the closest he ever got to the hostilities at Kokoda was to view the very beginnings of the Track - from a distance.


Tom with U.S. Lt-Gen R.L.Eichelberger a tough and competent commander who was not one of MacArthur’s ‘yes men’ from Bataan. He and Tom got on well. Here they are looking over the entrance to a Japanese pillbox near the Buna airstrip, January 1943.


Tom was constantly mobile because of his responsibilities for all land forces. He had two dedicated aircraft to get him around. Here is the crew of Tom’s RAAF Lockheed Lodestar aircraft at the Wewak airstrip, New Guinea, 14th June 1945. (From left to right) Sgt L.E. Mills, Pilot Officer H.M. Downes, Flight Lt A.M. Jackson and Flight Lt H.E. Teede.
Tom’s other aircraft was a B-24 Liberator used for longer flights.

All but forgotten today, General Sir Thomas Blamey was truly a player on the world stage. Here he is aboard the USS Missouri on the 2nd of September 1945 signing the instrument of surrender on behalf of Australia. General Douglas MacArthur and representatives of all the Allied nations stand to his left. After this historic ceremony Tom immediately left to enforce the Japanese surrender at Morotai, the next day.


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After being forced to resign by the new Chifley Labor Government, Tom’s senior service commanders gave him a farewell dinner at the Senior Engineer’s Mess, that once stood at Batman Avenue, by the banks of the Yarra, Melbourne. 30th November 1945.
Tom is seen giving his final salute as his Commander-In-Chief’s flag is lowered and presented to him by his senior ADC Lt.Col. Dwyer. At the dinner Tom is presented with an ornate silver salver engraved with the signatures of all the senior commanders who served under him during WW2. (The salver is now a prized possession of Tom’s grandson, Ted Blamey.)

Tom then shares a drink with his two closest friends and confidants, his wartime ADCs Dan Dwyer (left) and Norman Carlyon.


Tom was always at his happiest when with a group of females. Here he has tea with a group of Australian Women’s Army Service girls who are obviously enjoying the company of their boss.

A rare photograph of Tom with Sydney Rowell. Taken in 1939 when they were still close friends.

General Douglas MacArthur arrives in Sydney, by train on the 22nd July 1942, to be greeted by Australian Prime Minister John Curtin.



General MacArthur privately confers with Prime Minister Curtin who virtually turned over the sovereignty of Australia to this foreign soldier. MacArthur didn’t always resort to the truth in his dealings with the Australian government.

Here the Supreme Commander South West Pacific Area has just taken over an entire floor of the lavish Menzies Hotel in Melbourne, after his arrival in Australia. After this initial gathering of the trio MacArthur deliberately disobeyed orders from Roosevelt to include senior Australian officers in his high-level planning meetings.

Another shot from a different angle at the Menzies Hotel meeting. Tom’s, highly unusual, expression certainly looks like he knows something MacArthur doesn’t.

The day after the surrender ceremony on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Harbour Tom takes the surrender from the Japanese area commander at Morotai. Tom refused to sit at the same table as his prisoner. He then delivered a scathing speech which placed on record the numerous atrocities and war crimes carried out by the Japanese during their Pacific campaign.


This project is benefiting from material researched from within the collections of the Australian War Memorial Commander In Chief

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Updated February 2013.

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