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Commander-In-Chief Productions

Our Tom - The Blamey Enigma
Written & produced by Bill Halliwell & Bernie McDonald

Field Marshal Sir Thomas Albert Blamey was Australia's military Commander-In-Chief during World War 2 yet millions of Australians have never heard of him.

If you have heard anything about Sir Thomas Blamey it's probably a rumour. Hated by hundreds of people who didn't know him; feared, and loved, by many who did.

The American General Douglas MacArthur feared Blamey's expertise and intellect would expose his many faults.

MacArthur lied to Australian Prime Minister John Curtin and had Tom sent to New Guinea because, as MacArthur told his staff officers, "Australians were not dying in sufficient numbers..." implying that Australian troops were not fighting the Japanese hard enough.

Douglas MacArthur's 'Press Machine' pumped out hundreds of press releases that only ever showed the General and his American Staff Officers in the best light. Having lost the Philippines to the Japanese, MacArthur feared he would be blamed for defeat if New Guinea fell also.

Commander-In-Chief Australian Military Forces
General Sir Thomas Blamey

He insisted that the US President and the Joint Chiefs approve HIS idea to send Tom Blamey to New Guinea to take personal charge. He then told Curtin that it was the President's wish that Blamey be sent there.

Prime Minister Curtin swallowed this lie hook, line and sinker. Curtain took the unprecedented step of sending a Commander-In-Chief into a war zone.

What was Blamey's reaction? Like the good soldier he was, he obeyed orders. Blamey knew all along what was going on. He'd had MacArthur's phones tapped and his communications monitored. What MacArthur didn't know was that Tom was itching to get into battle, as crazy as it was to place himself in harm's way.

Professor David Horner, Australia's foremost military historian has written, "Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey was Australia's greatest and most important soldier."

General Tom Blamey was Australia's equivalent to the US Head of the Joint Chiefs, General George C. Marshall. Tom Blamey outranked Bernard Law Montgomery for all the time Tom was in the Middle-East and until 1944 when 'Monty' was made a Field Marshal, as a sop for taking a, reluctant, 'backseat' to Eisenhower.

Tom Blamey was once a well known contemporary of MacArthur, Eisenhower, Nimitz, Patton, Montgomery, Slim, Wavell and Alanbrooke yet today he is truly the forgotten hero.

Tom Blamey was no saint. He had many faults of his own, chief among them was a complete disregard for what people thought of him. This single-minded attitude was to have a severe effect on the course of his career and his reputation, even long after his death in 1951.

'The Blamey Enigma' is the culmination of over 5 years of research and investigation into the life and times of Tom Blamey. The framework of our story was built upon the writings of the two people who knew Tom Blamey the best: his lovely, extraordinary second wife, Olga and Norman Carlyon.

The project was born when writer/producer Bill Halliwell chanced upon the book, "I Remember Blamey" written by Norman Carlyon, one of General Blamey's former Aides-des-camps. During the 1960s Bill had worked at the Hotel Australia in Melbourne where Norman Carlyon had long been one of the hotel's most successful and popular General Managers.

Norman was literally plucked out of his position at the newly re-built Hotel Australia by Tom Blamey in 1939. Tom had known Norman to be a resourceful, intelligent and highly efficient hotelier - the perfect choice to take care of the day-to-day staff and needs of a commanding general.

Our three part documentary series 'The Blamey Enigma' started 'life' as a short documentary but soon after the talented writer/producer Bernie McDonald came on-board it became obvious that the story of Tom Blamey's life was too big; too entertaining to cram into one hour.

Bill and Bernie were convinced of this after one of their road-trips through 'Blamey Country', in outback NSW, tracking down members of Tom's huge, extended family. The stories they collected were truly personal, even poignant, tinged with regret and the odd sense that there were family members who were not as proud of their famous relative as they should have been. Indeed, even as late as the 1980s, older members of the Blamey clan kept their relationship to Tom Blamey a secret from their own children.

Even though we have begun recording interviews our research continues to this day. We have striven to present a fair, balanced and considered view of Tom Blamey's life and of his contemporaries.

Please contact us with any
information you might have
about Tom Blamey or with
your thoughts on this web site.

[email protected]
[email protected]
Voice Messages: 0438 440 307
PO Box 162 Lindisfarne TAS 7015

Or use the form on our

Tom and Olga Blamey
Tom and Olga arrive back in Australia after
Tom's official visit to the U.S. - June 1944

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.

Website: AB Creative Edge.

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