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Tom Blamey’s Timeline


Date of birth 

Lake Albert, near Wagga Wagga, NSW. 

1899 >

Became Pupil-Teacher

At various schools around Wagga. He also became enthusiastically involved in School Cadets and taught marksmanship. Tom also toyed with the idea of becoming a Methodist minister. He had written hymns, prayers and poems and had a dream of being a missionary to remote outback communities.

Jul 1903

Assistant Teacher

At the Fremantle Boys’ School, Western Australia. Here he continued his cadet activities.

Nov 1904 

Became Cadet Officer 

Became a cadet officer at the Fremantle Boys’ School. Still active in the Methodist Church, he was offered a post as a probationary minister at Carnarvon. 


AIS Cadet Officers’ Exam

Sat the examination for a commission in the Administrative and Instructional Staff of the cadets. He was not appointed as there were no vacancies in Western Australia. He wrote to the Deputy Assistant Adjutant General, Major Julius Bruche, along with a veiled threat of legal action he also said he was willing to move to Victoria should a Victorian vacancy be offered to him. 

Nov 1906 

Moved to Melbourne

Moved to Melbourne and commissioned as a lieutenant. 



Married Minnie Caroline Millard, Toorak, Melbourne.

Apr 1910 

Moved to AIS/CMF

Transferred to the Administrative and Instructional Staff of the Citizen’s Military Forces. 


Promoted to Captain 

Promoted to captain. 


Passed Exam for BS College 

Sat the entrance examination for the British Staff College and became the first Australian to pass. 


Attends BSC Quetta 

Commenced course at the Staff College's campus at Quetta, India. 


Graduates BSC Quetta 

Graduated from British Staff College, Quetta, India. 

May 1914 

Seconded to British Army 

Sailed for Britain and spent a brief time on attachment to the War Office then the 4th Dragoon Guards, later taking up duties on the staff of the Wessex Division. 


Promoted to Major 

Promoted to major. 


Joins 1st Div HQ in Egypt 

Sailed for Egypt and became part of the 1st Division Headquarters as General Staff Officer, Grade 3 (GSO3) in charge of intelligence. 


Lands at Gallipoli

Landed at Gallipoli, Turkey. 


Promoted to LtCol 2nd Div 

Promoted to lieutenant colonel and posted to Egypt as Assistant Adjutant and Quartermaster General for the new 2nd Division. 


Returns to Gallipoli 

Returned to Gallipoli. 



Mentioned in Dispatches. 

Mar 1916 

Goes to France with 2nd Div

Accompanied the 2nd Division to France. 


Made GSO Grade 1 – 1st Div 

Appointed to General Staff Officer Grade 1 of the 1st Division. 


Promoted to Colonel 

Promoted to colonel. 


Commands 2nd Inf Bgd 

Appointed to command the 2nd Infantry Brigade. 


Commands 1st Inf Bgd 

Took over as acting command of the 1st Infantry Brigade. 


Returns GSO Grade 1 – 1st Div 

Returned to General Staff Officer Grade 1 with the 1st Division. 


Awarded DSO 

Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO), for his part in the attack at Pozières. 



Mentioned in Dispatches. 



Mentioned in Dispatches. 

27-08-1917 to

Commands 2nd Bgd 

Acting commander of the 2nd Brigade. 


Hospital & England 

Admitted to hospital and evacuated to England. 


Awarded CMG 

Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG). 



Mentioned in Dispatches. 

Jun 1918 

Promoted to Brigadier 

Promoted to temporary brigadier and chief of staff of the Australian Corps. 


Returns to France

Returned to France. 



Mentioned in Dispatches. 


Awarded CdG

France awards Tom with the Croix de Guerre. 


Awarded CB 

Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB), for his services as Corps Chief of Staff. 



Mentioned in Dispatches. 


Returns to Australia 

Posted to Army Headquarters in Melbourne as Director of Military Operations. 

May 1920 

Promoted DCGS 

Became Deputy Chief of the General Staff, his first major task was the creation of the RAAF with General Williams. To this day Blamey is given no official credit for helping to establish what is now, the second oldest Air Force in the world. 


To London for IGS 

Left for London as the Australian Representative at the Imperial General Staff. 


Returns to Melbourne 2ic AGS 

Appointed second chief of the Australian General Staff. 


Becomes Chief Commissioner of the Victoria Police 

Resigned from the permanent forces and transferred to the militia, and became Chief Commissioner of Police in Victoria. 


Badge 80 Seen In  Police Raid On Brothel

During a raid on a brothel “sly grog shop” in Fitzroy, a man claims to be Tom Blamey and shows police Blamey’s No 80 Police Badge.


Badge 80 “Stolen”

Argus reports Badge 80 “stolen” from Chief Commissioner.


Police Detectives confirm man in brothel NOT Blamey

Two detectives involved in the 21 October raid on a brothel in Fitzroy say the man they found with Badge 80 was NOT the Chief Commissioner.


Premier Allen states he stands behind Commissioner Blamey

Premier Allen states he stands behind Commissioner Blamey as being not guilty of any impropriety in the so-called Badge 80 affair.


Commands 10th Inf Bgd (Militia) 

Took command of the 10th Infantry Brigade. 


CIB Dinner At Hotel Australia

Brig. Gen. Blamey, Commissioner of Police and General Sir John Monash are key speakers at inaugural dinner of the CIB at the Hotel Australia. In front of 300 guests and a radio audience, Monash delivers a speech giving a ringing tribute to Blamey’s expertise and outstanding war record.


Blamey offers £300 reward for bombings in Melb.

Blamey increases reward from £250 for a series of bombings that are the start of the notorious Melbourne dock wars.


Riots & Violence on Melbourne’s docks

Chief Commissioner Blamey vows all those breaking the law will be dealt with severely.


4 Stevedores Shot In Huge Riots On Waterfront

Blamey says a mob of 800 violent stevedores cornered a small group of police who were forced to draw their arms and shoot to protect themselves and strikebreakers.


Shippers’ Rep’s Home Bombed

A bomb was thrown inside the home of a Shippers’ Rep. Other bombings occur. Gen Blamey says those responsible for these outrages will be tracked down.


Blamey tells new Premier that bombers will be caught.

Chief Commissioner Blamey vows that, “no punishment is too great for men who throw bombs into houses…”.

July 1930

New Premier Puts Blamey’s Job Up For Grabs

The McPherson government reduces the CC’s salary by ₤300 and asks for applicants within the force. None are forthcoming. Police and Public hold meetings vowing support for Blamey. He is finally reinstated with reduced salary. Blamey makes no public comment on the matter.


Promoted to Major General 

Promoted to major general and took command of the 3rd Division. He was one of four militia officers promoted to the rank of major general between 1929-1939. 


Tom’s Son Dies

RAAF Pilot Officer Charles ‘Dolf’ Blamey is killed in an aircraft crash near RAAF Base Richmond, NSW.


Awarded KB 

Appointed Knight Bachelor. 


Victoria Police CIB Superintendant Brophy Shot at Royal Park.

Chief Commissioner of Police, Sir Thomas Blamey visits Brophy at St.Vincent’s Hosp. and later releases statement to press that Brophy was shot by accident. Later accounts prove he was probably shot by assailants.


Blamey Resigns From Police

After an 11- day Royal Commission Judge Macindoe disbelieves Blamey’s evidence and the Premier, another 11 days later accepts Blamey’s resignation. This tendered only after urgings of his friend Eugene Gorman Q.C.

1936 to 1939

Tom’s ‘Wilderness Years’

Tom is attacked and then shunned by the press, both sides of parliament and society in general. He is deserted by many whom he thought were his friends. People, literally, cross the street to avoid him. Tom fishes, horse rides, grows his beloved orchids and keeps a close watch on world events. Tom is left with a small core of friends who help him to survive. He gives, initially anonymous, radio broadcasts as ‘The Sentinel’ as he warns of growing militarism throughout the world, especially in Asia. After Japan invades China Tom’s broadcasts become more specific in their warnings about the threat posed by Japanese Imperialism. He warns too that England and Australia are ill-prepared for war.

5th April 1939

Marries Olga Farnsworth

Marries Olga Farnsworth at St John’s Church, Toorak, VIC.


Commands 6th Div 

Appointed to command the new 6th Division. 


Promoted to Lt-General 

Promoted to Lieutenant-General. 

Nov 1939 

Chairs Manpower Committee 

Took over the Chairmanship of the Manpower Committee at the Department of Defence, making arrangements for future full mobilisation. 


Commands I Corps 

Given command of I Corps when the War Cabinet decides to raise a second division. 


Leaves 6th Div. 

Hands over command of 6th Division. 


To Palestine for WDF 

Left for Palestine and the 6th Division was attached to the Western Desert Force. 


Canberra Air Crash

RAAF plane crashes near Canberra killing General Brudenell White, Fairburn, Gullet, Street and RAAF crew.

Feb 1941 

Commands I Corps in Greece 

Arrived in Greece with I Corps. 

May 1941 

To Cairo as DCIC 

Returned to Cairo and appointed Deputy Commander-in-Chief Middle East. 

Dec 1941 

Promoted to General 

Promoted to full General. He was only the fourth Australian to reach this rank. 


Awarded KCB 

Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) for his services in Greece. 


Appointed CIC AMF 

Appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Military Forces and returned to Australia to take command of the Army. 


Appointed CIC ALF & CSWPA

Appointed Commander-in-Chief Allied Land Forces as the US Congress appoints General Douglas MacArthur Commander-in-Chief of the South West Pacific Area. 


To Port Moresby

Arrived in Port Moresby to take personal command. The New Guinea area commander, Lt Gen Sydney Rowell is furious with TOM and sees his presence in NG as a threat to his command and his Army career. Blamey and Rowell have a series of hostile arguments resulting in TOM, reluctantly, removing Rowell from his command and ordering him back to Australia.


Awarded KBE 

Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) for his part in operations in New Guinea. 


New Guinea service 

Served in the campaign in New Guinea was the last as operational commander. 


Awarded Greek War Cross 

Greek War Cross - First Class. 


Awarded US DSC 

United States Distinguished Service Cross. 


To USA with PM

Travelled to USA with Prime Minister Curtin. 


Surrender Ceremonies 

Signed the Japanese surrender document on behalf of Australia on board USS Missouri with General MacArthur. He then flew to Morotai and personally accepted the surrender of the remaining Japanese in the South West Pacific. 


Dismissed from CIC position

Dismissed by the government. 


Discharged from Army 

He declined any honours for himself, instead requesting knighthoods for Lieutenant General Northcott and Major Generals Cannan, Stevens and Wootten. His requests were refused. 

Dec 1949 

Recommends others for awards 

Wrote to Prime Minister Menzies recommending knighthoods for Lieutenant Generals Northcott, Savige, Sturdee, and Berryman and Major Generals Burston, Cannan, Steele, Stevens and Wootten. All were accepted except Cannan. 


Promoted to Field Marshal 

Promoted to Field Marshal — the first and only Australian to reach this rank. 


FM’s Baton Presentation 

Presented with his baton in a ceremony at the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital. 


Date of death 

Died of a stroke in Melbourne, VIC. 

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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