Conflict in command during the Kokoda campaign of 1942: did General Blamey deserve the blame?

General Sir Thomas Blamey was commander-in-chief of the Australian Military Forces during World War II. Tough and decisive, he did not resile from sacking ineffective senior commanders when the situation demanded. He has been widely criticised by more recent historians for his role in the sackings of Lieutenant-General S. F. Rowell, Major-General A. S. Allen and Brigadier A. W. Potts during the Kokoda Campaign of 1942. Lieutenant Colonel Rowan Tracey, a Trek Leader with Adventure Kokoda examines each sacking and concludes that Blamey’s actions in each case were justified in a paper published by the Royal United Services Institute, Volume 61, 2010.

On 16 September 1950, a small crowd assembled in the sunroom of the west wing of the Repatriation General Hospital at Heidelberg in Melbourne. The group consisted of official military representatives, wartime associates and personal guests of the central figure, who was wheelchair bound – Thomas Albert Blamey. Those present were concerned that Blamey’s ill health would not allow him to endure the ceremony that was about to follow. Although the governor-general, Sir William McKell, and the prime minister, Robert Menzies, were late in arriving from the airport to present Blamey with the baton of a field marshal of the British Army, Blamey’s strength held out and he was able to accept the baton from the governor-general. This minor but historic ceremony recognised Blamey’s service to Australia and he remains Australia’s highest ranking soldier. (more…)

Field Marshall Sir Thomas Blamey: Australia’s most promoted but least appreciated soldier

An address to the United Services Institute by Major-General Gordon Maitland AO OBE RFD ED (Retd)

The United Services Institiute presents the Blamey Oration biannually in conjunction with the Field Marshall Sir Thomas Blamey Memorial Fund. The oration perpetuates the memory of Sir Thomas Blamey, Australia’s highest ranking serviceman and, arguably, its greatest soldier. In this oration, which marks the 54th anniversary of the death of the Field Marshall on 27 May 1951, General Maitland reviews several controversial relationships and events in Blamey’s career and, in seeking to set the record straight, presents new evidence from his own research on the Kokoda campaign. (more…)

2008 Victory in the Pacific Speech by the Chief of Army, General Ken Gillespie AO DSC CSM

The 2008 Victory in the Pacific (VP Day) Service was conducted at the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway at Concord on 15 August 2008.

The keynote speaker for the commemorative service was the Chief of the Army, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie AO DSC CSM.

It is an honour to be here with you today as we pause to reflect on the very real sacrifices and fabulous achievements of the Australian people in their contribution to the Allies’ Victory in the Pacific in the Second World War.

On August 15, 1945, Prime Minister Chiefly announced to the nation that the Japanese had agreed to unconditionally surrender, and as a consequence, the Second World War was over.  Australians reacted to the surrender in a tremendous mood of joy, with spontaneous celebrations breaking out all over the nation.   For a jubilant Australia wildly celebrating on 15 August one thought was paramount.  The war was over.  (more…)

Blamey: Controversial Leader

Field Marshall Sir Thomas Blamey – Australia’s most promoted, but least appreciated soldier.

The most recent diatribe against Field Marshall Sir Thomas Blamey by ‘historian’ Michael McKernan (The Strength of a Nation) is based on a false premise. In the latest attempt to besmirch the reputation of Australia’s most senior commander McKernan obviously accepts the ‘rumours’ about Blamey’s address at Koitaki as ‘fact’. Students with an interest in Blamey’s life would be better advised to read Blamey: the Commander-in-Chief by David Horner. (more…)