Blamey, General Sir Thomas, 1884-1951

Blamey was GOC of the Australian Imperial Forces during World War II. He had served as Chief of Staff to Monash during World War I but during peacetime he was Commissioner of the Victoria police. In February 1940 he was called up to take command of the AIF, Middle East mainly because he was a well-known figure. In 1941 he arrived in Greece where he took command of the Anzac Corps and he supervised the evacuations from Crete and Rhodes. He transferred to Egypt and became Deputy Commander in Chief, Middle East but in fact had little power. After Pearl Harbor he returned to Australia in March 1942 and was appointed Commander in Chief of Allied Land Forces, under General MACARTHUR’s overall command. He faced a constant stream of complaints from MacArthur about the Australians’ fighting ability but he did not stand up to them. In September he had to take personal command of the troops fighting on the Kokoda trail to pacify MacArthur. He supervised the recapture of Buna and retained command of Australian Land Forces in New Guinea. The Australians had to patrol Japanese troop concentrations at Wewak and in the Solomons. Under pressure from MacArthur he planned operations by Australian troops to reduce the pockets and to recapture Borneo at the end of the war.

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