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Curtin University
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library
Curtin University Library

Soldier for a crisis: Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey

An Australian War Memorial Travelling Exhibition hosted by the JCPML, 9 October to 11 November 2001 and opened by His Excellency Lieutenant General John Sanderson AC, Governor of Western Australia, 8 October 2001

Soldier for a Crisis: Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey commemorates the 50th anniversary of Blamey's death. No other Australian general ever faced the combined social, political and military demands handled by Blamey.

This small biographical exhibition tells the story of a general who attracted controversy but retained the confidence of prime ministers, who upheld Australia's interests against British and American demands, and under whom the Australian Army was developed for the vital battles of the war in the Pacific.

He was recalled from the Middle East by Prime Minister John Curtin to become Commander-in-Chief of the Australian army and led the Australian forces through the desperate and dark days of Japanese advances, to eventual victory in 1945.

A close and mutually supportive relationship developed between Blamey and Curtin. Despite misgivings from some Labor MPs, Blamey retained Curtin's confidence and was given a public reception upon his arrival in Australia at the Melbourne Town Hall at which time the prime minister promised that Blamey would enjoy unfettered control in his new command.

In an acknowledgement of Blamey's contribution to the war effort, Prime Minister John Curtin said: 'History will give to General Blamey one of the highest places in the annals of this country for the service he has rendered to it.'

Official guests at the exhibition opening
From left to right: Professor Lance Twomey; Mr Harry Perkins; Lieutenant General John Sanderson, Professor Peter Edwards, and Professor David Black, at the opening of the exhibition.

Bust of General Blamey
Bronze bust of General Blamey by Daphne Mayo, made and cast in Sydney, 1958.