Colin Charles Blumer

Corporal Colin Blumer posing for a photo

Rank

Corporal

Roll title

3rd Battalion, AIF

Convoy ship

HMAT Euripides

Blumer’s attestation papers, signed in Sydney, 26 August 1914.

Courtesy of the National Archives of Australia: B2455, BLUMER CC

Colin Blumer was born in Mudgee, New South Wales, in 1895, and was in his second year of agricultural studies at Hawkesbury Agricultural College when war broke out in 1914. He falsified his age in order to enlist on 26 August 1914, stating that he was 20 years and one month old rather than 18 years and nine months. His family was not happy about this but did not stop him. Blumer was appointed to the 3rd Battalion and underwent two months of basic training before his departure for war. 

Blumer’s attestation papers, signed in Sydney, 26 August 1914.

Courtesy of the National Archives of Australia: B2455, BLUMER CC

Hawkesbury Agricultural College, Richmond, New South Wales.

Courtesy of the New South Wales State Records Photographic Collection

HMAT Euripides in port at Alexandria, having off-loaded AIF troops, December 1914.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P08286.101

Blumer sailed from Sydney on HMAT Euripides on 20 October 1914, joining the rest of the First Convoy in Albany before proceeding to Egypt. Euripides arrived in Alexandria at 11 am on 3 December 1914, disembarkation began at 9 pm and the troops then travelled by train to Cairo.

Soldiers practising bayonet fighting aboard HMAT Euripides

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P08286.006

Men of the 3rd Battalion aboard SS Derfflinger on 24 April 1915, a day before the landing

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial C01777

On 5 April 1915, Blumer was promoted to sergeant, and on same day the 2nd and 3rd Battalions departed for Gallipoli aboard the captured German liner Derfflinger. Blumer and the 3rd came ashore at 5.30 am on 25 April 1915 under heavy gunfire. Forming up below Plugge’s Plateau, they advanced, fully laden with packs, ammunition, picks, shovels and entrenching tools. By 10 am every man of the battalion was engaged in reinforcing the 3rd Brigade.

The 3rd Battalion suffered terrible loss of life in fierce fighting while repelling Ottoman counter-attacks near Russell’s Top. When night fell, the men tried to dig in under continuous fire and heavy rain. They were subjected to constant attacks and fierce hand-to-hand fighting for the next four days, and when the exhausted men were finally relieved, 39 had been killed, 193 wounded and 69 were missing. Over the next two weeks, Blumer and the 3rd worked hard digging and reinforcing trenches, while enduring intense heat, flies, lice and the stench of those they could not bury. Deeper and more secure trenches were the only safeguard against the incessant enemy shelling and gunfire.

The 3rd Battalion then helped repel the Ottoman Offensive on 19 May. Under orders to fix bayonets and withhold fire to conceal their position, the 3rd had a close view of the oncoming Ottomans as they walked into a blaze of gunfire. On 24 May, during an armistice, they were finally able to enter no-man’s-land and recover the dead for burial.

Blumer was wounded on four occasions while serving at Gallipoli. On 17 May, two days before the disastrous Ottoman Offensive, he was shot in the thumb and spent a month out of action. Three weeks after his return, with the battalion engaged in intense trench warfare near Lone Pine, he received a gunshot wound to the back that kept him away from the front for a further two months. He was slightly wounded once more on 9 September, but remained on the peninsula. However, on 19 November at Bolton’s Ridge, he sustained serious chest and arm wounds from shrapnel resulting in his evacuation to Egypt and the end of his time on Gallipoli. 

An Australian party burying both Australian and Ottoman dead during the nine-hour armistice observed on 24 May 1915.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P02648.025

A report in the Sydney Morning Herald on 15 December 1915 recorded that Blumer had been wounded four times

Courtesy of the National Library of Australia

Australian stretcher-bearers coming in under a white flag, having come from the line near Mouquet Farm.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial E04946

On 23 July 1916, Blumer and the 3rd Battalion were given the objective of Pozières trench, which they captured with few casualties. However, that night and the following day, heavy German shelling resulted in rapid losses for Blumer’s A Company, and a large number of the battalion’s most experienced soldiers were either killed or wounded. Many others were buried as severe shelling levelled the trenches. Supporting the advance of the 8th Battalion, three companies of the 3rd came under heavy machine-gun fire and an intense bombardment of high-explosive shells. The battalion’s losses totalled 104 killed, 375 wounded and 43 missing. Blumer was awarded the Military Medal for keeping up his men’s spirits and leading them forward, despite having been wounded and, on one occasion, buried.

Sergeant Colin Blumer was awarded the Military Medal for his courageous leadership at Pozières on 25 July. The citation read (in part): Although buried once and wounded he continued at duty and by his confidence and cheery words kept up the spirits of his men during a most intense bombardment of the trenches till ordered to advance, when he led his men forward.

 On 9 August 1916, after the heavy loss of officers at Pozières, Blumer was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Just over a week later, at Mouquet Farm, the 3rd Battalion was inadvertently shelled by British artillery while in position near the front line, resulting in a disastrous loss of life and a bitter feeling among the men over the incident. By now, many were experiencing sleeplessness and fatigue caused by nonstop shelling. Subjected to soaking rain and having lost confidence in their own artillery, they were weary in body and mind and became deeply despondent. It was the battalion’s lowest ebb of the war.

In early October 1916, Blumer and the 3rd joined the front in Ypres. Blumer, in a group specifically trained in trench raids, led a raid on the night of 12 October. As they rushed the German trenches, however, they met with strong resistance and a heavy fusillade of bombs. Unable to take prisoners, they killed 13 enemy soldiers. Four of the 3rd’s own men were wounded and one was reported missing, believed killed. Blumer sustained a bomb wound to the left leg and eye, and was evacuated on 13 October to the 3rd London General Hospital. He was commended for his actions. The military citation read:

For great bravery while leading his men in a raiding party on the night 12/13th inst at YPRES while crossing NO MAN’S LAND he was wounded, but entered the enemy’s trench and led his party being again wounded. He was the last man of his party to leave the hostile trenches. He set a fine example of determination and courage. 2/Lt. BLUMER received the MILITARY MEDAL for gallantry at POZIERES while a Sergeant.

Despite being commissioned as a lieutenant on 18 December 1916, Blumer appears not to have been involved in active engagements after this time. He was given a special Mention in Despatches on 9 April 1917, however by this time he was in Weymouth awaiting repatriation to Australia. He arrived home on 5 July 1917. Most likely due to wounds sustained at Ypres, Blumer was declared medically unfit for service and his AIF appointment was terminated on 28 August 1917.

An Australian fatigue party laden with empty sandbags pass the former German strong post known as ‘Gibraltar’, located at the western end of Pozières.

Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial EZ0098

Major Colin Blumer, Reserve Officer, Australian Army, 1937.

Courtesy of Mary Woods

Blumer was placed in the Reserve of Australian Army Officers with the honorary rank of lieutenant following his return to Australia. In March 1924, he was transferred from the Reserve and appointed to the Australian Army Veterinary Corps with the rank of provisional captain for part-time service with the Militia Forces.

Blumer completed the studies he had been undertaking when the First World War intervened. In May 1924, he was awarded a Bachelor of Veterinary Science, having also won the William Cooper and Nephews’ Prize for Veterinary Parasitology. Three months later he was appointed as a veterinary surgeon in the Stock and Brands Branch of the Department of Agriculture. On 20 December the same year, Blumer married Clarice Aileen Beer in Nambucca Heads.

On 23 January 1940, Blumer was reappointed for service with the Militia Services. He served with the 12th Light Horse until 15 July 1942, when he commenced full-time duty with the 12th Australian Motor Regiment. In September that year, he volunteered and was accepted for service in the AIF. He was transferred to the 12th Australian Armoured Car Regiment on 4 November 1942. His appointment was terminated 11 April 1944, after having only undertaken garrison duty within Australia. 

Following his war service, Blumer was appointed to the position of Senior Veterinary Officer for the State of New South Wales in 1944. Three years later, he was working in the Division of Animal Husbandry for the Department of Agriculture. He had been stationed in Armidale, New South Wales, but in 1948 moved to Sydney where he was appointed Chairman of the Board of Tick Control in Lismore, a position he held for about five years before being appointed Deputy Chief of the Division of Animal Husbandry. Two years later Blumer was promoted to chief, and he remained in this role until retiring in 1960. In 1965, the University of New England honoured him by naming its veterinary laboratory after him.

Blumer and his wife, Clarice, did not have any children. He died on 2 July 1973 aged 77 leaving a legacy of outstanding public and private achievement. His funeral was well attended, not least by those remaining of the 3rd Battalion AIF Association, of which he was president.

References

Australian War Memorial, Embarkation, Honour and Nominal Rolls, http://www.awm.gov.au/

National Archives of Australia: Australian Imperial Force, Base Records Office; B2455, NX137581, Colin Charles Blumer’s First Australian Imperial Force personnel dossier, 1914-1948; BLUMER C C, 1914-1948

Woods, M 2014, Colin Charles Blumer 1895-1973, personal family research, unpublished

Wren, E 1935 Randwick to Hargicourt: History of the 3rd Battalion, AIF, 1914-1918, Naval-Military Press, East Sussex, and Imperial War Museum, London (Replica)

The Animal Health Laboratory at the University of New England that was named after Blumer

Courtesy of Mary Woods

anonymous

What a brave soldier you are. I'm glad you survived the war.

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ruby fazolo

Thank you so much for your hard work. Lest we forget.

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lover

Wish I could have met you. xx

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Anonymous

Thank you for your service in both World War 1 and 2.

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Anonymous

What an incredible story of a man, coming from humble beginnings and achieving so much.

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Anonymous

Great that you returned.

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Farrah

We will remember them. Thank you for allowing us to have freedom today.

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Anonymous

Hello.

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Anonymous

Hello.

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Anonymous

A very brave and strong man in the war as a soldier.

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Kabe R

Everlasting respect for generations to come.

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pearl bov@ll

You have been so brave, you have led your country so well.

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pearl

Thank you for your bravery.

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micheal

Thank you.

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Anonymous

Good on you Sir. We salute you.

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Anonymous

Hi there. You're a good man. Thank you for serving us. You did the right thing.

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jim

DANKE.

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Anonymous

My family thanks you.

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Anonymous

What an amazing and inspirational gentleman you are Blumer. I enjoyed learning about your life.

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austin

Thank you for being such a brave person. You are a very special person. From Austin.

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Anonymous

Thank you for your service. You came back and went on to do amazing things.

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caroly deas brown

What a brave young man, thank you for what you did for us.

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Anonymous

Thank you for your service.

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k

Thank you for serving our country. Lest we forget.

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katie

Dear courageous soldier, thank you for serving in the war and risking your life for your country.

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Anonymous

Thank you for going to war and being on the front line.

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catherine

Thank you for your service, your bravery and for keeping up the morale of others.

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Anonymous

What an amazing man you were.

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cj wilkinson

Thank you for protecting our country.

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Anonymous

THANK YOU FOR PROTECTING OUR COUNTRY.

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Anonymous

Thanks mate for all you have done. RIP.

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Robert Ting Yun...

Thank you, great grandfather.

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Kerry Johnson

Thank you for your service and commitment.

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Alan Maloney

THANK YOU for all your service and great courage. RIP. Never Forget.

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Anonymous

Thank you for your service, so that I, an Asian Australian can freely be in this country today.

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Anonymous

Thank you and a bloody good job mate.

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Anonymous

Thank you for what you have done for us.

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Anonymous

Thank you for taking up arms and fighting for our freedom. The peace and freedom we now enjoy here in Australia is because so many made the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you once again.

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an

An ideal to live up to.

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Zac

You are a miracle to survive both wars and live to an old age.

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Zac

Thanks buddy.

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Anonymous

Thank you.

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clint newdick

Thank you for your service to this nation. :)

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caleb

Your persistence has inspired lots. Thank you.

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maddison

Thank you Colin. Sorry you hurt your thumbs.

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Anonymous

I'm so very happy for you that you survived WW1. But I feel sorry for you because you went through so much in World War One and you got wounded. FROM REUBEN.D

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Anonymous

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR HELP. Australia would not be the same without you. (FROM REUBEN DUYVESTEIN).

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Anonymous

Good job.

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Anonymous

Blumer was a man who was good at stuff and kept on working even though he got wounded badly by a bullet in his body. He was a very brave man.

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Anonymous

We are grateful for your service.

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