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

Thanks for the sacrifices you made so we in Australia can live in peace and freedom.

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Anonymous

A true Australian Hero.

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Anonymous

I am very happy that you survived 2 wars but sad you were injured. I hope you enjoyed being a vet and had many friends.

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Anonymous

You fought well.

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Jemma

To Colin, I have really enjoyed learning about you.

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anonymous

You are truly an inspiration. You not only risked your life but served our country even though you were only 18. I'm glad you came home.

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lily

Even though you did not have to go to war, you still risked your life 7 times and for me, an 11 year old, you are a very brave soldier and an inspiration for all.

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lily

Thanks for serving my country and helping my country be as free as it is today.

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Molly

Lest we forget.

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ETHAN

Well done Sergeant.

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sophie

Thank you for saving our country.

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Clair

Thank you. It was possible that our uncle was there. Thank you for supporting your mates.

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brodie

Thank you for serving in the war.

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johnson family

We are so proud of you. We will visit you in France.

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Anonymous

A valiant life to be proud of, both during and after the war.

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john

Lest we forget. Thank you.

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Anonymous

It must have been hard to survive in the war. You did not have very good food, and the Turks were shooting at you all the time.

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Sophie

Well done on surviving the war.

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Anonymous

Thank you. We will not forget you.

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teresa_FROM ZIMBABWE

TO THE FAMILY OF THIS COURAGEOUS MAN, THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR STORY. GOD BLESS.

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debbie oconnor

Thank you for your great sacrifices you made for our country. Lest we forget. I will remember you Sergeant Bulmer forever. Thank you xxx.

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lucas

Thank you very much for everything.

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justin chew

Well done. You are very brave.

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Anonymous

Very brave!

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tariq

How were you injured 4 times? You are a very kind man. I bet your fellow troops would have loved to have been your friend. No one will forget you.

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Anonymous

I'm honoured to have been able to follow your service throughout your war service and contribution to Gallipoli and the 2nd world war. For not only your fellow man also to animals.

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Anonymous

Thank you for your service. RIP.

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Anonymous

Thanks for everything you've done.

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zachary

Thanks for your bravery and for defending Australia. It is nice to know you survived the war and how you started a family. Thanks once again.

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Anonymous

GREAT courage is always needed.

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Jason

Thank you for your very brave service to ensure peace for this great nation...

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Anonymous

You did well!

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Donna Clarke

Thank you for our freedom.

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Leanne

Land of the free because of the brave. Thank you for your service. We will remember you.

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Anonymous

The only words though inadequate can be THANK YOU.

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Anonymous

You were extremely courageous and gave those around you hope even in times of darkness. You lived a good life. Thank you.

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Anonymous

Dear Sgt BLUMER and all serving servicemen and women - thank you for your efforts. Australia is more the better for your selflessness. Your virtues are our beacons. CX

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stewart

What a brave man. Thank you Colin.

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Anonymous

Thanks to all of you brave men.

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Jeremiah

Thank you for fighting.

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Anonymous

I found your story very interesting.

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Anonymous

Outstanding bravery from one who started so young and kept on giving to the end.

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cidnee and henk

We are new friends of Mary and Graham Woods. Mary is your niece. We are Canadians and are grateful for the peaceful world we live in which men like you have made possible. Thanks.

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Anonymous

YOU WERE ONE OF THE FORTUNATE TO SURVIVE TO SEE THE BRAVE NEW WORLD ORDER. A WAR TO END ALL WARS? HOW WRONG CAN WE ALL BE!!!!

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Anonymous

Very proud of you.

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Carlos Jamito

Your bravery and commitment to serve the country truly touch our lives and inspired many people. I honour you for your sacrifices. You are a hero.

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walter

You are a hero.

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Anonymous

Very inspiring journey.

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sheridan

I am happy you survived and managed a life away from the destruction of war.

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Anonymous

Your bravery has given us a wonderful life. Thank you.

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