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Blackman, Meredith George (1876–1957)

by G. R. Vazenry

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

Meredith George Blackman (1876-1957), soldier and farm-hand, was born on 8 October 1876 at Ben Bullen, New South Wales, son of Charles Samuel Blackman, drover, and his wife Christina, née Nicholson. Little is known of Blackman's early life; he was working as a linesman in the Toowoomba district, Queensland, when he enlisted as a private in the Australian Imperial Force on 17 August 1915. He understated his age by four years in order to meet the enlistment requirements. Next December he sailed for Egypt with reinforcements for the 26th Battalion.

In May 1916 Blackman was posted to the 12th Battalion and left for the Western Front; he went into the line at Fleurbaix, was wounded in the head on 10 June and rejoined his unit for the final attack on Pozières. He was specially commended for gallantry in this engagement, and was later awarded the Military Medal. Wounds received at Pozières kept him from active service for two months, after which he served at Amiens and at Switch Trench, Flers. He was promoted lance corporal next December and corporal in April 1917. At Lagnicourt on 15 April, while leading a patrol which had come under shell-fire, Blackman occupied a shell hole and opened fire on the enemy; though nearly all his men had been wounded, he held on until ordered to retire, and for this action, which helped to prevent a German counter-attack from developing, was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Further work in the Lagnicourt sector won him a Bar to his Military Medal.

In September Blackman took part in the attack on Polygon Wood where he gained a second Bar to his Military Medal; later that year he fought in the decisive battle of Broodseinde Ridge. His battalion was posted to the Ypres-Comines Canal zone during the German offensive of spring 1918 and served at Hazebrouck and Strazeele before taking part in the final advance on the Hindenburg Line. Blackman, who was promoted sergeant in August and temporary company quartermaster sergeant in September 1918, returned to Australia next August with a rarely equalled number of decorations for individual courage.

After demobilization he worked as a linesman at Toowoomba for several years and in 1925-39 he and his brother moved around the Gwabegar-Narrabri district of New South Wales, working as farm-hands and rabbit-trappers. In World War II Blackman joined the Citizen Military Forces and was allotted to Eastern Command Headquarters as a cook; discharged in July 1944 (he was then 67 years old), he returned to Gwabegar where he worked as a farmhand until his death on 19 October 1957. He was buried in the local Presbyterian cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • L. M. Newton, The Story of the Twelfth (Hob, 1925): C. E. W. Bean, The A.I.F. in France, 1917 (Syd, 1933)
  • London Gazette, 14 Nov 1916, 15 June, 6 July, 14 Dec, 1917
  • The War Diary of the 12th Battalion (Australian War Memorial).

Additional Resources

Citation details

G. R. Vazenry, 'Blackman, Meredith George (1876–1957)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/blackman-meredith-george-5264/text8871, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 18 October 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

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