Ivie (Ivy) BLEZARD


Service Numbers: 477, Officer
Enlisted: 19 August 1914, Moama, New South Wales
Last Rank: Major
Last Unit: 7th Infantry Battalion
Born: Padiham, Lancashire, England, 17 February 1878
Home Town: Moama, Riverina, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Town Clerk
Died: Heart Disease, Onepah Station, Tibooburra, NSW, 14 July 1940, aged 62 years
Cemetery: Tibooburra Cemetery
Memorials: Echuca War Memorial
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Boer War Service

1 Oct 1899: Involvement Private, 477, Victorian Citizen Bushmen
1 Jan 1901: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 477

World War 1 Service

19 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Captain, Officer, 7th Infantry Battalion, Moama, New South Wales
28 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Captain, 7th Infantry Battalion, Boer war and militia service
19 Oct 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Captain, 7th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Hororata, Melbourne
19 Oct 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain, 7th Infantry Battalion, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '9' embarkation_place: Melbourne embarkation_ship: HMAT Hororata embarkation_ship_number: A20 public_note: ''
1 Jan 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Major, Officer, 7th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC / Gallipoli
25 Apr 1915: Wounded AIF WW1, Major, 7th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC / Gallipoli, GSW to shoulder and chest - serious beach at Anzac Cove
16 Feb 1916: Discharged AIF WW1

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It is with regret, that we announce the death, at the home of his daughter, "Onepah," Tibooburra, of Colonel Ivie Blezard, until recently a resident of Jerilderie. Deceased had been in indifferent health for over twelve months past and had had several bouts of serious illness in recent months. Only in April last he resigned his position as Shire Clerk, and went to his daughter's residence with the idea of having three months' rest, preparatory to settling down in Melbourne. However, it was not to be, and he passed away suddenly on Sunday from heart trouble.

The late Colonel Blezard was born in Lancashire, England, 62 years ago, and came to Australia as a child with his parents. They settled first in the Upper Hunter district of N.S.W. As a youth for a time he was in Western Australia and later joined his father in a butchering business in Ballarat (Vic.). Subsequently qualifying for Local Government positions, he was many years ago appointed as Town Clerk at Moama, and for years was a well-known figure in Echuca and Moama districts while in this position. Deceased was appointed to the position of Shire Clerk at Jerilderie towards the latter end of 1930, and held that office up till April last. During his residence here the Colonel took an interest in many public affairs, being a member of the Hospital Board, on the committee of the Mechanics' Institute, the Bowling Club, hon. secretary of the Comforts Fund, and associated with many other organisations. He was the first President of the local sub-branch of the Returned Soldiers' League when it was reformed here some eight or nine years ago. His cheery personality and kindly nature made for him many friends who will regret his untimely demise.

The late Colonel Blezard had a distinguished military career. He saw service as a young man in the Boer War, and was severely wounded in that conflict, so much so, that for a time his life was despaired of. On the outbreak of the Great War, 1914-18, he was one of the first men to offer his services to his country in the Moama district. He left with the first Australian contingent that sailed in 1914, then holding the rank of Major. He was destined not to see much fighting, being severely wounded at the landing at Gallipoli, and subsequently invalided home. Recovering, he was placed in charge of Langwarrin training camp, and finished up with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Deceased was married and is survived by his wife and family of two sons and two daughters. The members of the family are John (Jerilderie), William (Lithgow), Margery (Mrs. Thomson, of Tibooburra), and Egypt (Melbourne). To them the sympathy of their many friends hereabouts is extended in their sad bereavement. Deceased's remains were interred in the Tibooburra cemetery on Tuesday last." - from the Jerilderie Herald and Urana Advertiser 18 Jul 1940 (nla.gov.au)


Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From Ballarat & District in the Great War

Something I have noticed over more than 20 years researching Ballarat and district’s Great War links, is that names become so familiar you recognise them without really knowing their stories. That is certainly the case with Ivie Blezard – he was referred to often throughout the war years and in connection to so many other individual lives. It is not until you begin to investigate that you discover the richness behind the name.

Ivie Blezard was Lancashire born and bred. He was the only surviving son of William Henry Blezard and Mary Davies, and was born at the cotton mill town of Burnley on 17 February 1878. When he was just seven years of age, Ivie’s father left his limited prospects as a fruit boiler and migrated with his small family to a new home in New Zealand.

Seeking further opportunities, William then moved his family to New South Wales, where he took over as foreman of the Maitland Coal Company near Farley. Their daughter, Mary “Polly” Blezard, was born at nearby Morpeth in 1888.

It was during this period that Ivie began his life-long connection to the military – at the age of 14, he became a junior officer in the cadets at Homeville, near West Maitland.

Ivie was 17 when the family arrived in Ballarat in 1895. Having already completed his formal education, he was able to join his father in a new venture as a butcher. They would slaughter animals behind the house in Victoria Street that would then supply their shops in Main Road and Mair Street.

William Blezard was also civic minded and ran for election to the Ballarat East Council on two occasions – both times he was narrowly defeated, but his ambitions were to have a positive effect on Ivie.
Showing an early interest in military life, Ivie joined what was then Ballarat’s only battalion – the “Old 3rd” as a private. The unit offered a variety of pursuits for the members – a formidable rifle club, gymnastics club, annual parades, and enthusiastic competitions against neighbouring battalions.
A call for volunteers ‘who can ride and shoot’ to serve in the South Africa War resulted in four officers and fifteen men from the 3rd Battalion enlisting on 21 December 1899. Amongst those new recruits was Ivie Blezard.

It seems that Ivie’s plans, in his youthful enthusiasm, very nearly came badly unstuck later the same day. He was riding his horse around the corner of Bridge Street into Main Road early in the evening, when it stumbled over a bolt in a trapdoor that covered a drain in front of one of the shops. The horse fell, flinging Ivie to the ground. Fortunately, although they were severely cut and scratched, both survived the incident.

Ivie soon received his posting as private, number 477, with the Third Victorian Contingent.

The men of the Bushmen’s Corps were then stationed in camp at Langwarrin for training. They were finally supplied with their uniforms at the beginning of March 1900 and photographs of them fully equipped and mounted, presenting ‘a smart soldierly appearance’ were taken for the various local pictorials.

When orders were received to prepare for embarkation, the men marched from Langwarrin through the city to Port Melbourne on Saturday 10 March 1900.

Ivie received his ‘real baptism of fire’ in the memorable engagement at Eland's River,
‘where the Victorians and comrades held the gun-swept trenches for nearly a fortnight.’ During that engagement, Ivie was one of the men who had to secure fresh water for the troops, and it was said he displayed ‘great resource in securing sufficient water.’
During their time in fighting the Boers, Australian troopers proved that they were particularly adept at the guerrilla tactics required to combat a wily enemy. This was a technique that they would later hone in trench raids on the Western Front. It was said at the time that ‘…the Bushmen had had to do work of a special and peculiarly trying nature, and had done it so well, and with such success, that they came away very much against the grain of Lord Kitchener…’

Nearly a year after Ivie enlisted, the Governor of Cape Colony cabled the Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria to state that ‘Trooper I. Blezard, of Ballarat East,’ had been severely wounded on 4 March 1901 near Fauresmith in the Orange River Colony. It was later reported that Ivie had ‘stopped a Boer bullet’ whilst serving under Colonel Hubert Plumer as they pursued rebel leader, General Christiaan de Wet. He was invalided home to Australia onboard the SS Tagus, and arrived in Melbourne on 8 July 1901.

The following evening, the returned men were feted with a banquet at Craig’s Hotel in Ballarat. A number of influential citizens and military men gathered to honour Captain D. J. Ham and Troopers Bird, Blezard, Cain, Ryan, Best and McPherson, all of whom took part in ‘the heroic struggle at Elands River.’ Both Frank Bird and Ivie Blezard were still nursing their wounds – Bird had had his right leg amputated – and would receive pensions, Ivie would also receive the Queen’s Medal with five bars.

As he struggled to recover from his wound, Ivie was kept in hospital for several months. In December, he required a further operation, but the Boer bullet that nearly cost him his life remained in his body.

On 6 August 1902, Ivie married Ballarat girl, Elizabeth “Daisy” Whidburn. The marriage was celebrated at the home of Daisy’s parents in Rowe Street, Ballarat East, by Reverend G. Williamson Legge. Only immediate family and friends attended the service and the wedding breakfast, that was laid out in the dining room. It was said that Daisy ‘looked very neat’ in a blue travelling dress, with an overdress, stitched strappings and a bodice of brocade and twine lace. Her three bridesmaids were her younger sisters, Hilda and Lila, and Polly Blezard. Arthur Drew stood up for Ivie as his best man.

In the evening a party was held at “Fauresmith”, the home of William and Mary Blezard, before the newly married couple left by train for Geelong and Melbourne.

After returning to Ballarat, Ivie and Elizabeth made their home in Princes Street. Their first child, Margery Elston, was born at Ballarat East on 27 July 1903.
In 1904, Ivie was commissioned as lieutenant with Ballarat’s 7th Regiment. It seemed that he was preparing for an extended military career with the local unit, but it wasn’t long before fresh opportunities saw him moved his family to Moama on the Murray River in New South Wales. Ivie, following his father’s lead, embarked on a career in local government. He became a certificated clerk and was soon appointed as Town Clerk at Moama.

On 23 July 1907, Ivie and Daisy announced the birth of their first son, Jack Walton Whidburn. A second daughter, Lila Davis, was born the following year.
Continuing his military career, Ivie joined the Victoria Rangers at Echuca, and was placed in command of E Company. He was promoted to the rank of captain in 1910.

The family eventually settled into a home in High Street, Echuca, and it was there that William Marchant Blezard was born on 17 March 1912.

Sadly, parents during this era lived with the constant threat of childhood diseases, ailments that could appear without warning and take a child just as quickly. In October 1912, 4-year-old Lila fell ill with diphtheria. She deteriorated rapidly and died on 16 October. Her little body was privately interred at the Echuca Cemetery and the entire community supported her sorrowing parents.

The restructuring of the citizen forces resulted in a new numbering system in 1912. The Echuca Rangers became the 67th Infantry Regiment. Ivie Blezard joined the new unit on 1 July 1912.

News that Britain had declared themselves at war with Germany on 4 August 1914, resulted in a flurry of excitement and fear throughout Australia. Even in Echuca, the threat was perceived as being very real. On 10 August, a significant incident occurred that, historically, helps us realise the anxiety faced by ordinary Australians.

Infantry Called Out.
Five Germans Arrested.

Great excitement was created in Echuca yesterday afternoon when a, private of the local detachment of the 67th Infantry, in full marching order, was seen, driving through the town in a motor car, summoning members of the regiment to repair at once to the Orderly-room with their full kit.

Very soon the hall in High street was the centre of attraction, and a large crowd of people assembled in front of the building. As the men who had been called out appeared, one by one, they were cheered or chaffed, as the crowd felt in the humour.

Many conjectures were made as to the reasons for the call to arms, and as the officer in command, Captain 1. Blezard, maintained a strict silence as to the order which had been issued, the rumours which passed through the crowd word as varied as they were improbable. It transpired, however, that only 20 men of the Infantry had been called out, and that the duty they were called upon to perform was to place under guard all German reservists found in the district.
Mr. H. McKenzie, M.L.A., and Mr. Syd. Smith placed their motor care at the services of the commanding officer, and they greatly assisted operations. Mr. Smith's car, with Sergeant-Major Eddy and an armed soldier went out four miles beyond Mathoura, and about 8 o'clock returned with four young Germans who had been wood cutting in the bush, and were camped in the vicinity. The men, who did not speak much English, were very much perplexed at their arrest, and when they arrived at the Orderly-room in Echuca had a very woe-begone appearance, as if they apprehended being shot on the spot.

The only other capture made up to a late hour was an employee at the American hotel, who, notwithstanding his protest that he had not been in Germany since he was eight years of age, was a naturalised Australian, and had served in the Australian Navy, was taken to the Orderly-room to keep his fellow countrymen company. His arrest had to be made as a matter of form, and he will be liberated as soon as he produces his papers.

A guard of Infantry was placed in the Orderly-room, and they remained in charge of the ''prisoners" overnight. Until a late hour crowds of people hung around the military headquarters, and in front of the 'Riverine Herald' office, where the latest bulletins were posted, eager for news. It was well on towards midnight before the people dispersed to their homes…’
A significant number of men from the 67th Regiment, hailing from Echuca, Moama, Rochester and Elmore, immediately offered their services with the Australian Imperial Force, including their officer, Ivie Blezard.

Before leaving to join his men at Broadmeadows Camp, he received a special send-off from the Moama Municipal Council and townspeople on the afternoon of 21 August. In the evening, the Rangers’ Band, of which Ivie was president, entertained him at the Harp and Shamrock Hotel in Echuca. ‘Quite a number of patriotic speeches were made,’ and Ivie was presented with an electroplate shaving pot in a leather case. The gift was ‘acknowledged in feeling terms.’

As was required for officers joining the AIF, Ivie completed an application for a commission on 28 August. In this he detailed his educational and military qualifications. He also received a thorough medical examination that found he was 5-feet 9¾-inches tall, weighed 182-pounds and had a chest measurement of 35 to 39-inches. Although the medical conducted for officers did not include the more personal description of hair and eye colour, the doctor did note that Ivie’s eyesight was normal.

The application was merely a formality, as Ivie had already been granted a commission and joined the 7th Infantry Battalion with the rank of major. He also completed a theoretical examination to confirm his rank.

On 19 October 1914, a large gathering of troopships that would become known as the First Contingent, sailed from Port Melbourne to link up with ships leaving from other Australian States and a similar convoy from New Zealand. Ivie Blezard sailed onboard HMAT Hororata in command of H Company of the 7th Battalion.

Writing to Frank Grimwood, secretary of the Rangers’ Band, Ivie conveyed Christmas greetings to the band members, whilst he was still en route to Egypt. ‘…Just a line to inform you that I am in the land of the living. I can't tell you where, owing to the struct censorship regulations. We have had a bonny trip so far: splendid weather and calm seas. It's a finer sight to see all the troopships moving along so majestically. I hope you all enjoy your Xmas, and trust to have a good time with you when I come back…’

Shortly after arriving in Egypt, Ivie received most welcome news – Daisy had been safely delivered of a baby girl at Moama on 5 December 1914. She named their new daughter in honour of her father’s latest adventure, Egyptsia Ivie.

Within days of hearing of the birth of his daughter, Ivie was admitted to the No2 Australian General Hospital at Mena House in Cairo suffering from influenza. As a result of the illness, he spent Christmas in hospital and wasn’t discharged until 30 December.

In preparation for the proposed Landing at Gallipoli, Ivie was named as 2nd Officer in Command of the 7th Battalion under Ballarat’s Lieutenant-Colonel H. E. “Pompey” Elliott on 3 April 1915.

Two days later the battalion, spread across four troopships, embarked from Alexandria. It took six days for the convoy to reach the island of Lemnos.
At 3:30am on 25 April 1915, reveille was sounded onboard the ships approaching the proposed landing point at Gallipoli. Half-an-hour later, in the still darkness of pre-dawn, the convoy anchored off Gaba Tepe. Ivie Blezard made his way amongst his men as they prepared to board the barges to be towed to ANZAC Cove.

There were so many failures in the execution of the planning for the attack, none of which would have registered with the men themselves. They were only aware of the magnitude of the moment…and the adrenalin that drove them forward.

Ivie Blezard, leading from the front, made it onto the beach, but no further. When Lieutenant-Colonel Robert McVea landed with the 5th Battalion the first thing he saw was a dead Turk lying on the sand. As he stepped over the fallen enemy, he found Ivie Blezard lying there with a deep gash in his chest. The bullet had hit him in the left shoulder and penetrated through into his chest, damaging his lung.

Ivie was one of 18 officers of the 7th Battalion that became casualties on the first day of the campaign. He was immediately evacuated to the Hospital Ship Gascon and transported back to Egypt for treatment. On 29 April, he was admitted to the Military Hospital at Ras-el-Tin in Alexandria, where it quickly became apparent that the bullet had caused irreversible damage. The brachial plexus, the network of nerves that conduct signals from the spinal cord to the shoulder, arm and hand, had been severely impacted, causing paralysis to his left arm. The bullet was believed to be lodged somewhere in his chest.

After being transferred to the nearby 15th General Hospital on 5 May, Ivie hovered in a parlous condition. His family was informed that he was dangerously ill and they were kept in an agony of uncertainty waiting for an update. When the cable arrived on 1 June, the news was good – he was now in a ‘favourable’ condition.

As his condition continued to improve, he was transferred to the Convalescent Camp at Helouan on 29 July. The decision had already been made to invalid him back to Australia.

On 15 August, Ivie embarked at Suez onboard the transport Themistocles. His shoulder was continuing to cause him trouble with an ongoing infection. After arriving in Melbourne, he was admitted to hospital suffering sepsis and was making only slow progress.
When it became known that Ivie was on his way home to Echuca on 23 September, the locals were determined to make sure the popular officer received a ‘hearty welcome’.

‘…Major Ivy Blezard, who was wounded at Gallipoli, and recently returned with the troops, was accorded a most enthusiastic welcome home at Echuca to-day on arrival, of the afternoon train. The station platform, overhead bridge and yard were thronged with a highly expectant throng fully an hour before the train steamed in, and although the arrival was delayed 25 minutes beyond the usual time, owing to the new scheme of economy, the crowd good-naturedly withstood the rays of the genial spring sun.

On arriving at the station, the gallant major emerged from a first-class car, amidst salvoes of cheering and the strains of the Rangers' Band, under the conductorship of Mr F. C. Grimwade. "See the Conquering Hero Comes" being followed by "Home, Sweet Home." A procession was formed, consisting of the Australian Light Horse, in charge of Warrant-Officer O'Connor; Senior Cadets, under Captain McLennan, area officer. Major Blezard following in Mr. E. B. Rutley's motor car.

Headed by the band, Sturt, Pakenham and Hare streets were traversed to the Orderly Rooms Bowling Green, where there was a large, and representative attendance of citizens.

The Mayor of Echuca, speaking from a platform, extended a hearty welcome to the gallant major on behalf of the assemblage. Having previously served the Empire in South Africa, he was, by virtue of his experience, a typical man. Consequently, it was to be deplored that he together with other officers, had been so early incapacitated by the wily Turk.

However, those who were left would nobly follow in duty's call and write indelibly on the world's history the brave deeds done by antipodeans.

He took the opportunity of also welcoming on the platform that day Private Jack Hampson, nephew of Mr. A. Hampson, M.H.R., and Corporal G. Thompson, of Echuca, both of whom left with Major Blezard; also Private M. Leen, of West Melbourne, a returned wounded soldier.

The Rev L. L. Wenzel (Anglican), on behalf of the various churches, congratulated Major Blezard on his safe return. He referred to the heroines who, as wives, had made great sacrifices similarly to officers and men at the front.

Alderman Isaac Martin, Mayor of Moama, eulogised the major for his soldierly qualities. He considered the return of men from Gallipoli was a miracle considering its inaccessibility and reputed impregnable nature.
In responding. Major Blezard was continually cheered. The band played, "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow." He thanked them for the generous welcome, and expressed pleasure at meeting all again especially the band boys, of whom he was president. He could not give his experiences as he was too full of emotion. He would content himself in saying that the landing at Gallipoli was a grand thing; and the boys had done their duty as soldiers should. They had proved steady and game, and, taking the Imperial standard as a criterion, the Australians had proved that they were as worthy.

The world's best newspapers had given reports, some of which contained lies, and some could be taken with a grain of salt. Others had contained truths which had missed the searching eye of the censor. However, the deeds done by the Australians would live in history.
Cheers were given for Major Blezard, his wife and family, and the National Anthem concluded the proceedings. Subsequently the Mayor and Mayoress entertained a large number of citizens at afternoon tea, including returned warriors. At a later stage the band entertained Major Blezard at Hennessy's Harp and Shamrock Hotel, where he with his wife and two children, will remain for a week.

In responding to the toast of his health, he regretted that the Defence Department had notified him that he was permanently disabled from undertaking further service. At a public meeting of citizens of Moama on Wednesday afternoon it was decided to entertain Major Blezard, who previously held the position of town clerk of the municipality at a social function…’
Even though his injuries precluded him from undertaking an active duty role, it was still recognised that Ivie had a valuable contribution to make towards the war effort. On 1 November 1915 he was placed in command of the Invalids Depot at the Show Grounds Camp in Ascot Vale. Daisy and the children joined him in Melbourne and they took a home at 2 Vivian Grove in Hawthorn.

On 13 January 1916, Ivie took over as commanding officer of the Langwarrin Camp. His appointment to the AIF was formally terminated on 16 February, but he continued to work in a military capacity – conversely, at the same time he, Daisy and their four children all received pensions.

In August 1916, Ivie was appointed as commanding officer of the Domain Camp and then, in October, he took over the same role at the Altona Camp. He was to continue with appointments as commanding officer of the 23rd Training Battalion and other units, including the Recruits Depots at both Royal Park and Broadmeadows.

The war had entered its final year when, on 25 April 1918, it was announced that Ivie, having ‘relinquished the sword for the plough,’ had purchased a large farm on the Swan Hill Road at Wharparilla that they named “Norseman.” He had also become a member of the Returned Soldier’s League, where there was ‘no doubt his energy, tack and experience’ would be of great benefit.

Continuing his military connection, Ivie sat examination in May 1922, where he was ‘thoroughly tested…as to his fitness for lieutenant-colonel’s command in the Field.’ He would also remain on the Reserve of Officers for the Australian Army.

As the years passed, Ivie became a popular and colourful character in the Echuca district. He would tell Zulu and veldt yarns that held the listeners in thrall, organise brass band socials, and presided over school of arts meetings. Although the farm was considered a hobby, Ivie developed an amazing knowledge of the ‘age, brands, sex, colour, and habits of all the big and small stock that would graze in the main Moama streets if gates were, left open.’ He also found time to develop a real enjoyment in playing lawn bowls.

Towards the end of 1930, Ivie was appointed to the position of Shire Clerk at Jerilderie in the southern Riverina region of New South Wales. During his time at Jerilderie, Ivie took an interest in many public affairs: he became a member of the Hospital Board, the committee of the Mechanics' Institute, and the local Bowling Club. He was the honorary secretary of the Comforts Fund, and associated with many other organisations. When the RSL was reformed in Jerilderie in the early 1930’s, Ivie was elected as the first President of local sub-branch.

In April 1940, Ivie resigned his position as Shire Clerk, having suffered poor health from heart disease for over twelve months beforehand. Several bouts of serious illness forced his decision and he and Daisy travelled to Tibooburra in the State’s northwest to stay with their eldest daughter at Onepah Station. The plan was to have three months’ rest before settling in Melbourne. Before this could eventuate, however, Ivie Blezard died suddenly on Sunday 14 July 1940.

‘His cheery personality and kindly nature’ had not only made him many friends, but ensured that he was well-liked by people across all walks of life. But his career in local government and his service on the field of battle saw him eulogised across the country.

Ivie and Daisy’s sons, Jack and Bill both enlisted for service during World War II – Jack on 28 September 1942, and Bill on 9 December 1941. Egyptsia “Gypsie” Blezard trained as a nurse and also served her country during the conflict. Jack, who was a lieutenant with the 2/5th Independent Company, was killed in action at Lae in New Guinea on 3 February 1943.

After the death of her husband, Daisy Blezard continued to live with their daughter, Margery, and her young son at Tibooburra. They eventually moved to the Melbourne suburb of Kew, where she died on 26 June 1953.

Their grandson, Margery’s son, Lachlan Armstrong Thomson, served with distinction as a major during the Vietnam War. He attained the rank of colonel before retiring from the army.