Michael Arthur BLENKINSOP MM


BLENKINSOP, Michael Arthur

Service Number: 6379
Enlisted: 6 February 1915
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 6th Infantry Brigade Train
Born: Newcastle-on-Tyne, Northumberland, England, 13 March 1879
Home Town: Busselton, Western Australia
Schooling: North Eastern County School, Barnard Castle, Co Durham, England
Occupation: Butcher
Died: Illness, Belgium, 26 January 1919, aged 39 years
Cemetery: Charleroi Communal Cemetery
Row R, Grave 20,
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Busselton St Mary's Anglican Church Honour Roll, Busselton War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

6 Feb 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private
22 May 1915: Involvement Private, SN 6379, 6th Infantry Brigade Train
22 May 1915: Embarked Private, SN 6379, 6th Infantry Brigade Train, HMAT Afric, Melbourne
22 Aug 1915: Honoured Military Medal, The August Offensive - Lone Pine, Suvla Bay, Sari Bair, The Nek and Hill 60 - Gallipoli, Awarded the Military Medal for Gallantry during attack on Hill 60 Gallipoli 22 August 1915.
26 Jan 1919: Involvement Corporal, SN 6379

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Biography contributed by Joy Dalgleish

Cpl Michael Arthur Blenkinsop was the son of WilliamRobert and Jessie Blenkinsop, of 36, Coquet Terrace North Horton, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Northumberland. England. He had spent 10 years in the USA ranching and railway constructing before coming to Australia at age 31. His attestment record states he was married but he gave his brother LM Blenkinsop of Busselton WA as his NOK.  He was Awarded the Military Medal for Gallantry during attack on Hill 60 Gallipoli 22 August 1915, later promoted to Corporal (Cpl) he died of bronchitis (Spanish Flu) on 26th January 1919. Standing 152.4cm — or five foot nothing in the old language Michael was the shortest West Australian to die on the Western Front in 1919.

At 9.45am on 2 September 1915, the troopship Southland, en route to Gallipoli, was torpedoed by the German submarine UB-14, some 30 nautical miles off the Greek island of Lemnos. A second torpedo narrowly missed. Somewhere during all this activity, it is believed that Busselton’s Pte Blenkinsop first distinguished himself and his actions became known to his superior officers. Fortunately, other vessels were able to assist with the rescue and it was later determined that the Southland was capable of limping back to Lemnos with a skeleton crew of volunteers. He was allocated to the 16th Company, Army Service Corps, and embarked for Egypt aboard the HMAT A19 Afric on 22 May 1915.Blenkinsop and the other torpedo survivors eventually made safe passage to Gallipoli and he was plunged into the vital work of helping keep the campaign supplied, often under fire Blenkinsop was awarded the Military Medal for his “devotion to duty” on Gallipoli and we might speculate that his actions aboard the Southland also contributed to that award. Strictly-speaking the MM is only given for bravery in battle on land. The award was later gazetted on 19 April 1917 and did state that Pte Blenkinsop was also “present on HT Southland” when torpedoed. Blenkinsop later served on the Western Front and reached the rank of corporal. He survived the war but did not survive the illnesses that were rife in the unhealthy trenches. He died from bronchitis on 26 January 1919 in Charleroi, Belgium. Michael is buried in Charleroi Communal Cemetery in Belgium and remembered with honour on the Busselton Cenotaph.