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Vasey, George Alan (1895-1945)


Photograp of George A. Vasey

Australian War Memorial #134868

"Bloody George" Vasey was Deputy Chief of the Australian General Staff when war broke out. He was ordered to relieve Arthur Allen as commander of 7 Division on 27 October 1942, and he led the division through the remainder of the Buna campaign. He was a slender man who acquired his nickname from his profanity of choice. He observed of MacArthur's headquarters during the Kokoda campaign that it was "like a bloody barometer in a cyclone — up and down every two minutes."

Vasey remained a regular officer between the wars but was repeatedly assigned to militia units. Discouraged by his military career prospects, particularly as he watched men who had joined the militia after the war promoted past him, he studied nights to become a qualified accountant. However, he attended the Staff College at Quetta, India, and finally was posted to a regular unit in 1934. An able leader, Vasey was very popular with the men under his command, with a knack for using colorful language without giving offense. He distinguished himself at Crete prior to returning to Australia in 1942.

Vasey was forced to relinquish his command due to polyneuritis in June 1944 and took several months to recover. It was rumored that he had been tapped to replace Blamey, who had become a highly controversial figure, but Vasey was killed in an air accident on his way to assume command of 6 Division in March 1945.

A colleague said of him (ADB 2002):

He could be ruthless and kindly, tolerant of human weakness in the doers and triers, fiercely intolerant of conniving, laziness and inefficiency. He hated importance and was quick to deflate it. He could throw away the book when the occasion required, and he could produce it and use it when it served his ends. Like many apparently tough characters, Vasey was at bottom sentimental, and that was one of his most loveable traits.

Before leaving on his final flight, he told his wife, Jessie Mary Halbert Vasey, to "look after the war widows because the bloody government won't." She subsequently became the founder and president of the War Widows' Guild of Australia.

Service record

1895-3-29     

Born at East Malvern, Victoria, Australia
1915-6
Lieutenant
Commissioned in 1 Australian Imperial Force. Assigned to 2 Division Artillery
1916-8
Captain (temporary)     

1917-8
Major (temporary)     
11 Infantry Brigade
1928

Staff College Quetta
1934

8 Indian Brigade
1935-3-1
Major

1937-4

Staff, Army Headquarters
1939-11-2
Lieutenant colonel     
Assistant adjutant and quartermaster-general, 6 Division, Middle East
1940-3
Brigadier     
Commander, 19 Brigade, Greece
1942
Major general     
Staff, Home Forces
1942

Deputy chief, General Staff
1942-9

Commander, 6 Division
1942-10-27     

Commander, 7 Division
1944-6

Evacuated for illness
1945

Returns to duty. Commander, 6 Division
1945-3-5

Killed in plane crash, Machans Beach, Queensland, Australia

References

Australian Dictionary of Biography (2002; accessed 2013-3-26)

Australian War Memorial (accessed 2008-7-18)

Generals.dk (accessed 2008-7-18)

Mayo (1974)



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