Diary of Arthur Seaforth Blackburn, April 1942 - November 1944

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Accession Number AWM2020.22.18
Collection number PR00014
Collection type Digitised Collection
Record type Item
Item count 1
Object type Diary
Physical description 132 Image/s captured
Maker Blackburn, Arthur Seaforth
Place made Netherlands East Indies: Java, Taiwan
Date made 1942-1944
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
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Source credit to This item has been digitised with funding provided by Commonwealth Government.
Description

Diary relating to the Second World War service of SX6962 Temporary Brigadier Arthur Seaforth Blackburn, Black Force (Java), Netherlands East Indies, Taiwan and China, 24 April 1942 - 3 November 1944.

After serving as lieutenant colonel in command of the 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion in February 1942, Blackburn was posted to Java to bolster Dutch forces and stall the advance of Japanese forces. He was appointed brigadier and commander of an ad-hoc unit of approximately 3,000 men named "Black Force" after its commander, with which he opposed the Japanese on Java, including at the Battle of Leuwiliang. On 11 March 1942, Blackburn surrendered his forces to the Japanese and became a prisoner of war.

This diary documents the surrender of forces under his command and his subsequent internment. Entries cover the period from 24 April 1942 - 3 November 1944, and describe the treatment of prisoners by the Japanese and conditions encountered in the camps. Topics include the conditions in the camps, beatings by the guards, mail being withheld, the organisation of the prisoners, disease and illness, forced signing of oaths of allegiance, shortages of food and medicine, work parties, air raids, and the low morale of the internees. Blackburn documents multiple changes in location including being moved to Changi in late December 1942, subsequent transfer to various camps in Taiwan through 1943 before being moved to Chen Cha Tung in Manchuria via Japan and Korea in September-October 1944.

History / Summary

Diary relating to the Second World War service of SX6962 Temporary Brigadier Arthur Seaforth Blackburn, 'Black Force'.

Originally Lieutenant Colonel in command of the 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion, in February 1942, Blackburn was diverted to Java to bolster the Dutch forces and stall the Japanese advance. He was appointed Brigadier of an ad-hoc force of approximately 3,000 men with which he opposed the Japanese on Java, including at the Battle of Leuwiliang. On 11 March 1942, Blackburn surrendered his forces to the Japanese and became a prisoner of war.

This diary describes the surrender and his subsequent internment. Entries cover the period from 24 April 1942 to 3 November 1944, and describe the treatment of the prisoners by the Japanese and conditions encountered in the camps. Topics include the conditions in the camps, beatings by the guards, mail being withheld, the organisation of the prisoners, disease and illness, forced signing of oaths of allegiance, shortages of food and medicine, work parties, air raids, and the low morale of the internees. Blackburn describes multiple changes in location, including being moved to Changi in late December 1942, then transfer to various camps in Taiwan through 1943 before being moved to Chen Cha Tung in Manchuria via Japan and Korea in September-October 1944.