Lieutenant Arthur Seaforth Blackburn

Service Numbers 31,SX6962
Birth Date 25 November 1892
Birth Place Australia: South Australia, Woodville
Death Date 24 November 1960
Death Place Australia: South Australia, Adelaide
Final Rank Lieutenant
Units
Commonwealth of Australia Gazette 14 December 1916 on page 3379 at position 7
London Gazette 9 September 1916 on page 8870 at position 1

Arthur Blackburn, a lawyer, became the first South Australian to receive the Victoria Cross. At the 1915 landing on Gallipoli, it is believed that he and another man penetrated further inland than anyone else.

At Pozieres, France, Blackburn led an attack that captured nearly 400 metres of trench. His commanding officer said that "matters looked anything but cheerful ... but [he] lost neither his heart nor his head". He was invalided to Australia the following year.

During the Second World War Blackburn led the 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion in Syria. In 1942 the battalion was rushed to Java, where Blackburn was promoted to command "Black Force". Forced to surrender, he was held as a prisoner of war until 1945. Active in military, legal, and community affairs, he was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1946, and Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1955.

Blackburn was awarded the Victoria Cross, service medals for the two world wars, the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal, and long service and coronation medals for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II. His honours include the CBE and CMG.

Rolls

Honours & Awards

  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Commander of the Order of the British Empire
    Classification
    Order of the British Empire
    Conflict
    Second World War, 1939-1945
    Rank
    Brigadier
    London Gazette
    30 May 1946 on page 2613 at position 1
    Commonwealth Gazette
    31 October 1946 on page 3047 at position 1
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Victoria Cross
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    10th Australian Infantry Battalion
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Second Lieutenant
    London Gazette
    9 September 1916 on page 8870 at position 1
    Commonwealth Gazette
    14 December 1916 on page 3379 at position 7
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Commander of the Order of the British Empire
    Classification
    Order of the British Empire
    Conflict
    Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Victoria Cross
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Date of Recommendation
    29 July 1916
    Unit
    10th Australian Infantry Battalion
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Lieutenant

Timeline

Date of birth 1892-11-25
Dates studied 1913 Graduated from Adelaide University with a Bachelor of Laws.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1914-08-19 Posted to A Company, 19 Battalion.
Date of embarkation 1914-10-20 Embarked aboard HMAT A11 (Ascanius).
Other 1915-04-25 Blackburn and Private Phil Robin distinguished themselves by penetrating 1800 metres inland from Anzac Cove, reaching a point further than any other Australian was to achieve in the campaign.
Date promoted 1915-04-27 Appointed Lance Corporal.
Date commissioned 1915-08-04 Appointed 2nd Lieutenant.
Date promoted 1916-02-16 Appointed Lieutenant.
Date of honour or award 1916-07-23 Awarded Victoria Cross for action at Pozieres, France whilst serving with 10 Battalion, 3 Brigade, 1 Division as a Lieutenant
Date of recommendation honour or award 1916-07-29
Date promoted 1916-08-01 Appointed Temporary Captain.
Other 1916-09-01 Evacuated sick.
Other 1916-10-04 Presented with Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace.
Date returned to Australia 1916-12 Returned to Adelaide aboard the Hospital Ship Karoola.
Date of discharge 1917-04-10
Other 1925-10-31 Entered the 43rd Battalion, CMF as a Lieutenant.
Date and unit at appointment (Officers) 1939-07-01 Appointed with rank of Lieutenant Colonel to command 18 Light Horse (Machine Gun) Regiment.
Other 1941-06 Formed and commanded the 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion, AIF, and led the unit in campaigns in Syria.
Date promoted 1942 Appointed Brigadier and commanded Blackforce.
Date captured 1942-03-12 Captured by the Japanese in Java when Blackforce surrendered.
Other 1942-12 Sent to Singapore as POW, later held in Moji, Japan, Pusan, Korrea and Mukden, Manchuria.
Date returned to Australia 1945-09 Arrived in Adelaide.
Date of honour or award 1946-11 Created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his gallant and distinguished service in Java.
Date of honour or award 1954 Created a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George.
Date of death 1960-11-24

Find out more about Lieutenant Arthur Seaforth Blackburn