Brigadier Arthur Seaforth Blackburn

Service number 31, SX6962
Ranks Held Lieutenant, Private, Second Lieutenant, Brigadier
Birth Date 1892-11-25
Birth Place Australia: South Australia, Woodville
Death Date 1960-11-24
Death Place Australia: South Australia, Adelaide
Final Rank Brigadier
Service Australian Imperial Force
  • 10th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion
  • First World War, 1914-1918
  • Second World War, 1939-1945
Gazettes Biographical information They dared mightily. in 1963
Published in London Gazette in 1946-05-30
Published in London Gazette in 1916-09-09
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1916-12-14
Published in Commonwealth Gazette in 1946-10-31

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 Pozières, 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.



Date of birth 25 November 1892
Dates studied 1913 Graduated from Adelaide University with a Bachelor of Laws.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 19 August 1914 Posted to A Company, 19 Battalion.
Date of enlistment 19 August 1914
Date of embarkation 20 October 1914 Embarked aboard HMAT A11 (Ascanius).
Other 25 April 1915 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 27 April 1915 Appointed Lance Corporal.
Date commissioned 04 August 1915 Appointed 2nd Lieutenant.
Date promoted 16 February 1916 Appointed Lieutenant.
Date of honour or award 23 July 1916 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 29 July 1916
Date promoted 01 August 1916 Appointed Temporary Captain.
Other 01 September 1916 Evacuated sick.
Other 04 October 1916 Presented with Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace.
Date returned to Australia 16 October 1916
Date returned to Australia 1916-12 Returned to Adelaide aboard the Hospital Ship Karoola.
Date of discharge 10 April 1917
Other 31 October 1925 Entered the 43rd Battalion, CMF as a Lieutenant.
Date and unit at appointment (Officers) 01 July 1939 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 12 March 1942 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 24 November 1960