Biography

Birth date: 25 November 1892
Birth place: Australia: South Australia, Woodville
Death date: 24 November 1960
Death place: Australia: South Australia, Adelaide
Final rank: Brigadier
Service number: 31 - First World War, 1914-1918
SX6962 - Second World War, 1939-1945
Units:
  • 10th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion

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.

Rolls and Awards

First World War Embarkation Roll

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of embarkation: 20 October 1914
  • Place of embarkation: Adelaide

Second World War POWs and Missing Persons

  • Unit: 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion
  • Theatre of war: Java

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 10th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Honours and Awards : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 10th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Collection Items

Private Record (9)

Blackburn, Arthur Seaforth, VC, CMG, CBE (Brigadier, b.1892 - d.1960) 2DRL/0650

Blackburn, Arthur Seaforth, VC, CMG, CBE (Brigadier, b.1892 - d.1960) EXDOC084

Small, Eva PR03586

Blackburn, Arthur Seaforth, VC, CMG, CBE (Brigadier, b.1892 - d.1960) PR00014

Armitage, Harold Edwin Salisbury (known as Rollo) (Captain, b.1894 - d.1917) 1DRL/0053

Photograph

044844

VICTORIA CROSS WINNERS FROM THE BOER WAR AND WORLD WAR 1 WHO GATHERED TO MARCH IN THE SYDNEY ANZAC DAY PARADE. BACK ROW LEFT TO RIGHT: LIEUTENANT (LIEUT.) J. ROGERS, SERGEANT (SGT) R. R. INWOOD, BRIGADIER A. S. BLACKBURN, SGT J. W. WHITTLE, SGT S. R. MCDOUGALL, MAJOR E. T. TOWNER, CAPTAIN (CAPT) A....

044844

061416

HOLLYWOOD, WA. 1943-11-08. HOSPITAL DISCHARGE PARADE AT THE 110TH AUSTRALIAN MILITARY HOSPITAL; PATIENTS ARE PARADING BEFORE THE COMMANDING OFFICER OF THE HOSPITAL WHO SIGNS THE DISCHARGE PAPERS. IDENTIFIED PERSONNEL ARE: NX107230 COLONEL H. H. JAMIESON, ED., COMMANDING OFFICER (1); 372-03-85 BM...

061416

073540

A BLACKBURN "SHARK" TORPEDO-BOMBER-RECONNAISSANCE SEAPLANE FLYING OVER UNITS OF THE ROYAL NAVY, WITH HMS NELSON AT THE FOREGROUND.

073540

115465

MELBOURNE, VIC. 1945-09-18. BRIGADIER A. S. BLACKBURN, VC, WHO COMMANDED AUSTRALIAN TROOPS IN JAVA, WITH GENERAL SIR THOMAS A. BLAMEY, COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, ALLIED LAND FORCES, SOUTH WEST PACIFIC AREA, IN HIS HOME AT 486 PUNT ROAD.

115465

115466

MELBOURNE, VIC. 1945-09-18. BRIGADIER A. S. BLACKBURN, VC, WHO COMMANDED AUSTRALIAN TROOPS IN JAVA, WITH GENERAL SIR THOMAS A. BLAMEY, COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, ALLIED LAND FORCES, SOUTH WEST PACIFIC AREA, IN HIS HOME AT 486 PUNT ROAD.

115466

J03068

LT. A.S. BLACKBURN, V.C. (FULL-FACE.)

J03068

J03069

PORTRAIT OF LIEUTENANT A. S. BLACKBURN, VC

J03069

P09747.001

Australian officers walking through London after receiving their decorations from King George V at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Identified left to right are Captain (Cpt) Frank Rupert Hewitt MC, Lieutenant Arthur Seaforth Blackburn VC, Cpt William Murray Fowler MC, and Cpt William Francis James...

P09747.001

J03069A

2nd Lieutenant Arthur Seaforth Blackburn, VC, 10th Battalion AIF(slightly side face.).

J03069A

Private Record

Blackburn, Arthur Seaforth, VC, CMG, CBE (Brigadier, b.1892 - d.1960)

Typed copy of letter dated 3 June 1915 and written from Turkey by Sgd Arthur S. Blackburn, to his brother Charlie describing Blackburn's experience of the Gallipoli landing.

2DRL/0650

Blackburn, Arthur Seaforth, VC, CMG, CBE (Brigadier, b.1892 - d.1960)

SURRENDER OF ALLIED FORCES (INCLUDING "BLACKFORCE") BANDOENG, JAVA 12/03/1942. BLACKBURN INSTRUCTS HIS TROOPS AS TO DISCIPLINE AND BEHAVIOUR. MEDICAL STAFF ELECT TO STAY WITH THEIR PATIENTS. LATER NOTES ON LOCATION OF TROOPS WITHIN THE POW CAMP.

EXDOC084

Small, Eva

Collection compiled by Eva Small, civilian, of Indooroopilly, Brisbane, 1943-1945. Collection consists of a notebook containing 672 records of shortwave messages recorded in 1943. The messages were intercepted by Eva Small and recorded alphabetically by name of soldier. Eva would then contact the...

PR03586

Blackburn, Arthur Seaforth, VC, CMG, CBE (Brigadier, b.1892 - d.1960)

This collection is comprised of the diary and letters written by Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Blackburn, VC during his command of the 2/3rd Machine Gun Battalion. The letters cover the period of the battalion's embarkation from Sydney in April 1941 and journey to the Middle East, where Blackburn...

PR00014

Armitage, Harold Edwin Salisbury (known as Rollo) (Captain, b.1894 - d.1917)

Collection relating to the First World War service of Captain Harold Edwin Salisbury Armitage, 10 Battalion and 50 Battalion, Egypt, Gallipoli and France, 1915-1917. Collection consists of three letterbooks with carbon copies of transcriptions of letters written by Armitage to his parents. The...

1DRL/0053

White, Ralph Moreton (2nd Lieutenant)

Collection relating to service of Major Ralph Moreton White MC, 9 Battalion, Pozieres, France, 1916. Collection includes a note from White to his Commanding Officer reporting on battle progress; his dangerous position; the lack of machine gun ammunition, and the need for senior officers.

EXDOC008

Blackburn, Arthur Seaforth, VC, CMG, CBE (Brigadier, b.1892 - d.1960)

One original handwritten letter, and typed transcription of this letter, dated 4 September 1916 and written in France by Arthur S. Blackburn at the time he was serving in the 10th Battalion AIF when he was a temporary Captain commanding a company. The letter was written to Blackburn's friend Guy...

3DRL/6392

Moody, Harold Eric (Lieutenant, b. - d.1916)

Collection relating to the service of Lieutenant Harold Eric Moody, 7 Battery, 3 Field Artillery Brigade, AIF, Egypt, Gallipoli, France, 1915-1916. Collection consists of letters, and copied extracts of letters, written by Moody to his family in Australia, and a pocket diary kept by Moody between...

1DRL/0504

Inwood, Reginald Roy, VC (Corporal, b.1890 - d.1971)

Collection relating to the service of 506 Corporal Reginald Roy Inwood, VC, 10 Battalion AIF. Collection consists of two letters of congratulation sent to Corporal Inwood's parents, after he was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at Polygon Wood, 19-22 September 1917.

1DRL/0375

Heraldry

Defence Medal : Brigadier A S Blackburn, Black Force

Defence Medal. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

OL00271.009

British War Medal 1914-1920: Lieutenant A S Blackburn, 10 Battalion, AIF

British War Medal 1914-1920. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

OL00271.005

George VI Coronation Medal : Lieutenant Colonel A S Blackburn

George VI Coronation Medal. Unnamed as issued.

OL00271.013

Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George : Brigadier A S Blackburn

Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George. Unnamed as issued.

OL00271.002

Elizabeth II Coronation Medal : Brigadier A S Blackburn

Elizabeth II Coronation Medal. Unnamed as issued.

OL00271.014

Efficiency Decoration : Brigadier A S Blackburn

Efficiency Decoration (Geo VI, first pattern) with 'AUSTRALIA' clasp. Engraved reverse with recipient's details.

OL00271.015

Australia Service Medal : Brigadier A S Blackburn, Black Force

Australia Service Medal. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

OL00271.011

George V Silver Jubilee Medal : Lieutenant Colonel A S Blackburn

George V Silver Jubilee Medal. Unnamed as issued.

OL00271.012

Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire : Brigadier A S Blackburn

Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Unnamed as issued.

OL00271.003

Pacific Star: Brigadier A S Blackburn, Black Force

Pacific Star. Impressed reverse with recipient's details.

OL00271.008

1914-15 Star : Second Lieutenant A S Blackburn, 10 Battalion, AIF

1914-15 Star. Impressed reverse with recipient's details.

OL00271.004

Victory Medal : Lieutenant A S Blackburn, 10 Battalion AIF

Victory Medal. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

OL00271.006

1939-45 Star : Brigadier A S Blackburn, Black Force

1939-45 Star. Impressed reverse with recipient's details.

OL00271.007

British War Medal 1939-45 : Brigadier A S Blackburn, Black Force

British War Medal 1939-45. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

OL00271.010

Victoria Cross : Second Lieutenant A S Blackburn, 10 Battalion, AIF

Victoria Cross. Engraved reverse suspender with recipient's details and reverse cross with date of award.

OL00271.001

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