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

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

Second Lieutenant (2nd Lt) Arthur Seaforth Blackburn VC, 10th Battalion (second from left), walking down a road with fellow soldiers after his investiture by King George V at Buckingham Palace. 2nd Lt Blackburn was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions and gallantry at Pozieres, France, on 23...

P09747.001

J03069A

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

J03069A

Private Record

Heraldry

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

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

OL00271.004

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

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

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

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

OL00271.007

George V Silver Jubilee Medal : Lieutenant Colonel A S Blackburn

George V Silver Jubilee Medal. Unnamed as issued.

OL00271.012

George VI Coronation Medal : Lieutenant Colonel A S Blackburn

George VI Coronation Medal. Unnamed as issued.

OL00271.013

Defence Medal: Brigadier A S Blackburn, Black Force

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

OL00271.009

Pacific Star: Brigadier A S Blackburn, Black Force

Pacific Star. Impressed reverse with recipient's details.

OL00271.008

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

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

Australia Service Medal : Brigadier A S Blackburn, Black Force

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

OL00271.011

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

Victory Medal : Lieutenant A S Blackburn, 10 Battalion AIF

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

OL00271.006

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