Arthur Seaforth Blackburn born 25 Nov 1892 Woodville, was
the youngest child of the Rev Thomas Blackburn and his second
wife Margaret Harriette Stewart, née Browne. Arthur
was educated at Pulteney Grammar School, then St Peter's
College and graduated from the University of Adelaide in
1913 and he was admitted as a legal practitioner in 1913.
Although not a sturdy youth, Blackburn managed to pass the
enlistment as a private in the 10th Battalion AIF. He was
amongst the first men landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.
Charles Bean, the War Historian, maintained that Blackburn
and another private that day reached a point further inland
than any other Australian soldier achieved in the whole
campaign. Blackburn himself never confirmed this. He was
commissioned second lieutenant in August, and served throughout
the Gallipoli campaign and in France in 1916. On 23 July,
at Pozières, he commanded a party of men that overwhelmed
an enemy point and captured nearly 400 yards of German trench
in the face of fierce opposition. For his efforts in leading
the bombing parties, many members of which were killed,
Blackburn was awarded the Victoria Cross for most conspicuous
Invalided to Adelaide, Blackburn married Rose Ada Kelly
in St Peter's College chapel on on 22 March 1917 and was
shortly afterwards discharged from the Army on medical grounds.
In 1918-21 he was the Nationalist member for Sturt in the
South Australian House of Assembly. He was a founding member
of the Returned Sailors', Soldiers' and Airmen's Imperial
League in South Australia [RSL] and was the South Australian
president from 1917 to 1921.
In 1940 Blackburn was appointed to command the 2nd/3rd Australian
Machine-Gun Battalion that fought under his command in Syria
in 1941. Blackburn, the senior Allied officer present, accepted
the surrender of Damascus on 21 June. In February 1942,
the growing Japanese threat saw a small Australian force
including Blackburn's battalion reallocated to Java to assist
the Dutch forces. After three weeks of resistance against
overwhelming numbers, the Allied forces surrendered and
Blackburn was a prisoner of war until September 1945 in
He died at Crafers 24 November 1960 and was survived by
his wife, two sons and two daughters. He was buried with
full military honours in West Terrace Cemetery.