Arthur Seaforth Blackburn was born at Woodville, South Australia on 25 November 1892. He was educated at Pulteney Grammar School, the Collegiate School of Peter and Adelaide University where he graduated Batchelor of Laws in 1913 and was called to the Bar later in the same year.

On 19 August 1914 he enlisted as a Private in the First Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F.) and, after training in Egypt, he landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.

On the first day, he and Private Phil Robin advanced further than any other Australian soldier during the entire campaign, He was promoted to Lance‑Corporal and, in August 1915  he was commissioned Second‑Lieutenant.

On 26 February 1916, Blackburn was promoted to Lieutenant and later he embarked for France.

On 23 July 1916, he led four successive bombing parties against German trenches at Portieres and, although many members of his party, including Sergeant Rollers Inwood, were killed, Lieutenant Blackburn captured 350 metres of trench. For his 'most conspicuous bravery', he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

He was invalided back to Adelaide in March 1917 and discharged on medical grounds.

Arthur Blackburn was elected to a scat in the South Australian House of Assembly where he became an advocate for serving and returned soldiers.

The South Australian Branch of the Returned Sailors', Soldiers' and Airmens' Imperial LP‑ague was established with Arthur Blackburn as a founding member. He was President in 1920‑1921.

Between the wars, Blackburn served in the militia in a Light Horse machine gun regiment. He was promoted to Captain and then Major on 15 January 1937.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, he was put in command of the 2/3 d Machine Gun Battalion,  he led during the Syrian Campaign in 1941.

Blackburn was the senior British officer at Damascus and he accepted the surrender on behalf of the allies.

In February 1942, Blackburn, with the 7th Division, landed at Java. He was promoted to temporary Brigadier and appointed to command 'Blackforce' to assist the Dutch against the advancing Japanese.

The allied force surrendered and Blackburn became a prisoner of war, firstly at Singapore and then Moji in Japan, Pumas in Korea and den in Manchuria where he was liberated in September 1945.

He was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his work in Java.

Following his return to Australia, Blackburn became a Commissioner in the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration from 1947 to 1955 and he then became a member of the Australian National Airlines Commission.

He served as State President of the Returned Services League from 1946 to 1949 and in 1955, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of St.Michael and St.George.

Arthur Blackburn died suddenly on 24 November 1960 and was buried with full military honours in West Terrace cemetery, Adelaide.

He was a distinguished Australian.

Bro. Arthur Blackburn was initiated in Peter's Collegiate Lodge No. 53, South Australian Constitution, on 11 November 1918. It was an appropriate date for a V.C. winner. It was the day the First World War armistice was signed. He was passed a Fellow Craft on 9 December 1918 and raised a Master Mason on 11 August 1919.

He affiliated with United Service Lodge No. 37, South Australian Constitution, on 14 April 1925 and was installed as Master of the lodge on 13 July 1926.

Wor.Bro. Blackburn was advanced to the degree of Mark Master Mason in Gawler Mark Lodge No. 14, South Australian Constitution, on 24 September 1929 and he was installed as Master of the lodge in 1938. He served as a Grand Steward of The Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of South Australia in 1939.

Bro. Blackburn was exalted a Royal Arch Mason in United Collegians' Chapter No. 8, Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of South Australia on 25 November 1925.

Excellent Companion Blackburn was a foundation member of Gawler Chapter No. 29, South Australian Constitution, on 4 December 1934 and served as First Principal in 1935.

Right Excellent Companion Arthur Blackburn served as Grand Registrar of the Grand Chapter in 1936, 1937, 1939 and 1940. In 1938 he was the Second Grand Principal.


Information supplied from the book " Australian and New Zealand Freemasons and the Victoria Cros" by Grahame Cumminge PDGM UGL of NSW & ACT