Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Private Alexander Blair

 

 

Blair 2

 

Alexander Blair was born on 8 January 1893 at Ligoniel, Belfast, the fourth of ten children of commercial clerk Alexander Blair and his English-born wife Mary (nee Clarke). By 1911 he was living with his family at Wellesley Avenue, Belfast and working as a commercial clerk (building). They later lived at 18 Stranmillis Road.

Blair enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim between 8 February and 19 April 1916 (regimental number between 2110 and 2149 – later Corps of Hussars No.71699). He was sent to France as a reinforcement for one of the squadrons of the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment between 1916 and 1918.

In February-March 1918 the 1st North Irish Horse was dismounted and re-formed as V Corps' cyclist regiment. They saw action from 21 August 1918 on the Somme front during the Advance to Victory offensive. According to its war diary, from 21 to 31 August it lost two officers wounded, seven other ranks killed, one missing believed killed and 25 wounded.

Blair was probably one of the men wounded at this time. He was evacuated to No.59 Casualty Clearing Station at Varennes but died there on 2 September. He was buried in the Varennes Military Cemetery, Somme, France, grave III.J.13. His gravestone inscription reads:

71699 PRIVATE
ALEX BLAIR
NORTH IRISH HORSE
2ND SEPTEMBER 1918 AGE 25

HAVING SERVED HIS GENERATION
BY THE WILL OF GOD
HE FELL ON SLEEP

The Northern Whig of 8 November 1918 reported that John Blair had donated £50 to the Royal Victoria Hospital in memory of his younger brother Alexander. The following week the paper reported that Private Blair's parents had donated £50 to name a bed "In memory of Alexander Blair, North Irish Horse, Killed in Action 2nd September, 1918."

 

One of Private Blair's brothers, Arthur Israel, served in the war in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and was wounded at Messines in June 1917.

 

Private Blair (third from left, standing) with his family during the war. His brother Arthur is third from the right.

 

The Blair family around 1911.

 

Image of gravesite kindly provided by Richard Evans. See his website Nelson, Glamorgan and the Great War. Images of Private Blair and his family sourced from Ancestry.com - chrisblair1.