Sergeant Robert Cooke Blair

 

Blair, standing second from right

 

Robert Cooke Blair was born on 6 December 1895 at Oldpark, Belfast, the sixth of seven children of printworks secretary William Blair and his wife Mary (formerly Cooke).

He enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 6 and 16 July 1915 (No.1706 – later Corps of Hussars No.71512) and embarked for France with E Squadron on 12 January the following year.

Blair remained with the squadron throughout the war. In March 1918, as part of the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, it was dismounted and converted to a cyclist regiment, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps for the remainder of the war.

In the latter part of 1918 Blair was one of five men of E Squadron awarded Military Medals for their gallant conduct during September in the Advance to Victory offensive. The commanding officer of the 38th (Welsh) Division had written:

I am deeply grateful for the magnificent assistance rendered to this Division by the squadron of V Corps Cyclists, North Irish Horse, during the past sixteen days. They have been gallant to a degree, unflagging in energy, and although placed under different Brigadiers almost daily, have never failed to supply me with early and accurate information. I desire especially to place on record my appreciation of the manner in which this sqn, on the 4th inst, took forward ammunition to the troops of the 114th Bde through a very heavy HE and gas barrage, across the Canal du Nord. I shall be very happy to forward any recommendations for immediate awards that the Squadron Commander may see fit to submit.

Blair was transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve, on 3 March 1919.

 

Image, from the Belfast Evening Telegraph, 21 February 1916, kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (www.greatwarbelfastclippings.com).