Private William Robert Blair


The background of this North Irish Horseman is not known for certain. He may have been the William Robert Blair born on 18 March 1897 at 154 Agnes Street, Belfast, the second of three children of draper's assistant Hugh Blair and his wife Agnes (née Ross). His father died when he was just six years old. By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 34 Kilronan Street, Belfast, with his mother and one surviving sibling.

Blair enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 5 and 11 January 1915 (No.1391). On 17 November 1915 he embarked for France with F Squadron, which at the time was serving as divisional cavalry to the 33rd Division.

In June 1916 F Squadron combined with C Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until September 1917, when the regiment was disbanded and its men transferred to the infantry. Like most, Blair was posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – on 20 September, joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. He was issued regimental number 41370.

No information has been located about Blair's service with the 9th (NIH) Battalion through the latter part of 1917 and during 1918. On 26 January 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.