|Memorial .||Lonsdale Cemetery, Authuile||III. P. 6.|
Awards & Titles:
Family :Son of Andrew and Barbara Blair, of Trossachs, Perthshire; husband of Helen Michie Blair, of The Gwythers, Lee, Ilfracombe, Devon.
Unit : 2/South Lancashire Regiment
Action : The Battles of the Somme 1916
Captain Alexander Macpherson BLAIR, born Callender, Perth, Scotland, 1874 was a Planter in Ceylon and a member of the Ceylon Planters Rifles in the early 1900's. In 1902 the 1st Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment, after sustaining over 200 casualties during the Boer War, was sent to Ceylon to guard Boer Prisoners of War and shortly after their arrival, a suggestion was made that the island defence volunteers would be prepared to send a force of men to replace the Gloucesters on the African mainland. The idea was accepted and the volunteers, including Blair who enlisted 19.4.1902, were to be called the Ceylon Volunteer Company, Gloucestershire Regiment and numbered 3 Officers and 107 N.C.O.'s and men. They served in South Africa between 23.4.1902-31.5.1902 and during that period they were entitled to the clasps Orange Free State, South Africa 1902 and Transvaal - the clasps were issued in this order (hence the unofficial rivets on Blair's medal) as the Transvaal clasp was granted to the Company after a late claim. Blair was discharged on 12.8.1902, and stayed in Ceylon until the outbreak of the Great War when he was commissioned Captain, Second-in-Command of the Ceylon Planters Rifles. He served during the Great War in the Egyptian Theatre of War from 17.11.1914 and he subsequently transferred to the 10th (Service) Battalion South Lancashire Regiment and was attached to the 2nd Battalion in 1916 when they were on standby for the 1st Day of the Battle of the Somme. Two days later at dawn Blair accompanied the Battalion across the River Ancre by the Black Horse Bridge, east of Authille, where they were thrown into the attack on the heavily defended village of Thiepval. The Battalion War Diary records that 9 Officers (including Blair) and 87 other ranks were killed in action on 3.7.1916. Blair is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. He was a member of three masonic lodges including St John's Lodge of Colombo No 454 and Nuwara Eliya Lodge No 2991. He was also a Past Master. The 1921 from Nuwara Eliya Lodge incorrectly listed his name as Alexander McPhairson BLAIR. The returns from the two ther lodges were not received for the 1921 publication and were therefore omitted, although BLAIR was included in the return for Nuwara Eliya Lodge.
The Battle of the Somme 1st July - 18th November 1916 is inevitably characterised by the appalling casualties (60,000) on the first day, July 1st 1916. Having failed to break through the German lines in force, and also failed to maximise opportunities where success was achieved, the battle became a series of attritional assaults on well defended defence in depth. The battle continued officially until 18th November 1916 costing almost 500,000 British casualties. German casualties were about the same, and French about 200,000. The Somme could not be counted a success in terms of ground gained or the cost, but it had a strategic impact as it marked the start of the decline of the German Army. Never again would it be as effective whilst the British Army, learning from its experience eventually grew stronger to become a war winning army. The German High Command recognised that it could never again fight another Somme, a view that advanced the decision to invoke unrestricted submarine warfare in an attempt to starve Britain of food and material, and in doing so accelerated the United States declaration of war thus guaranteeing the eventual outcome. 287 Brethren were killed on the Somme in 1916.
|Type||Lodge Name and No.||Province/District :|
|Mother :||Nuwara Eliya No. 2991 E.C.||Sri Lanka|
|Joined :||St John's Lodge of Colombo No. 454 E.C.||Sri Lanka|
|Joined :||Uva No. 3429 E.C.||Sri Lanka|
17th March 1906
16th June 1906
21st July 1906
Petitioning and Founder member of Uva Lodge No. 3429 5th January 1910 at Badulla, Ceylon. Further Joined St John Lodge of Colombo, No. 454 on 21st October 1911.
The project globally acknowledges the following as sources of information for research across the whole database:
- The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- The (UK) National Archives
- Ancestry.co.uk - Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History online
- ugle.org.uk - The records of the United Grand Lodge of England including the Library and Museum of Freemasonry
- Book : 1921 - Masonic Roll of Honour 1914-1918 - Oxford University Press
- Document : 1933 - Masonic Roll of Honour - Freemasons' Hall Vestibule - United Grand Lodge of England