A N Blair

A N Blair

Alexander  Neville Blair was born in 1879 in London. He went to Wellington in 1893 along with three other fellow Lodge members, Simmonds, Boughey and Chaldecott. He was in the Hill. After leaving he became a brewery manager first at the West Malling Brewery and then at Lacons’ Brewery, Great Yarmouth.

Blair had been one of the original founders of the Lodge in 1909, having been initiated into Bowyer Lodge No 1036. He was exalted into Bowyer Chapter, and was also appointed a Provincial Grand Steward in Oxfordshire.

Blair was an active territorial officer; a Captain with the Paddington Rifle Volunteers, Adjutant of the Yarmouth Volunteers OTC, and he also drilled a company of the Church Lads’ Brigade.

He was gazetted to the Black Watch (The Royal Highlanders) as a 2nd Lieutenant in May 1916, and immediately volunteered for service in Mesopotamia. He left for India the following year to serve on the Staff of Northern Command. Before leaving for his posting in India, he wrote ‘the usual letters’ to be opened in the event of his death. His six-year old son Neville received the heart-breaking letter from his father reminding him that the young Neville was now charged with the care of his Mother. It also offered him some guidance for the future:

Source: The Black Watch: Fighting in the Frontline 1899-2006

He died in Colaba War Hospital Bombay on 13 March 1917 from cerebro-meningitis contracted while on active service, and is buried in Scuree Cemetery. The charge laid upon his son clearly left its mark. Colonel Harold Neville Blair went on to command the Black Watch in 1947, having gone to Wellington in 1923. He was also in his father’s house.

Blair is remembered at the Kirkee Memorial in Pune, India, together with more than 1,800 servicemen who died in India during the First World War, who were buried in civil and cantonment cemeteries in India and Pakistan but whose graves could no longer be properly maintained.