Claude L Blair MC

St Bees Dead of the First World War
Roll of Honour
Claude L Blair MC
Royal Engineers
Killed in Action Ypres, 1917 aged 30

From the ‘Whitehaven News’ 14 June 1917:


The name of Temporary Lieutenant Claude L. Blair, R.E., of St. Bees, appears in the list of officers who have been recipients of the Military Cross, as published last week. Lieut. Blair is well known in West Cumberland as an expert cricketer, playing as he has done for both St. Bees and Whitehaven. He is also well known on the football field. At the time of his enlistment he was engaged as a mining engineer. He joined as a Private in the Highland Light Infantry, and subsequently received a commission in the Royal Engineers.

Later, from the ‘Whitehaven News’ 28 June 1917:


Following the recent announcement that Lieut. C.L. Blair, R.E., of St. Bees had been awarded the Military Cross, came the sad news that the gallant officer had been killed in action. There was a rumour to this effect in the district on Tuesday, but it lacked confirmation, and it was not until Friday that we were able to obtain verification.

It appears that the deplorable event occurred on Saturday, and, in addition to the formal intimation, an officer has written stating that he saw him fall. He was caught by a shell while walking along a trench, and was killed instantaneously. As stated in a previous issue, Lieut. Blair originally joined the Highland Light Infantry, and soon proved himself worthy of promotion. Ultimately he was given a commission, and transferred to the Royal Engineers, with which section of the service he had distinguished himself since he had been in France. Lieut. Blair, who was 30 years of age, belonged to a branch of the same family of Blairs as the late Captain Blair, D.S.O., of Richmond Hill, Whitehaven, who was his cousin.

He was educated at St. Bees School, of which he was head boy for some time, and his career there was marked by a good deal of success both as a student and as an athlete. Later on he became a prominent and popular figure in local and county football and cricket circles. At St. Bees he played regularly for the village football and cricket teams. He came of a family of Rugby renown, his father, two uncles and a brother having all played for Cumberland, and it was, therefore, only natural that he should follow in their steps. After playing for the St. Bees and Workington Rugby Clubs and acting in the capacity of captain, he joined the Whitehaven Club and held the captaincy for some time. Not only did he distinguish himself with the local clubs, but also in the county team. He was a fine type of manhood, and a real sportsman in every respect, and his death will cause deep regret amongst his old colleagues and friends in sport as well as in business life.

By profession he was an engineer; and before entering the army to serve his King and country, he had an appointment at the works of the Whitehaven Haematite Iron and Steel Co. at Cleator Moor. His brother – R. C. Blair – with whom he was often associated in cricket and football, is also serving with the Forces. Lieut. Claude Blair was the nephew of Mr. John Blair, formerly of Harrington, and husband of Mrs. Blair of Richmond Hill, and also of his sister, Miss Blair. Mr. John Blair will be remembered as being much interested in local football. He was captain of the Cumberland County Association Football team, and was a fine player. Lieut. Blair’s sister was married in April to Flight Commander Landells, R.N.V.R.

Yesterday a message was received that Lieut. Blair had been buried beside his cousin, Captain R.C.R. Blair, D.S.O.

A Whitehaven man, who is on the headquarters staff of the division to which Lieut. Blair was attached, and who frequently came into contact with him, conveying the news of his death wrote: “By now you may have heard of the death in action of Lieut. Claude Blair of St. Bees, the county Rugby player and cricketer. The news reached me this (Saturday) afternoon, he having been killed in the morning. He was in the Engineers in this Division, and only last Sunday I was talking to him. On that occasion he had just come out of action, and was very bright and cheerful; full of anticipation of going home on leave. We had a long yarn about the times gone by – cricket and football in the Cricket Field, and he asked me about all the local sportsmen. He was a splendid chap physically, and I know he was looked upon as a capable officer. I’m sure his loss will be a big blow to his own people, and to a wide circle of friends. I thought I would let you know because of the fact that I saw him so recently, and of the fact that he was so keenly interested in all the local lads.”

From the St. Bees School Roll of Honour page 45

Lieut. C.E.L. Blair M.C. R.E. was killed in action on June 16 1917, being caught by a shell while walking along a trench. Only a few days before he had been awarded the Military Cross. He first enlisted in the Highland Light Infantry, and soon proved himself worthy of promotion, being given a commission in the Royal Engineers. He was at School 1899 -1903, taking a leading part in all the School games. By profession he was an engineer, and before entering the army held an appointment at the Whitehaven Heamatite Iron and Steel Works at Cleator Moor.

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