Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch  
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8092   Private Robert Blair
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Dated added: 30/12/2015   Last updated: 07/08/2018
Personal Details
Regiment/Service: Depot, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (British Army)
Died: 08/04/1915 (Died of Illness)
Age:
Summary      
Robert Blair was a native of Castlecaulfield. He had served for some years overseas in Egypt. He had been employed in Orritor quarry where he lost an eye in an accident with a traction engine. Robert Blair married Sarah Jane Kempton on the 14th April 1914. They had one child. At the beginning of the war, he was still an army reservist with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He was called up but owing to the defect in his sight he was not sent to the Western Front but was instead employed as a cook in the depot in Omagh. Robert became ill suffering from a severe cold and developed influenza and cardiac trouble. Private Robert Blair died of illness at home on 8th April 1915.
Further Information
Robert Blair was a native of Castlecaulfield.
Robert Blair was, according the list of mourners at his funeral, the son of Francis and Anne Forbes.
It is believed Robert was born on 4th August 1887, although there is some doubt to this, as GRONI has his motherís maiden name as Holmes.
Francis Blair married Anne Forbes on 9th June 1891 in the district of Dungannon. This may have been one his parentsí second marriage.
The 1901 census lists Francis and Anne Blair living at house 13 in Glasmullagh, Castlecaulfield, Tyrone. Robert was not living with the family.
Robert served for some years overseas in Egypt.
The 1911 census lists Francis and Anne Blair living in Glasmullagh, Castlecaulfield, Tyrone.
Robert had been employed in Orritor quarry where he lost an eye in an accident with a traction engine.
Robert was a member of Montober R.B.P. No. 598.
Robert Blair married Sarah Jane Campton on the 14th April 1914. Sarah Janeís father was a teacher, presumably at Toberlane School.
Robert and Sarah had one child. William Blair was born on 20th January 1915 in the district of Cookstown.
Robert was described as a quiet inoffensive man and respected by all who knew him.
At the beginning of the war, he was still an army reservist with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He was called up but owing to the defect in his sight he was not sent to the Western Front but was instead employed as a cook in the depot in Omagh.
Whilst at home for Easter holidays in 1915 in Toberlane, Private Blair became ill suffering from a severe cold. He later developed influenza and cardiac trouble.
Private Robert Blair died of illness at home on 8th April 1915.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 3rd April 1915: Sad Death of a Soldier
The death took place in Toberlane, Cookstown, under sad circumstances, on Thursday morning, of Private Robert Blair of the Royal Inniskillings. the deceased, who was a native of Castlecaulfield, had served some seven years with the colours having been in service in Egypt, and was on the Reserve. He was employed at Orritor Quarry where he lost an eye in an accident to a traction engine. At the commencement of the present war he was called up, but owing to the defect to his sight he was not sent to the front, but was employed as a cook at the depot in Omagh. Nearing Easter holidays he came to Toberlane where his wife resided, on leave, but was then in poor health, apparently suffering from a bad cold. Later influenza developed and also cardiac trouble, which was the immediate cause of his death. He was a member of R.B.P. No. 598, Montober, and being of a quite inoffensive nature, was respected by all who knew him. He was married about a year ago to Miss Sarah Jane Kempton, and much sympathy is felt for the young widow in her sad bereavement.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 17th April 1915: Mr Robert Blair, Toberlane
We regret to announce the death of Mr Robert Blair, which took place at the residence of Mrs Campton, Toberlane, on Thursday 8th April after a short illness. He was a special reserve man of the 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and was called up early in August last and was doing his duty on Omagh, and was just home on furlough for Easter. He was attended by Dr Elliott, Cookstown, up to the time of his death. Much sympathy is felt for his sorrowing widow and child in their bereavement. The funeral took place on Saturday afternoon, the place of internment being Cookstown Cemetery. There was a very large attendance of the people of the town and district. The polished hazelwood coffin, with brass mountings bore the following inscription:- ĎRobert Blair, died 8th April 1915í. The chief mourners were Mrs Sarah Blair (wife), Francis Blair (father), Mrs Annie Blair (mother), Mrs Minnie Grimes (sister), James Blair (uncle), J Campton, W Reynolds, A Reynolds (relatives).
Private Robert Blair is interred in Cookstown New Cemetery.
In later years Robertís wife would often say that she was married, widowed, and became a mother, all in the one year.
Robert Blair is commemorated on Cookstown Cenotaph and St. Luranís Church of Ireland Roll of Honour, Derryloran, Cookstown.
Read more
Relevant Cookstown Area Locations
No Location Region Location Notes Longtitude Latitude
1 Orritor Quarry Orritor Worked at Orritor Quarry 54.658721 -6.805086
2 Toberlane, Orritor Orritor Wife lived at Toberlane 54.658323 -6.786118
3 Cookstown Cemetery Cookstown South Buried in Cookstown Cemetery 54.639005 -6.753159
References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 1901 Census lists Blair family Does not list Robert as living with the family at house 13 in Glasmullagh, Castlecaulfield, Tyrone
2 1901 Census lists Sarah J Kempton 1901 census lists Sarah as age 7, living with her family at house 1 in Toberlane, Oritor, Tyrone
3 1911 Census lists Blair family Does not list Robert as living with the family at house 2 in Glasmullagh, Castlecaulfield, Tyrone
4 1911 Census lists Sara J Campton 1911 census lists Sara as age 17, living with her mother at house 8 in Toberlane, Oritor, Tyrone
5 War Graves Photographic Project Photo of Private Robert Blair's grave can be purchased here
Cookstown District's War Dead Acknowledgements 2010-2020