115 Robert Parry Blair
Robert Parry Blair was born in 1895, in Merewether, Newcastle NSW to parents John Thompson Blair and Margaret nee Buxton. He had three sisters and two brothers.
Robert had worked as a boilermaker for Morison and Bearby Ltd, Engineers & Iron founders.
At 19 years of age Robert enlisted with fellow novacastrian’s 108 Walter Stallard and 110 Gordon Wilson. All three of these young men had been friends having been together in 39th civilian engineers.
His friends and fellow Novacastrian’s who enlisted together on the same day……Robert was certainly in fine company ……………………………….
His younger brother Harold also enlisted in December 1915 and was Private No 27 in the 35th Battalion, A company and safely returned in June 1919.
Robert’s father John, a miner, also enlisted in April 1916, he declared his age as 44 when in fact he was born in 1862 making him 54 years old. He was Pvte. 2038- 34th Battalion 3rd Reinf.
While at Gallipoli Robert contracted measles and was sent to Mudros on the 14th April until he recovered . He then returned to Gallipoli just two weeks later.
By mid September, like so many Anzacs he was feeling the after effects of the battles and the extremely poor living conditions at Anzac Cove. By the end of the month suffering from exhaustion, serious loss of weight, constant Diarrhoea, and tonsilitis he was transferred to Montaza Citadel convalescent hospital in Cairo.
By December his health had only slightly improved and he was sent home with “Neurathenia” generally described as exhaustion of the central nervous systems energy reserves….. and he was later formally discharged in May 1916.
Robert returned to Australia and received a warm welcome from the Newcastle community and the company he worked for Morison and Bearby Ltd.
MEREWETHER SOLDIERS, MEMORIAL GATES UNVEILED.
“The ceremony of unveiling the Merewether Memorial Gates was performed on Saturday afternoon in the presence of a large gathering of the public, and in pleasant weather. A detachment of Naval Reservists and a squad of cadets formed a guard of honour in front of the gates, which form the principal entrance to Mitchell Park. They are hung on four massive stone pillars, the names of the soldiers who enlisted from Merewether being worked into the granite slabs on the front of these. On the top of the two larger central pillars are set two marble busts, representing a sailor and a soldier, while the smaller pillars are surmounted with spherical caps, also of marble.
Alderman R. Wells, president of the committee, who presided, said that the gates were erected by the citizens in commemoration of the service and sacrifice of the men who fought and fell in the war. Of the 322 men who enlisted 44 had given their lives for the cause of freedom. It was about two and a half years since the movement was initiated, and with the exception of six months during the influenza epidemic in 1919, the committee had met fortnightly. The result of the effort was that a memorial had been erected that would stand as an everlasting tribute to their soldiers. The cost of this was between £600 and £700, and practically the whole of the money required had been raised.”
In 1921 Robert and his Merewether comrades had their names commemorated and this memorial still stands today as was intended. (see above)
The same year, 1921, Robert married Nellie Marjorie Fleming and together they had two daughters. Robert returned to work with Morison and Bearby Ltd. and his trade as a boilermaker and remained a loyal employee up to 1943 when sadly he passed away.
in 1943 Robert died peacefully at home……
MR. R. P. BLAIR. Mr. Robert Parry Blair died at his home in Harle-street, Hamilton, at the age of 48. Mr. Blair spent nearly all his life in the Newcastle district. At 19 he joined the 1st Field Engineers and went through the Gallipoli campaign. He was a boiler maker for 33 years with Messrs. Morison and Bearby Ltd. He leaves a widow and two daughters.
Newcastle Morning Herald & Miners’ Advocate – Wednesday 14 July 1943.
Story©Vance Kelly 2016
Sources: AWM, NLA, BDM, NewcastleHerald
Looking for a portrait of Robert Parry Blair – ANZAC
His father died in 1928 – What prompted his father to enlist or the circumstances are not known. His son’s Robert had returned safely prior to this and Harold was not wounded or injured at this time. His father was born in 1862, making him 54 when he enlisted. He did return after being ill and was discharged due to chronic rheumatism and senility.
NSW,BDM – married Nellie M Fleming 1895 – 1971
Daughter Marjorie Joan Blair 1922- 1992 – Daughter No 2. ?