Fam­ily ties

The Glengarry News - - Front Page -

Alexan­dra Blair will re­cite In Flan­ders Fields at the Novem­ber 11 cer­e­monies in Alexan­dria.

The grade 12 stu­dent from Maxville, the daugh­ter of Erin Blair and Ni­cole Beaulieu, has sev­eral fam­ily con­nec­tions to soldiers who served in both World War I and World War II.

Her great-grand­fa­ther, Cur­rie Ed­ward Blair, was born in 1887 in Moose Creek. He was a mem­ber of the 5th Pi­o­neers, a unit he joined in 1916, and was later part of the 5th Cana­dian Rail­way Troops.

Mr. Blair, who has re­searched his fam­ily’s ex­ten­sive mil­i­tary his­tory, re­lates that on April 9, 1917, the first day of the Bat­tle of Vimy Ridge, his grand­fa­ther would have been about 15 kilo­me­tres from the site of the his­toric vic­tory.

The C.R.T. bat­tal­ions proved to be es­sen­tial to ad­vanc­ing the lines. In Oc­to­ber 1914, Cana­di­ans had pro­posed send­ing rail­way units to Europe but were turned down.

Prior to 1914, more new rail­ways had been built in Canada than any­where else in the Bri­tish Em­pire.

Af­ter the Bat­tle of the Somme in 1916, it was clear that road and an­i­mal trans­port alone could not bring for­ward the weight of war ma­te­rial re­quired.

At Vimy Ridge, the lines were laid on the heels of the ad­vance. Shells and small arms am­mu­ni­tion came up, and ca­su­al­ties were evac­u­ated.

About 60 miles of nar­row gauge were laid. In five hours a spur line was con­structed and a Bri­tish bat­tery sup­plied with shells the morn­ing of April 9.

Ca­su­al­ties

Men were killed due to ac­ci­dents, en­emy shelling, and ae­rial bomb­ing as well as ma­chine guns and ri­fle fire.

While the troops in the front lines had the pro­tec­tion of their trenches dur­ing ar­tillery shelling, the rail­way troops were often out in the open. They worked above those trenches ei­ther mov­ing sup­plies for­ward or re­pair­ing lines that had been dam­aged from shelling, while the troops below went about their busi­ness. The re­pair­ing of lines was a con­stant ac- tiv­ity and the threat from shelling, ei­ther ob­served or ran­dom, was a daily oc­cur­rence.

Le­gion ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber

Mr. Blair’s fa­ther, Ger­ald M. Blair (1921-2002), was a sergeant with the Lord Strath­cona's Horse (Royal Cana­di­ans) unit in World War II. Af­ter the war, he served as a mem­ber of the Alexan­dria Le­gion ex­ec­u­tive.

Many of Alexan­dra’s an­ces­tors fought in the First World War.

What fol­lows is a list of rel­a­tives who served in WWI.

Great-great-un­cle, Mal­colm Don­ald McLen­nan, Cana­dian Ex­pe­di­tionary Force (CEF), Cana­dian Army Med­i­cal Corps, Sergeant.

Great-great un­cle, Wel­don John­ston, 2nd De­pot Bat­tal­ion, E.O.R., Cor­po­ral.

Great-great un­cle, Clif­ford John­ston, 5th Brigade Cana­dian Field Ar­tillery, 17th Bat­tery C.F.A., Cor­po­ral. He suf­fered an early death in 1926, pos­si­bly at­trib­uted to the ef­fects of mus­tard gas poi­son­ing.

Great-great-great un­cle, John Arthur Pres­ley, Cana­dian Ex­pe­di­tionary Force (CEF), Pri­vate. He served only briefly in Canada; he was later

judged to be med­i­cally un­fit and re­ceived an honourable dis­charge.

Third cousin, twice re­moved, Lin­den Blair, Cana­dian Ex­pe­di­tionary Force (CEF), 21st Bat­tal­ion, died of wounds in April, 1918.

First cousin, four times re­moved, Al­bert Ed­ward Pres­ley, Cana­dian Ex­pe­di­tionary Force, 87th Bat­tal­ion Cdn. In­fantry (Cdn. Gre­nadier Guards), killed in ac­tion Oct. 21, 1916.

First cousin, four times re­moved, James Sa­mual Pres­ley, brother of Al­bert Ed­ward Pres­ley, 5th Field Com­pany 2nd Di­vi­sion En­gi­neers, Pri­vate.

Sec­ond cousin, three times re­moved, Charles Ed­ward Blair, 2nd De­pot Bat­tal­ion, East­ern On­tario Reg­i­ment, Pri­vate.

Sec­ond cousin, three times re­moved, Gor­don Blair, brother of Charles Ed­ward BlaiR, 38th Bat­tal­ion, Cor­po­ral.

RE­MEM­BRANCE: Alexan­dra Blair will pay trib­ute to her great-grand­fa­ther Cur­rie Ed­ward Blair, and the many oth­ers who served in World War I, when she reads InFlan­der­sFields Novem­ber 11.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

PIL­GRIM­AGE: At Vimy Ridge in 2016, Erin Blair, his wife Ni­cole Beaulieu and daugh­ters Cathe­rina and Alexan­dra visit the mon­u­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.