James Blair VC

b. 27/01/1828 Neemuch, India. d. 18/01/1905 Melrose, Scotland.

James Blair (1828-1905) was born at the military station of Neemuch, India on 27th January 1828, the son of Captain E.M. Blair, Bengal Cavalry. He was the cousin of Robert Blair VC. When James turned 16, he was commissioned into the Bombay Army and joined the 2nd Bombay Light Cavalry. During the Indian Mutiny he would perform two acts of gallantry which were included in his citation published in the London Gazette on 25th February 1862. The late gazetting was regarded by the War Office as a final clearing up of Mutiny claims, although one or two more were later accepted.

James Blair VC

On the 12th August 1857, at Neemuch, Blair volunteered to apprehend seven or eight mutineers who had shut themselves up in defence of a house. Blair stormed the house and burst through the door. He then rushed in amongst the rebels, and forced them to try and escape through the roof. Blair was severely wounded, but in spite of these injuries, he attempted to chase them. Sadly, he lost them in the darkness of the night.

On 23rd October 1857, at Jeerum, during a skirmish, he found himself surrounded by the enemy. After breaking the end of his sword on one of the rebels’ heads, and also received a severe sword cut on his right arm. In his wounded condition, and with no other weapon other than the hilt of his broken sword, he put himself at the head of his men, and charged the rebels, and dispersed them.

Blair was soon promoted to Captain in 1857, and received his Victoria Cross in 1862 from Lieutenant General Sir W. Mansfield in Bombay. He was promoted three more times before reaching the rank of Colonel of his Regiment in 1875. He married Frances B. E. Halhed, daughter of N. J. Halhed of Gately Hall, Hampshire. He was then made Political Resident and Brigadier General at Aden between 1882-1885. He then became Major General in 1885, and was created a CB in 1889. He eventually retired as a General on 1st April 1894 and retired to Scotland. He died on 18th January 1905 at his home, “The Pavilion”, in Melrose, Scotland. He was buried in Holy Trinity Churchyard, Melrose. Blair’s medals were sold at auction at Dix Noonan Webb on 29th July 2021 for a hammer price of £180,000. The purchaser was Lord Ashcroft, and the medals are now in the Ashcroft Gallery at the Imperial War Museum. 



SOLD AT DNW ON 29/07/2021 FOR £180,000.



Dix Noonan Webb – Medal Images