Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Distinguished WW2 hero Chandos Blair dies, aged 91

From The Scotsman:

Lieutenant-general Sir Chandos Blair, the first British Army officer to return home after his Scottish regiment was imprisoned by the Germans during the Second World War, has died. He was 91 and died on Saturday.

The soldier, who was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery, later became General Officer Commanding Scotland and Governor of Edinburgh Castle.

He was also chosen to undertake a diplomatic mission to try to secure the freedom of writer Denis

Hills who had been sentenced to death by Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.

As a young second lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, he was determined to escape after the original 51st (Highland) Division surrendered to Rommel's 7th Panzer Division at St Valery in northern France in June 1940.

The former fighting patrol officer managed to abscond from a work party the following year and spent eight days fraught with danger, walking 75 miles to neutral Switzerland, arriving home in January 1942.

The young soldier was later to distinguish himself again after being posted to the 7th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, part of the 15th (Scottish) Division which saw action during the Normandy invasion in June 1944.

He was awarded a bar to his MC after helping to repel a heavy counter-attack while wounded.

In 1959 he took command of the 4th Battalion, King's African Rifles in Uganda.

Among his troops was a young sergeant he promoted to lieutenant "because of his hard work and toughness on the battlefield". The soldier was Amin, the future dictator.

In 1975, Blair began an eight-year tenure as Colonel of the Queen's Own Highlanders, an amalgamation of his old regiment and the Camerons.

He was appointed OBE in 1962 and KCVO in 1972.

He married Audrey Travers in 1947 who predeceased him. They had a son and a daughter.

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