Middle school teacher James Rowinski first reached out to his local M.P. in February 2019 with a heart-breaking story dating from the First World War. Mr. Rowinski, along with a group of students from George Street Middle school had started a project called the Fredericton Soldier Biography History Initiative (FSBHI) in order to research the lives of soldiers from Fredericton, NB who served during the First World War.
When they came across the story of Lt. Charles Edward Blair, they discovered he had been in an unmarked grave for nearly 100 years. Mr. Rowinski wrote to Fredericton M.P. Matt DeCourcey:
“We believe that, at the very least, he deserves a proper headstone consistent with Canadian war veterans killed or who later died as a result of war service.”
Their request was eventually directed to the Last Post Fund.
“We contacted the Last Post Fund to see if there had been a headstone erected for him and there hadn’t been,” Rowinski told CTV News Atlantic. “So they got all the work done for that and that’s why it’s here.”
Last Post Fund was pleased to take on the project of properly marking Lt. Blair’s grave with a military marker.
Here is what the FSBHI discovered about LT. Charles Edward Blair.
When Charles Edward Blair returned from 4 years of service as a Lieutenant in WW1, he was suffering greatly and required much medical assistance. His medical records show he was suffering from chronic appendicitis as well as the emotional trauma he carried as a result of the war.
Sadly, in Sept. 1920, he took his own life and was given a burial in a “North Devon Cemetery”, believed to be the Sunny Bank Cemetery, most probably in an unmarked grave given the circumstances of his death and the stigma surrounding suicides, particularly at that time period.
Last Post Fund is pleased to announce that a military headstone has been installed for Lt. Charles Edward Blair, marking his grave at last. A memorial service was held on Saturday, November 9th at the Sunny Bank Cemetery in Fredericton in honour of Lt. Blair, where the Royal New Brunswick Regiment was present to honour and commemorate him.
Last Post Fund wishes to thank Mr. James Rowinski and his class as well as the Royal New Brunswick Regiment and all those involved in bringing closure and dignity to Lt. Charles Edward Blair, may he rest in peace.
CBC has also reported on this story: After nearly a century, WW I veteran gets burial service, headstone