David Blair, Titanicís original Second Officer
David Blair was Titanicís original Second Officer. He had joined the ship at Belfast, sailed with her to Southampton and was originally to have been aboard when she set sail on her maiden voyage to New York Ė but in the days Titanic was in Southampton prior to her maiden voyage, he lost his place aboard the ship due to it being decided that Henry Wilde, who last served as Olympicís Chief Officer, was to be appointed as Titanicís Chief Officer on her maiden voyage; Titanicís original Chief Officer, Willian Murdoch, was made First Officer, while Charles Lightoller Titanicís original First Officer became Second Officer, and David Blair lost his place aboard Titanicís maiden voyage, potentially saving his life.
David Blair was born on 11th November 1874. White Star Lineís Officers Books lists him as being born in Scotland but all other sources available to TP give his birth place as Newport, Isle of Wight, England.
He likely started his career at sea when he started a four year apprenticeship on sailing ships. He joined the White Star Line on 22nd January 1902 as Fourth Officer aboard Doric. He was made Second Officer of Doric in March 1904.
He married Madeline Temple Mackness in Broughty Ferry, Dundee, Scotland on 2nd September 1905.
The ships he served aboard between 1907 and 1911 included Cufic, Celtic, Cevic, Georgic, Majestic and Teutonic.
Just prior to joining Titanic he had been serving as Second Officer aboard Teutonic, and is then listed as being Second Officer of Majestic, which was out of service at the time.
He is listed in White Star Lineís Officers Books as becoming Titanicís second Officer on 26th March 1912. When he left the ship at Southampton, he still had with him a key from Titanic; the key sold at auction in 2007 for a reported £90,000.
After Titanic he served again as Second Officer aboard Majestic, which after the sinking of Titanic was put back in service as Titanicís replacement. While serving aboard Majestic, in May 1913, David Blair jumped overboard to save the life of a crew member who had tried to commit suicide, both were safely brought back on-board.
During the First World War, David Blair was serving aboard Oceanic, which was in use as an armed merchant cruiser Ė when on 8th September 1914 she grounded and become permanently stuck on rocks at Shaalds of Foula in the Shetland Islands, Scotland Ė resulting in Oceanic having to be abandoned and be a total loss. It appears David Blair was the officer on watch on the bridge at the time, and unfortunately he was later reprimanded at a court-martial for navigational errors during his involvement in the accident.
This incident at the start of the war should not overshadow his war services. At Buckingham Palace on 13th February 1918, David Blair was awarded by King George V the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) .
After the end of the war David Blair is listed in White Star Line's Officers Books to have been serving as Chief Officer aboard Haverford. Haverford is listed as his last ship serving as a White Star Line officer. He resigned from the White Star Line on 14th February 1921.
David Blair was a friend of Charles Lightoller, who took his place as Second Officer aboard Titanic, and remained friends in their later years.
David Blair died in Hendon, Middlesex (now Hendon, Borough of Barnet, London) on 10th January 1955.