Scotland’s National War Museum launches Centenary exhibition

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Scotland’s National War Museum is marking the Centenary of the First World War with an exhibition entitled Next of Kin.

The show will run at the National War Museum, Edinburgh, until March 2015, before going on tour to eight venues around Scotland.

Remembering the fallen

Colin McLean, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: ‘Objects which were once kept as a way of remembering individual loved ones have been brought together so we can all remember the impact the war had on families and communities across Scotland.

‘As it travels the country, people will have the opportunity to add their own story to this exhibition making sure that their heritage is safeguarded for future generations while giving us a deeper understanding of the conflict.’

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Individual stories

The exhibition will look at eight individual stories that consider the impact of the War on servicemen and women and their families in Scotland. Objects on display include postcards and letters, photographs, medals and memorial plaques.

One thread concerns 27-year-old corporal George Buchanan of the Seaforth Highlanders, who was killed in action at the Battle of Loos on 25 September 1915.

The exhibition shows a photograph of Buchanan in uniform, along with his service medals, hia last letter home, the letter from the battalion chaplain to his mother confirming his death and the memorial plaque sent to his next of kin by the government after the war.

As the exhibition tours, the host venues will develop additional content using their own objects and stories related to their respective local areas. The results of these additional contributions will be captured and preserved in the exhibition displays and an online resource.

To find out more about the exhibition, click here.

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Highgate Camp First World War memorial in London

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Hidden away in a gateway in London’s Highgate Village are two restored First World War memorials.

One carries the headline: ‘In proud memory of members of Highgate Camp who gave their lives in the Great War.’

Included on the list are:

Private Herbert Heavingham (21) of the London Rifle Brigade, who was killed on 27 April 1915 and whose name also appears on the Menin Gate at Ypres.

Lance-sergeant Frank Hocking DCM (21) of 7th Battalion, the Middlesex Regiment who died on 14 May 1915 and is buried in Highgate Cemetery.

Lieutenant Edward Grimwade (31) of 9th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, who was killed on 17 September 1916 and whose name also appears on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

Lieutenant Felix Ernest Jones MC of 4th Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, killed on 16 August 1917 and commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

Sergeant Raymond Brice of 9th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment, killed on 14 February 1916 and buried at the Menin Road South Military Cemetery.

Second lieutenant Kenneth Pearse (23) of 11th Battalion att. 2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, killed on 6 August 1915 at Gallipoli and commemorated on the Helles Memorial. He lived at Brentor, Grange Rd, Highgate.

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The opposite panel is dedicated to lieutenant-commander J Dawbarn Young (40) of the RNVR, ‘who fell at Zeebrugge’ on 23 April 1918 and is buried at Saunderton in Buckinghamshire. He was a graduate of London University and a surveyor by profession, whose parents were living at a house on North Hill, Highgate, in 1901.

An excerpt from the Ostend and Zeebrugge Dispatch, by Sir Roger Keyes states: ‘Lieutenant Commander Dawbarn Young, RNVR, was in command of ML110. He had volunteered to precede the block-ships and light the entrance of the harbor and canal with calcium buoys. Whist approaching the entrance ML110 was struck by three shells, which killed and wounded half the crew and wrecked the engines.

‘Lieutenant Commander Young, hit in three places, was mortally wounded, but stuck to his post and gave orders to abandon ship, until he collapsed. This very gallant officer died before reaching Dover.’

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Lieutenant-commander Young, RNVR

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British war graves to be restored in northern Poland

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The graves of 39 First World War British soldiers who died at the German army’s Heilsberg prisoner of war camp are to be restored.

The graves, at Lidzbark Warminski in northern Poland, were marked with a Cross of Sacrifice and Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) headstones in the years immediately following the end of the conflict. But, during the 1960s, the cemetery deteriorated and the men’s names were added to the memorial at Malbork Commonwealth War Cemetery.

Restoration

Experts from the CWGC are now restoring the Lidzbark Warminski site, erecting new headstones that have been manufactured in the CWGC’s offices at Arras in France.

A number of families of the men have come forward and will be able to attend a rededication ceremony planned for May, at which the CWGC will also install a new Visitor Information Panel.

Among those commemorated at Lidzbark Warminski is 19-year-old private Frank Bower, of 22nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, who was taken prisoner in April 1918 within a few days of arriving in France with a draft of reinforcements.

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Research tells tale of First World War Leicestershire soldiers

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The stories of fifteen Leicestershire soldiers have been unveiled on the website of the church where they once worshipped.

Historical researcher Nigel Atter spent many hours finding out about the experience and fate of the men whose names appear on the war memorial at Oadby Baptist Church.

They provide an interesting example of how the First World War affected communities in England.

The majority of the men who lost their lives served in the local infantry regiment (the Leicestershire Regiment), with some being members of the regular army or reservists and others men who joined up after August 1914.

A few of those killed in 1918 were members of infantry regiments based in other parts of the country – a sign of how the county focus of the army was diluted in the latter stages of the war as the effect of heavy casualties hit home.

To find out more about the Oadby memorial, click here.

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Scotland’s Blair Castle stages First World War Centenary exhibition

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Blair castle, ancestral home of Scottish aristocrats the Dukes of Atholl, is staging an exhibition about the property’s role in the First World War.

John Stewart-Murray, 7th Duke of Atholl and laird at the time of the outbreak of war in 1914, had three sons – all of whom were involved in the conflict.

Family at war

John, later the 8th Duke of Atholl, commanded the Scottish Horse yeomanry, which saw service in the Dardanelles campaign. His brother, George, a major in 1st Battalion the Black Watch, was reported missing presumed killed in action at the Battle of the Aisne in September 1914.

Another brother, James, a major in the Cameron Highlanders, was captured in 1917 and spent the remainder of the war in captivity. The Western Front Association has a sample of James’ letters from the time on its website, here.

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Treating the wounded

Blair castle itself was used as a hospital for wounded soldiers during the First World War.

Archivist Jane Anderson, who has brought together material for the exhibition, says: ‘It’s touching to see how one family was affected in so many ways by this war. From the ladies of the family working in the Red Cross Hospital at the castle, to the men fighting at the front.

‘It took over castle life for many years and, even on return, the 8th Duke took on the responsibility of fundraising and building the National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle, as well as similar memorials in Blair Atholl, Logierait, Dunkeld and Bankfoot.

‘Much of what we still do today to remember those who served in the First World War, we do because of the Duke’s efforts to remember his brothers and his comrades.’

To find out more about Blair castle’s First World War Centenary activities, click here. 

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UK Centenary project requests ‘lights out’ on 4 August

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Every household in Britain will be asked to turn out the lights at 11pm on 4 August to mark the Centenary of the First World War.

The event makes reference a comment by Sir Edward Grey, UK foreign secretary in 1914, who said: ‘The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.’

The initiative forms part of a UK cultural programme to commemorate the Centenary of the First World War.

Germany declared war on France and invaded Belgium on 3 August 1914.

That evening, Sir Edward Grey gazed across St James’s Park from his window at the Foreign Office as the lamps were being lit on the Mall. He turned to a friend, John Spender, and made his now famous remark.

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National Arboretum opens First World War Centenary trails

(BS) Arboretum East, Shot At Dawn, statue in profile

The UK’s National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire will launch its First World War Centenary trails on Saturday 29 March.

The 2km Discovery Trail will give visitors to the Arboretum, which is part of The Royal British Legion family of charities, the chance to explore some of the key memorials linked to the First World War and the stories behind them.

The Shot at Dawn Trail (also 2km) tells visitors about specific trees and memorials connected to the First World War. This trail takes about an hour and a half to complete and incorporates the Shot at Dawn memorial, which commemorates the 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers shot for cowardice or desertion during the war.

The third route, known as the Poppy Field Trail (2.5 km) passes though some of the Arboretum’s woodland avenues and the poppy field. Incorporating a number of significant First World War memorials.

Poppy field - David Millington

Managing director of the National Memorial Arboretum Sarah Montgomery said: ‘We are very excited to be launching our three First World War trails, which have been carefully created with all our visitors in mind. We are sure that people will be captivated by the stories behind the trees and memorials which link them to this incredible period in history.’

The Arboretum is free to enter and printed trail guides are available from the visitor centre. Route markers are positioned in the grounds to help show the way.

For more information, click here. In addition, the Arboretum is part of the Staffordshire Great War Trail; an interactive trail which takes in key First World War sites across the county. To find out more, click here.

(BS) Gallipoli Memorial - general

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