Glaswegians asked to assist UK campaign to capture and keep WW1 memories alive

Glaswegians asked to assist UK campaign to capture and keep WW1 memories alive

Glasgow City Archives and the Commonwealth War Graves Foundation, in partnership with the University of Oxford, are asking the people of Glasgow to bring their First World War family treasures to the Mitchell Library on Wednesday 10 April.

The digital roadshow is part of a UK wide initiative to capture and keep the country’s memories of the Great War alive and create a lasting national digital archive. 

The Lest We Forget: Keep Their Stories Alive Project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has appealed to members of the public from across the city to delve into their handed-down possessions and bring any and all First World War mementoes, of family on the home front or serving overseas, to The Mitchell. A team of volunteers will ensure each item is accurately recorded and digitised.

Chair of Glasgow Life, Councillor David McDonald said:

We are delighted to host a Commonwealth War Graves Foundation roadshow. Archives provide a vital link with the past. Glasgow City Archives is the city’s record-keeper and plays a vital role in preserving Glasgow’s history for future generations.

Many Glaswegians are rightly proud of the contribution their family members made during the First World War and treasure objects passed on to them from this time in history. Some people will have medals and letters to hand, for others it’s a wonderful reason to dig into old boxes stored in cupboards, the loft or garages and see what’s there. You might just discover a gem. This is a great opportunity to honour and remember your families’ service and sacrifice to this country.

Whatever you bring, it’s great to know the stories will be recorded for generations to come and can be accessed via a free-to-use online database at home or at one of the city’s 33 local libraries.

During the First World War communities throughout Glasgow sent tens of thousands of young men to fight. The Glasgow Roll of Honour alone records the names of almost 18,000 individuals who served in the forces and would never return. As a city, Glasgow responded enthusiastically on the outbreak of war, with some 22,000 men enlisting in the first week. The city was given the power to raise several battalions including the 15th Battalion Highland Light Infantry, also known as the Tramways Battalion due to the number of men recruited from the Glasgow’s Tramways.

Michael Gallagher, an archivist with Glasgow City Archives, promoted the digital roadshow by highlighting some Great War items from the archive collections, including the remarkable letters and photographs of Ethel Aikman, a Glasgow woman who was a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse. Ethel survived being torpedoed on board the SS Transylvania and went on to serve across Europe, and her colourful experiences are detailed in letters to family at home and her own photographs. The records tell the story of an ordinary Glaswegian living through an extraordinary period in history.

The Mitchell roadshow on 10 April is one of more than 20 taking place throughout the UK. Once the items are digitised, the stories are made available to the public through a large, free-to-use online database. The database and its contents are easily accessible, opening these stories and experiences to new audiences. Members of the public can also upload their personal First World War to the online archive through the University of Oxford website:

Patricia Keppie, public engagement coordinator (Scotland) at CWGC, said:

We’re delighted to have a Lest We Forget collection day in Glasgow as we continue to seek out the touching and often heart-breaking stories of those whose lives were changed forever by the First World War.

The event will give people a chance to bring along letters, medals, photos and other personal items from their attics that can help us to bring to life the human stories of the wartime generation.

Everything that comes through the door can be assessed by local experts and photographed to become part of our growing free-to-use digital archive, preserving these stories for the next generation.

It never ceases to amaze us when we hear the stories the Great British public have about their connections to the First World War and we would love to see as many people as possible come along and share their connections to this important part of our collective history.

The roadshow will take place at the Mitchell Library (Ground Floor, Moir-Dyer Room) Glasgow on Wednesday 10 April 2019 from 12noon - 6pm, no appointment is necessary. For further information visit