On Monday, 4 August the UK commemorated the centenary of its entry into the First World War. With the close of the Commonwealth Games just a day before, Glasgow became the locus of Commonwealth centenary commemoration. Following a memorial service in Glasgow Cathedral, officials, members of the armed forces, and dignitaries from around the Commonwealth attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the city’s cenotaph in George Square and a reception in City Chambers.
Our friends at the City of Glasgow’s First World War centenary project invited us to be part of the City Chambers event. Three of our Club 21 interns had the opportunity to share their expertise with Commonwealth dignitaries, including Prime Minister David Cameron, and First Ministers Alex Salmond, Peter Robinson, and Carwyn Jones.
Jen looked at issues of the Glasgow University Magazine during the war years (soon to be published on this blog), highlighting what university women were writing about, as well as looking at the 1915 memorial edition of the magazine to see how students reacted to the first year of the war. Katie focused on putting together biographies of medical students who served during the war for the university’s online Roll of Honour. Hugh looked at naval history, such as US Naval Academy links with Glasgow, including those during the First World War.
Our display included prosthetic hands from the collection of the Hunterian Museum, designed by Yarrow & Company shipbuilders for the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers (still serving veterans today as Erskine). Sir William Macewen, Regius Professor of Surgery at the University of Glasgow, was instrumental in establishing the hospital in 1916. Macewen worked closely with Clydeside shipbuilding engineers to design artificial limbs to address the critical need for prosthetics created by the war.
The display also featured individuals from across the Commonwealth who are on our online Roll of Service. This included highly accomplished Glasgow-trained women surgeons like Dr Dagmar Florence Curjel, born in Lahore and who served with the Women’s Indian Medical Service, and Toronto-born Dr Honoria Somerville Keer, who worked with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service.