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Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Battle of Jutland

By Dr Jen Novotny, Research Assistant, Glasgow University’s Great War Project

Today we mark the 99th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland, the only full-scale naval battle of the First World War, which saw Admiral Jellicoe’s Grand Fleet meet the German High Seas Fleet in the North Sea on 31st May 1916. While the losses of ships were comparable, the Allied fleet suffered the greatest loss of personnel. The impact of the battle on the war has been debated by historians, but it is agreed that the battle failed to shift the balance of power and the Royal Navy remained dominant; the High Seas Fleet spent the rest of the war bottled up in the Baltic, unwilling to risk another costly engagement. Instead, Germany’s naval strategy for the North Sea and Atlantic concentrated on U-boat action.

Jutland: Glasgow’s Contribution

It is worth highlighting just some of the many connections between the battle and the West of Scotland: the Clydebuilt ships at Jutland that were the work of the men and women of the industrial sector, as well as looking at several individuals who fought in the battle. The First World War is so often spoken of in statistics – numbers that tend towards hyperbole and become meaningless. It is useful to personalise these numbers, contextualising the Battle of Jutland by evoking places with which we are familiar and learn about persons with whom we can identify.

Clydebuilt ships at Jutland

There were a number of Clydebuilt ships at the battle, including the Queen Elizabeth-class battleship HMS Barham, and battlecruisers HMS Tiger and HMS Inflexible built by John Brown Engineering at Clydebank. William Denny & Brothers of Dumbarton produced the destroyers HMS Petard, HMS Ardent, and the HMS Engadine, the seaplane carrier from which the first heavier-than-air reconnaissance flight during a naval battle was launched.


Contract for Ardent. University of Glasgow Archives Reference: UGD003/5/501

Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company of Greenock produced the HMS Colossus, flagship of Rear-Admiral Ernest Gaunt, while Alexander Stephen & Sons in Govan built the destroyer HMS Nomad.


Erskine 1916: Greetings from France

By Bethany Lane, University of Glasgow MSc Museum Studies postgraduate student

Erskine Hospital was set up in 1916 by Professor Sir William MacEwen for the limbless soldiers and sailors of WWI and has continued to care for soldiers and veterans ever since. As they approach their centenary, I am cataloguing their wonderful collection of items and researching the objects’ stories. Each week, I will blog about the objects I have found to show the amazing heritage of Erskine.

Erskine Blog silk postcard

Silk Embroidered Postcard – R.F.A.

This week’s find is a beautiful collection of silk embroidered postcards. Made popular after the Paris Exhibition in 1900, these postcards reached their peak in the Great War when British soldiers sent them home from the Western Front to their families and sweethearts. Crafted by French and Belgian women, the postcards were hand embroidered on silk with colourful depictions of flags, birds, rainbows, flowers and occasionally words. On some postcards, there is a small delicate silk pocket which holds a pre-printed card to write a sentimental line or two. There are rarely any notes on the back of the postcard since the cards were expensive and fragile to post, resulting in the postcards often accompanying letters.

This silk embroidered postcard from the Erskine Hospital collection is patriotic with the Allies flags (Italy, Czar, Great Britain, France, Belgium and Russia) and the blue letters R.F.A stand for the Royal Field Artillery to reminding the receiver of the united goal of the war. However the postcard maintains a sentimental aspect with beautifully embroidered pale blue flowers and the delicate card inside reads ‘with sincere good wishes for a happy future’. Sadly, there’s no written note on this one suggesting it accompanied a letter home.

Erskine began as the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers. Records relating to its creation can be found amongst the papers of Sir William Macewen, held by The University of Glasgow Archives. More of Macewen’s papers are held by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

International Nurses Day 2015

University of Glasgow Library

Blog originally posted on the University of Glasgow Staff News site.

DC233-2-11-2-first aid Note on nursing to the students of Queen Margaret College dated 1915 (DC233/2/11/2)

International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world each year on 12 May, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, to mark the contribution nurses make to society.
The University of Glasgow’s School of Nursing was established in 1978 though University students contributed to nursing long before that.

To celebrate International Nurses Day, here is a brief introduction to nursing at the University of Glasgow and particularly the role of University students in nursing the wounded of WW1.

Before 1974 nurse education was hospital-based, for example the Western Infirmary carried out nurse training on the wards.

As the Infirmary and its staff expanded, additional systematic instruction was given by appointed lecturers with examinations for certificates taking place also.

It was in 1978 that the University of Glasgow…

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Art, Law and the Sinking of the Lusitania

By Professor Nick Pearce, Sir John Richmond Chair of Fine Art, University of Glasgow

Rigging Plan of Lusitania. University of Glasgow Archive Services Ref: UCS1/110/367/3.

Rigging Plan of Lusitania. University of Glasgow Archive Services Ref: UCS1/110/367/3.

At 2.10pm on 7th May, 1915, Clyde-built Cunard liner the RMS Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland. Within 18 minutes, the ship had sunk. Only 761 of the 1,959 the passengers and crew on board survived. Amid the controversy of the sinking of a civilian vessel which, with the death of 123 American citizens, brought America’s involvement in the War ever closer and the accusation by the Germans that the ship was carrying munitions, were the personal stories of those on board. This talk will highlight the stories of art dealer Edgar Gorer and art collector, Sir Hugh Lane, both of whom would lose their lives. At the time of his death, Gorer was fighting a legal battle in the US courts to save his reputation; Lane’s death would see the British and Irish art establishment in an ownership tug-of war over his bequest, which would last for decades to come.

Today’s lecture has developed out of extensive research undertaken on Chinese art dealer Edgar Gorer as a part of a Leverhulme Research Grant to Catalogue the Chinese works of art at the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight.

A full-length essay on Gorer can be accessed for free here.

The University of Glasgow Archives hold records relating to the design and construction of the Lusitania as part of the records of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders. For more information on the collection contact the Duty Archivist.

Commemorating the sinking of the Lusitania 100 years ago today.

Today at 2.15pm is the centenary of the sinking of the Lusitania: the largest, fastest and most luxurious ship of her generation.

The RMS Lusitania (DC 101/379)

The RMS Lusitania (DC 101/379)