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Earlier this year in April we released a blog announcing that the student-led project Words of WW1 was looking for actors and film-makers to come together to film a series of cinematic recitals of poetry from the First World War. After a stunning premiere in the University of Glasgow’s Memorial Chapel on August 20th, the project has released one new poem each week, each one focusing a different aspect of the First World War. This blog post collects together the 10 videos created by the project into a single post. Each video has been given a brief introduction discussing the background to each poem and how this has been interpreted in the film.
By Euan Loarridge, PhD Candidate, Department of History, University of Glasgow.
Amongst the National Archives’ vast collection of documents relating to the First World War are boxes WO_339 and WO_374, which together constitute a series of files related to the service records of individual officers of the British Army who served in that conflict. Unlike the service records for ordinary ranks, which are available to view and search online, digital copies of officers service records are not currently available and so can only be accessed in hard copy, in person, at the National Archives in London.
By Kath Roper-Caldbeck, University of Glasgow Archives and Special Collections Volunteer
‘Glasgow Fair is on so I do not see why we out here should not have our little holiday as well.’
Daniel McFarlane, 13 July 1918, from the Western Front
As an Information Management and Preservation MSc student I have been volunteering at the University of Glasgow Archives & Special Collections, working on a project enhancing existing catalogues. One of the collections is that of Daniel McFarlane, a medical graduate of the University who fought in the First World War having joined the 7th battalion of the Cameron Highlanders in April 1915. The collection includes an extensive archive of around two hundred letters written to his mother and three sisters throughout the war, which cover his experiences from initial training in Inverness and Tain, to fighting in the trenches in France, and finally ending his war in Belgium where he was demobilized in 1919.
As we in Glasgow approach the time of the Fair holiday in July, a tradition that dates back to the 12th century, it seems appropriate to highlight a letter Daniel wrote to his sister Annie 100 years ago on 13th July 1918 where we can see this was not far from his thoughts. On the second page he mentions that the ‘Glasgow Fair is on so I do not see why we out here should not have our little holiday as well’.  He then proceeds to detail the recent company sports day that was held, which had gone very well for him:
‘We had company sports the other day & I got one or two events. I got first in the 220 yds race & was a member of the winning team in the relay race, I myself running in the last 220 yds & getting in first. I got second in the 100 yds, but feel confident I could have got first had the start been fairer. I also got third in the long jump, just going in for fun, & never having attempted it before.’ 
He does however mention that ‘So far we have had no prizes’  and jokes that he had better stop these or be accused a cheat.
This letter has an optimistic tone, with the company at that time having moved away from the front. A minor complaint about a cut on his finger making it difficult to write is brushed aside as he writes ‘still what does that matter when we have no prospect of the trenches before us for some time.’ 
Daniel would have another six months to go before demobilization. In October he tells his mother about a close escape he had from some action, unlike the rest of his section:
‘You see they were going over the top just at the very hour I left them…I was extremely lucky. Nearly all my section got slightly wounded & all good soldiers every one.’ 
By this time rumours that the war was to end were circulating:
‘We are all frightfully alert as regards peace news just now & the feeling here is that it may come at any moment. The popular belief of us on this course is that we will see no more fighting as it will be over before we return… I expect everyone at home too will be on pins & needles as regards the news.’ 
Writing to his mother in December 1918 following the Armistice of 11 November, Daniel’s thoughts have turned to future life beyond the war. He ask his mother to make enquiries on his behalf following reports he saw in the newspapers ‘that students were in the same position as men who had jobs awaiting them that is the men who would go first’  potentially after Christmas.
By this time his section had moved from France to Belgium and indeed just after Christmas on the 13 Jan 1919 he got the good news, as relayed to his mother:
‘This, I hope, is the last letter I will write to you from Belgium… I received yesterday a call to the orderly room I guessed pretty well what the reason was… when I got to the orderly room I was informed that I was for demobilization. Yesterday I had my papers signed, today I see the C/O and tomorrow I expect to hike the homeward trail & very nice too. Do not be surprised then if I am some time on the road. Travelling is very slow…. The fastest part of the journey, according the letters from those already demobilized is from London to Glasgow’ 
He ends this letter by asking her to ‘hunt out the “civvies”!’  That same year Daniel went on to study Medicine at Glasgow University, graduating in 1924. He continued to practice medicine as a GP until he retired in 1966.
There are many more letters in the collection to explore, along with postcards, photographs, telegrams and official army correspondence. You can find the updated catalogue here: https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/glaas/data/gb248-dc179
Read more WW1 related content on the University of Glasgow Library’s Blog:
‘Dear Mother, just a note to inform you that I have seen the war through safely’
by Kimberly Beasley.
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By Hamish Ross, Author of ‘Archie Bowman: Foot Soldier, German PoW & League of Nations Man’, 2018
When C Company 10/11 HLI was given the order to surrender, Lieutenant Archie Bowman found it hard to take: ‘My vote was cast for a fight to the finish, but Mr Cuthbertson who was in command ordered the surrender. I do not blame him. He is a splendid fellow, and was wounded in two places. But to me the act of surrender was almost unendurable.’
So swift was the enemy advance at the battle of the Lys on 9 April 1918 that their haul of prisoners had to suffer a two-march to reach a railhead to be transported to prison camps in Germany. The pace of the long file of prisoners was slow because of the wounded; it looked like a huge funeral procession, only, Bowman wrote, they ‘left behind the dying and the dead.’
By Florence Dall, Archives Assistant (Graduate Trainee), NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Archives.
On this day 1918 Thomas Gemmell, a Second Lieutenant of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and a dental student, died a Prisoner of War in a German hospital. Thomas, born in Stirling, joined the Glasgow Dental Hospital and School in October of 1915 to undertake a two year diploma course that involved observing and then completing a number of supervised dental treatments on patients who in return received free or cheap dental care. The school, established 1879, was run independently from the University of Glasgow between 1885-1945. It was situated on Renfrew Street opposite the Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh building from 1903-1931. Lectures were provided on a voluntary basis by the hospital staff and the student body was just 58 at the end of 1914, which was an all-time high for the independent school.
By Petros Aronis, Student in History of Art, University of Glasgow.
Today is the 100th Anniversary of the start of the German Spring Offensive, known in German as ‘Die Kaiserslacht’ or the ‘Kaiser’s Battle’ which took place on the Western Front during the First World War. University of Glasgow Archives and Special Collections have created an Instagram account to honor a very important graduate and lecturer of University of Glasgow: Archibald Allan Bowman. During the Spring Offensive, Bowman was captured by Germans and wrote dozens of letters home to his wife while living in a prisoner of war camp in Germany. These letters give a great insight into the struggles of prisoners and how their families were affected during the difficult time of war. The Archives have decided to publish these letters on the Instagram account @lettersfromaprisonerofwar on the 100th anniversary of the day they were sent. The first letter will be published on the 5th of April 2018 and the last on the 20th of December 2018. This blog post serves as an introduction to the project and elaborates on Bowman’s life before the War and the incredible circumstances of his capture.
By Euan Loarridge, Blog Editor, University of Glasgow Great War Project
On May 16th 2017, the one hundred year anniversary of the end of the Battle of Arras, the University of Glasgow hosted an evening of talks discussing the events and impact of the battle. The keynote was delivered by Professor Tony Pollard of the University’s Centre for Battlefield Archaeology and the principal investigator for the Great War Project. Professor Pollard’s talk focused on the impact of the battle on the University community, featuring a statistical analysis of the university’s casualties. This statistical analysis was repeated later in the year for the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele). This blog post focuses on these statistics and what they tell us about the University’s contribution to the major battles of 1917.