We are approaching the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Already there are war documentaries on TV, and events and exhibitions are being planned to mark the four years of industrial-scale carnage, as the great European-based empires locked horns. It resulted in a death toll of millions, the likes of which had never previously been known. While it is rightly labelled a world war, it is perhaps at the local scale that we can best connect with the impact the war had on the lives of ordinary people. With this in mind the Museum of Abernethy put on an exhibition last May showing the impact of the war on our parish. Many communities up and down the land will be unearthing WW1 memorabilia for similar projects. I write this by way of a progress report on the museum’s WW1 project. I must stress that we do not consider the display as shown last year to be the final and definitive word on Abernethy 1914-18.
In some shape or form it will stay on view for the next four years. Additions and adaptations will be made if more artefacts and information come to light. So I make a plea for help in the following areas:-
Photographs. We want to build up as complete a set of pictures as possible of the young men of the parish who fought in the war. This will form an album. Photos will be scanned and the originals returned. Also we have in the museum a batch of WW1 photos of people whose names we do not know. Help us to identify them if you can.
The War Dead. Thirty men of the parish died serving their country. Their names are on the war memorial. We have information relating to most of them, though not all. Some of them may have had only a brief connection with the parish as farm servants. However we have an album entitled Abernethy’s War Dead and it would only be fitting to make this as comprehensive a record as we can manage, one century on.
Roll of Honour. Some years ago David Monteith gave us an artistically penned roll of honour listing all the Abernethy men in uniform. I later came upon a news item from the People’s Journal about a fundraising sale of work. The report, headed Comforts for Abernethy Soldiers stated that “One of the attractions of the sale was a beautifully executed roll of honour for the parish, designed and presented by Mr Arbuckle, Bridge of Earn. Copies of the roll were on sale and realised over £7.” The total raised was £92. There are 125 men named on the roll. I assume that this is the same roll of honour that we now have. Since the report was written on 30/9/1916, there was obviously time for quite a few more conscripts to be absorbed into the war machine before hostilities ended in Nov. 1918. So if you examine this listing in the museum and know of anyone who should be added to this list do let us know names and details. Again we want to compile as complete a database as we can, ideally including everyone who took part. While we mourn and respect those who died we should also try our best to follow up the life stories of those who survived. How did the war affect them and their families? I am sure there are many anecdotes that relatives of survivors could still tell. Incidentally there is one solitary woman listed on the roll of honour, Nurse Dixon. It would be good to have her story.
Artefacts. Of course we are still interested in any artefacts which relate to the war, though with limited space we would not necessarily show duplicates of any items already on display.
The present display covers the following themes:-
Some Abernethy Servicemen:
Belgians and Serbs in Abernethy:
Life on the Home Front:
Awards for Gallantry:
The Lieut G.R. Clow Collection:
The War Memorial.
There are also nine loose leaf albums or files which contain images and text. More work will be done on these.
The titles are:
Abernethy’s War Dead
Abernethy Service men: a database
Abernethy Servicemen: a Photographic Record
Abernethy School in the Great War
The Town Council of Abernethy (1914-1919)
Local Press Articles on Abernethy (1914-1919)
The War Memorial of Abernethy
A Great War Scrapbook
Lieut G.R. Clow, an Abernethy Officer
Call along to the museum on a Tuesday if you have items to show us, or call the museum on 01738 850 889, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Over the next few issues, if the editor agrees, we may include some more snippets from the local press coverage of the war years; tales of gallantry, of local black marketeering, of foreigners in our midst, and more. The museum opens for the new season in early May.