Next of Kin: Exhibition reveals families' mementoes from World War One

A new exhibition explores the impact of of World War One on thousands of Scots, both in service and back home.

The National War Museum's "Next of Kin" exhibition shows how the war affected them by displaying treasured objects kept by those who served and their families.

The items on display include letters, medals and photographs as well as other, more unusual items.

The exhibition opens at Edinburgh's National War Museum on 18 April. It will stay there until March 2015 when it will go on tour across a number of venues in Scotland until 2017.

Here is a selection of some of the items in the exhibition.

Image copyright National Museums of Scotland

Private William Dick was injured during the Battle of Ypres. A member of the RAMC (Royal Army Medial Corps) wrote to his family assuring them that he was showing "good grit" in spite of a serious wound which had necessitated the amputation of his leg.

Just four days later a letter from a chaplain arrived informing them of his death. The family was sent the above record and photograph of his grave.

Image copyright National Museums of Scotland

After the war, every serviceman who lost their life was commemorated in the form of a memorial plaque, issued by the government to their next of kin. This one was for George Buchanan of the Seaforth Highlanders, who was killed in action on the first day of the battle of Loos, 25 September 1915, aged 27.

Each plaque was individually named. It was decided that no ranks or service units would be shown. Each life lost was represented as being of equal value.

Image copyright National Museums of Scotland

Midshipman (later to become Rear-Admiral) Robert Dickson picked this Turkish shrapnel shell out of the sea from a small boat near "ANZAC Beach", Gallipoli in April 1915. He kept the "near miss" as a souvenir.

He was also in action at Jutland, as was Archibald, his younger brother. Robert survived the conflict, but Archibald, aged 16, was killed when his ship HMS Queen Mary was destroyed 38 minutes into the battle with the loss of 1,266 lives.

Image copyright National Museums of Scotland

Archibald Sneddon bought this model tank, made by a German prisoner of war, in Scotland while still on home service. When conscription was introduced in 1916 Sneddon was initially exempt because he worked in an engineering factory in Coatbridge.

As the need for military manpower grew, he became liable for military service. He survived the conflict and emigrated with his wife Hilda to the USA in 1923.

Image copyright National Museums of Scotland

With radio and telephony in their infancy, letters and postcards were the most common form of communication between those serving and their next of kin. Telegraphs were quicker, but beyond the means of most servicemen, meaning that their arrival was usually a signal of official news, more often than not bad news.

This example comes not from the front, but is an update from one of Britain's worst ever rail disasters. On 22 May 1915, more than 200 servicemen of the Leith-based 7th Battalion of the Royal Scots lost their lives at Gretna, still on the first leg of a journey which was supposed to take them to Gallipoli.

This telegram advises the Baillie family that Andrew remains unaccounted for following the crash. It was sent by his company commander Lieutenant GW Haws.

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