It’s about saving stories…

In this blog post, Kayleigh Scott, Collections Intern at Dumfries Museum, talks about their diverse and unusual collections providing an insight into the local regiments of the first World War:

Everyone knows something about World War One; it is regularly taught in schools and is written about in books and on the internet but it is an event that now only really lives in the history books. Next of Kin, however, is an exhibition which is aiming to hold onto the human element of World War One. On display are stories and objects from the War that have been kept by the families of those who served.

I have been working at Dumfries Museum since September 2013 as a Collections Intern and one of my ongoing projects has been to inventory and catalogue the World War One collection. For me, this has helped to bring the War to life in a new way; through the people who served and their objects, the things they chose to save from that time, it’s the personal touch. I have come across objects I expected to see; medals, certificates and photographs, but I have also handled diaries, pieces of trench art including a crucifix made from bullet casings, and even a tortoise shell we suspect was once the mascot of a regiment of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. I find it a real privilege that I can handle these objects and it’s fascinating trying to piece together stories that are, unfortunately, incomplete.

One such story which has captured the imagination of the entire Collections team at Dumfries Museum is that of the mystery tablecloth….

Embroidered white cloth, Sanquhar Tolbooth Museum

Embroidered white cloth, Sanquhar Tolbooth Museum

Discovered in the stores of Sanquhar Tolbooth Museum, was a white cloth with the names of 58 men and their regiments either embroidered on or written in pencil. The Museum had no provenance for the cloth. After researching some of the regiments we managed to confirm that the cloth dated from the First World War, but who produced the cloth, and why? Who were these men and what connected them? In an attempt to answer these questions we began looking into some of the individual names. Using online resources, five of the men were identified and all had a link to Sanquhar, except no connection was quite the same. One man, Lance Corporal John Carrington, spent some time at a local Auxiliary Hospital, Eliock House. Private John Mushet, was born and raised in Sanquhar. Norman T Williamson’s father came from Sanquhar. Sergeant Major William Frederick Hyne spent some time at Sanquhar War Home and Corporal Alexander Laurie Inglis lived in Sanquhar with his family. Therefore the cloth remains a mystery but with luck, maybe someone will be able to provide the vital clue one day. For now, it remains an intriguing memento which has worked to ensure that the names it features have not been lost.

One of the fantastic things about Next of Kin however, is that it centres on the stories we do have, and concentrates on collecting and sharing them before they are lost to time. We have been able to involve members of the public who have kindly loaned or donated objects to the museum and they have told us their fascinating family stories. But we have also rediscovered some of the people hidden in the depths of the Museum’s records.

Looking at the bigger picture, the significant battles and events of World War One will remain in the history books indefinitely and the sacrifices made by those who served and those who contributed at home will not be forgotten. But to truly appreciate what people went through during the War and to really capture these experiences, we need to hold onto the human element and we need to remember individuals and their personal experiences of the War.

Below is the full list of names transcribed from the tablecloth at Sanquhar Tolbooth Museum:

Cpl F Holland, 8th MANtr Regt

Pte W Kelly 1st L[…] Lancs

Pte J Cowan MT ASC

Sgt P WEAVEN, 37th BATT’N, AUSTRALIAN INF

Sert AR Ramsay, 1st KOSB

PTE J Melham, 4th Durham LI

Pte J Rice, 1st Staffords

PTE Wilkinson, 19th MAN RGT

PTE WM LOVE, 7th BLACK WATCH

B[…] W Hunter, RFA

Pte E L Tate 1/4 Hants

Pte S Mills, 5th Conn[…] Rangers

Sgt E Letoon, 6th Royal Scots Fusiliers

L/Cpl A Mitchell, 4th Gordons, DCM

Pte John Mushet, 1/5 KOSB

Pte R Jannette, 12th HLI

Sapr John Alderson, 9th Fd? Coy RI

Pte F Oakes, 13th Durham L Infty

G[…] M Roberts, A/ 64th Brigade RFA

H Brady, D/113 Brigade, RFA

Pte W Wood, 8th Yorks

L/Copl W Wilson, 8th Gordons

Lcpl John Carrington, No 20323 8th Bedfords

Sergt W Kay, 9th Seaforths

G Elvears, Northld Hussairs

N T Williamson, Surgeon Prob. HMS Stag

L/Cpl J S Waugh, Lannock Yeomanry

CPP T Fargin, 1st Kings L.pool

Sgt A J Hall, M G C

Pte F Fraser, 20th Lan Fus

Pte C R Reeve, A S C M T

PTE G F J Burley, 91st F A, R A M C

14?85 Pte A Seaton, 9th Reln? Fus

1007 Sgt H O Hawes, 2/10th Middlesex Regt

Pte A Morris, 95th F A, R A M C

Sgt Major W F Hyne, KOSB

Pte J Cunningham, 9th Seaforths

Pte R McPhail, 1st Royal Scots

Pte C Barron, 2nd KOSB

Prte? F Langstaff, 12th? W Y K S Leeds

Sgt Major W F Hyne

E R A:R D WOOD, H M B T. 80, GPO

Cpl A Inglis, A S C

Pte G H Bowker, 24th Manchesters

D H Smith, Canada

? Gregory,? HLI

? R Ba[…], M T A S C

Gordon J Miller, Canadians

Sgt Major A D Wilson, Alberta, Canada

Pte W Moodie, 9th Royal Scots

Cpl C Kidd, 158 Bge Rfa

Pte J Palmer, 1st Camerons

L Cpl M Burns, 2nd Gordons

Sgt G Taylor, 1st Cheshires

L/Cpl J Fox, 16th R Warwicks

Pte W INGLIS, 1ST KOSB

Pte R Taylor, Scottish Rifles

Pte S Streets, 10th Notts & Derby

 

Kayleigh Scott Collections Intern Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura Dumfries and Galloway Council

http://www.dumfriesmuseum.com

http://www.dumgal.gov.uk

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