Next of Kin is now open at its third venue, Hawick Museum. Alongside the core material from National Museums Scotland, the display features a number of stories revealing the huge impact the war had on communities in the Scottish Borders.
One case tells the wartime experiences of Walter Barrie, who 100 years ago this month travelled to Salonika to serve with the Lothians and Border Horse as a part-time corporal. While there he bought souvenirs to send home to his mother in Newcastleton. He later went on to serve as a lieutenant in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers on the Western Front and was killed in action at the Battle of Messines in June 1917. Some of the crafts he had collected in Salonika were on display in Hawick Museum at the time. Philip Murray, great-nephew of Barrie, was at the opening to see the collection on display.
Another collection of objects documents the experiences of the Wilson family. Tom Wilson, a civil engineer, enlisted with the 7th Battalion King’s African Rifles to fight in German East Africa. On 17 June 1917 his family received a telegram announcing that Tom had been killed by a sniper. They later received a letter saying that “the Germans left a note on his body apologising for not burying him as they had no time.”
Further displays on the ground floor include a collection relating to the amazing travels of Mary Lee Milne. Mary spent more than two years in Southern Russia in service with the Scottish Women’s Hospital. She worked as the unit’s cook until they were forced to retreat due to the deteriorating conditions.
The displays were opened by Councillor Watson McAteer (Hawick and Denholm) in a themed opening event with members of the Lowland Regiments Living History group, Scots in the Great War. In addition to exploring stories, visitors were shown the kit and weapons used on the front lines by local regiments, bringing to life their daily experiences and combat.
Hawick Museum will be hosting an exciting programme of First World War events and handling activities during the exhibition. This includes a free talk on the role of Border’s servicemen on the Gallipoli fighting front and handling object sessions with local scouts, cadets and a creative writing group. Please see the NMS website for further details.