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East Lothian World War One Memorial Database

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved,

But now we lie in Flanders’ Fields.”

(Verse excerpt from John McCrae’s ‘In Flanders’ Fields’)

Postcard showing Tranent war memorial (1920s)

Postcard showing Tranent war memorial (1920s)

            World War One (WW1) and its effect on the lives of those who fought in and lived through it can be remembered in several ways – via printed, visual and oral records; through  relics of the war; and at locations associated with the conflict itself. One common way of  commemorating the events and the casualties of the Great War was through raising war memorials. Marking the participation and preserving the memory of individuals involved in WW1 was one of the main focuses of the early 1920s. This practice marked a cultural shift in how nations commemorated conflicts. Communities built civic memorials, national monuments, cemeteries, and private cenotaphs. Other practical designs such as halls and parks were also built to honour and remember those involved in the conflict.

There are many types of memorials to WW1. Official and private memorials can be found on the battlefields and in the home nations of those who served. Rolls of Honour highlighting military units or individuals were put up in factories, clubs, schools and universities, as well as inserted in church windows. The lists of names also varied in size: there are nine names listed on Bolton’s memorial; 54,896 names are inscribed on the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium.

Commonwealth war grave stones

            Most WW1 memorials in East Lothian were built between 1920 to 1924. They were commissioned through local institutions, which relied heavily on local charitable contributions to fund the costs of construction. Almost all the memorials in East Lothian were formally inaugurated or unveiled in public ceremonies and these were well attended equally by families, church officials, local landowners and other members of the local community. These inaugurations were featured in the Haddingtonshire Courier.

Haddingtonshire Courier article on Garvald World War One Memorial

Haddingtonshire Courier article on Garvald War Memorial

Our Archive & Local History project aimed at producing and publishing a comprehensive database listing all the names of service personnel on all the memorials located in East Lothian onto the John Gray Centre website began in 2013, as part of the 100 year commemoration of the Great War. Information in the East Lothian World War One Memorial Database has been derived from a variety of sources. These included extracts compiled by the late John Steele, the Haddingtonshire Courier, the short lived North Berwick Advertiser, the Musselburgh News, the Scottish War Memorials Project online, the Scottish National War Memorial Roll Search website, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, and several monumental inscription publications by the Scottish Genealogy Society as well as the work of other East Lothian based researchers who focussed on particular war memorials. Entries and articles from the newspapers mentioned above can be accessed at the Local History Department of the John Gray Centre while all other sources are also easily viewed online.

About the Database

Memorial Database on Excel spreadsheet

Memorial Database on Excel spreadsheet

            The names of the service personnel are listed alphabetically and according to parish and specific memorial. The inauguration date of each memorial is also listed. For each soldier listed on the memorials, our database provides the following information: rank; regiment; death date; obituary or death announcement in the Haddingtonshire Courier or Musselburgh News; awards or medals; and grave location or individual memorial site. The database also indicates if there is an image available and other miscellaneous notes relating to a particular individual. Images can be viewed in the Local History Department.

            One interesting discovery made in the process of researching for this database was that some individuals are remembered on more than one memorial, located in different parishes. This is to mark place of birth; residence; another family association; school; church or club. More commonly, a soldier is named on more than one memorial in his village or town, as, for instance, in the case of memorials in Dunbar, Haddington, North Berwick and Tranent.

            Another notable element is that most of the memorials only feature the names of service personnel who fell in the Great War whereas a few others highlight the names of all those who served and are associated with the particular village, town, or school. In the whole database, only the names of five women made it onto respective memorials. They are: Sister Violet Fraser (Dunbar Burgh Memorial), Nurse Helen B. Wood (Musselburgh Northesk Church), C. Tunnard, Theophilia Laidley or Theo Laidlaw, and Lady Cecily Baillie-Hamilton (all on the Whitekirk Church Roll of Honour).

WW1 postcard (Jack Tully-Jackson Image Collection)

WW1 postcard (Jack Tully-Jackson Image Collection)

It must also be stressed that some of the details on respective individuals are incomplete because of a simple lack of information. However, this may be rectified in the future if further details can be retrieved if information emerges, or if family members come forward with personal information. We, therefore, welcome any contribution, additional information and even amendments or corrections in order to make the database as complete as possible (please contact Archives & Local History at [email protected] or telephone 01620 820695). More importantly, we hope that the East Lothian World War One Memorial Database proves to be a useful and informative resource for anyone conducting family history or military history research relating to East Lothian and World War One.

images of poppies

You can access a transcription of the database via this series of pages – World War One Memorials.

10 thoughts on “East Lothian World War One Memorial Database”

  1. Adrienne Webb says:

    Hello, I am researching my GG-Uncle Private John Moran who is on this memorial.
    d. October 1917.
    Have you come across any information?

    Warm regards,

    Adrienne Webb

    1. HanitaR says:

      Hi Adrienne,
      Thank you for your enquiry. If you look at our webpage outlining the names of those on the Dirleton WW1 memorial, you will see that there is a newspaper entry (Haddingtonshire Courier) about John Moran dated 28/7/1916. There is also a reference booklet, with some info on those named on the memorial, in our reference library. If possible, you are most welcome to come in to our Centre to view these resources. Additionally, you could also look up the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for more information. Hope this information helps. Do get back to us at [email protected] if you have any further questions. Best Wishes.

      1. Adrienne Webb says:

        Many thanks, Hanita! I have trip planned for later this summer to various spots of family history note, and East Lothian is on the list. I hope to visit the center, and the church at that time. Warm Regards, Adrienne

  2. shaun mcarthur says:

    looking for info on Private Robert W Cartwright

    1. FrancesW says:

      Please get in touch with us at [email protected] and we will do our best to help. It would be helpful of you could provide some further information such his dates of birth/death and which regiment he served with.
      best wishes,

    2. HanitaR says:

      Dear Mr McArthur,
      If the Private Cartwright you are looking for was from Tranent, then his regiment details and date of death are on our Tranent WW1 memorial page at this link
      There is a mention of his death in the Haddingtonshire Courier and he is commemorated/buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium. You are very welcome to visit our Centre to view the obituary on microfilm. Otherwise, as my colleague pointed out previously, email us at [email protected] for further assistance. Thank you.

  3. I`m looking for info on a Spott Roll of Honour soldier called gunner Andrew Bruce who served with the Royal Field Artillery (Ind T????? Compy) but have no idea what is in the brackets.As a member of Spott Kirk and an Aden veteran I`m interested in this Roll of Honour of all who served and most came home. This ROH is held within Spott Church framed and hanging on the wall and not everyone is on the memorial outside. LEST WE FORGET…

    1. HanitaR says:

      Dear Mr Carruthers,
      Thank you for your enquiry. I’m afraid we too cannot locate the information and have yet not been able to access the ROH in the church. If you have any further information or questions, please email us at [email protected]. Best Wishes.

  4. Mr ian allan says:

    Dear Sir/Madam

    Last Year in the month of July I came through to the John Gray Centre re my Great Uncle
    David Baird was born in Tranent and who died in the Ist World War. His name being inscribed on the memorial in Tranent Town Centre. I supplied you with all the relevant information as to his date of Birth and who his parents were. I was told that your database re individuals killed in the WW1 would be updated with all the relevant information that I provided. Todate this has not been done as it still shows his dob and parents details as unknown. Please can you advise me why the delay in the update of your database.
    I am sure he would liked to have been recognised in his home town as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records have been updated.

    Mr Ian Allan.

    1. HanitaR says:

      Dear Mr Allan,
      Thank you for getting in touch and for pointing this out to us. A reply has been sent to your email address. Please accept our sincere apologies for this delay. Thank you again for your comment.

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