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