Please note: due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak the Centre is currently closed, but our website is still open for business.

War, battles & military

Back Them Up! poster from WW2Like the rest of Scotland, East Lothian’s seen its share of battles and warfare. Situated so close to the English border and to the capital, Edinburgh, and with easy access both from the sea and the land, it’s been a regular target for invaders.

Here you will soon be able to find out about the Siege of Haddington and the part our ancestors played in the Rough Wooing; the two battles of Dunbar, and our role in the English Civil War; the battle of Prestonpans, and our part in the drama and political furore of the Jacobites, among many other tales. In the meantime, explore the Times section of the website to discover some of our historic battlefields.

We have also sent soldiers to war in more recent times, and our collections hold medals, photographs and uniforms from the 19th and 20th centuries. Browse our site to find out more, and visit the exhibition at the John Gray Centre to see some of these objects.

2014 will be the centenary anniversary of the beginning of World War One. We are developing projects, exhibitions and web pages about the consequences of these momentous events on the people and fabric of East Lothian. Let us know if you’d like to be part of this, or would like to work with us on this theme: leave a comment below, or share a story about this topic at Your Stories; or email us if you’d like to find out more.

Alastair Shepherd, local historian, has been working on researching local war memorials, and has produced a very informative website about the memorial at Yester. He’s now starting work on Haddington war memorials – would anyone like to share any information with him about them? He’s particularly interested in the story of Cyril Crozier, the first Haddingtonshire casualty of the war, so do get in touch if you know about this, or would like to.

In the meantime, there are some great resources and helpful tips on researching World War history on the Imperial War Museum’s website.

2 thoughts on “War, battles & military”

  1. Sandy Clark says:

    Dear Sirs,
    I am researching the World War 1 service of my late maternal grandfather William Baillie, one of the family of Public Works Contractors in Haddington.
    William Baillie was called up around 1916 and served as a Sapper in The Royal Engineers being involved in the Battle of Arras. Although he survived the war he suffered the effects of gas inhalation which foreshortened his life; he died in Liberton Hospital in 1939 at the age of 46.
    I would like to find out if he received treatment for his illness at the VAD Auxiliary Hospital in Haddington and if there was any mention of his war service in The Courier at the time.

    Many thanks,
    Sandy Clark

    1. HelenB says:

      Dear Sandy,
      I’ve asked a number of my colleagues here at the centre and I’m afraid that we have found out that we have no records of the VAD Hospital in Haddington.
      As a possible source I’ve attached a link to the Lothian Health Board Archive where you have better luck:
      There was also nothing in our index about William Baillie’s war service.
      I wish you luck in your searching.
      Bill Wilson, Local History Officer

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