Project Team: Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery

Project Title: Glasgow West War Story

Through the "Glasgow West War Story", the Hunterian Museum will be organising a series of events in order to gather and record stories from local people who served in World War II and subsequent conflicts. There will be interview sessions with veterans, visits to local sites connected to the war and interactive workshops creating an unrivalled anthology for use by local schools, young people and amateur historians. The Hunterian will approach older alumni of University of Glasgow to record their personal stories of the war. In addition, five local secondary schools, with strong links to the University and the Officer Training Corps, will also be involved in collecting accounts of veterans' experiences.

Exhibitions in this Project:


Evacuation Overseas: Doris Gordon's story

With the threat of war imminent the British government made preparations for the evacuation of children from cities and built up areas likely to be the target of German air attacks to safer areas in the countryside. However, with the surrender of France to Germany in June 1940, Britain feared an invasion by the Germans. Plans to evacuate children overseas were made. The Children Overseas Reception Board (CORB) was established to co-ordinate the evacuation. Evacuation overseas was voluntary and parents could register their children aged between five and sixteen for the scheme. Children were sent to live with families in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, where they would remain until after the war had ended whilst their parents stayed at home in Britain. Not only did evacuation overseas mean that children were separated from their families, they also faced long voyages and the risk of being attacked by German submarines. On the 17th September 1940 the ship SS City of Benares was sunk by a submarine U-48 on its way to Canada. Of those onboard 77 children died. The news devastated those back in Britain and the overseas evacuation scheme was stopped shortly afterwards. This exhibition tells the story of Doris Aitchson Gordon who was evacuated to Canada in 1940 to live with her aunt and uncle in Oshawa. view project


Armed Forces: the Royal Navy

During World War II men were recruited into the Royal Navy in a variety of roles. These roles included: seamen, signalmen and telegraphists; stokers; engine-room, electrical and ordnance artificers; shipwrights; blacksmiths, joiners, painters and plumbers; air fitters, air riggers and air mechanics; sick berth ratings; writer and supply ratings; officers’ stewards; and cooks. Throughout the war the Royal Navy helped defend Britain’s supplies of food, raw materials and weapons. This exhibition recalls the experiences of Mr Maclean who joined the Royal Navy in 1945 just before the end of the war. Mr Maclean was a boy during the war. He was evacuated to Whitefields shortly after the outbreak of the war and later returned home to Glasgow in 19--. He joined Glasgow University Naval Division when he was – and went on to spend three years in the Royal Navy. On his release of service from the Navy in 1948 he began a degree in Electronic Engineering at Glasgow University graduating with a BSc in 1953. Mr Maclean has fond memories of his time in the Royal Navy but visiting countries such as Japan post-war he also witnessed first-hand the devastation caused by war. view project


Training for War

Training for students intending on joining the H.M Forces has been provided at the university since 1909 with the establishment of the Glasgow University Contingent of the Senior Division of the Officers’ Training Corps. A university Air Squadron was established in 1941, and a Naval Division the following year. During World War II many students enrolled in one of the university training branches and experienced active service in all theatres of war. This exhibtion recalls the expreiences of Mr Maclean who volunteered to join the University Naval Division in 1945 just after leaving school, and Dr Pow who joined the Officer Training Corps whilst studying for his degree in Medicine at the university. view project


Wartime Production: Morris Furniture company and the War Effort

Wartime production in Britain was crucial to the performance of the allied forced during World War II. The normal productions of many factories were suspended as skills and resources were focussed on the war effort. This exhibition explores the work of Glasgow based Morris Furniture Company, who converted their premises and machinery during the war to make rifle and aeroplane parts. Historian Charles Mackay talks about the company’s contribution to the war effort. view project


School Evacuation: Laurel Bank

On the morning of September 1st, 1939 the pupils of Laurel Bank School were evacuated to Auchterarder House and Strathallan Castle. The senior girls at Laurel Bank were taken to Auchterarder House, a large country house on the outskirts of Auchterarder, owned by James Reid. The junior girls were taken to Strathallan Castle, the home of Sir James and Lady Roberts and family. On the morning of the evacuation, a bus took the pupils from Laurel Bank to the station to board a train to Gleneagles where there were coaches waiting to take them to Auchterarder House and Strathallan Castle. The girls wore identity labels with their name and address around their necks. They carried gas masks and a small suitcase. The station was full of children from other schools also waiting to be taken out of Glasgow. In this exhibition three former Laurel Bank pupils share their memories of being evacuated. view project


Home Life during World War II

During World War II people at home in Britain had to adjust to many changes to their daily lives. Rationing of food and clothes was introduced shortly after the outbreak of the war, windows had to be covered during the blackout, and people had to live with the threat of enemy attacks and bombing. Home life was particularly hard for those who had family members serving in the war or who were separated from their families in the evacuation scheme. During the war entertainment such as the cinema and the dancehalls helped people try to live as normal life as possible. This exhibition features the reminiscences’ of Mrs MacGregor, Dr Ross, and Mrs Donaldson who explain the impact war had on life at home in Scotland. view project


Health and Housing in Postwar Glasgow

The aftermath of World War II brought many changes to the provisions for health care and housing in Britain. As cities repaired their war damaged buildings, plans for new housing developments were also put into action creating improved living conditions for those previously housed in the overcrowded inner city areas. New housing was seen as the solution to preventing the spread of disease caused by overcrowding and rundown housing before the war. Perhaps the greatest improvements to living conditions came in 1948 with the establishment of the National Health Service (NHS) providing free access to health care for everyone. This exhibition explores the improvements to post war health and housing through the reminiscences of three Glasgow doctors: Dr Ross, Professor Grist and Dr Fairlie. view project


Evacuees in Scotland

With the threat of war imminent the British government made preparations for the evacuation of children, teachers and mothers with children under the age of five from cities and built up areas likely to be the target of German air attacks to safer areas in the countryside. Evacuation was voluntary and parents could register if they wanted their children to be part of the scheme. By the outbreak of the war more than 1.5 million people had been evacuated; it was the largest migration of people within the country in British history. Many parents decided to bring their children home as Scotland was not being heavily bombed. However, with the start of the blitz in Britain many people sent their children away again to areas at less risk from bombing. view project


Memories, memorials and the University of Glasgow Chapel

After World War II, the University of Glasgow sought to provide a tribute to the memory of its students, staff and graduates who died in active service. This exhibition explores how the fallen are remembered at the University. It includes an interview with the current Chaplain to the University, Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie, together with accounts and memories of the war written by students at the time.view project