Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery

Through the "Glasgow West War Story", the Hunterian Museum organised a series of events, between September 2008 and November 2009, in order to gather and record stories from local people who served in World War II and subsequent conflicts. There were 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 approached 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, were also involved in collecting accounts of veterans' experiences.

In Partick, clergy and parishioners from the famous St. Simon's RC Church, known locally as the Polish Church on account of the large number of Polish World War II servicemen who worshipped there whilst based in the Glasgow area, were invited to take part. The historic association with the Polish troops, many of who settled in Glasgow after the war, provided a rich seam of stories and reminiscences.

In addition, other themes explored included:

  • 'Factories and Wartime Production' - recalling the manufacture of military optical systems such as periscopes and rangefinders
  • 'Friend and Foe' - investigating relationships between the local populations of Italians, Americans, Poles and French
  • 'Medicine' - recording doctors' and nurses' experiences at home and in conflict
  • and 'Memories, Memorials and the University of Glasgow Chapel' - looking at how the fallen are remembered.

Commenting on the initiative in 2008, Lesley Richmond, University of Glasgow's Archivist said: "Receiving this award is a really exciting prospect for all involved. It will enable us to contact so many people from the local community to capture their experiences of Glasgow's West End in wartime and to share their stories with local schools. Completing the project next year will mean Remembrance Day 2009 will be more meaningful than ever before.

"To ensure the complete story is told from a whole range of official and personal viewpoints, we will be combining reminiscences, photographs and letters submitted by West Enders with materials from the University's research collections on the Remembering Scotland At War website. It is sure to be a fascinating resource."

She concluded: "That means we need those with stories to tell, or documents and objects they think we should see, to get in touch. We want to hear from those who saw active service, those who kept the factories and local services going, those who were still in education at that time and the many, many people who came to the area from overseas in that period. Really anyone with a World War II West End connection and something to say, should drop us a line. We can't wait to get started!"


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