Throughout the course of 2014, First World War Centenary, a new collection highlight was added each month, focusing on a particular aspect of the University’s First World War collections or on the subject of the war and its impact on the University.
The Roll of Service, edited by Mabel Desborough Allardyce and published in 1921, was intended as a permanent record of the part played by staff, students and alumni of the University of Aberdeen during the First World War.
Sir Alexander Ogston’s role in the First World War was remarkable for the fact that he was seventy years of age when war broke out. Despite a long and distinguished career as professor of surgery at the University of Aberdeen and his role as a hospital surgeon he was quick to offer his services.
U Company had existed as a unit for 15 years prior to the outbreak of war in 1914, yet its name is synonymous with the First World War and in particular the events of the 25 September 1915.
After World War One, craftsmen and designers were called upon to create fitting memorials to allow the nation to mourn the loss of the fallen. Many war memorials embraced traditional craftsmanship which embodied continuity with the past.
In the summer of 1914, a few weeks before the outbreak of World War One, Aberdeen University Officers' Training Corps (AUOTC) was at its second Annual Camp.
By mid-1915, the flood of volunteers to enlist had dwindled to a mere trickle, as the realities of the war became apparent, so the British Government took the unprecedented step of introducing compulsory military service for able bodied men within a certain age range.
Amongst the collections there is a rather modest notebook of only about 30 pages. This notebook, despite its appearance, is the minute book of the Aberdeen University Peace Society and represents an important chapter in the history of student activism.
Malcolm Vivian Hay had a varied career as an army officer, historian and author, writing in particular on aspects of Scottish history and religion. He inherited the title and estate of Seaton in Old Aberdeen. His experiences during the First World War comprised two very distinct chapters.
As the war raged on, students now serving as soldiers continued to lose their lives; this was the biggest impact on the University, felt across campus by friends, colleagues and staff. Yet despite the increasing realities of war the University remained open, making provisions for students and staff.
Amelia Laws worked as a nurse in hospitals in Italy and France during the war and recorded her experiences in her letters home to her family, describing life in Rome with her aunt and uncle, the effect of the war on transport, communications and rationing, and the treatment of injured servicemen.
A collection of correspondence held in the archives of the Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society provides a fascinating insight into the events surrounding the treatment of Prince Albert, later King George VI, for appendicitis at Aberdeen in September 1914.
The Remembrance Day service has become an important feature of the University calendar, but its origins lie in the national Armistice Day commemorations which took place on the 11 November 1919 at the behest of King George V. Services of remembrance were held at the University throughout the war.
Within a few days of the declaration of war, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary placed an announcement in the Aberdeen Daily Journal to say that until further notice they could admit only emergency and serious cases. It was the beginning of a great period of upheaval for hospitals throughout the north-east.