January Highlight - University of Aberdeen: Roll of Service in the Great War 1914-1919

January Highlight - University of Aberdeen: Roll of Service in the Great War 1914-1919

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. It was based on the four provisional rolls of service compiled by the Principal Sir George Adam Smith during the war and published in the Aberdeen University Review.

Divided into two parts, the In Memoriam Roll and the Roll of Service, Allardyce worked under the direction of the War Memorial Record Sub-Committee, formed in January 1919, which included P.J. Anderson, University Librarian and Theodore Watt, printer and publisher. She was aided in her work by a number of assistants, and biographical information was provided by a number of professors as well as the Principal.

In his foreword to the Roll of Service, the Principal recorded that the fuller biographies included in the In Memoriam section of the volume were the “pious work of many hands and hearts – of relatives, of comrades, of teachers, and of company and battalion officers”.

The In Memoriam Roll

The In Memoriam Roll contains the names of the 341 men from the University who lost their lives during the war and includes, in the majority of cases, a photograph and short biography of each individual. The biographies were written by close relatives and friends, or were compiled from accounts considered reliable. They appear in the book in chronological order according to the date of death, “so that the names of those who fell side by side stand together on the printed page”.

The second part of the volume contains the names of 2,852 graduates, alumni and students who served during the war in the army, navy or air force or who contributed to the war effort in some other way. Each service record was supplied in most cases by the individual in question and subsequently edited to provide a degree of uniformity. Two appendices were also included: the names of officials and staff of the University who played a part in the war and the names of civilian prisoners of war.

Mabel Desborough Allardyce ( -1933), local historian and cataloguer, was the eldest daughter of Colonel James Allardyce. He was awarded an honorary LL.D. from Aberdeen University in 1895 in recognition of his work as an antiquary, and his daughter assisted him in this, building up a wide knowledge of Aberdeen and the history of the North-East. She arranged and catalogued the libraries of Aberdeen Grammar School and the Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society, and provided indexes for J. F. Kellas Johnstone’s 'Bibliographia Aberdonensis'. In addition to compiling the Roll of Service her work for the University of Aberdeen included indexing a poll book of 1696 and cataloguing the important MacBean collection of Jacobite memorabilia and James Beattie’s papers.

The Roll of Service is now available to search from the home page in conjunction with the names of those killed during the Second World War, recorded in the Book of Remembrance published in 1952. Unlike the Roll of Service for the First World War this did not list the names of all those who served.