Appeal for public to help remember the Great War

Owned by Helensburgh Town Council, in 1914 Hermitage House became a military hospital with capacity for 58 patients.
Owned by Helensburgh Town Council, in 1914 Hermitage House became a military hospital with capacity for 58 patients.

An exhibition about the Helensburgh House Auxiliary Hospital in Helensburgh is being planned to mark the centenary of World War One.

It is just one of the events being planned between now and 1918, with Argyll and Bute Council calling for community support in pulling together an ‘extensive and unique series of exhibitions’.

The authority’s libraries and information service will collect material relating to local people and communities affected by the war, aiming to form a comprehensive record of its impact on people and communities.

The wounded men in their blue uniforms were a familiar sight in the town.This photo was taken by Helensburgh lamplighter Edward Graham, and supplied to the town's heritage trust by hsi grandson Ian MacQuire
The wounded men in their blue uniforms were a familiar sight in the town.This photo was taken by Helensburgh lamplighter Edward Graham, and supplied to the town’s heritage trust by his grandson Ian MacQuire

The council is appealing for volunteers who can spare the time to collect and research information from local war memorials, rolls of honour and wartime services such as auxiliary hospitals.

And it has also appealed for help from people who are willing to share family photographs, stories, diaries, medals, documents and other memorabilia including homecomings.

“There should be no concerns or worries about these items being given permanently – originals will be scanned or photographed and returned,” said a spokesperson.

“The type of information, collated and presented, will help to decide the content of a series of exhibitions to feature in libraries until 2018.”

Included in these will be an exhibition about the Hermitage House Auxiliary Hospital in Helensburgh Library in October this year, marking the centenary of its opening.

An exhibition about the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (8th battalion) will visit main branch libraries next year

And plans are also in place to prepare an exhibition about the sinking of the troopship HMS Otranto off Islay, with the loss of 431 lives, to mark the anniversary in 2018.

Anyone willing to help should talk to staff at their local library (except in Cove, where the library is run by the community), or contact Eleanor McKay on 01369 708663, email Eleanor.mckay@argyll-bute.gov.uk

The photographs here are reproduced with the kind permission of Helensburgh Heritage Trust – more pictures and information about the auxiliary hospital are available on the trust’s website.

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