Fascinating historical records featuring the admissions registers of soldiers cared for by Veterans’ Charity Erskine after the First World War has gone online, it was announced today (Thursday 8th March).
Erskine partnered with the University of Glasgow to catalogue and preserve the records of Erskine Hospital in Renfrewshire.
Erskine took these digitised records and incorporated them into an online and fully searchable resource on their website.
Erskine Hospital – then called the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers – was set up in 1916 to treat soldiers who had suffered the loss of a limb during the war.
Erskine Chief Executive Steve Conway said: “The details of every soldier and sailor admitted to The Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers during the First World War were recorded in leather bound books which included the nature of their injury, where they were serving when injured and their unit, so we have a fascinating insight into the history of the patients admitted to the hospital. We can also see that many had return visits for treatment or the fitting of artificial limbs as their wounds healed. We are delighted that, thanks to the painstaking work by the University, relatives can now research our records about members of their families injured in the First World War from the comfort of their own home.”
The creation of the hospital was driven by Sir William Macewen, one of Scotland’s most pre-eminent surgeons. He was also Regius Professor of Surgery at the University from 1892 to 1924.
The Erskine/University partnership to digitalise the hospital admissions is the result of research into Sir William Macewen’s connections with Erskine by Professor Tony Pollard.
Professor Pollard, the University’s Professor of Conflict History and Archaeology, said: “The Erskine records are quite remarkable and we are delighted that we could help to bring them to a wider audience.
“This online database is a portal to the past for many families and researchers. There are hundreds of personal stories of ordinary men who came back from war injured and broken.
“These are tales of endurance, rehabilitation and retraining to return to civilian life. And the admissions records also provide an insight into the development of prosthetics and care of war casualties post conflict.”
But for the families searching out their ancestors First World War story, it will give them online access to their relatives’ admissions records including details of injuries, recovery and in some case retraining at the hospital workshops.
Mrs Moira Gallie from Canonbie in Dumfries and Galloway accessed the records of James Henderson, her maternal grandfather who lost his right leg in 1918, through staff at the University’s Archives Service before it was digitalised.
Mrs Gallie said it will be great for other families to easily access for themselves their own relative’s records. Through the records Mrs Gallie learned her grandfather had retrained at the hospital as a shoemaker after he lost his leg.
Moira said: “I am delighted to hear that the database of Erskine admissions is now being put online for anyone to access. It is a great resource.
“It meant so much to my family and I to find out more about my grandfather’s time at Erskine Hospital. It was fascinating to put another piece of the puzzle back into his life story.”