A WELL-KNOWN local man has launched an appeal for information and/or volunteers which will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.
Brian Livie’s interest in the Great War has seen him dedicated many hours of his own time researching and reading up on the locals who were involved in the “war to end all wars”.
He now hopes to mark the 100th anniversary in 2014 by staging an exhibition, perhaps at Brechin’s newly-refurbished museum.
However, in the interim, Brian, who has also recruited the assistance of amateur historian and head teacher, Alex Wood, who has himself also a keen interest in the great conflict and, though now working and living in the Edinburgh area, still has strong links with his hometown of Brechin.
Brian explained: “My interest in the conflict started after my father passed away.
“I was given a postcard album which had been in the possession of one of his relatives. It contains a large number of photographs from the turn of the century.
“Some of these are easily identified, others include a strong military element and in a number of cases we have no idea who the military personnel are in a number of cases.
“I want to see this taken forward and Alex and I have done a wee bit of research so far, including going through muster rolls.
“The photographs often feature people who have just been called up or, on a number of occasions, they are weddings, when some of the guys are home from the front.
“Other than putting them into this particular time period I have no idea who many of these people were. Perhaps they were friends or relatives who knew the family at the time.”
Brian went on to explain that the long term objective is to stage some sort of display or exhibition that can tell the story.
“There may be hundreds or thousands of Brechiners at home or abroad whose family were involved in the conflict and they may know very little about it, especially as we are coming up for the 100th anniversary of the start of the war.
“This will hopefully help provide a spur for them to either come forward and help us in our search for further information or it may just jog a memory or two.
“This is as much social history project as anything else.
“We have war memorials to everyone and rightly so. There were also a lot of people who went over to Europe and faced all the atrocities that went on and then had to try and blend back in to civilian life back in Brechin and the surrounding district.
“We will shortly be able to utilise the 1911 census, which I think will give us some context of where people were before they went off to the war.
“We, of course, aren’t just talking about soldiers, there were people like doctors and nurses involved as well.
“Our concept is to try and build up a picture of as many people as we possibly can.
“I don’t know what shape its going to take, it has started as an idea.
“Most of the pictures we have were taken by Milne the Photographers, who were based in Bank Street.
“All the people here tended to join up in Forfar, Dunfermline or even Edinburgh, where they would go to the Black Watch or the Royal Scots.
“The fifth Black Watch had a very strong connection with Brechin and could rightly be considered as the local regiment.
“Other things get turned up when you go and research these sorts of things.
“For instance, the War Memorial we have in the park now isn’t what was originally planned. They also wanted to have it in the High Street at The Cross initially.
“Alex and I hope to meet up in the near future, because he obviously has different material to that which is in my possession.
“What we do need is a few more people to come forward and volunteer an hour here and there with a view to getting an exhibition of some sort in August 2014 planned.
“Those with a little bit of time or who want to talk to us can get in touch with the “Brechin Advertiser”, leave their contact details and we will endeavour to get back in touch with them as soon as possible.
“We want to do this justice and we are certain that there will be many more people around here who feel likewise.
“My time is limited until I retire in another three years, but I think we have huge potential in this project.
“We are talking about around 500 people from Brechin and the surrounding area and that means an awful lot of friends and relatives who we seek to assist us or even gleam information from.”
If you would like to assist Brian and Alex in their quest to commemorate the locals who lost their lives in the 1914-18 war you can get in touch with us at the Brechin Advertiser on (01356) 622767 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply pop into our offices at 13 Swan Street, Brechin and play your part in highlighting the role locals played on one of the world’s bloodiest battle fields.