The display shows how Orkney and Orcadians were affected by the war in their daily lives, using items from the Archive collections which were created at the time. Items such as newspaper reports, scrapbooks, council minutes, photographs, letters and diaries.
Here are a few items from the main exhibition:
From Gunner Astles' Diary (Archive reference: D1/237): Gunner Astles was stationed at Hoxa Battery in South Ronaldsay and was a keen observer of his surroundings. His home county was Cheshire.
"Wednesday 2nd January 1918
The forenoon was very dull and a slight westerly wind prevailed. A little rain, but not much. About 2pm the wind changes to north and strong, with a very severe snap of Arctic weather in consequence. It was very cold, freezing hard and much snow fell, but very fine it was not long before the wind blew it all away from the camp.
Monday 28th January 1918
A funeral was on in the village, which in Orkney is never attended with women. The neighbours, friends and relatives follow behind and the body is conveyed in the hearse. The funeral passed us by and altho' but a few hundred miles away from home, we feel the change of custom.
The weddings here are also very peculiar to our own home. Invites are issued on the Monday and the deed is done on the following Thursday as a rule. The custom is carried out pretty well always and even engagements are entertained with dancing and merry making. In the village Cromarty hall, a large hall owned by a man in the name of Cromarty, is usually the rendezvous, and since I have settled here I have heard of several thus. The wedding usually takes place at night, kept up all that night, the next day perhaps, and the same night ends. A church ceremony is not necessary, a parlour, hall and even farm being appropriate for the person to join up the happy couple.
A farmer's cart is now outside the hut and, as we hear its usual noise of the wheels, "click-clack, click, click, clack", and a voice in the mess calling, "cart up" it again seems like old times, this being the first night for some time he has been able to bring up the meat, etc. from the village."
From Dr. Duncan's Scrapbook (Ref: D1/1127)
|Private James Findlay, wounded in action.|
From the Orcadian Newspaper, 12th Jan 1918 - No Light on Barrow
Before Sheriff Mercer at the Orkney Sheriff Court on Tuesday, William John Garden, representing the firm of R Garden Ltd, being the firm responsible for a message boy in charge of a barrow which contrary to the Defence of the Realm Regulation, carried no light on the night of December 15th last, tendered a plea of guilt to the charge.
The Sheriff said it was necessary that the order should be attended to, because in the darkened condition of the streets just now, the presence of vehicles of the kind set out in the charge might prove a serious danger to the public if not marked out by lights, and that was no doubt the reason for the passing of the order. The penalty in this case must be £1. The fiscal drew attention to the fact that a few barrows were carrying lanterns which did not show a red light to the rear, and he wished to point out that that was not a proper compliance with the Order. The Sheriff - it would be well if the public would note that the mere carrying of a light is not sufficient. There must be a lamp (or lamps) which besides showing a white light in front shows a red light behind. Albert Maxwell, merchant, Kirkwall, charged with a similar offence, in respect of his message boy, also tendered a plea of guilty, and the same penalty was imposed.
From Dr. Duncan's Scrapbook (Archive Reference: D1/1127):
|Private Robert Sutherland, died of wounds|
From Archive reference: D1/1062:
|Programme for Grand Concert in aid of The Royal Marine Prisoners of War Fund, by The Hoxa Royal Marines.|
|Private James Burgess, fell in action.|
From the Orcadian Newspaper, 2nd February1918 - Food Shortage
The food shortage is now becoming noticeable in Kirkwall. on Saturday night several butcher's shops were completely sold out early in the evening, and nearly every evening one or other have to shut before the normal closing hour. Butchers, of course, are now, in addition to observing the instructions in regard to meatless days, receiving only a proportion of the meat they have been able to dispose of for some time back. At present some difficulty is experienced in keeping the daily sales with proper limits, but the introduction of the meat rationing scheme, which is expected to be in operation shortly, will no doubt remedy this.
From Gunner Astles' Diary (Ref: D1/237): HMS Narborough & HMS Opal tragedy
[1st April 1918]
During the Blizzard of January [12th] two destroyers ran aground some miles away from here [Hoxa Battery]. All hands were lost bar one. To-day I have been to see the wrecks, and a good deal of nature I saw.The wrecks are the scenes enacted one never hears of, but I should think it one of the greatest accidents in the Navy. For two destroyers crash on the rocks, hardly 50 yds from the cliff side, and then all hands to perish from shock and exposure, seems jolly hard lines in a place like it has happened in.
|Able Seaman William Sissons was the only survivor [Photo ref: L1786/2]|
The dilemma of the survivors must have been sad for the cold, blizzard raging, and the fact of the cliffs being covered in snow on a dark night must have been a very trying time before they expired.
From Stromness School Logbook (ref: CO5/93/5):
|Transcription of a thank you letter from the King George V and Queen Mary to the children and teachers of Orkney|
Also included in the exhibition is a handbook on how to spot German submarines which was published in April 1918. This booklet was collected by Dr. T Crouther Gordon as research for his book, Early Flying in Orkney. All pages are on display, but here are just a couple of the pages as examples (Archive reference: D1/1017/5):
The 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th instalments are still displayed in various locations around the building and the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th instalments, including a special feature of the sinking of HMS Hampshire, are available to see in a folder in the Archive Searchroom. Click on "Orkney At War" in the labels to see more blog posts on this subject.