GLASGOW’S official roll of honour from World War One is being updated to include thousands of names missed from the original – and the Evening Times is helping to fill in the gaps.

The new document will be re-issued – in paper and digital form – in 2019.

ANN FOTHERINGHAM reports on the work being done so far.

THE opening pages of Glasgow’s official World War One roll of honour sum up its reason for being.

“The Roll, which from its very nature can scarcely fail to evoke mingled feelings of pride and sorrow, constitutes a record of patriotic devotion and self-sacrifice worthy of preservation in the archives of the City for all time,” states the foreword, which was penned – probably by the town clerk – in 1922.

The impressive book, housed in the Glasgow City Archives at the Mitchell Library, contains around 17,800 names of soldiers, sailors and airmen who died during the First World War.

But, as senior archivist Dr Irene O’Brien explains, there are thousands more who have been left out.

“The reason so many names did not get in is down to the way the roll of honour was compiled,” explains Irene.

“In 1915, Glasgow Corporation decided to collect the names of those who had died in the war to create an official memorial.

“They had planned to get the information from the military, but that was unworkable, so they asked families to send in the details themselves.”

Irene adds: “Of course, not every family did it, for whatever reason, which is why it is not an exhaustive list. When the 2014 centenary commemorations of the end of World War One began in the city, we thought the time was right to start updating the roll – and filling in the gaps.”

The plan is to create a new printed book, and a digital copy, by 2019 and the task is being carried out volunteer John Houston, of the Scottish War Memorials Project, alongside Irene and her team.

“I have spent the last 10 years finding and recording war memorials across the Scotland, from small plaques in schools and churches to large statues, and my work brought me into the archives,” explains John.

“It was through my research and my conversations with Irene that I realised there were names in the official records compiled by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission that weren’t in the Glasgow roll of honour.”

Since starting the project, John has added 2000 names and he expects to uncover at least 1000 more. It is a painstakingly slow process, as he explains.

“Once I discover a name that is not in there we have to get proof that the person died as a result of the war, and then it has to be authenticated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission before it can be included,” he explains.

“The criteria for inclusion is also very strict – we are sticking to the original rules, which means that to be on the roll, you have to have been killed in action, or died from wounds obtained in action, or have died as a result of the war.

“So, for example, it includes servicemen who died of Spanish flu.

He adds: “I have also found two women who will be included for the first time, as they were nurses who died serving at the front.”

John is using a number of sources in the course of his research, but key to the process are hundreds of archived copies of the Evening Times.

“The Evening Times regularly printed its own roll of honour in the newspaper, and it is a wonderful source of information and photographs,” says John.

“It includes little biographies of the men killed, so we get to know where they lived, which regiment they served with, who their families were and their occupations. It’s a really fantastic legacy.”

Leafing through the fragile pages of the old copies of this newspaper is a fascinating step back in time. Alongside the news stories and advertisements for Creamola Foam lie dozens of photographs of servicemen, who did not make it home.

They were postmen, iron drillers, brass moulders and shop assistants; fathers, sons, husbands and brothers; who lived and worked in every community in Glasgow, from Rottenrow to Garrowhill; from Cowcaddens to Bridgeton.

“I have uncovered a few stories along the way, and as I delve deeper into the Evening Times archive over the coming months, I expect to find some more,” says John.

“There was one tale, for example, about a sailor from Ibrox, called David Cunningham, who was involved in the Zeebrugge Raid, an audacious attempt by the Royal Navy to storm the Germans’ U-Boat base.

“There were so many heroic deeds carried out as part of the operations in Zeebrugge that Victoria Crosses were awarded by ballot – and sadly David Cunningham missed out.”

It is sobering work, reading through the short biographies of so many Glasgow men killed, but John says he is honoured to be carrying out the task.

“It’s great that Glasgow is updating the roll of honour, to include those who were missed,” he explains.

Glasgow’s Lord Provost Sadie Docherty agreed: “This work updating the city’s Roll of Honour demonstrates Glasgow’s commitment to honouring and remembering those who lost their lives in the Great War.

“It’s a painstaking and important project that will immortalise those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“The new Roll of Honour will prove a lasting historical legacy of our First World War commemoration.”

A poem in the roll of honour, called To the Memory of the Dead, written by Robert Bain, sums it up.

“Sons through all years their lives from you will sever,

And build their new homes on many a foreign shore,

These are the sons of your own house forever,

These names, these names abide for evermore.”