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In From the Cold: Researching Glasgow's Police WWI Memorial

John Houston, of the Scottish Military Research Group, combined a number of resources - including those held by Glasgow City Archives - to ensure the official commemoration of two soldiers that died during the First World War.

The Scottish Military Research Group was established to photograph every War Memorial in Scotland and to record the names of those commemorated. In the course of photographing and researching memorials in the Glasgow and West of Scotland area, I had the opportunity to visit the Glasgow Police Museum in Bell Street. Housed within the Museum is a World War I and II memorial (image above) that names 173 casualties of the First World War and 39 of the Second World War. Other than the inscribed names there was very little information. A discussion with the curator led me to Glasgow City Archives, who hold most of the Police Personnel Records (series SR22/55-57).

Initially I started my research by accessing each individual name on the database, however this became a time consuming exercise and after discussion with the archivists I was directed to the Police Resignation Book. This vital document provided me with the individual’s name, registration number, date of resignation and current home address. Once I had the registration number it was fairly straightforward to hunt down the personnel file and, in most cases, the date of death. Furnished with this information I was able to find, using a combination of the Scottish National War Memorial and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web-sites, the rank, regiment, confirmation of death date and the place of burial or commemoration of the majority of the casualties. In a number of cases the place of birth and next of kin were also listed.

However, those police records that did not list the date of death proved slightly more difficult to confirm. ‘The Roll of Honour of The Citizens of Glasgow Who Died in the Great War 1914-18’ gives the name, rank, regiment and, in the majority of entries, their address. By comparing the addresses with the last address listed in the police records I was able to identify a further batch of names.

Left with only six names to identify, the penultimate three names were identified from the personal occupation record in the 1911 census. The difficulty with the final three names was that they were not recorded in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission nor the Scottish National War Memorial records. Added to this was the fact that their date of death was not recorded in the police records. Eventually I was able to identify them with the help of the In From The Cold Project, which was formed to research and identify all service men and women missing from the official list of casualties for the First and Second World Wars.

The three names that were submitted to the In From The Cold Project were Robert Henderson, Robert Morlan and David Robertson. The case for David Robertson could not go forward to Ministry of Defence because the reason for his discharge was not linked to the cause of his death, which was Meningitis. His case failed at the initial vetting as they were, in reality, two different unconnected ailments. However, using information gleamed from various sources, Robert Henderson and Robert Morlan were accepted and, 93 and 95 years respectively after their deaths, they were finally commemorated.