Guest post by Tom Greenshields from Gordon Highlanders 1914 – 1918

The Gordon Highlanders will be carrying out a First World War battle re-enactment amongst other Great War experiences at World Wars Experience, National Museum of Flight, East Fortune on Sunday 27 May. The two World Wars will come to life with living history presenters and their vehicles, live battles, vintage beauty workshops and posing for wartime portraits! 

The Gordon Highlanders 1914-1918 are proud to appear again at the World Wars Experience at the National Museum of Flight. We greatly value our continued relationship with the National Museums Scotland and look forward to doing our best once again, to recreate the life of the soldiers of the Gordon Highlanders during the First World War.

First World War Gordon Highlanders at ease in the trenches

First World War Gordon Highlanders at ease in the trenches.

Preparing for an event of this nature involves quite a bit of work behind the scenes. First and foremost, we have to make sure that we know exactly what the organisers want. Each show is different and we need to make sure we tailor our performance to deliver both what is required and what is compatible with the site. We need to work out a programme with the organisers, do a recce of the the site and decide with the organisers, where the camp-site and other static elements of our display will go.

First World War Gordon Highlander in the trenches

First World War Gordon Highlander in the trenches.

We find out what PA system is available, and ensure arrangements are in place for food, washing and toilets.  We have to decide on appropriate kit for the event, and also whether or not we are able to use pyrotechnics – if so, we have to obtain them.  Members are briefed on how to get to the event site and transport arrangements made accordingly.

On the weekend itself, we have to transport all the stores, including tents, props, spare kit, display boards, and youngsters’ kit for dressing up and set-up the camp-site, normally the day before the event. Finally we have to work up our presentations, making sure that any new features are properly rehearsed before we deliver them. So, nothing much to do really…

First World War Gordon Highlanders' camp

First World War Gordon Highlanders’ camp at World Wars Experience in 2011.

At the World Wars Experience, we will be delivering a range of presentations, hopefully to suit all tastes. These will include:

  • An all-action arena display, which will feature unit training, including PT, gas drills and bayonet drill, and will end with a small simulated attack on a German position
  • Participation in a ‘fashion parade’ of uniforms from both World Wars
  • A pretty hard-hitting presentation entitled ‘After the battle’ in which we concentrate on the experience of the soldier after going over the top
  • An authentic camp-site in which you will be able to meet the soldiers and ask them about their experiences, their uniform and kit. You might even be able to try on the uniform if we have one to fit!
  • At the camp-site, you will also find:
  • A miniature ‘barbed wire’ assault course for the youngsters to crawl through – but beware in case the Germans hear you!
  • Kilts and jackets for the youngsters to try on – we can even take the youngsters for drill – give ‘em some discipline!
  • A set of display boards on the Highland Soldier in the Great War, which we hope to set up in one of the interior spaces.

We are looking forward to taking part again in the World Wars Experience.  If you want to find out more about us, please visit our website at www.gordonhighlanders1914-18.co.uk

Anita BriggsBy Anita Briggs, Digital Media Content Creator

It’s been almost two years since I joined the new Digital Media team at National Museums Scotland and time has certainly flown by! It’s been a really exciting creative journey getting acquainted with the collections and fascinating world at the museums.

Ice cream van, Bute, September 1983 from the Scottish Life Archive.

The last year has seen an increase in activity in online activity at the National Museums Scotland, we’ve got a fabulous HTML5 redeveloped website which has experienced significant increase in website traffic (up nearly 30% from this time last year) and we are now firmly established on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. A great addition to our Flickr photostream has been images from our Scottish Life Archive which have marked the changing seasons and special exhibitions.

As Content Creator, the topics that I investigate become ever more varied, and the opening of the redeveloped National Museum of Scotland will only add to my knowledge of peculiar museum facts.  Some of the highlights over the last year have been digital detective investigating the mummy coffins from Ancient Egypt, discovering what objects are associated with Mary Queen of Scots and examining the detail in war paintings.  I’ve also been doing a bit of digital reporting from events across the sites , notably Concorde’s 35th anniversary, World Wars Experience and Robots Live!

Interior of First World War troop tent

Interior of First World War troop tent at World Wars Experience at National Museum of Flight.

We are really excited about the opening of the redeveloped National Museum of Scotland on 29 July.  It gives us the opportunity to feature some of the so far unseen objects  that await visitors when the museum opens its doors. We will be making the most of our social media channels to let you know what is is happening and what new things there are to see. Why not follow us on Twitter, on Facebook and Flickr to keep-up-to-date with developments?

Hippo in the Wildlife Panorama at the National Museum of Scotland

Flying hippo and manatee in the Wildlife Panorama at the National Museum of Scotland. Photo by Sean Bell.

Across the museums, our summer events programme is now in full swing and we are looking forward to letting you know what happens pre and post event at this year’s Airshow and our opening weekend at National Museum of Scotland.  For the Airshow, guest blog posts are being provided by some of those taking part in the flying display and activity on the ground.

The Breitling Wingwalkers performing an aerobatics display.

Well, I think that’s all for now but don’t forget to keep in touch with all that’s going on at National Museums Scotland on our website!

Anita BriggsBy Anita Briggs, Digital Media Content Creator

Lately I’ve been producing a Digital Story to bring to life letters in our collection from the First World War trenches. We are using some letters of Captain Willie Bennett Clerk of the Royal Scots regiment from 1915-16. Working with the Audio Visual team we’ve recorded an audio track starring our very own Learning Officer, Scott Neil, reading the letters. For images we are sourcing archive images from the First World War from the National Library of Scotland and contemporary images from Flickr .

Working party in the trenches

British working party in German trench, recently capturedby Ernest Brooks © Trustees of the National Library of Scotland

The highlight of the Digital Story so far has been the ‘male model’ that took part in a photography session in our studio at the National Museums Collection Centre. Dave Clarke (actually a history teacher and part-time facilitator) wore his own collection of First World War military uniforms in a two hour session – it was hot work for him wearing a gas mask and goat skin under studio lighting but look at the super results.

Have a look at the finished production of Letters by Captain William Bennet-Clark of the Royal Scots here,

You can find out more about the First World War at the National War Museum at Edinburgh Castle.

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