During the centenary commemoration of the Great War the Library supported local history publications and events to bring Shetland's war history to a wider audience.
Much of our work was done in partnership with the Shetland Museum and Archives. Our work was supported by two generous grants from the Public Library Improvement Fund which is enabling us to publish some high quality local history books about Shetland's war. Free copies are being distributed to the community and to libraries across Scotland. They are available to borrow, or to buy for just £5. List of Library publications
The Gas War by Graham Johnston
In 1916, Shetland brothers Charlie and Willie Abernethy served together in the trenches at the Somme, part of a ‘Special Brigade’ unit that waged gas war against the German side. Willie met his end there, aged just 23, and his brother recorded the awful event in his trench diary on the day it happened. Over 100 years later, their story is told in a new book by Graham Johnston. The book is the first of four about Shetland’s war being published by Shetland Library in partnership with the Shetland Museum and Archives. The project is funded by the Scottish Government’s Public Library Improvement Fund and has encouraged local researchers and authors to bring their work on Shetland’s war to publication.
Graham Johnston has been doing a huge amount of research on the War, and the story of the Abernethy brothers was one that caught his attention because not much has been written about the British side in the gas war. The story of the brothers was also very interesting and poignant, particularly because of the existence of the original diary. In addition, Graham was able to consult with Charlie’s son, Charles Lindsay Abernethy, who visited Shetland with the original diary to meet Graham, and will speak at the book launch.
The other books due to be published in the coming months as part of this project are:
Shetlland's War events and highlights
A few useful links and resources associated with our projects:
This highly acclaimed 2017 production by Shetland Youth Theatre featured the work of Shetland's war poet Jack Peterson. We also hosted a talk about Jack Peterson in the Library in February 2018, delivered by Dr Mark Smith from Shetland Museum and Archives.
This film by J.J. Jamieson was screened at Jon Sandison's talk about the Battle of Ancre in November 2017, and we gave it its online premiere. Also find here a list of over 20 Shetland men who died at Ancre on 'Shetland's Darkest Day', 13 November 1916. Ancre: list of casualties [PDF].
These are materials specially created by the Library to suit different age groups.
Writing about the First World War began soon after the fighting started - everything from propaganda to oral history. Originally called the Great War, its centenary is seeing a barrage of new materials to provide modern analysis and interpretations for all ages. This is a short bibliography which concentrates on materials with useful Shetland content.