On August 4, 1914, life in Duns was carrying on as normal while Europe was descending into chaos. Within days the lives of Duns folk were caught up in the maelstrom of war.
By 1918 no family was left untouched by the war and local residents are now being asked by Dunse History Society and Scottish Borders Council’s museum service to share their family’s stories for a new exhibition which will commemorate the impact of the First World War on Duns.
The exhibition, which will be on display in Duns Library Contact Centre from Saturday, August 4, to Saturday, November 15, will examine what Duns was like immediately before the war and explore how the town’s shops and businesses were affected when their staff joined the Forces.
On the day Britain declared war on Germany the Berwickshire Advertiser had a small story about the war in Europe which had the heading ‘Great Britain likely to be involved’.
The piece goes on: “The most startling news of yesterday morning was the reported Germans ultimatum to Belgium which, however, awaits confirmation. Great Britain, one of the guarantors of Belgium’s neutrality is thus brought most definitely into the conflict.”
By the following week almost one and a half pages of the Berwickshire Advertiser was devoted to the war, reporting that 40 men from Duns headed off to join the 4th KOSB. “A large turnout of townspeople gave the men a rousing send-off.”
The First World War exhibition at Duns will detail where local men were deployed once they joined up; the ways in which local newspapers covered the conflict; how some local houses were converted to convalescent hospitals or barracks; and what the people of Duns and the surrounding area did to raise funds for the war effort.
Keen for the exhibition to represent local families’ experiences, staff are appealing for residents to loan to the museum objects, letters, documents or photographs they may have relating to wartime life in the area.
“We are hoping people have medals,or even things that tell us what life was like in Duns during the war,” said a museum services spokesperson.
If you have an interesting object or story contact Andrew Tulloch or Rosy Hayward on 01361 884114 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.