LHSA's War Records

LHSA contains many records relating to the First and Second World Wars. A number of Edinburgh’s medical practitioners worked in military hospitals and many injured soldiers were treated in Edinburgh on their return from battle. The hospitals treated soldiers from many of the allied nations, as well as prisoners of war. A full list of LHSA’s First and Second World War records can be found on our website: The Two World Wars Source List. We have selected two items from the collection to show on Armistice Day.

The Leith Roll of Honour (our ref: LHB6/38/1-5) is a list of over 2,200 people from Leith who died during the First World War. As part of his research into the graves and memorials of those named on the Roll of Honour, a private researcher, Andrew Grant, compiled an anthology of Great War poetry selected from the Leith Observer. A copy of the anthology is available to view in the Archive. This poem is by the Leith writer JB Symons who worked under the pseudonym, ‘Restalrig’.

The Lads o’ Leith

When history, in the days to come,
Records the mony deeds
That in this war hae struck us dumb
(While mony a sair he’rt bleeds),
Auld Leith will show a roll o’ fame
As gallant as the lave;
For mony a lad wha’s left his hame
Has found a hero’s grave.

An’ mony and ane wha’s bore the brunt
Against oor treacherous foe,
May leave tae tell he saw the front
An’ helped tae lay him low.
The scene will ever wi’ him dwell –
Sic thochts impress the mind;
This twentieth century living hell
A’ ither fechts maun blind.

Oor ain auld port, in days lang syne,
Stood mony months o’ siege;
Oor trusty sires drawn up in line
Proved warriors brave and liege.
An’ ance again the lads o’ Leith
Gang forrit wi’ a will,
An’ laurels shall their brows bewreath
As they show deeds that thrill.

But still we’ve room for mony mair –
We’ve got to see this through;
So come along an’ dae your share
An’ join the gallant crew.
“The mair the merrier” they say,
So ilka lad that’s free
Jist show your cronies whit tae dae
To gain the famed V.C.

Nae hunkerslidin’s wanted noo,
Just show the auld Leith speerit;
There’s no a toon, least very few,
That ever yet cam’ near it.
We’ve aye been kent as bein’ game
(Auld Reekie kens this weel),
So let’s forever keep the name
An’ ance mair upward spiel.


(Published 28th Nov. 1914)

LHSA also contains a number of editions of the Craigleith Chronicle (our ref: GD1/82). This First World War magazine from the Second Scottish General Hospital, Craigleith, contains stories, poetry and drawings produced by the patients while recovering from their injuries. The pictured article from Vol.1 no. 3 tells of a soldier opening his emergency rations and pondering the possibility of his piece of cheese carrying his packs for him! This highlights the hardships faced by the soldiers and their means of coping with them using humour.

Tommy's Tit-bit from the Craigleith Chronicle, April 1915

The Craigleith Chronicles are progressively being digitised and put on the LHSA website (take a look at Vol 1. no.2 ).