Read and Remember the First World War

Recommended Reads for Adults  

In the spring of 2015, Aberdeen City Libraries joined libraries across Scotland to encourage teenagers and adults to remember those involved in World War One by reading books and resources relating to the conflict.

Below you will find a selection of recommendations of WW1 related resources from staff and readers as well as stories of family members' involvement in the war.

If you would like to add a recommendation, please feel free to contact us

Tracing your Great War ancestors. The Gallipoli campaign: a guide for family historians by Simon Fowler

Do you have an ancestor who served in the Gallipoli campaign in the First World War? Perhaps you have thought of visiting the battlefields in Turkey and the monuments that commemorate them, and want to find out exactly where and when your ancestor served and what part he played in the landings and the fighting that followed? This practical and informative handbook is an ideal guide to the struggle for the Gallipoli peninsula and the stories of the men who took part in it

David, Local Studies Librarian: "This work provides a solid overview of the history of the campaign and the conditions endured by the soldiers. It also gives detailed, up-to-date advice on how to research particular soldiers and units involved in the fighting. It's the perfect book for those whose ancestors fought on these battlefields."

Only Remembered by Michael Morpurgo (ed) 

2014 will mark 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War. To mark the date, this anthology will collect favourite extracts, images and poems from some of the UK's leading cultural, political and literary figures. Poems, short stories, personal letters, newspaper articles, scripts, photographs and paintings are just some of the elements of this collection, with cover and artwork by renowned illustrator, Ian Beck

Helen "Absolutely fascinated by the range of memoirs and writings that are present in this collection. It is a great book to dip in and out of – some of the poems and stories will stay with you for quite a while."

Shadow of the Zeppelin by Bernard Ashley

This title is available in our Teen collections

Across Europe, the horror of war is destroying lives and separating families. Yield or fight? When tragedy strikes Freddie's family, he and his soldier brother must go on the run, battling for their survival. Jump or burn? Without a parachute, that's the choice Ernst knows he will face if his Zeppelin is shot down. Bravery takes different forms. How far would you go to stand up for what's right?

Helen: "An interesting tale seen through the eyes of a young British soldier and a young German soldier. Without them realising, their worlds collide after a Zeppelin raid over London – which has tragic consequences for both."

The Pity of War by Niall Ferguson 

More than any other event, World War I made the 20th century what it has been. In this book aimed to appeal not only to students but also to the general reader, Niall Ferguson explodes many of the myths surrounding the war

Cllr Milne, Reading Champion : "This would be good for those who love detail and figures. He certainly shows that what Wellington said of the battle of Waterloo "It has been a damned nice thing — the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life." was true of WWI."

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

This title is available in our Teen collections

'War Horse' is the story of Joey, a thoroughbred horse, and how he is forced into the thick of the harrowing, poorly-led battles of the First World War.

Helen, Learning Development Manager: "This book made me think about the role of animals in WW1 as it looks at this conflict through the experiences of Joey, a horse shipped from Devon to the devastation of the trenches."

1914: Poetry Remembers by Carol Ann Duffy

To mark the centenary of the First World War in 2014, the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, has engaged the most eminent poets of the present to choose the writing from the Great War that touched them most profoundly: their choices are here in this powerful and moving assembly. But this anthology is more than a record of war writing. Carol Ann Duffy has commissioned these same poets of the present to look back across the past and write a poem of their own in response to the war to end all wars.

Sheena Blackhall, Reading Champion "Somber, classic poems by Owen, Brookes, Thomas and Sassoon set down alongside new poems from poets such as Heaney, Oswald, Armitage etc. Poetry is the natural response to that most unnatural of events – cataclysmic war."

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria

This story is told by a young soldier in the trenches of Flanders during the First World War. Through his eyes we see the realities of war. Incidents are vividly described, but there is no sense of adventure, only the feeling of youth betrayed

Alexis, Support Assistant: "This book made me cry and also made me care about a character."

Poetry of the First World War : An Anthology 

A new anthology that combines generous selections from well-known soldier poets such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon with work by civilian and women writers. A general introduction places Great War poetry in its contexts and the work of each poet is prefaced with a biographical account that explains the circumstances of composition

Nicola Cameron: "This is a beautiful and moving collection of poems from the First World War which eloquently captures the turbulence of the period in a way no other form of expression could."

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain

This title tells one woman's unforgettable record of the First World War. 'Testament of Youth' is in spirit and impact as powerful a classic as 'All Quiet on the Western Front' and 'Goodbye to All That' - a haunting elegy for a lost generation

Helen, Learning Development Manager: "This book made me cry as it is a moving biography of Vera Brittain's early life detailing how she coped with the grief of the loss of loved ones and friends during the First World War while fighting to find her place in a very changing world."

Lesley Thomson, Reading Champion: '"It's very current now, but when I was a teenager and reading it for the first time I was struck by the power of her writing and her characters and the impact the war had on everyone, regardless of class. She was my first feminist role model."

World War One Family Stories

Thank you to all who have been sharing their family's World War One stories with us.Below are some storiesshared by staff and readers.

If you would like to find out more about researching your own family history, visit our Information Centre or online resources.

John McGregor - Gallipoli

My Grandfather, John McGregor, who was born in the small village of Tolsta Chaolais on the Island of Lewis joined the Ross Mountain Battery part of the Royal Artillery in 1914. The Battery recruited throughout Ross-shire which included Lewis within the county at that time. Being predominantly Gaelic speaking, on their journey south prior to embarking for the Gallipoli campaign, they stopped in York to rest and feed the horses. The locals heard them speaking Gaelic and asked where they came from. "Ross-shire" they responded, which the locals heard as 'Roshya'. They later heard that a rumour started that Russian soliders had landed at Leith and were on the way south to join our forces in France!

While serving in Gallipoli, he came under fire and leapt a trench landing on an Australian solider who turned out to be an old friend from the same village who had emigrated to Australia some three or four years earlier.


Joe Forster

My Great Grandfather, Joe Forster was a plumber with Northumberland Estates at Alnwick Castle. He signed up in 1915 and was wounded at the Battle of the Somme. He returned to France and was captured as a German prisoner of war and died in captivity in 1918. He left behind a wife, Martha and three daughters: Grace, Mary and Izzy, who was my Granny. He is commemorated on the Northumberland Estates' Roll of Honour and in their WW1 Exhibition.

Lesley Thomson, Reading Champion.

For: Pt. William Middleton and Pt. John Middleton – Gordon Highlanders

"Ma Da's twa cousins merched tae war

Tae save their hames and nation

Baith lads were blawn tae smithereens

Daith's hairst – a generation

Sheena Blackhall, Reading Champion

Mr George 'Dod' Greig 

Young People's Librarian, Yvonne, has worked in Aberdeen City Libraries since she left school. She has kindly donated the medals of her Great Uncle George 'Dod' Greig to our display of World War One related resources. His Medals (pictured) form part of our small display of local artefacts and resources relating to the First World War available to view inthe Information Centre in the Central Library.

Mr Greig worked for Aberdeen City Libraries as Janitor during the 1950s and 60s, living in the library janitor flat for many years. We are currently investigating his past. So far, we know that Mr Greig served in the Royal Artillery Gunners during the First World War and family stories tell us he was very young when he joined.

Colleagues in our Local Studies department are researching more about Mr Greig, his life and his involvement in WW1, which we will update here.

Mr George 'Dod' Grieg - Update

Since introducing our research on Mr Grieg on National Libraries Day, colleagues in our Local Studies department have been finding out more about our former library colleague.

Mr Grieg enlisted on 31st March 1915 at the age of 19 and was working as a Labourer before joining the 157th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery as a Gunner. At the time of enlistment, Mr Grieg as living at 252 George St although the family had moved to Turriff by 1917. Among the documents colleagues were able to find was a conduct sheet from 16th October 1915 citing that Mr Grieg failed to show at sick parade as he was ill.

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