I recently discovered the blog run by The Heritage Hub, the Scottish Borders archive and local history centre based in Hawick. Their most recent post is an intriguing cryptography puzzle from Traquair House’s archive collections, with a letter from the 18th century written in code that Traquair would like someone to decrypt for them. Fun stuff!
However the blog is full of other interesting archival stories from the Borders. And I’ve just found one with a family connection. My great-grandfather John Dodds served in World War One in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. He developed chronic dysentery and was invalided out, which meant that he missed – fortunately for him – later action by the KOSB on the Western Front. However he was in Gallipoli during their disastrous Gallipoli campaign, when part of the KOSB was virtually wiped out. He was lucky to survive.
Not long before the disaster occurred there’s a record of the meals the KOSB were eating in Gallipoli, preserved in letters home to the front and published in local newspapers. This is what the Heritage Hub published in their blog, recalling how the Scottish soldiers were doing their best to have porridge breakfasts, working with what they had.
I have a book somewhere recounting what happened to the KOSB at Gallipoli. I must try to dig it out and reread it. Apparently John Dodds had a memorial plate in his house commemorating what happened to the KOSB in Gallipoli and the many lost men. I wonder what happened to it, and if any member of the family has it.