Next of Kin: First World War Memories at Hawick Museum

Walter Barrie
Walter Barrie

Next of Kin, an exhibition created by National Museums Scotland, opens on 5 October at Hawick Museum. It presents a picture of Scotland during the First World War through treasured objects from official and private sources, passed to close relatives and down through generations.

The exhibition was previously shown at the National War Museum in Edinburgh Castle, and Hawick will be the third of nine touring venues around Scotland. It is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Scottish Government. Each of the host venues will be adding material from their own collections to tell local stories which reflect the themes of the exhibition.

The exhibition at Hawick will tell the stories of Newcastleton-born Walter Barrie and the Wilson family from Roberton.

Walter Barrie was a part-time corporal in the Lothians and Border Horse and had plans to join the family-run hosiery firm when war broke out. In October 1915 he was sent to the fighting front in Salonika, where he bought crafts to send home to his mother. He was later killed in action at the Battle of Messines in June 1917. Many of his souvenirs are on display, alongside the commemorative scroll and memorial plaque sent to his next of kin.

Tom Wilson, son of the head master at Roberton School, fought with the King’s African Rifles in German East Africa. On 13 July 1917 his family received the news of Wilson’s death by a sniper.

Wilson’s service medals, on display, were presented posthumously to his father by King George V at Ibrox Park, Glasgow.

Shona Sinclair of Hawick Museum said:“The museum collection is at the heart of the stories we reveal in Hawick’s contribution to the Next of Kin exhibition. They paint a vivid picture of individual and family experiences of the war. The research carried out for the exhibition has revealed much about Walter Barrie, Tom Wilson and their families and we hope the stories we tell are a fitting memorial to men who made the ultimate sacrifice through their service.

“In addition to Next of Kin, Hawick Museum will present other personal collections which each give a unique perspective of the war but are all strongly linked to Hawick and the Scottish Borders.”

The exhibition runs from October 5 to December 20.