Cryptography Meets Comics

If you’re aged between 12 and 15 years old and you love cracking codes and puzzles and like comics then this is definitely an event for you. A hands on day finding out about secret codes used during World War One.

Are you aged between 12 and 15 years old? Do you love cracking codes and puzzles, creating comics, or doing both? Then come along to Great War Dundee’s unique event on Saturday 22nd June. The event will make you think differently about World War One, and how it relates to all of us today. Your ideas could even contribute to the development of an exciting new comic about the Great War, which will be launched later this year. The final comic will feature a story by Charley’s War creator Pat Mills.

The event starts outside The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum. You will then take a walk around different locations in Dundee city centre that link to Dundee’s war effort, locations you will identify by deciphering Caesar cipher clues released via Twitter. The walk will take around 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes, and participants will be accompanied by members of the Great War Dundee Partnership. Parents and carers are welcome to accompany the walk.

Following the walk, you will take part in a workshop at the Dundee Comics Creative Space in the Vision Building, Greenmarket. You will create World War One related storylines and artwork. The event concludes here at 2.30pm.

Please bring snacks, lunch and drinks, as they will NOT be supplied as part of the event.

For further information please contact Great War Dundee Coordinator Fiona Sinclair at

Places are FREE but must be reserved. Please book here.

Say ‘Thank You’ to WW1 Generation

Military charities call on country to say ‘Thank You’ to WW1 generation

Poppyscotland and Legion Scotland today launched a mass movement to say “Thank You” to all who served, sacrificed and changed our world during the First World War. With fewer than 100 days to go until 11th November, the charities are calling on mass involvement from the public to mark the centenary of the end of World War One.

To launch the Thank You movement, a giant installation of eight-foot-high illustrated letters appeared in Dundee’s City Square. The public were invited to write their own personal messages of thanks directly on to the installation.

Dundee was chosen for the Scottish launch of Thank You as the city exemplified the collective effort made across Scotland, Britain and the Commonwealth, not only on the front line, but, importantly, on the home front as well.

The city had among the highest enrolment rate of any town in Britain, with an estimated 63 per cent of eligible men signing up. This equated to 30,490; more than 4,200 of whom made the ultimate sacrifice and thousands more who returned with devastating injuries. As a result of the high enrolment rate, women quickly answered the call and entered the many jute and munitions factories, and various engineering works.

Women also took on other roles which had previously been the reserve of men, and Dundee was one of the first cities to see female post office workers and police officers on the beat, and, by 1917, they were employed across the tramway system.

Dundee had long been known as the “women’s city”, but, during the War, many more women were drafted into the War-time labour force, including hundreds of redundant “fisher lassies” from the fishing towns around the north-east of Scotland and the Island of Lewis in the west.

Speaking at the launch, Dundee Lord Provost Ian Borthwick said: “It is vital that we recognise the contribution of the generation who sacrificed so much. Of course we remember those who selflessly answered the call and served their country so bravely, but the Thank You movement is also an opportunity to recognise the contributions of other groups that are often overlooked. Thousands of Dundonian women took up vital roles in the city’s factories, as they did the length and breadth of the country. To them, and so many others who helped changed our world, we say ‘Thank You’.”

Joining the Lord Provost of Dundee at the launch was local Police Constable Victoria O’Neil and Sarah King, who has just completed her engineering apprenticeship at the Michelin tyre factory in the city. Also in attendance was Dr Billy Kenefick, Chairman of Great War Dundee, a partnership formed to commemorate the First World War and its impact on Dundee.

PC Victoria O’Neil, from the Dundee City Centre Policing Team, said: “It has been inspiring to learn more about the contribution of women during the First World War, and, in particular, to learn that the city was one of the first in Britain to allow female police officers. My Thank You message is to them for their service, and for paving the way for greater equality in the workplace for future generations.”

Sarah King, from Michelin, said: “Dundee’s jute, munitions and engineering factories played a vital role in the War effort, and, without thousands of women taking on roles in these factories, the War may well have had a very different outcome. Their story is often overlooked and to them I say ‘Thank You’.”

The letters showcase a unique design by acclaimed artist Sarah Arnett, which brings the War’s legacies to life. From the “Munitionettes” who served in weapons factories to Indian infantrymen who served on the Western Front; from schoolgirls farming the fields to renowned war artists such as Paul Nash, a collage of images honours the diverse contribution of the First World War generation.

Everyone is touched in some way by the First World War and the generation who lived through it. The public is being encouraged to say “Thank You” through their family, community, place of work – or simply as an individual. The Thank You movement invites people to explore First World War heritage where they live and find reasons for giving thanks.

Mark Bibbey, Chief Executive of Poppyscotland, said: “We all have a connection to the First World War, and, for me, it is through both of my grandfathers. My paternal grandfather served in the Royal Welch Fusiliers on the Western Front from 1916 to 1918, while my maternal grandfather was in the Royal Army Service Corps attached to the London Yeomanry and served in Egypt, Gallipoli and Palestine/Sinai. We all have a reason to say ‘Thank You’ to this special generation.

“To the women who took on dangerous wartime roles in factories; to farmers who gave up their horses to the war effort; to the Macraes and Sassoons whose work has shaped our understanding of conflict; we should indeed say ‘Thank You’.”

“Whether your personal ‘Thank You’ is an event dedicated to those who made a difference in your community, a visit to a place of significance, or a simple tweet, there’s no limit to the ways people can take part. We are making a plea to every single person across Scotland to get involved and take a moment in this very significant year to say ‘Thank You’.”

Dr Billy Kenefick, from Great War Dundee, added: “Great War Dundee is honoured to be a part of the Thank You event installed in our city here today. It is a fitting tribute to everyone who supported the War effort and it will grant them the due recognition they deserve.”

Spotlight on the Dundee men who refused to fight in the First World War – The Courier

Think of the impact of the First World War on Dundee and perhaps what comes to mind are the tragic losses afflicted on the 4th battalion Black Watch at the Battle of Loos in 1915 or the incredible support the city’s populace gave to the money-raising tank banks as the war entered its final year in 1918.

But what of the men who declared themselves as conscientious objectors (COs) and paid a high price after refusing to fight on the grounds of morality or religion?

With this year’s International Conscientious Objectors Day upon us, Michael Alexander talks to Great War Dundee historian Dr Billy Kenefick about the First World War men who refused to fight – and paid a high price.

Read the full Courier article here…

International Conscientious Objectors Day

Today, 15th May, is  International Conscientious Objectors Day, initiated by the International Conscientious Objectors’ Meeting (ICOM). The ICOM was an annual meeting of COs and their supporters held throughout the world to exchange ideas and offer solidarity. In 1985, at a time when compulsory conscription was still commonplace, it decided to use 15 May, to develop a sharper focus for action on conscientious objection.

The Conscientious Objectors Stone in Tavistock Square, London was unveiled on May 15 1994 by Sir Michael Tippett, Peace Pledge Union President and a one time conscientious objector.

Read about British Conscientious Objectors during World War 1

Dundee ‘was fair hotchin’ wi conchies’

Dundee’s contribution to the war effort was widely recognised but it was also a leading centre for the anti-war movement. At the time an anti-war newspaper – Forward, noted that Dundee ‘was fair hotchin’ wi conchies’ (conscientious objectors, those that refused conscription).

Read about Dundee Conscientious Objectors

Marking Conscientious Objectors Awareness Week in Dundee

The Great War Dundee Partnership is also hosting a number of events on the 18th and 19th May to raise awareness of Conscientious Objectors. Tickets are still available. Find our more here …


Great War Dundee is pleased to promote this project by Imperial War Museums.

2018 marks the end of the international commemorations of the First World War. Since 2014, events and activities around the globe have connected people with the impact of 1914-1918: on the world, nations, communities and individuals. The role of women is a story that is yet to be fully told.

In Spring 2018 the First World War Centenary Partnership, led by IWM, will present WomensWork100. This international programme of exhibitions, events, activities, creative responses, personal stories and digital resources will recognise and celebrate the working lives of women during the First World War and beyond showing how women, often unknowingly, pressed for progress in their working lives, against the backdrop of the struggle for female suffrage.

IWM is inviting organisations across the Centenary Partnership to take part in #WomensWork100. As well as offering a unique set of digital resources, IWM will run a vibrant digital campaign and present Partnership events across the country, from 6 February 2018 to International Women’s Day on 8 March 2018. Find out more at WomensWork100.

Design Competition to memorialise Conscientious Objectors

Great War Dundee and the CO Memorial Committee are pleased to announce the Design Competition for a permanent Memorial to Conscientious Objectors to be created in Edinburgh’s Princes St Gardens.

Artists are invited to submit applications by 12 noon 15 December 2017. A shortlist of three or four artists will be engaged to create designs for the Memorial.

View and Download the Brief at the Peace and Justice website

Queries should be directed to:

WW1 deserter honoured by his community

The tragic story of a Black Watch soldier executed for desertion during the First World War is being told anew for today’s youngsters, thanks to a partnership between Abertay University and the Nine Incorporated Trades of Dundee.

Private Peter Black, aged just 21, was shot by firing squad at 5:47am on 18 September 1916.  His name might have been forgotten forever were it not for a public outcry in his hometown of Newport-on-Tay.

After the war, plans were drawn up for the town’s official war memorial to commemorate the 84 local men killed in the conflict.

Some bereaved parents and the local war memorial committee demanded the architect Robert Lorimar (who also designed the Scottish National War Memorial located in Edinburgh Castle) exclude Peter’s name on the grounds that it was ‘unsuitable’ for a Roll of Honour.

However, ex-servicemen including friends of Peter’s who had gone to war with him protested angrily, even threatening to blast the memorial into the River Tay with gelignite if Peter’s name wasn’t on it.

They believed that he shouldn’t have been in the frontline at all due to his fragile mental state at the time, and that his service in major battles earlier in the war gave him as much right as anyone to be included.

At a stormy public meeting, the Newport community voted overwhelmingly that Peter’s name should appear on the monument – a highly unusual view at a time when most people regarded desertion in wartime as a disgraceful crime.

5:47 comic strip cover
Cover image to 5:47 a digital comic by Fruzsiner Pittner and Iain Donald of the University of Abertay Dundee. Click on the image to visit the Shot at Dawn page.


Now, the story is being told afresh for today’s generation in a digital comic entitled ‘5:47’ – a reference to the time of Peter’s execution at dawn.

The comic will be made available for free download from the Great War Dundee website on Sunday 18 September, exactly 100 years after Peter’s death.

An Innovation Internship funded by the Nine Incorporated Trades enabled computer arts student Fruzsina Pittner to design the comic.

Fruzsina has created a truly evocative digital comic that reflects upon the tragedy and misery of war…
Dr Iain Donald, Abertay University.

Dr Iain Donald of Abertay University, who supervised the project, commented:  “By combining her design and software talents, Fruzsina has created a truly evocative digital comic that reflects upon the tragedy and misery of war and what it can do to fragile young minds.

“’5:47’ also prompts us to think about the meaning of community both in 1916 and in 2016, and to raise awareness of PTSD – which Peter would almost certainly have been diagnosed with had he served in today’s forces.

“We hope that as well as telling Peter’s story and the uplifting response of his local community via the Great War Dundee website, the comic could also be used as an educational resource in schools.”

As well as Abertay University and the Nine Incorporated Trades, many other organisations have contributed to the project, including the University of Dundee, Leisure & Culture Dundee, DC Thomson, the Black Watch Museum, the Imperial War Museum and the Western Front Association.



The full story can be found in Historian Richard Van Emden’s book The Quick and the Dead. And is summarised here in the Jannies Write article Peter Black and the Newport Memorial

Home Front Exhibition

The launch of the Home Front Banner exhibition took place at Lochee Library this morning. There was a large turnout for the event including local history enthusiasts, school children and people from the local community.

Matthew Jarron (museum curator at the University of Dundee) who, along with Linda Nicoll (a volunteer at Dundee City Archives) put together the information and images for the twelve banners, gave a short introduction with Linda and Dr. Billy Kenefick giving more information about various aspects of life in Dundee during the First World War.

The exhibition will be on display in Lochee library until 29th August and will then tour all Dundee libraries.

For information see the Home Front Exhibition tour calendar.

Update: Roll of Honour

Ever since we lauched our Roll of Honour in November 2015, we have been overwhelmed with support from the public. With just one part time member of staff, it has taken longer than we’d anticipated to get information entered, however we have recently recruited and trained several student volunteers to help us with the backlog.

Over the past two days, we’ve updated nearly 60 entries. We’ve been able to tell the stories of men who fell such as Private John Buntin Henderson, Private William Buntin Henderson, and Gunner David Bell. Thank to family members, we’ve been able to add photographs, scans of silk postcards, and much more to their records.

Public submissions have also allowed us to add to our ‘Returnees‘ section. We’ve updated this to include entries for  Lieutenant Colonel William Edward Foggie,  Private James Collins, and Major James Samuel Yeaman Rogers, to name but a few. We’re proud to be able to share the stories of these distinguished and decorated soldiers – and we couldn’t have done it without the public’s help.

We’re still working our way through the backlog so if you’re waiting on information going up, it shouldn’t be too long now. Thank you for your patience and support!


Poppy Partner Opportunities at the Black Watch Castle and Museum

From 30th June until 25th September, Perth’s Five Star Visitor attraction, The Black Watch Castle and Museum will host the Poppies: Weeping Window by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper specially presented by 14-18 NOW to mark the centenary of the First World War. Weeping Window is a cascade comprising several thousand handmade ceramic poppies seen pouring from a high window to the ground below. Weeping Window will flow from a second floor turret window onto the Castle grounds.

The venue is offering a unique opportunity for the community to become involved with this awe inspiring sculpture through their Poppy Partner volunteer role. This role will include supporting the Castle and Museum Team to provide a world class visitor experience, through visitor engagement, tours, events and operational support.

Rebecca Berger, Volunteer Coordinator at the Castle and Museum explains, “This is a fantastic opportunity to participate in the national First World War commemorations right here in Perth. If you would like to be involved in sharing this moving art work with our visitors and helping us to create our own meaning and relevance to this historic sculpture please get in touch with us.”

The breath-taking sculptures Weeping Window and Wave are from the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red. The installation was originally at HM Tower of London in 2014 where 888,246 poppies were displayed, one to honour every death in the British and Colonial forces of the First World War. In their original setting they captured the public imagination and were visited by over five million people.

To find out more about the Volunteer Poppy Partner role and how to apply visit, email or contact 01738 638152 Ex 208

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