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a collection of letters and drawings from WW1

Launch of the First World War Digital Archive

The Black Watch Castle and Museum is excited to be part of the new national First World War digital archive. Following a 4-year project funded by a LIBOR grant from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Army Museums Ogilby Trust (AMOT) has launched today . TOM is an online platform which provides access to the First World War archives held in Regimental Museums across the UK. Launching during Remembrance month, TOM has preserved the experiences and memories of those who served in the First World War for future generations. 

The Black Watch Museum is one of over 75 participating collections, with more set to join in 2022, TOM will eventually hold over 2 million items including some never-before-seen material. Covering the period 1900 to 1929, the platform contains documents, photographs, letters, diaries and more, all related to the British Army and the men and women who served.

Jennifer Marshall, Archivist at The Black Watch Castle and Museum’s explains, “This project has been a great opportunity for The Black Watch Castle & Museum to share its WW1 collections with a much wider audience. We’re delighted to be participating alongside many other museums representing the history of British Army regiments.”

Jennifer continues, “Over 2100 items from our WW1 collections will be available to view through TOM. The digitised items continue to be safely stored onsite at The Black Watch Castle & Museum alongside many more that weren’t included in this project.”

TOM will become an essential tool for anyone interested in military, social or family history. You can use it from the comfort of your own home, exploring material which is held across the UK while staying in one location. With all material digitised, users can search knowing that there is a visual copy available to see. If you need any extra direction, you will be able to contact the relevant museums directly and speak to their expert Archivists and Curators.

The collection is an excellent way to find stories of soldiers such as Lieutenant Frank Coutts who served with both the 4th and 5th Battalions, The Black Watch, during WW1. Coutts had been a student at the Dundee School of Art and was working with the Artistic Department at the Dundee Courier before the war. He continued to use his artistic ability while serving with The Black Watch, designing menu cards and souvenir programmes, as well as taking part in theatre performances. He was wounded in France in 1917, but survived the war, serving the final part with the Cameron Highlanders.

The Hon. Mrs Katherine Swinfen Eady, Trustee of the Army Museums Ogilby Trust, commented: “With the opening of the TOM Platform we are given a wonderful key to unlock history. As historians this is an invaluable gift, as family members researching their beloved lost relatives, it is equally as important. TOM allows us to piece together the truth left behind by the subjects, to build up that wonderful pattern of a jigsaw and find the missing fragments of information. It is especially important as it will help us all further our knowledge and understanding of not just the military side of the First World War, but the social aspect of an event in history that affected and shaped this country and the world.”

Lieutenant General Sir Philip Trousdell, former Chairman of the Army Museums Ogilby Trust added: “In The Ogilby Muster, the Army Museums Ogilby Trust has created an enormously powerful research tool for students, family researchers, historians and those with even a casual interest in the First World War. This project honours the memories and experiences of those who served in the Army in ‘The War to End all Wars’, their families and their communities. The museums from which these archives have been mustered have rich collections of artefacts ready for you to examine.”  

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