Student news

New College lit in red for Great War Centenary

​​​​​​​A light display will form the centrepiece of commemorations to mark the centenary of the First World War.

The University’s New College facade and arch will be bathed in red light in honour of those who served.

A Remembrance Day service will be held in memory of the fallen, and untold stories of staff and students involved in the war will be shared in an online series.

Remembrance Day Service

Staff and students from universities across the city are invited to attend the annual service on Sunday, 11 November. Families, friends and members of the public are also welcome.

The City of Edinburgh Universities Officers Training Corps, the Royal Naval Reserve and the East of Scotland Universities' Air Squadron will be on parade at the service, to be held at 10.15am at the Playfair Library Hall, Old College, South Bridge. 

The Pipes and Drums of the Universities Officers Training Corps will be in attendance. 

Following the service, the Services contingent will form in Old College Quadrangle for laying of wreaths and to observe a two-minute silence.  

Shared stories

Tales of University staff and students who contributed to the war efforts are collated in an online collection by the University Main Library.  

These include medical graduate Dr William Aldren Turner, who devised a management strategy for shell shock.

As a Territorial officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps Turner was rushed to France in December 1914 to help treat patients suffering from ‘nervous and mental shock.’

From 1915 to 1919 he was a consultant neurologist to the War Office.

Wound antiseptic

Dr Alexander Murray Drennan, also a medical graduate, was an official Pathologist with the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Prior to his deployment he had been working with colleagues at Edinburgh to find an antiseptic to prevent sepsis.

In 1915 they published a paper in the British Medical Journal on their experiments with ‘Eusol’, or Edinburgh University Solution of Lime.

While at war Dr Drennan relied on feedback from his colleagues who were using the Eusol treatment, and by 1916 Eusol was an established means for treating septic wounds.

Treating animals

James Ronald Rider, a veterinary graduate, served as a Captain in the Army Veterinary Corps. 

He was responsible for the medical care of animals used by the army including horses, mules and pigeons. 

Teaching opportunities

Dorothy Johnstone was the first outstanding artist to be trained wholly in the institute known as Edinburgh College of Art, which is now part of the University.

The lack of available male staff during the First World War benefited women as they were often appointed as substitute lecturers, assistants, demonstrators and examiners.

After graduating in 1912, by 1914 Ms Johnstone was appointed as Assistant Teacher in the Drawing and Painting Section.

Special courses

The University also set up special courses for demobilised men.

The Edinburgh Lip-Reading Association set up classes at Edinburgh College of Art to teach soldiers and sailors deafened in the war.

The men were also able to attend art classes while they were studying at the College. 

Related links

Untold Stories  – University of Edinburgh Library blog