Pupils’ WWI research

Pupils have been researching profiles of Shetland personnel involved in the First World War.

SECONDARY three pupils at the Anderson High School have recently been working on profiles of Shetland service personnel from World War One.

The focus of the research has been centred on former pupils from the Anderson Educational Institute Memorial, as well as other Shetlanders, whom pupils will be visiting memorials of on a trip to the battlefields of France and Belgium in September.


Each pupil was allocated a profile of a soldier or sailor lost. Research has included working upon details of the mans family, service detail, as well as information on where they were killed. Shetland Museum and Archive staff have been in the school working with pupils, looking at artefacts.  

The Shetland Family History Society will be coming in to do “research surgeries” on the profiles at a future date. After this, the profiles are to be passed on to Shetland Family History Society, and Shetland Museum and Archives for further research and work. From this, additional detail will be developed and built up on the different individual stories.

Shetland Museum's collections curator Jenny Murray speaking about Magnus Christie. She is holding his hat, which his mother kept a hold of after he was killed at the Ancre in November 1916.

History pupil Holly Smith said: “I am researching former Anderson Educational Institute pupil William Gilbert Manson. He lived at Commercial Road, Lerwick, and died in hospital, Boulogne, France. This was from wounds he received at the Battle of the Ancre in November 1916. He was only 20 years old and in the Gordon Highlanders. His Service number was S/43372, and he is buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery.  

Another pupil, Vicky Morrison, has been researching William H.L. Johnston, also of the Gordon Highlanders, who was killed in the same battle, again aged just 20.

She added: “We got some websites to use and some of them were very helpful like the Commonwealth War Graves Commission page, and the Shetland Family History Bayanne page. We had to find out about our soldiers personal information, such as family and home location, their rank, regiment and where and when they were killed. Overall it has been challenging finding the correction information, but when I did it was interesting seeing all the places he had visited and finding places in Shetland I never knew existed.”

Pupils, in conjunction with the Shetland Family History Society, Shetland Heritage and Shetland Museum and Archives, will have an open night to share some of these stories.