The Glasgow School of Art WWI Roll of Honour.
Unlike most memorials it records the names of people who fought not just those who died
The Glasgow School of Art has begun a major research project into its WWI Roll of Honour. Commissioned in the 1920s, the memorial bears the names of over 400 staff and students who fought in the First World War recording their regiments and if they fell in battle. The memorial has recently undergone conservation work and has been installed in the Reid Building where it will remain until the restoration of The Mackintosh Building, its historic home, is complete. The GSA is now looking to find out as much as possible about the people who are remembered on the Roll of Honour.
“Over the years the GSA lost touch with the majority of the students and staff who are remembered on the memorial,” explains Peter Trowles, Mackintosh Curator , the GSA Archives and Collections. “Whilst we know what became of some of them, for the majority we do not know what impact the conflict had on them, whether they completed their studies after the war and went on to make careers as artists, designers and architects or followed very different paths. We know for example that many Scots emigrated to Canada in the immediate post war years and some of our alumni were definitely among them."
“Through this research project we hope to enrich the Roll of Honour collecting and telling the stories of the people whose contribution it marks.”
Tom Gentleman, student, soldier and successful commercial artist
The research project has already begun to reveal a number of fascinating stories including that of Tom Gentleman, who attended evening classes at the GSA between 1905 and 1911 before becoming a full time student. Receiving his Diploma on the eve of war he also won the prestigious Haldane Travelling Scholarship, but had to postpone the trip due to the outbreak of hostilities.
Tom Gentleman during the First World War
(courtesy of Hugh Gentleman)
Tom Gentleman in the 1950s
(courtesy of Hugh Gentleman)
Immediately mobilised for war service in August 1914, Tom remained in service right through until the end of the war. After demobilisation he returned to Glasgow to continue day classes in drawing and painting at the GSA, and the following year was at last able to take up the Haldane scholarship travelling in France, Italy, Corsica and Spain from 1920 to 1921. From 1921 he worked as a freelance graphic designer, exhibiting his work regularly. He also taught briefly at Coatbridge Technical School - Britain's first technical college - before moving to London where he married Winifred Murgatroyd, a fellow GSA student, and began a long career as a commercial artist working for a variety of working of companies ranging from London Transport to Shell and BP. He retired from his post as Head of Design for Shell Mex in 1952 having been elected a Fellow of the Society of Industrial Artists 5 years earlier. Tom Gentleman died in 1966 at the age of 74.
Tom Gentleman’s relationship with the GSA continued into 21st century. Two of his works were featured in The Flower and the Green Leaf: Glasgow School of Art in the Early Twentieth Century, an exhibition which was held to mark the centenary of the completion of the Mackintosh Building in 2009: an oil on canvas painting, Bullfight in Madrid (1921) which related to his Haldane Travelling Scholarship, and Horses being entrained on to horse boxes in WWI, a pencil drawing highlighted with watercolour wash.
“Both my parents studied at The Glasgow School of Art which had a great influence on them,” says his son Hugh Gentleman. Hugh Gentleman, who is now 80, has kindly provided the GSA with photographs and information about his father who is among the people named on the Roll of Honour. “It’s lovely to know that the GSA is researching information on the Roll of Honour so that future generations can know more about the people whose service to their country is marked on the memorial,” he adds.
Women’s war effort marked on the Roll of Honour
Although the vast majority of the names on the GSA’s Roll of Honour are men it does commemorate the service of twelve women, most of whom were Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurses deployed by the British Red Cross.
“Their inclusion in the Roll of Honour, which was commissioned at a pivotal time in the history of women’s suffrage, reflects a considerable shift in attitudes towards feminised labour,” says Maja Shand, who is leading the research project for the GSA. “After a bit of digging into the histories of the twelve women we have unearthed some compelling stories of women who waged another kind of war: a war against conservatism, against the prevailing attitudes of the day, against expectations – against all odds.”
“There were many extraordinary women in this period, many of whom have faded into obscurity. Some, however, have left a paper trail that is enabling us to piece together their stories, stories which demand to be told,” she adds.
Help the GSA to find out more about the names recorded on the memorial
The WWI Roll of Honour is fully digitised, and over time the GSA hopes to build it into a rich archive of the students, staff and alumni who served their country in WWI both in the trenches and at home. To see all the names of the staff and students on the Roll of Honour visit http://www.gsaarchives.net/archon/index.php?p=digitallibrary/digitalcontent&id=2340.
If one of your ancestors is amongst those listed the GSA would love to hear from you.
The WWI Roll of Honour research is being supported by The Scottish Council on Archives’ HLF Skills for the Future Project: ‘Opening up Scotland’s Archives’.
Further press information
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Notes for Editors
Notes for Editors
The Roll of Honour was commissioned by The Glasgow School of Art in the 1920s. It was designed and created by a former student, Dorothy Doddrell, and takes the form of an illuminated parchment in paint and gold leaf set within a substantial copper and wood framed triptych with one large, central panel and two smaller side panels.
Historically located in the ground floor of the west wing of The Mackintosh Building the Roll of Honour survived the fire fully intact and underwent planned conservation in 2014 with the support of a grant from the Centenary Memorials Restoration Fund. The work on the Roll of Honour was undertaken by experts in paper and metalwork conservation at Scottish Conservation Studios