Private Colin Rice, an Edinburgh soldier

A new exhibition on Capital Collections brings together a collection of correspondence relating to Private Colin Rice [1880-1918], a soldier from Leith who served in World War One. The letters were kept by his family and we’re indebted to Ford Paterson, his great-nephew for donating the material to the library and sharing the story with us.

It's a long way to Tipperary

According to the census, Colin Rice was aged 30 in 1911 and living at Springfield Street in Leith with his father, mother, sister Jane and his nephew John Ford. Colin’s father worked as an iron moulder, his sister was a machinist for a waterproofs factory and Colin worked as a goods porter at the railway station.

In March 1916 the British Government introduced the Military Service Act, which meant compulsory enlistment for all eligible unmarried or widowed men without children between the ages of 18 and 41. We do not know when Colin enrolled in the army, but because of his age, and because the correspondence we have is dated from 1918, it is probable that he joined up after March 1916.

Unfortunately, the only messages written in Colin Rice’s own hand are the regulation postcards stating, “I am quite well”, and a “letter follows at first opportunity”, and so we can only imagine from other accounts of the time, the experience he endured in the trenches.

Postcard to Miss J Rice from WW1 frontline

It was in May 1918, that Colin’s sister Jane received a letter from an officer in his 9th Royal Scots battalion informing her that Private Rice had been wounded in a counter-attack on 24th March 1918. The short letter concluded:
“In all probability he will be a prisoner in the enemy’s hands.”

Another letter arrived for Jane in September confirming that Private Rice was still missing since the date on which he was ‘wounded’ on 24th March. An official leaflet entitled, ‘Missing Officers and Men’ was enclosed for her reference.

In June 1919, a memo was sent to Jane Rice regarding her missing brother:
“no further information has been received in this office, and it is to be feared that, after such a lapse of time without any information, he no longer lives…. As soon as he is Presumed Dead by The War Office you will at once be communicated with”.

In September 1919, a letter arrived for Jane confirming that Colin was now missing, presumed dead. Private Rice’s battalion had been holding trenches in the front, near to St Quentin, (the Somme) when the Germans had “opened their great offensive in overwhelming force” in March 1918.

The collection of documents also contains a note of sympathy from Winston Churchill and a note thanks from King George V:
“I join with my grateful people in sending you this memorial of a brave life given for others in the Great War.”

Note of thanks from King George V

The collection tells a story of love and loss repeated in thousands of households across the country. The official starkness of the military correspondence makes the story seem all the more poignant when we’re left to imagine the missing side of the story: the family’s enduring hope and resilience in the pursuit of answers.

Writer aged 14 – 17?


Then you’re invited to a new group for creative writing types at Morningside Library.


Over 6 fortnightly sessions starting 3rd March 5.00 – 6.00pm you’ll get the chance to flex your creative muscles.

We’ve got some exercises lined up that are guaranteed to motivate and inspire.

You’ll also get the chance to chat about your work with the rest of the group.

Interested? Call 0131 529 5654 or pop in to Morningside Library to find out more.

Green Pencil Award winners enjoy Dynamic Earth poetry workshop

Originally posted on Bright Futures:

gp1Green Pencil Award finalists came together for a writing workshop held at Dynamic Earth on Wednesday 11 February.

The workshop, led by Georgi Gill – Education Officer at the Scottish Poetry Library, was attended by 16 of the 20 winners, who were accompanied by some of their parents and teachers.

The Green Pencil Award is a creative writing competition that calls for P4-7 pupils to respond to an environmental theme.

View original 136 more words

Employment Fair at Drumbrae Library Hub

Drumbrae employabilityAre you looking for a new job or want to learn something new?  Are you thinking about volunteering but not sure where to start?  Think you are lacking in skills to get your foot in the door?

Drumbrae Library Hub will host an employment fair on Tuesday 3rd March aimed at those looking for work, wanting to improve their skill set or seeking advice on volunteering opportunities.

Attending will be representatives from a number of organisations who will be able to advise about benefits and offer support in job search, training and learning opportunities in South West Edinburgh.

The event begins at 10.30am and runs until 1.30pm.  Drumbrae Library Hub is served by Lothian Buses 1, 21 and 26.

Your personal reading recommendations

“Received my recommendations today. Thanks very much, they’re really interesting and not books I’d have discovered myself. Great!” 

Want to broaden your reading horizons?

Simply fill in this form and we’ll get back to you with five unique reading suggestions.

And that’s it! What are you waiting for?

What was your favourite childhood book?

Children's Library, Edinburgh Central Library

Central Library have been asking readers to nominate their favourite childhood books recently, and it’s striking how many of these titles are still popular today.

Or is it?

As this article points out, children’s books are very often written to be read again and again, and parents and grandparents love sharing the books they enjoyed as kids with their own wee ones. So it’s maybe not so surprising that certain children’s titles have such longevity.

So, what your favourite childhood book? Is it one which has been nominated already, or maybe it’s something a little more unusual?

Let us know – we’d love to hear from you.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

February 22nd brings the beginning of the New Chinese Year of the Goat!

Get lucky this year by wearing Red, Brown and Purple; making sure the numbers 2 and 7 are on your lottery tickets and by filling your house with Carnations.

If you want to find out your real fortune for the next 12 months than head to one of the  South West Neighbourhood libraries (Balerno, Balgreen, Colinton, Currie, Fountainbridge, Oxgangs, Ratho, Sighthill or Wester Hailes) and pick up your fortune cookie and February book recommendation.

Fortunes will be baked and ready for Friday 20th February but these good fortunes are limited so be quick!