Rare find focuses on Scottish-American history
By Tech. Sgt. Kristina Barrett, 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 05, 2009
GLASGOW, Scotland (AFNS) -- A Glasgow city councillor who did not want her summer break in session to go to waste uncovered a rare find.
Dr. Nina Baker, a Glasgow city councillor for Ward 10, was indexing the old books in the city chambers' library when she happened upon a tattered ledger dating from 1943. The 6-inch thick tome revealed itself as a Red Cross/USO servicemembers' club sign-in roster.
"I kept wondering what was in the book cases and decided to have a look. When I found this book, I was so excited," said the councillor, also known as a Bailie. "I knew this was a significant find since we no longer have American military in the Glasgow area.
American servicemembers began pouring into Glasgow as a stop-over on their way to forward-deployed locations in the European theater. The club served as a morale booster for troops far from home. Signing in by state, Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines were given a chance to have some fun before heading off to the impending offenses inBelgium and various fronts across the (European) continent."
"This is an amazing find that highlights the historic relationship between Scotland and the United States," said Col. Timothy Cashdollar, the 501st Combat Support Wing commander.
The colonel was invited to Glasgow by Lord Provost Bob Winter and given the honor of being the first American military member to view the book since it was shelved after the war.
"It's an honor to see this and read the names of our brave men and women who fought in the war," he added. "You know that some of them didn't come home so this might be the last tangible memento from them before they died."
The book also brought back memories for the lord provost, or mayor, of the city.
"I remember the American servicemembers who came into the city," he said. "I remember them handing out chewing gum and sweets."
He also said he remembers the bombings of the Clydebank Blitz in 1941, which saw the the worst destruction and civilian loss of life in all of Scotland in the short period of just two days.
"I knew that when I started seeing Americans coming to Scotland, it was the beginning of the end of the war," he added.
City historians and bibliophiles are anxious to get their hands on the book when it makes its way to the city's Mitchell Library, which is the largest reference library in Europe and the repository of a number of Scottish archives. There's talk of digitizing the book so people can search online to research their ancestry, but the book has yet to be completely inspected by experts to see if this is possible.
"A significant amount of repair work will have to be done," said Karen Cunningham, head of libraries and community facilities for the city. "We will have our archivists evaluate it and reference it with other related documents."
Part of those reference documents will be the family histories sections of the library. Descendents of war brides can connect to their family member through their signature.
Doctor Baker commented and all agreed it was wonderful that the book lasted this long.
After resting on a shelf for more than 60 years and long since the last U.S. military presence has left Scotland, this book awoke two countries' historic ties of friendship.