tales from the old home during the great war

During its 92 year lifespan, the Aberlour Orphanage came to mean home and family to thousands of ‘mitherless bairns’. Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the Orphanage saw 289 boys leaving to fight. It was a very emotional time for the young boys, other children and wardens.

Here you can view the trailer for our short film about their experiences on the frontline.

Many of those leaving to join the frontline were brothers, often separated by their duties within the army. Like all soldiers during the War, the boys sought comfort in sending regular letters home, which were published in the monthly Orphanage Magazine. This would become a way of keeping in touch with not only the ‘Old Home’, but also their extended family.
View a selection of WWI letters from our Old Boys.

Our records show that, of the 289 boys who went off to war, 167 were un-wounded, 59 were killed, 58 were wounded, and five become prisoners of war. Of those who survived, many travelled overseas, while some returned to Scotland and became farmers using the skills they picked up during their time at the Orphanage.

In November 1924, the warden, staff and orphans joined together to dedicate a war memorial to those who had fallen in the Great War. Just over 20 years later, the Second World War would see additional names added to the memorial, which can still be seen in the grounds of St Margaret’s Church, Aberlour today. We received funding from the War Memorials Trust to restore the memorial in time for our rededication event in November 2014. See how the memorial looks today.

If you would like to search Aberlour’s archive for your Orphanage records, or those of a relative, complete this form.