Project to tell 100 local stories marks start of BBC Scotland’s multiplatform World War One centenary coverage

The content will, hopefully, connect strongly with our audiences and contribute to a valuable archive of the stories of Scots on the front line and at home during the first truly global conflict.”Donalda MacKinnon, Head of Programmes and Services, BBC Scotland
Date: 18.02.2014     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.17
BBC Scotland today launched its ambitious coverage of the centenary of World War One with a project to air 100 stories from the across the country.

World War One At Home will feature a wealth of compelling stories on BBC Radio Scotland programmes over four years.

Beginning on Monday 24 February, each story will air on Good Morning Scotland, The John Beattie Show and Newsdrive on radio and will also be available on the World War One At Home website after broadcast.

Among the first stories to transmit are: Zeppelin air raids on Leith, Monday 24 February; Mary Barbour and the Glasgow Rent Strikes, Tuesday 25 February; Montrose Air Station, which had the first Royal Flying Corps Squadron, Wednesday 26 February; and Carl Lody, a German spy who operated in Edinburgh, Thursday 27 February. All of the stories can also be found online at

The project marks the start of a wide range of BBC Scotland content across television, radio and online over four years. Scotland suffered proportionately the highest number of casualties among the home nations in the war, which was to have a profound and lasting effect on the country. BBC Scotland’s range of programming will help deepen people’s understanding of the conflict, offer fresh perspectives and commemorate those who died.

The broadcaster’s programming forms part of the BBC’s World War One Centenary season, which is unique in its scale across the United Kingdom.

On television, the BBC Scotland documentaries include the Machine Gun and Skye’s Band Of Brothers, presented by Neil Oliver, which looks at the science of the Maxim gun and its devastating effect on a tightly-knit community; The Pipers Of The Trenches, which examines why the pipers’ centuries-old tunes, remembering ancient battles, still have a relevance today; and One Hundred Years Of The Sunday Post, the story of how the newspaper rose from its beginnings as a war-time newsletter.

On BBC Radio Scotland, highlights will include The School That Went To War, a five-part series that looks at the conflict through the eyes of Scottish school pupils who set out to track the lives of soldiers from their home community; And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, presented by Ricky Ross, the story of Borders businessman, better known to many as singer songwriter Eric Bogle, who helped a generation of Australians come to terms with the bitter battle for Gallipoli; and The Writers’ Propaganda Bureau, which reveals how Scotland’s leading writers were recruited by the War Propaganda Bureau, to persuade men to enlist for the Front.

BBC ALBA’s programming includes The Handsome Lads – Na Gillean Grinn, which tells the story of Simon MacQuarrie, the first Uist man to be killed in the war; Eòrpa – HMS Timbertown, on the 100-plus Lewis men who were interned in Groningen in Holland; and Iain Againn Fhèin – Our John, an account of the lives of two strangers - one from Hawick and one from Tiree - brought together by a war which would see one of them lose his life.

On Radio Nan Gaidheal, the programming includes The Battlefield, which follows personal pilgrimages to visit the graves of relatives buried at Ypres and Passchendaele; Seachdain sa Chogadh/Weekly War Briefing, a timeline using the station’s eye-witness archive recordings, song and poetry and augmented with new recordings; and An Dealbh/The Photograph, a documentary based on a photograph of nine Lewis men who served with the Gordons.

BBC Learning Scotland are also producing guides for a new interactive storytelling format online on subjects such as the Somme film from 1916 and the impact of Sixties theatre on our view of the war. Each of these guides is authored by well-known names such as Shirley Williams and Joan Bakewell.

Donalda MacKinnon, Head of Programmes and Services for BBC Scotland, says: “A considerable number of communities across Scotland were affected by the war and in many cases the effects and legacies of the conflict still resonate.

“Our programmes across four years will explore many aspects of the war – military, political, religious and cultural. The productions we have planned thus far will be augmented by further commissions over the four years of the commemoration of the war. The content will, hopefully, connect strongly with our audiences and contribute to a valuable archive of the stories of Scots on the front line and at home during the first truly global conflict.”

Carl Lody

Nearly a century ago, a man checked into the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh claiming to be an American tourist, but in reality he was a German spy.

Carl Lody, who travelled under the name of Charles Inglis, had been a junior naval officer in Germany but had been forced to retire due to health reasons and had been living in the United States.

Although he appeared determined to be a success in the world of espionage, his methods of communication from Edinburgh were amateurish and were monitored by MO5, the forerunner of MI5.

Peter Jackson, Professor of History at Glasgow University and Editor of Intelligence and National Security, tells the story of the unsuccessful spy in Edinburgh’s midst.

He says the quality of Lody’s reporting left quite a lot to be desired. One of the most interesting instances was a report circulating around Scotland that several battalions of Russian troops had arrived to take part in fighting on the Western front. The fact that Lody reports it without comment suggests he wasn't the most critical of intelligence collectors.

This World War One At Home story uses readings from Lody’s intelligence files and letters to give an insight into how this keen but untrained ‘spook’ operated in Edinburgh. Lody was later tracked to Liverpool and then Killarney in Ireland where he was arrested. He was executed at the Tower of London following his trial.

The Carl Lody story will air on Radio Scotland on Good Morning Scotland, the John Beattie Show and Newsdrive on Thursday, 27 February.

Mary Barbour and the Glasgow Rent Strikes

Mary Barbour, who was born into a family of textile workers in Ayrshire, became a famous name in the social history of the war years after playing a leading role in the Glasgow rent strikes.

Moving to the city from Kilbarchan, she joined the Co-operative Women's Guild and helped set up a network of activists who would raise the alarm when the bailiffs were moving into an area.

The protest movement had been born in response to the move by unscrupulous landlords who raised rents when new workers for the munitions factories and shipyards moved into the area.

By November 1915, when many men were still fighting at the Front, 20,000 tenants were in rent arrears in Glasgow alone.

Mary Barbour was heavily involved in organising demonstrations outside the courts in Glasgow. The protests forced the Prime Minister, Lloyd George, to introduce legislation which had a positive impact across the United Kingdom. Dr Catriona Burness – who’s researching the life of Mary Barbour - and the ex-Maryhill MP Maria Fyfe, who is campaigning for a memorial in memory of Mary Barbour, tell her story for World War One At Home.

Mary Barbour and the Glasgow Rent Strikes will air on Radio Scotland on Good Morning Scotland, the John Beattie Show and Newsdrive on Tuesday, 25 February.

Notes to Editors

• World War One At Home stories from Scotland can be browsed online at from 24 February. To help unearth and bring these original wartime accounts to life, IWM (Imperial War Museums) is working together with the BBC in a partnership that will span the World War One Centenary. World War One At Home is also working with academics from universities across Britain who have been supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The AHRC funds research in the arts and humanities and helps share the findings with the wider public. BBC Scotland is also working with other academics from Scottish universities during the course of the project.

• World War One on the BBC is the biggest and most ambitious season ever commissioned. Comprising over 130 new commissions and over 2,500 hours of programming across four years, across the UK. The portal at contains programme information and links to a wide range of content such as the new innovative iWonder guides. Blending documentary, discussion and presenter-led mini-films, each guide takes online users through some of the key issues relating to the war, building to a collection of over 100 guides.