MacLachlan Family Visit The John Oxley Library

Major William Glasgow at Gallipoli, 1915 (John Oxley Library Accession 29571)

Major William Glasgow at Gallipoli, 1915 (John Oxley Library Accession 29571)

One of the most significant World War I collections held by the John Oxley Library is that of Sir William Glasgow, the highest ranking Queenslander to serve during the war.  Glasgow, a grazier from Gympie, served with distinction at Gallipoli and on the Western Front, rising to be commander of the 1st Australian Division.

On Friday, the 31st July 2015, Mr Hugh MacLachlan, the grandson of Sir William Glasgow, visited the John Oxley Library.  Mr MacLachlan was accompanied by his wife, Fiona, and daughter, Airlie MacLachlan.  Mr and Mrs MacLachlan were visiting from their home in South Australia and while in Brisbane took the opportunity to view the Sir William Glasgow and Lady Glasgow collection which was donated to the library last year.  The family also visited the Distant Lines exhibition on Level 2 which features selected items from the Glasgow collection.

Ms Airlie MacLachlan, Mrs Fiona MacLachlan, and Mr Hugh MacLachlan in the John Oxley Library reading room

Ms Airlie MacLachlan, Mrs Fiona MacLachlan, and Mr Hugh MacLachlan in the John Oxley Library reading room

Mr MacLachlan is the only son of Joan, Glasgow's eldest daughter.  Joan Glasgow married South Australian pastoralist, Byron Hugh MacLachlan, in Melbourne in 1928.  The family has been involved in pastoral pursuits since 1888 and the family business, Jumbuck Pastoral, is the largest private wool grower and landowner in Australia.

The Glasgow Collection covers Sir William's entire career from his service in the Boer War and World War I, his time as a senator in the Australian Parliament and his years as Australia's High Commissioner to Canada.  The World War I material includes over 970 letters, mainly written by Glasgow to his wife, Belle, numerous photographs, postcards, maps, and ephemeral items such as menus, invitations and Christmas cards.

The MacLachlan family was thrilled to see the collection and to read through the Glasgow letters which provide an intimate insight into the family during World War I.  Lady Glasgow (Belle) travelled to London in 1916 so that she could be closer to her husband, leaving her two young daughters, Joan and Beth, in Queensland.  She writes fascinating letters about London during the war, including the terrors of German air raids and the social upheaval of women taking over men's roles.

The bulk of the correspondence consists of letters written by Glasgow to his wife - he often wrote twice daily - as well as letters written by the couple to their daughters.  Other correspondents include the Reverend George Green of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment who was a family friend; Belle's brother, Major Colin Stumm, who served with the 11th Australian Light Horse in Gallipoli and Palestine; and Harry Glasgow, brother of Sir William, who remained in Queensland to run the family properties of Sanders and Ivanhoe stations.

 

Ms Airlie MacLachlan, Mrs Fiona MacLachlan, Librarian Lynn Meyers and Mr Hugh MacLachlan in the John Oxley Library reading room

Ms Airlie MacLachlan, Mrs Fiona MacLachlan, Librarian Lynn Meyers and Mr Hugh MacLachlan in the John Oxley Library reading room

It is always a wonderful experience to make these family connections and to realize how much our World War I collections are valued by the descendants, as well as the importance of preserving these precious items for future generations.

The World War I component of the Sir William Glasgow and Lady Glasgow Collection (Accession 29571) is currently being digitised and will soon be available through the library catalogue.

Lynn Meyers, Q ANZAC 100 Content Curator

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