A moving letter to a broken-hearted mother; a book given as a gift to a medic on a hospital ship; a medal awarded to a brave soldier – these are just some of the artefacts at the heart of Lanarkshire’s War, a powerful new exhibition at Low Parks Museum in Hamilton.

The exhibition is the result of a partnership project between Culture NL Museums and Heritage and South Lanarkshire Leisure and Culture, funded by Museums Galleries Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It explores stories and experiences of people from all over Lanarkshire in the First World War, using objects and photographs from the museum collections.

Barrie Duncan, who jointly curates the exhibition with Michael Allan of Acces NL, says: “SLLC cares for the regimental collections of The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), and so we have a fantastic collection of military items, photographs and research material relating to that Regiment in the First World War.

“The Cameronians were Lanarkshire’s local infantry regiment, who also had strong ties to Glasgow. Three Territorial Battalions were based there during the WWI, 1st Battalion left Maryhill Barracks to go to War in August 1914 and the regiment recruited heavily in the Glasgow and Lanarkshire areas.

The exhibition is full of fascinating social, industrial, military and archive items, but at its heart are the moving, often harrowing, personal stories that show how war affected the region.

One of the most heartbreaking is a letter written to John Miller’s mother.

John was from Motherwell, born in 1893, and a labourer at Dalzell Steelworks, which was owned by famous iron and steel company David Colville and Sons Ltd.

He was a part-time soldier in the local Territorial Force battalion, the 6th Scottish Rifles, mobilised for service when war broke out. On March 21, 1915, he arrived at Le Havre in France and just a few weeks later, over June 15 and 16, the battalion was involved – and suffered heavy losses - in action at Festubert.

John survived Festubert, but was killed on October 23, 1918, just weeks before the Armistice on November 11. After his death, John’s family received notice that he had been awarded the Military Medal for his bravery in action.

The exhibition includes John’s medals and a letter from the battalion’s commanding officer to Mrs Miller, which includes the lines: “I regret very much that it is my part to write to you & inform you that your son, Sgt. Miller, was killed in action early in the morning of 23rd.

“While we were advancing he was hit in the body by a machine gun bullet & was killed practically instantaneously.

“I had no time to attend to him but I am assured that he was buried after we had advanced some distance.

“Your son was my platoon sergeant & I had the greatest respect for his abilities as a soldier & a man. I am very sorry to lose him as he will be very hard to replace…..”

The exhibition also includes a series of postcards sent home from the front line by Charles Chalmers. Charles was born in Glasgow in 1896 and he enlisted in the army in December 1914.

He was posted to the 5th Battalion The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), one of three Territorial Force battalions of the regiment based in Glasgow.

Charles fought at the Battle of High Wood, during the Battle of the Somme, on July 20, 1916. He was wounded and taken prisoner by the German army and he spent the next two and a half years in prisoner of war camps across Germany. He returned to the UK in November 1918, a week after the signing of the Armistice, on board SS Willochra.

While he was a POW, he sent postcards home to his mother, who lived at 159 Gardiner Street in Glasgow. One postcard shows Allied prisoners piling up loafs of bread to distribute among the men. On the reverse Charles has written: ‘One of these loaves is for 15 men – not much to go round is it?’

Lanarkshire’s War runs until October 29 at Low Parks and in 2018, it will take up residence at Summerlee Museum of Industrial Life in Coatbridge.

Further information on the exhibition is available at www.slleisureandculture.co.uk or www.culturenl.co.uk