MOIRA Gallie remembers her grandfather as “a quiet, canny man” who never spoke about his role in the First World War.

After James Henderson died, the family realised they knew little about him and decided to carry out their own research.

Thanks to a fascinating database of admissions to the Erskine Hospital, Moira has been able to uncover details the family have never known.

“My mum, who died two years ago, didn’t have much information about her father,” says Moira. “I suppose you just didn’t talk about things back then.”

Erskine joined up with the University of Glasgow to catalogue and preserve the records of Erskine Hospital in Renfrewshire.

Now thanks to the University Archives Service and a team of volunteer indexers, the data from the 1916 to 1936 Erskine Hospital admissions has been fully digitised and turned into a free, online resource on their website.

Erskine Hospital – then called the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital for Limbless Sailors and Soldiers - was set up in 1916 to treat soldiers who had suffered the loss of a limb during the war.

Erskine Chief Executive Steve Conway said: “The details of every soldier and sailor admitted during the First World War were recorded in leather bound books which included the nature of their injury, where they were serving when injured and their unit, so we have a fascinating insight into the history of the patients admitted to the hospital.

“We can also see that many had return visits for treatment or the fitting of artificial limbs as their wounds healed. We are delighted that, thanks to the painstaking work by the University, relatives can now research our records about members of their families injured in the First World War from the comfort of their own home.”

For Moira Gallie, the database has been invaluable and she is delighted it is now online.

“It meant so much to my family and I to find out more about grandfather’s time at Erskine,” she explains.

James Henderson was a shoemaker in the village of Canonbie in Dumfries and Galloway, where Moira now lives.

He lost his right leg in action in the First World War, but never spoke of it to his family.

After he died, his war medals and the shrapnel which injured him were passed on to family members.

Moira and her uncle Robert Henderson, who lives in Huntingdale, Western Australia, decided to look into James’s past.

He was just 20 at the outbreak of the war and left his job as a groom and gardener to join the Border Regiment. He was seriously injured in October 1918.

“My grandfather’s records revealed that he was admitted to Erskine on a number of occasions between 1919 and 1921,” says Moira. “What I didn’t know is that it was also at Erskine that he retrained as a shoemaker.”

Moira’s research also revealed how her grandfather met her grandmother, Jessie, who was a seamstress from Clydebank.

She said: “We think, as my grandparents married in 1921, that they met at some sort of social outing at Erskine. It is such a shame they didn’t talk more about this. Sometimes my research has raised more questions than it answers.”

James and Jessie went on to have four children, Mary, James, Robert and Jessie, Moira’s mother. James died when Moira was just seven years old.

“I wish I could talk to my grandfather about his time at Erskine, and meeting my grandmother,” she says. “But I’m glad I discovered a little more about him.”

Professor Tony Pollard, Glasgow University’s Professor of Conflict History and Archaeology, said: “The Erskine records are remarkable and we are delighted that we could help to bring them to a wider audience.

“There are hundreds of personal stories of ordinary men who came back from war injured and broken. These are tales of endurance, rehabilitation and retraining to return to civilian life. And the admissions records also provide an insight into the development of prosthetics and care of war casualties post conflict.”

For the families searching out their ancestors First World War story, it will give them online access to details of injuries, recovery and in some cases, their time spent retraining at the hospital workshops.

Moira explains: “It meant so much to my family and I to find out more about my grandfather’s time at Erskine Hospital.

“It was fascinating to put another piece of the puzzle back into his life story.”

Visit to access the database.