Fog of War: WWI and Blindness

Callum November 10, 2014 0
Fog of War: WWI and Blindness

Scottish War Blinded tells us about an upcoming exhibition that documents the charity’s formation in response to the devastating effects of early chemical warfare

Scottish War Blinded is a charity which was born out of the need to help servicemen during the First World War. Brutal weapons such as mustard gas were being used on a large scale for the first time, with the result that a number of returning soldiers were in need of support with life-changing visual impairments.

PX Trauma Care on the BattlefieldRoyal Blind set about addressing this need by establishing a sister organisation in 1915, Scottish War Blinded, to provide rehabilitation, vocational training and social opportunities from a base at Newington House. Almost a hundred years on, though its close links Royal Blind remain as strong as ever, Scottish War Blinded’s aims and facilities have become ever more ambitious.

New lease of life
It now provides access to comprehensive outreach services across Scotland and runs the award-winning Linburn Centre, where the charity’s members can try their hand at a huge assortment of activities, ranging from woodwork, art and computer skills to white water rafting, gliding and even tank driving.

The outreach services and activities offered at the Linburn Centre are hugely appreciated by members such as Derek McDonald, who comments, “Since becoming a member of Scottish War Blinded, I have discovered a new lease of life by taking part in white water rafting, gliding and 4×4 driving. I also enjoy the wide range of social opportunities throughout the year as well as establishing new friendships at the Linburn Centre.”

The charity provides free support to Scottish former members of the Armed Forces who have lost their sight in war, as well as those who have lost their sight subsequently. Age is no restriction, with current members serving in conflicts from World War Two to Afghanistan.

Scottish War Blinded.What Scottish War Blinded can offer has changed a great deal since its formation, but it has never forgotten the terrible conflict that led to its creation. From 10th – 15th November, the charity’s exhibition, ‘Silhouettes in the Fog and Guiding Lights’ will be shown at Edinburgh’s Central Library.

The exhibition describes the development of chemical warfare in WWI and trauma care on the Western Front, as well as attitudinal changes in the UK and the rehabilitation and training provided to blinded soldiers by Scottish War Blinded. The space also an area dedicated to the Scottish War Blinded’s World War One Remembered project, based on stories from the relatives of individuals who served during the Great War, plus a WWI-inspired art exhibition produced by members of the Linburn Centre. An accompanying audio guide developed by Imagineear will provide engaging information for general visitors and essential guidance for visitors with visual impairments.

The ‘Silhouettes in the Fog and Guiding Lights’ exhibition is currently running at Edinburgh Central Library until Saturday 22nd November; further information  can be found here; for more details about Scottish War Blinded, contact 0131 229 1456 or visit

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