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Bid to find the stories behind wartime images

JUST who was the flamboyantly dressed Lieutenant Fred Barton of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders?

HISTORIC: Mystery surrounds the pictures of the temporary military hospital in Shepreth, Cambridgeshire, where soldiers recovered after being wounded in the First World War, and the flamboyantly dressed Lieutenant Fred Barton of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Pictures: PA
HISTORIC: Mystery surrounds the pictures of the temporary military hospital in Shepreth, Cambridgeshire, where soldiers recovered after being wounded in the First World War, and the flamboyantly dressed Lieutenant Fred Barton of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Pictures: PA

Is the group of convalescing soldiers labelled "The B'hoys" connected with Celtic FC?

And was the rural English hospital's Scottish matron the reason for so many kilts and Glengarry and Kilmarnock bonnets on display?

After posting dozens of photographs of First World War soldiers recovering from their injuries in a Cambridgeshire village after being wounded on the Western Front, amateur historians are now trying to piece together the story behind the images.

Pictures show injured soldiers being cared for at a temporary military hospital in Shepreth, Cambridgeshire, nearly 100 years ago.

They were posted on the website of the Shepreth Memory Preservation Society, as Britain prepares to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the conflict in 2014.

Throughout the photographs are pictures of Tommies whose insignia and dress easily identifies them as Scottish.

One is even named as Second Lieutenant Fred Barton, photographed in ceremonial garb, although little or nothing else is known of them.

Amateur historian Adrian Gray said the soldiers were sent to the 20-bed hospital during the final stages of recovery on a lottery basis, having been sent from the front via Dover or Southampton.

But he added: "Amy Webber, the wife of hospital commandant Mowbray Webber, was Scottish and its just possible she asked for the main hospital in Cambridge to send Scottish lads. She was the driving force at Shepreth.

"We've been able to identify many as belonging to Scots regiments from their insignia. Another is labelled The B'hoys and I suspect that too may have a Glasgow connection."

Two years ago a postcard written to a Great War soldier in 1915 was discovered behind a wooden panel in Shepreth Village Hall, which had been used as a military hospital between 1914 and 1919.

Villagers said several people, whose relatives had worked as nurses at the hospital, revealed they had Great War photographs in family albums after reading about the discovery of the postcard.

Website designer Jordan Smith, one of the founders of the Shepreth Memory Preservation Society, has collated the images and included them in a feature about Shepreth during the First World War.

Mr Smith said: "We very much hope people will recognise some of the faces in the pictures and tell us something about them.

"We hope people find them as fascinating as we do. They show servicemen with nurses in and around the village hall – which hasn't changed that much in the past century."

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