She managed to escape from a torpedoed ship before washing up in Italy and serving across Europe at the height of the First World War.

Now the tale of Glasgow nurse Ethel Aikman has been unveiled at the city’s Mitchell Library. 

Ms Aikman was a young Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse during the conflict. She survived the attack on the SS Transylvania and ended up on the north-west coast of Italy, living in the town of Savona along with the 400 other survivors. 

She went on to serve across Europe, and her colourful experiences are detailed in letters to her family back home and in her own photographs, telling the story of an ordinary Glaswegian living through an extraordinary period in history.

Aikman’s story was shared with the public for the first time as part of a drive 
to help preserve the untold stories of the war. 

The people of Glasgow are being asked to dig out their First World War family treasures for a digital archiving roadshow which is intended to keep the country’s memories alive. 

The Lest We Forget: Keep Their Stories Alive Project is appealing to the public to delve into their handed-down possessions and First World War mementoes so they can be preserved in digital form for generations to come. 

Glasgow City Archives, the Commonwealth War Graves Foundation and the University of Oxford are running a drop-in session at the Mitchell Library on April 10 to gather stories and objects remembering the war. 

Those interested in coming along on the day will be greeted by a group of around 25 volunteers and archivists, and will be given their heirlooms back on the day after they are recorded. 

Michael Gallagher, an archivist with Glasgow City Archives, said: “The idea behind it is to capture individual stories that haven’t been preserved in formal recording archives or museums. 

“People have the opportunity to come in and bring objects from their family or items to do with the First World War, so you may have medals, diaries, correspondence, photographs – so bring them in, they will be digitised and the person will be interviewed so they have a chance to tell the story behind it.

“Even if they don’t have any objects, people may have family stories that have been handed down concerning the war so they may want to come and tell us their stories and make sure they are preserved as part of this project, and they will be preserved forever.”

Glasgow sent tens of thousands of young men to fight in the war, with 18,000 serving who would never return. Those involved in the project say this shows how important it is for Glaswegians to get involved.  

Mr Gallagher added: “It’s a chance for Glasgow’s voice to be heard as part of this national project. It is really important for the identity of individuals and of the city.” 

The Mitchell roadshow is one of more than 20 across the UK. The event will take place in the Moir-Dyer Room between 12pm and 6pm on April 10.