The deep purple ribbon is as brightly coloured today as it was when it was carefully threaded through the delicate lattice pattern snipped into a notebook page more than a century ago.

Taking care to keep it spotlessly clean, Private George Beveridge of A Company, 2nd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, sat down in the battle-scarred fields of France to write to his beloved Gertie.

It was July 2, 1916 – the second day of the Battle of the Somme – and he had already served two years away from his sweetheart.

“Accept my best love and heaps of kisses,” he wrote, attaching a charming little sweetheart broch in the form of a regimental kilt and sporran to his letter, and signing off with 24 tiny kisses. “I am your ever fond sweetheart.”

It would be a precious dispatch home for Gertie. Four weeks’ later, her darling boy was dead.

“Years later Gertie writes her response on the back of the letter,” says Allison Spark, Collections Officer at the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders’ newly reopened £4 million regimental museum at Stirling Castle.

“It’s 1973, she is well into her old age, and she writes about how much she misses him, how she wished she could talk to him and that he could meet her daughter.

“It’s sad, but it’s also lovely.”

The letter is among a collection of poignant and deeply personal items included in the revamped museum’s 5,000 military artefacts and documents - vivid reminders that behind every soldier were sweethearts and family waiting at home.

Among them were the worried parents of Private Vincent Collins. Just 18 years old, he was serving with the regiment’s 1st/8th Battalion when he wrote home with news he would soon be going to the trenches.

Dated May 1915, the letter must have struck fear into Harry and Martha’s hearts. Rightly so – within five months they had learned their son would not be coming home.

For others, there would be close calls and very lucky escapes. Among the exhibits is a brown leather wallet carried into battle tucked inside the breast pocket of Private James Beveridge’s uniform.

In one corner, the wallet and its contents – a small notebook and a black and white portrait of his mother and sisters – has been violently ripped open by an enemy bullet.

“There was very little in the way of protection for soldiers during the early stages of the First World War, and nothing like the protection a modern soldier has,” adds Allison.

“Soldiers carried a wallet, bible or book in their chest pocket – pretty much all that stood between them and an enemy bullet.

“The tear shows where the bullet has gone through the photograph. But it bounced away and James survived. He was later gassed, but also survived that. He went on to the end of the war and back to normal life.”

The museum reopened earlier this month after a three-year programme to revive its collection and retell the story of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders for a new generation of visitors.

Along with the personal items are regimental uniforms, weapons used through the Highlanders’ military campaigns and records of battle honours, with exhibitions which tell the story of regiment’s military life, bravery, loss and fighting spirit.

But while it remains a military museum with exhibits that recall the regiment’s long history and traditions, according to Allison there has been a shift towards telling the human stories of those who served.

“We have tried to move away from this idea that a military museum is only for people interested in history to provide something for everyone; from lovely stories from the archives to the music that was a huge part of the regiment, and items like the world’s oldest football medal.”

For those recently left wondering where football’s home might really be, the silver medal, which shows kilted soldiers from the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders engaged in a lively match with University of Edinburgh students in January 1851, may provide a clue.

Other exhibits show the people and characters who made up the regiment, many captured in some of the 50,000 photographs contained in the museum’s archive which have been laboriously digitised by a devoted volunteer.

The museum, within the King’s Old Building at Stirling Castle, was opened earlier this month by The Queen, who was named Colonel-in-Chief of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on her 21st birthday by her father, King George VI and remained patron until the regiment was incorporated into the Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2006.

The opening coincides with the 140th anniversary of the regiment’s formation as a result of the Childers Reforms of 1881 which combined the 91st Argyllshire Highlanders, raised in 1784, and the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders, raised in 1799, into a single unit and one of six Scottish line infantry regiments.

The 93rd – which became the 2nd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders – had already earned a reputation for valour during the Crimean War when they formed the original Thin Red Line at Balaklava in October 1854, standing alone in the face of four squadrons of charging Russian cavalry to protect the British Army base.

The Argylls would go on to serve in the 2nd Boer War. But the First World War, with its bloody toll, would see its numbers swell as eager young men from villages and towns within its traditional recruitment area spanning Stirlingshire and west coast Argyllshire communities, rushed to serve king and country.

The impact of the Great War on the regiment and the communities from which it drew its volunteers, was immense, adds Allison.

“There was a huge volunteer contribution form solders to the Argylls throughout the First World War, and they tended to be from very small Argyllshire communities.

“At its peak there were 17 battalions but some were very short-lived. The 9th battalion, which was the Helensburgh Battalion, lasted a matter of months before their ranks were decimated in May 1915.”

One museum gallery focusses on the impact on small communities they left behind, where huge losses had particularly devastating consequences.

Others are dedicated to battlefield exploits with fighting stories and honours including details of the regiment’s 16 Victoria Crosses. Another, Staying Alive, explores the weapons of war, the toil they took on the human body and the medical advances that helped keep the wounded alive.

The regiment faced disbandment in 1970, sparking a national Save the Argylls campaign. The regiment served in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles, and was engaged in fierce fighting during the Iraq War.

However, reconstruction of the infantry in 2006 saw the Argylls amalgamated with other regiments into the Royal Regiment of Scotland and by 2012, further measures to streamline the British Army led to the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (5 SCOTS) reduced to a single company, Balaklava Company.

According to Allison its proud past remains in extensive archives packed with items – some too bleak or, in some cases, a little too risqué for public show.

“Writing was a way to fill downtime in the trenches, there are many short stories and poems and a lot of art. It was a way to get their feelings out or a way to ‘switch off’.

“There was dark humour too. Some diaries have interesting and rather imaginative drawings which are not on display,” she adds.

“I suppose in that situation, if you didn’t laugh, you’d cry.”