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Love, life and loss in letters from World War I

10 August 2009


One of the many historic highlights of Edinburgh Castle is The Scottish National War Memorial – an impressive building which was erected to commemorate those who died in conflict in the 1914-18 Great War.

And the enormous sacrifice made by families throughout the country during World War I is highlighted at the castle next week when interpreters from The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds visit to share the personal letters of one soldier, Jack Adam, his wife, Gert, and their three young children.

In the Great Hall, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, from 11.30am to 12.30pm, visitors will be able to hear extracts from the Adam family’s poignant correspondence, listen to a talk by the interpreters about the collection’s significance, and see a display of their letters, photographs and other memorabilia.

The story of the Doncaster family’s wartime experiences is told in a play, Only Water Between, which is being performed during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe by actors from the Royal Armouries Museum from 9th to 15th August at C SoCo on Chambers Street. The play’s title recalls how one of Jack’s many letters to his wife begins: ‘To Darling Gert, There’s only water between us…’.  

Sadly, in August 1918, Gert’s letters to Jack began to be returned unopened and the remainder show her endeavours to find out what happened to her lost soulmate. The play dramatically combines the couple’s letters with the memoirs of Hiram Maxim, the inventor of the machine gun - the likely cause of Jack’s death.

First commissioned by the Royal Armouries Museum in 2006 after the original letters came into its care, the play was written by the museum’s then Writer in Residence Peter Spafford and is directed by Olwen May. This will be the first time actors from the Royal Armouries have performed outside of the Yorkshire and London regions.

Historic Scotland Interpretation Manager Sheena Garden said: “We’re very much looking forward to welcoming the interpreters from the Royal Armouries Museum to Edinburgh Castle.  The story told by their fascinating collection of Great War correspondence is one which really hits home the huge personal cost of war paid by ordinary families - and which very sadly remains as relevant today as it is was when the letters were written.”  

Notes for editors

  • The original wartime letters of the Adam family have been in the care of The Royal Armouries Museum since 2006. For further information on the Royal Armouries Museum visit

  • The Edinburgh Castle events on Monday 10th – Wednesday 12th August are included in the cost of admission to the attraction. For advance ticket purchasing visit:

  • Tickets for the C SoCo performances of Only Water Between can be purchased by calling 0845 260 1234.

  • The Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle was formally opened on 14 July 1927 by the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII). The exterior of the Memorial is enriched with a number of sculptures symbolising Courage, Peace, Justice and Mercy.  Above the entrance, a figure rising from a phoenix denotes the survival of the Spirit.

  • Edinburgh Castle is one of 345 outstanding heritage properties and sites in the care of Historic Scotland.  Ranging from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings, these include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country. Among the most popular are Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles, Skara Brae, and the Border Abbeys.  For further details of all of Historic Scotland’s sites visit:  For information on Edinburgh Castle visit:

  • Historic Scotland’s Mission is: to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.

For further information

Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871