Scotland's Secret War family events

Report to 'Spy School' at the National Library of Scotland

Event: 'Scotland's Secret War' is the National Library of Scotland's major summer exhibition for 2005. To complement the exhibition a series of events has been organised, including two free 'Spy School' events designed for families of all ages.

Event organiser Laura Murphy says: 'Spy School participants can practise the skills needed to be a Special Operations Agent - from sending and breaking coded messages, playing games to improve the memory, and designing their own wartime propaganda. A Spy Trail will uncover the highlights of the exhibition and British "spy" Elma Parkington will be on hand to offer training to would-be undercover agents.'

Date: Saturday 23 July and Saturday 6 August
Time: 2-4pm, drop-in event
Venue: Exhibition Hall, National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EW
Cost: Free
Contact: 0131 623 3845,

Additional information

The exhibition commemorates the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and explores Scotland's involvement in the 'hidden' stories of the war and the Scots whose inventiveness and courage helped change the course of the conflict.

Discover the story of secret technologies, propaganda, escape and espionage through government files, personal archives and official publications — many of them released on public display for the first time in 60 years.

The exhibition focuses on broad themes of Escape and Evasion; Propaganda; Science, Innovation and Invention; Defence; Maps and Cartographers, and features an Enigma Machine.

Key themes include:

  • Donald Caskie, 'The Tartan Pimpernel'. Caskie worked with the French Resistance at Marseilles helping around 2,000 soldiers to escape via 'the underground railway'.
  • Peter Ritchie Calder, a socialist author and journalist from Forfar, was appointed as Director of Plans and Campaigns to the top secret Political Warfare Executive, the Government's newly formed foreign propaganda unit.
  • Robert Watson-Watt proposed a system of RDF (Radio Detection Finding), which became known as radar. This proved vital to the wartime defence of Britain, including successfully detecting the first Luftwaffe attack on the British mainland.
  • Enigma machine
  • Interactive areas including an operations table.
  • Mapping the war — the Bartholomew firm, world famous map publishers based in Edinburgh, made secret contributions to the war effort.
  • The Home Guard — the secret flight of Rudolph Hess to Scotland is notable in the story of the Scottish Home Guard.
  • The National Library of Scotland at War — the safekeeping of manuscripts and rare books during the Second World War forms an intriguing episode in the history of the Library and its collections.

17 July 2005

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