Advertising from the Front Line

Detail from Scottish Widows 'advert' made by Harry Young, 1918.

Detail from Scottish Widows 'advert' made by Harry Young, 1918.

This extraordinary item was made by Harry Young, of Scottish Widows’ Belfast office, whilst he was a prisoner of war.

Young had signed up as a territorial with the Black Watch in 1912.  After war broke out, he was sent to the Front in May 1915.  He was later commissioned as an officer with the Royal Irish Rifles.

But in April 1918, Harry was captured at Wulverghem in Belgium during the German Spring Offensive. Interred at the Kahlsruhe offizierlager (officers’ camp) in south-west Germany, he later created this ‘advertisement’.

Carved into a panel of wood, it is incredibly intricate. At the top is a detailed reproduction of the Scottish Widows’ emblem, featuring the winged horse Pegasus.
The time and resources required to produce such an object show that Harry enjoyed relatively luxurious conditions. Soldiers of lowlier ranks, held in the more rudimentary mannschaftslager (enlisted men’s camps), were not so lucky.

After the war, Harry returned to Belfast and presented the ‘advert’ to his colleagues. He was later to resign from the company and settle in South Africa.

More than 100 staff from Scottish Widows served in the war. Twenty-three gave their lives. For further details please see Our Memorials.

View the next item in this section or return to the Call to Arms page.

Further items featuring the Pegasus emblem can be viewed in our Scottish Widows' 200th anniversary section.

Many thanks are due to Amanda Moreno, Head of Collections, Museums of the Royal Irish Regiment, for information on Harry Young’s war service.