The Farley’s cafe Friendship is an autograph book held at East Lothian archives, which was signed by soldiers who were stationed near Haddington. The vast majority of signatures are from the First World War, from soldiers in the Highland Light Infantry, though some other regiments are occasionally mentioned, and there are some colour drawings dated 1940. There are many amusing anecdotes, sketches and jokes as well as just signatures, some about the war and the trenches, and others about fun, friendship, women and drinking.
The book is a rare example of a non-official record relating to war. Most of the official war records relating to the First World War were destroyed during a fire in the blitz in the Second World War, known as the ‘burnt records’. The remaining records, held at the National Archives at Kew, are very partial and frequently damaged. The autograph book is especially valuable in light of this, as for people interested in the First World War, or searching for an ancestor who fought in the war, there are very few and sometimes no records at all to document the First World War as experienced by ordinary troops. Pages from the autograph book can be seen in the gallery below.