At the outbreak of the war north-east men signed up in droves to play their part, blissfully unaware of how deadly and protracted the conflict would become.
Driven by a combination of loyalty, optimism and patriotism, often entire families travelled to the Western Front.
One of the best-known of these was the Brooke family of Fairley House in Countesswells.
The family was made up of Captain Sir Harry Brooke – a soldier in the Gordon Highlanders from 1864 to 1878 – his wife Lady Patricia Moir Byres Brooke, and their children James Anson Otto, Arthur, Patrick Harry, Constance Geraldine, Henry Brian and Alice Irene.
All four brothers enlisted to fight, and only one came home.
Two of the brothers, James and Henry, fought with the Gordon Highlanders.
James was killed on the fields of Flanders on October 29 1914 at the First Battle of Ypres.
Aged 30 and promoted to the rank of temporary captain, James was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery in leading two attempts to regain a lost trench under enemy fire.
Gordon Highlanders curator Ruth Duncan said: “The line was under fire and he led two counter-attacks against the enemy using whoever he could have collected from the rear at the time, which included cooks and orderlies.
“His reaction recovered the situation and held the line, but he was killed during the action.”
The citation for his Victoria Cross reads: “For conspicuous bravery and great ability near Gheluvelt on the 29th October, in leading two attacks on the German trenches under heavy rifle and machine-gun fire, regaining a lost trench at a very critical moment.
“He was killed on that day. By his marked coolness and promptitude on this occasion Lieutenant Brooke prevented the enemy from breaking through our line, at a time when a general counter-attack could not have been organised.”
James’ younger brother Henry Brian Brooke lost his life in the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
Henry wanted to become a soldier prior to the outbreak of the First World War but was unable to due to medical reasons.
Ruth said: “As he was prevented at the first from becoming a soldier in the British Army because of his eyesight. He actually went out to East Africa and was a pioneer farmer. When war broke out, he enlisted in the East African Force and served with them until wounded and was then transferred back to Britain.”
It was following his recovery back in Britain that Henry transferred into James’ old regiment – Second Battalion with the Gordon Highlanders – in 1916.
On the first day of the Battle of the Somme on July 1 1916 at Mimeses in France, Henry was shot.
Ruth said: “He was leading them to attack a number of trenches and on a subsequent attack of the enemy trench he was wounded in the throat and a bullet knocked him out.
“He was taken to the casualty clearing station but sadly died about three weeks later at the end of July.”
Henry was also one of the many war poets, writing under the pen name Brian Brooke.
Ruth said: “He had a book of poems published so there was the touch of the poet in him. One of his poems is called Cowards and seems to be a conversation with someone who has dodged the call to sign up for war and what he would say to that person. It was written in all too unforgiving terms to whoever it was addressed to. It made it quite clear his feelings on those who would not do what he saw as their regimental duty.”
Sub Lieutenant Patrick Harry Brooke was a member of the Royal Navy and served on the HMS Courageous. He died on May 25 1917 aged 22 in a naval hospital in Devon as a result of enteric fever.
Colonel Arthur Brooke, who was with the 18th Bengal Lancers, was the only brother to survive the war.
Ruth said: “Arthur Brooke’s regiment was actually attached to the 2nd Gordons at one point.
“He became commandant of the Viceroy’s Bodyguard for five years towards the end of the war and was a home guard leader in the Second World War.
“He was the only one to come home at the end of the war. This would sadly have been a typical family story throughout the war.”