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Robert Laird was born on 16 July 1900, in Glasgow, the youngest of five children of Elizabeth Laird (nee McGowan) and David Miller Laird, a master upholsterer. Robert Laird studied at The Glasgow School of Art in the 1917 to 1918 session, taking evening classes in drawing and painting, whilst training to be a cabinet maker. The following year, his name is listed on The Glasgow School of Art registers, but it notes he is serving with the army and therefore did not attend. During the First World War, Laird served briefly with the RAF, enlisting on 5 July 1918. He served at RAF airfields Manston and Joyce Green in Kent before being demobilised at Georgetown in Renfrewshire in March 1919. He returned to his work as a cabinet maker and took further classes in drawing and painting in the 1919/20 session. From 1922 to 1923 he studied furniture design. Robert Laird is commemorated on The Glasgow School of Art's First World War Roll of Honour.
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Sources: Scotland's People: http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk ;Ancestry: http://www.ancestry.co.uk; The National Archives: discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk; Find My Past: http://www.findmypast.co.uk; The First World War Airfield at Farningham: http://www.felhs.org.uk .