Thursday, 16 December 2010

Appendix 1: The Organisation of the British Army in WW1

Memorial to the 51st Highland Division at Beaumont Hamel on the Somme.

This blog uses terms such as "regiment, battalion, division etc". What do these terms mean?

The basic unit of organisation was the regiment. There were infantry regiments who fought on foot and cavalry regiments. (In WW1, cavalry soldiers were still expected to fight on horse back and fight with a sword and a rifle or pistol.)

Each regiment recruited from a particular area of Scotland. For example, the Royal Scots recruited mainly in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Each infantry regiment was made up of 2 battalions. Each battalion consisted of around 1000 men and 30 officers.

Battalions were made up into Brigades. 4 battalions to a Brigade.

Brigades were made up into Divisions. 3 Brigades to a Division.

So the 51st Highland Division and the 52nd Lowland Division which fought throughout the war each consisted of around 12 000 men.

The Division was not the largest unit. This was the Army. There were 5 Armies in the British Army which fought in France and Belgium in WW1. Each army consisted of a mixture of infantry, cavalry and artillery. Also engineers, field hospitals staffed by the Royal Army Medical Corps and even motorised and horse drawn pigeon lofts.

Pigeons? For carrying messages of course. Telephone cables were liable to be cut by shellfire.

Let's finish this blog with a laugh ...


Wednesday, 15 December 2010

6. The War in Perspective

To the eternal memory of the officers, NCO's and men of the 15th (Glasgow Tramways), 16th (Boys Brigade) and 17th (Glasgow Commercials) Battalions of the Highland Light Infantry who foughtand died near the village of Authuille during the opening days of the Battle of the Somme on the First of July 1916

"From a hundred lonely graves in that foreign field - from the spots where they fell,
and which now are sacred spots for us - our dead men are asking us when we mean to erect that monument

From trench and shell hole where death found them, their voices call - young,musical
voices, the voices of boys still in their teens, the voices of martyrs on life's threshold.

Scarce a wind can blow that will not waft to these voices. And they ask a better Britain as their monument. They ask it of you and me.

Shall we not go from this place resolved to build it?".

What were the short and long term effects on Scotland of the war?

The Chinese Communist leader Zhou Enlai visited the United States in 1971. He was asked about the effects of the French Revolution which took place in 1789. He replied, “It is too soon to say.”

The same answer might be given to a question about the effects of WW1 on Scotland!

There were short term effects of course:

• the deaths of Scots in combat. There is disagreement among historians about the final count but it was certainly higher than the original tally of 74 000 and probably higher than 100 000.
• the physical wounds which resulted in a huge demand for artificial limbs and the setting up of hospitals where disabled ex servicemen might live and be cared for. The Scottish War Blinded centre at Linburn for example. Hyperlink
• the psychological wounds. There is a local connection here also. Craiglockhart Hotel in Edinburgh was used as a war hospital and specialised in treating soldiers who suffered from “shell shock”. Hyperlink

These were short term effects but remember that the last “Tommy” who fought in and survived WW1, died as recently as 2009. And of course there are the families and the widows and the orphans. The “short term” effects had a longer term impact also. Another example of this would be the campaign to pardon British soldiers who were executed by the British Army for cowardice.

In 2006, the British government did indeed pardon the men who were “shot at dawn”.

What about the longer term effects?

The war accelerated the process of emigration from Scotland. This process continued at a lower level for most of the 20th century.

In politics, the Liberal Party was replaced by the Conservatives as the dominant force in elections to the UK parliament. The Labour Party grew too and came to control many local councils, especially in the central belt. In the 1960’s and 1970s, the Labour Party started to overhaul the Conservatives in UK elections.

The Scottish National Party can trace its roots directly to WW1 and the Scottish renaissance which followed it. The National Party of Scotland was set up in 1928. The SNP struggled to gain support because the war had been won by a British Army and the British Empire. It was only in the 1970s with the discovery of oil in the North Sea and the final decline of Scottish heavy industry that the SNP gained significant success in UK elections.

Broxburn Academy pupils who have been on the school’s visits to the WW1 battlefields know that there is permanent perspective on WW1 which takes place every night without fail at the Menin Gate in Ypres …

Friday, 10 December 2010

5. Domestic impact of war: politics (2)

The Decline of the Liberal Party

In 1914, the Liberal Party was dominant in Scottish politics. In 1928 only a handful of Liberal MPs were elected. How did this happen?

1. Liberal splits

Even before 1914, the Liberal Party was starting to split. The "New Liberals" wanted greater government interference in society. Traditional Liberals stuck to the old "laissez faire" ideas of non intervention. During the war, the Liberal Party fell apart when Asquith was forced to resign and his Liberal colleague Lloyd George took over as Prime Minister. Supporters of Asquith never forgave Lloyd George for this act of betrayal, as they saw it.

2. Finances

The split in the Liberal Party made it very difficult for the party to raise money to fight elections.

3. The 1918 "Coupon / Khaki Election"

Lloyd George fought the 1918 election as leader of a coalition government. Candidates who supported the government were given a written document or "coupon" of support from the Prime Minister, Lloyd George. There was no chance of any Asquith supporters getting such support and they were decimated in the election. Asquith himself cwas defeated.

4. The Rise of Labour

The Labour Party had been very weak in 1914 but it took advantage of changing conditions. It claimed to be the champion of the working class and local Labour and ILP politicians were important in organising the Glasgow Rent strikes for example.

After the war, the Labour Party benefited from the increase in the working class electorate due to the 1918 Reform Act. The party leader, Ramsay Macdonald, also appealed to better off voters by stressing the respectability and reasonable demands of the Labour Party. He also deliberately targeted constituencies in the cities where the Liberal party was divided and where the Labour Party could gain votes from this.

The Beginnings of Scottish Nationalism

Source : Watch this clip from the BBC "History of Scotland" series.


Make your own notes on the part played by Christopher Grieve (aka "Hugh McDiarmid) in encouraging the idea of independence for Scotland.

Strengthening the Union

The decline of the Liberals benefited the Conservative Party which remained the dominant party after 1918. In Scotland, the party was known as the Conservative and Unionist Party so it's voters knew that they were supporting a party which was committed to the union with England.

The strengthening of the union with England was partly because of the war: Scottish soldiers had fought and won victory as part of the British Army and Scots emigrants boarded ships bound for countries in the British Empire and Commonwealth such as Canada and Australia.

Many Protestant Scots (the majority) were worried at developments in Ireland where a civil war took place after 1918 between supporters of Irish Home Rule and Republicanism and British forces. Many Protestant Scots also sympathised with protestants in Northern Ireland who demanded that Northern Ireland remain part of the union with Scotland and England. This actually happended in 1922: Southern Ireland was given Home Rule but Northern Ireland remained British.

The UK government also set up government departments in Scotland such as the Scottish Home and Health department. A new headquarters for British government departments was built in Edinburgh in the 1930s. Scotland seemed to be benefiting from the Union.

St Andrew's House, built by the British government in Edinburgh. Opened in 1939.

What do you know? (Tasks to ensure that you have the K&U you need!)

Produce a detailed mind map / spider diagram with "Political changes caused by WW1" at the centre.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

4. Domestic impact of war: politics (1)

The impact of the war on political developments as exemplified by the growth of radicalism, the ILP and Red Clydeside, continuing support for political unionism and the crisis of Scottish identity.

Source 1: This photograph of a Glasgow rent strike demonstration is on display in the Labour Party meeting rooms at West Lothian Council Civic Centre.


Source 2: the John Maclean March sung by Dick Gaughan.


Lyrics to the song.

Hey, mac, did ye see him as he cam doun by Gorgie
Awa owre the Lammerlaw an north o the Tay?
Yon man is comin an the hail toun is turnin out
We're aa shair he'll win back tae Glesca the day
The jiners an hauders-on are merchin fae Clydebank
Come on nou an hear him he'll be owre thrang tae bide
Turn out Jock an Jimmie, leave yer cranes an yer muckle gantries
Great John Maclean's comin hame tae the Clyde

Argyll St and London Road's the route that we're merchin
The lauds frae the Broomielaw are here, tae a man!
Hey Neil, whaur's yer hauderums, ye big Heilan teuchtar
Get yer pipes, mate, an merch at the heid o the clan
Hullo, Pat Malone, shair A knew ye'd be here, so,
The red an the green, laud, we'll wear side by side
Gorbals is his the day an Glesca belangs tae him
Nou great John Maclean's comin hame tae the Clyde

Forward tae Glesca Green we'll merch in guid order
Will grips his banner weill, that boy isnae blate!
Aye, weill, man, thair's Johnnie nou, that's him thair the bonnie fechter
Lenin's his feir, laud, and Liebknecht's his mate
Tak tent whan he's speakin for thae'll mind whit he said here
In Glesca, our city, an the hail warl besides
Och man the scarlet's bonnie, here's tae ye Heilan Shonie
Great John Maclean's comin hame tae the Clyde

Aye weill, whan it's feenisht A'll awa back tae Springburn
Come hame tae yer tea, John, we'll sune hae ye fed
It's hard wark the speakin, och, A'm shair he'll be tired the nicht
A'll sleep on the flair, mac, an gie John the bed
The hail city's quiet nou, it kens that he's restin
At hame wi's Glesca freens, thair fame an thair pride
The red will be worn, ma lauds, an Scotlan will merch again
Nou great John Maclean has come hame tae the Clyde

The Myth of Red Clydeside?

This blog has mentioned other things connected with Scotland and WW1 which some historians think are "myths". There's the myth of the Scots as a "warrior race". Then there's the myth of Haig, the Butcher of the Somme. This blog page is about the myth of Red Clydeside. Or is it a myth? The Labour Councillors elected to West Lothian Council don't seem to think so. Nor did Hamish Henderson who wrote the "John Maclean March" or Dick Gaughan who sings the song.

You, of course, will have to judge for yourself.

What is meant by "Red Clydeside"?

This simply means the rent strikes and the trade union led strikes and other protests which took place on Clydeside during and soon after WW1. It also refers to the British government's attempts to control all this radical protest including the trial and imprisonment of leaders such as James Maxton, Willie Gallagher and John Maclean. Some believers in the "myth" go even further and suggest that Glasgow came close to revolution in the aftermath of the Great War.

The Key Events.

HyperlinkStudy the key events on this website page.

Source 3: From "The Flowers of the Forest" by Trevor Royle.

Clydeside remained quiet when English factories in London, the Midlands and the North went on strike in May 1917. The dilution commissioners brokered agreements in all the main factories, the Clyde Workers' Committeee went into decline and there was no repetition of the militancy which had made the government fear that they were dealing with a general revolt in 1915 - 1916.

After some initial difficulties Beardmore eventually gave Kirkwood a job as foreman at their Mile End shell factory where Gallagher was now a shop steward and between them these much feared revolutionaries quickly broke records for munitions production ... As TC Smout tartly notes in his study of that period, "this was no way to bring the capitalist system to its knees."

What do you know? (Tasks to ensure that you have the K&U you need!)

Collect evidence from this blog page in support of or in opposition to the following motion.

"This House believes that "Red Clydeside" was a period of radical political change which brought Scotland to the brink of revolution."

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

3.1 Domestic impact of war: industry and economy

This blog page will cover ...

Wartime effects of war on industry, agriculture and fishing; price rises and rationing; post-war economic change and difficulties; post-war emigration; the land issue in the Highlands and Islands.

Source: Watch this clip from the BBC series, "A History of Scotland".



The immediate impact of the war was to create a massive demand for those goods which Scotland was well equipped to provide: iron and steel and even aluminium (produced near Fort William), coal, West Lothian's oil, locomotives, shipping etc. The need for production was such that the government controlled these industries until the end of the war.

This massive boost was only temporary. It also disguised some basic weaknesses such as a lack of investment in new techniques and modern machinery which made it difficult for Scottish firms to compete with foreign companies in the longer run.

When the war ended, for a couple of years, there was a "replacement boom" as factories replaced worn out machinery, soldiers spent their demobilisation pay and families bought goods they had been deprived of during the war. Then demand fell and Scottish industry went into recession. The government also ended the controls and guaranteed prices which had boosted industry during the war. Government policy also kept the value of the £ high which made it more expensive for foreign consumers to buy Scottish goods.

The recession lasted for most of the 1920s and 1930s until the approach of WW2 and re-armament boosted industry again.

Post war emigration

Source: Historian WW Knox

During the 1920s and 1930s the principal aim of the emigrants was to find work and wages and escape mass unemployment at home. Age-wise this has generally most affected the age group 16-29; in terms of occupation, skilled rather than unskilled workers; and in terms of sex, men rather than women. Although most of the emigrants were able to make a better life for themselves and their families abroad, the impact on Scotland has been less favourable. Many of the most productive and talented Scots have left their birthplace to enrich, both economically and culturally, other countries at the expense of their own.

Agriculture and Fishing From this web page


Major industry before the First World War, employing over 32,500 men. By 1917, employing fewer than 22,000 men.
White fish industry decimated, only herring industry remained stable.

North Sea almost totally closed to fishing.

Fishing only allowed in inshore areas on the West coast, banned in the Firth of Clyde.

East coast ports taken over by the Admiralty, neutral fishing boats banned.

Loss of herring trade to Russia and Northern Germany caused a slump.

Royal Navy Reserve (Trawler Section), 8,000 strong, kept the industry going when restrictions elsewhere prevented its operation. 2,000 of these fishermen came from Lewis.

Restrictions on how much could be fished pushed up prices and by 1917 white fish was rationed.

From 1917 onwards: slight improvement to industry when the Germans started unrestricted submarine warfare.

Many of the Scottish fishermen and merchant navy sailors who lost their lives came from the Western Isles; a local perception that these areas suffered disproportionately.


Food became increasingly scarce and more expensive as the war progressed. Government promoted self-sufficiency by introducing measures to make more farmland arable.

Attempt to grow more in Scotland not very successful as amount of suitable land was limited; many were hill farms. Only 5 out of 19 million acres were under crops.

Labour shortage as many had volunteered to fight in the war; more men in this industry than elsewhere. Number of farm workers dropped by 18,000 over the course of the war.

Main contribution from farming in Scotland was from sheep farming: wool and meat.

Sheep industry enjoyed full employment and high wages from 1916, when the Government bought all of Scotland’s wool production.

Average wage of a ploughman more than doubled by 1919.

Oats and vegetables all increased in amount being farmed and yield because of the need to grow more home products.

Food shortages led to ‘meatless’ days by 1918: Wednesdays and Fridays in Scotland.

Food rationing in operation in Scotland by 7 April 1918.

1920 Agricultural Act introduced to maintain prices and production. However, by 1921 this Act was abandoned because of the poor state of the economy causing hardship for many farm workers who lost jobs or had wages cut.

The land issue in the Highlands and Islands.

The casualties caused by the war and the re-newed emigration which followed were felt especially strongly in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. These areas had been suffering de-population for fifty years before WW1.

All this made those who were left all the more determined to bring about changes and the change which they sought was in land ownership. They were helped to some extent by promises made by Prime Minister David Lloyd George during the war. He said that the men who fought the war must return to a land "fit for heroes".

Highland crofters had enjoyed security of tenure from 1886. The 1919 Land Settlement (Scotland) Act released funds and allowed the Board of Agriculture to compulsorily purchase private land. However, the process was time consuming. Land raids occurred, especially by ex-servicemen who expected land on their return from the trenches, in areas like Lewis, Uist, Skye and Sutherland.

You can find out more about this issue and emigration after the war from this website.

Monday, 6 December 2010

2.3 scale and effects of military losses on Scottish society; commemoration and remembrance.

Source: The war memorial in Strontian

View Larger Map
The village lost nearly all the men who left for the war. The inscription on the memorial says ... "These were ours in the days of their boyhood and their names are our heritage".

The casualties caused by the war were only the first sign of change. The war was followed by an economic depression which caused high unemployment. Emigration from Scotland reached its peak in the early 1920s.

The rapid changes brought about by the war brought about a feeling that a bridge had been crossed between an old and a new Scotland. This feeling was especially apparent in books and poetry of the time. The most famous example is "Sunset Song" by Lewis Grassic Gibbon.(1932) The book tells the story of how the war changed a fictional farm community of Kinraddie in the Mearns. (The farming lands south of Aberdeen.) The book ends with a speech by the Minister at the unveiling of the war memorial.

A Memorial for the Fallen

The sense of loss led to the creation of a Scottish National War Memorial. This was designed by the architect Robert Lorimer and built on a site in Edinburgh Castle. It contains the roll of honour listing the names of all Scots or people of Scots parentage who lost their lives during the war. The graves of the fallen were far away in France or Belgium or even further. Many had no graves. The memorial became a place of pilgrimage for many Scots families.

The photograph shows the wreaths laid outside the memorial on the day of its formal opening.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

2.2 DORA; changing role of women in wartime, including rent strikes

DORA (Defence of the Realm Act)
Make your own notes on DORA by reading this website page.

The Changing Role of Women

Read and make notes from this website page.

The Suffragette movement was another organisation which split over the war. Emmeline Pankhurst,the leader of the militant Suffragette WSPU called off any further action. However, her own daughter Christabel disagreed and campaigned against the war. The Scottish Suffragette and socialist Helen Crawfurd also left the WSPU because she opposed the war.

Helen Crawfurd, Glasgow suffragette and socialist

The Glasgow Rent Strikes

Helen Crawfurd was one of the leaders of the Glasgow Rent Strikes. These were protests at the increase in housing rents in Glasgow during the war. Poor quality housing was already a major problem in Glasgow. The boom in war related industries brought extra workers into Clydeside and increased the demand for housing. Landlords were accused of taking advantage of this situation to line their own pockets by charging higher rents. Families which could not afford the higher rents wee threatened with eviction. Women were particularly important in the campaign because often their husbands and partners were away fighting.

Source 1: A demonstration in Glasgow

Source 2: A poster displayed in windows of homes of families threatened with eviction.

The sources show how well organised the Rent Strikes were. As well as demonstrations like the one above, families threatened with eviction were protected by the posters placed in the windows. Any agents ("bailliffs" or "sheriff's officers") employed by landlords to throw a family out of their home would be faced with an angry mob determined to stop them. A famous cry was ...

"God help the bailliff who comes into this close!"

Tactics like these put a stop to the evictions.

Eventually the government was forced to step in and control rents by law. A major victory had been won by direct action. Some historians argue that the Labour Party and the ILP which helped to organise these protests also benefited from these actions and, after the war, increased their vote at the expense of the Liberals who were often identified with the landlords.