Was Scotland One Of WWI’s Winners?

Before the start of the First World War, Scottish people lived in harmony with each other, they loved and danced and made a living in peace and security, while the sun shone for hours, day after day on Scotland’s hills and fields. However, the last summer before the war did not start great. King George V and Queen Mary had to attend their open-air engagements while on bad, rainy weather, which did change towards the end of the season, only too late. The First World War broke out on August 4, 1914. That was the day when King George V came out and told his people that Britain was at war with Germany, before even asking the parliament at Westminster to agree.

Scotland was straight away one of the countries that happily agreed to go to war. Large groups of people went in the street, marching and cheering, convinced that the war was already won by the right part. If only they would had known the price they were about to pay for this great victory. According to British Prime Minister David Cameron, the centenary of the First World War should be a great occasion for British people to reflect over what World War One meant for the nation and on what has held this nation together for the last 100 years, The Scotsman reports.

Compared to Ireland, Scotland was happily developing before the war, a time when the Scottish grew in prosperity and well being. In 1913, the number of ships that had been launched on the River Clyde was higher than ever before. Scotland did not get engaged in the conflict until it was ‘invaded’ by German submarines trying to penetrate the naval base of Scapa Flow on Orkney. Apart from that, the only thing that reminded of war, were the uniforms that men wore on the streets and the lists of casualties, growing longer every week. Early enough, about 148,000 Scottish men appeared on these lists, out of 900,000 deaths in the United Kingdom. They looked like small numbers, compared to France, which lost 1.4 million people, or Russia with a recorded 1.8 million deaths, or Germany with 2 million deaths.

However, lets not forget that Scotland was only a tiny country, therefore, the number of casualties did exceed that in any other Allied nation. Not only that the war killed so many Scots, but it left the country in a poor state, with big companies going into liquidation or simply vanishing and talented people and craftsmen going on to build a better life abroad.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE