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Scots on the Western Front: Outbreak of War
Transcript of Scots on the Western Front: Outbreak of War
Outbreak of War and Recruitment
Outbreak of War
In August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany. The outbreak of war followed over a decade of growing tensions in Europe between major countries.
War was finally triggered by the assassination of the Austrian heir to the throne by a Bosnian Serb. A system of alliances across Europe meant other countries were quickly drawn into hostilities.
Scots on the Western Front
Scots made a major contribution to WW1 in terms of
Numbers of Scots who served, around 190,000 - more Scots volunteered in proportion of the size of the country than any other area in the UK
Number of Scots causalities (estimates range from 100,000 to over 150,000)
Role in major battle such as Loos and the Somme
Scots Martial Traditions
Before WW1 Scots soldiers were held in high regard. They were considered brave, loyal and trustworthy. The Scots had a fearsome reputation and during WW1 were often used to lead the attack.
You are going to explore the history of the martial tradition and consider its significance during WW1.
Scotland's Heroic Past
The Power of Symbols
Martial Race Ideology
Each person at your table should take a few minutes to read about their factor and make notes on the key information.
Image by goodtextures: http://fav.me/d2he3r8
The Western Front refers to the main area of fighting in the West of Europe, it stretched from the North Sea to the Swiss Border, over 400 miles. The area became covered with trenches and battle sites during the war.
In your group discuss the following questions using the key information you have found. then write the answers in your jotter.
Q1. Describe why Highlanders were considered to be good soldiers?
Q2. In what way did the history and reputation of Scottish soldiers become important at the beginning of WW1?
Q3. What was the importance of the symbols of the Highland and Scottish regiments.
- Do you think it was a good or bad thing that the Scots were viewed in this way? What implications could it have during the war?
British Army in 1914
In 1914 the British Army was entirely voluntary. Soldiers who had agreed to serve for a number of years were known as regulars.
The army was mostly working class with middle-class and upper-class men serving as officers.
TASK 1: In pairs analyse the statistics on the British Army in the handout.
What do they tell you about the role of the Scots in the British Army in 1914?
Use statistics to illustrate your findings.
TASK 2: Create a diagram in your jotter showing the organisation of the British Army.
Recruitment: Why did men volunteer to join the army?
The Territorial Army was started in 1908. They were part-time soldiers who signed up for four years at a time. The TA identified with local regiments and trained in their own communities. When the war broke out the TA helped to fill the gap needed until the British Army could recruit enough soldiers to fight the war.
Task: In your table group study the Propaganda Poster you have been given.
Make a note on your flipchart paper -
The pictures/imagery/symbols used
Any text used
What are the key messages being given.
Do you think this would be effective in encouraging men to enlist. Why?
Now swap images with another table.
Do you agree with what they have said?
Add to the flipchart any observations or comments of your own
Why did WW1 start?
In 1916 an English soldier, Ernest Parker wrote
One thing I shall never forget is the sight of thousands of rhythmically swinging kilts as a Highland division swept towards us. Skirling at the head of the column strode the pipers, filling the air with their wild martial music. Behind glinted a forest of rifle barrels. These men seemed a crack military unit ready to carry out its mission.
Quoted in Trevor Royle, The Flowers of the Forest: Scotland and the Great War, 2006, page 51
1. What does the source tell us about attitudes to Scottish soldiers during WW1? Quote examples from the source and comment on them e.g. the Source tell us " . . . . . " which shows . . . .
2. The source was written by an English soldier in 1916. Why does this make them a useful person to give information about attitudes to Scottish soldiers during WW1?
Field-Marshal Lord Kitchener correctly predicted that Britain would need a significant army to fight the war against Germany.
He led the campaign to recruit volunteers to the army. He initially called for a 100,000 extra men to fight the war.
2,466,719 men joined the British army voluntarily between August 1914 and December 1915, with almost half a million signing up in the first month alone.
The British Government used propaganda as a key method to encourage men to fight. Posters, public meetings, notices and the press were all used to encourage men to fight.
Other Reasons Men Signed Up
Propaganda was only one reason why men signed up.
Use the hand outs or pages 29 - 32 of textbook to make notes on the other reasons why men volunteered.
Aim for 3 to 4 pieces of information on each reason. Bullet points are fine.
Sense of Adventure
War Hysteria/Anti-German Propaganda
McCrae's battalion were a Scottish example of a Pal's battalion. 13 players from the team volunteered which encouraged over 600 supporters to sign up too.
Describe the ways in which propaganda was used to recruit men into the army. Include information on the key messages and themes included in the propaganda.
Why do people join the army today?
Sense of Adventure
In 1914 the war seemed exciting.
Most people assumed the war would be over by Christmas
Most Scots had never been abroad.
'I was only a shop assistant at the time. I wanted to escape from the humdrum life behind the grocery counter and see a bit of the country' Robert Irvine, Shop Assistant
War Hysteria and Anti-German Propaganda
The first few months of the war there was a great deal of fear about Germans and the threat they posed to Britain.
As the war progressed anti-German propaganda was produced often reporting on alleged atrocities committed by the Germans. At times this was published as 'official reports by the Government giving credibility to the stories.
The campaign to recruit soldiers very quickly became highly visible.
Posters were used to good effect with a suggestion of cowardice for those who did not sign up.
Young men were pressured by friends and family to sign up.
The outbreak of war created uncertainty and instability in many industries.
Evidence suggests that men joined the army due to unemployment or the threat of it.
Some employers even insisted that their workforce signed up, with the promise of their job on return.
Were the Recruitment Campaigns Successful?
Look at the handout or page 28 of textbook.
Q1. 'Recruitment campaigns in Scotland were very successful'. Agree or disagree with this statement and provide at least three pieces of evidence to back up your answer.
Q2. 'Scots joined the army for variety of reasons, some of which were not always positive.'
Do you agree or disagree with the statement? Give at least three pieces of evidence in your answer.
Extension - If you had been a young man in Scotland in 1914 do you think you would have joined the army? Why?