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WAR 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY



FirstWorldWar Lest we forget

The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY


Foreword by Ian McGregor, CEO of Poppy Scotland


he FirsT World War changed everything. it caused appalling suffering. it swept away empires and sparked revolutions. it ushered in new, devastating and hideously cruel forms of warfare. Across the world, people emerged in total shock. No longer could they be convinced of the inevitability of progress. No longer could they have confidence in the innate goodness of mankind. The world was never to be the same again. so terrible were battlefield casualties, and so grave their consequences for combatants and their families, that the war’s repercussions continue to this day. some argue it settled nothing. They see the period from the 1918 Armistice to the outbreak of the second World War in 1939 as having been little more than a temporary, uneasy truce. Not until the defeat of Germany in 1945 did the world become more stable, for a while at least, if not necessarily safer. There is little to be cheerful about in considering the war and its consequences.Yet if the war displayed the worst of human nature, it also brought out the very best in some of its participants, who undertook astonishing acts of courage and compassion. it prompted too, remarkable works of art and literature. The war also marked a turning point in our treatment of Armed Forces veterans. The lasting post-war annual, national focus on remembrance, and equally lasting popular support for doing something to help

June 28, 1914

those damaged by war, has persisted to this day. hopes that the First World War would be the war to end all wars were to prove short-lived, but the scottish public’s continuing terrific support for Armed Forces charities has remained as strong as it has been impressive. This has been shown each year by the success of what is arguably scotland’s best-known fundraising campaign, our own scottish Poppy Appeal, which continues to attract terrific support from people across scotland. This publication seeks to tell readers in greater depth about the war and how it affected everyone in scotland, in all parts of society. it may be of particular interest to younger readers, who learn about the war at school and whose interest in its causes, course and consequences show no sign of falling off. some historians argue that we drifted into war in 1914. some argue we did just the same very recently in iraq and Aghanistan. Greater understanding of past events may yet help us avoid doing so again in the future. The ultimate sacrifice The FirsT World WAr tore the heart out of communities across the UK, scotland and Courier Country. in the UK as a whole — not counting the colonial troops — there were more than 740,000 casualties, though many argue that the figure is higher. of these, more than 100,000 would have been scots. The scots gave in such disproportionate numbers that there wouldn’t have been a tenement, house or cottage that wouldn’t have been affected. in this Centenary magazine, we remember the major battles and conflicts of the Great War — the first ever “total war” — and the parts played by brave men and women all over Courier Country.

Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip.

July 28, 1914

The horrors of trench warfare left an indelible mark on the world.

How the war began The FirsT World War, July 28 1914-November 11 1918, was one of the deadliest conflicts in history with the loss of more than nine million lives, and led to major political changes across the globe. Also known as the Great War, it initially involved the Allies (the Triple entente of the United Kingdom, France and the russian empire) and the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-hungary. As the war progressed, more nations entered the war: italy, Japan and the United states joined the Allies, and the Ottoman empire (Turkey) and Bulgaria the Central Powers, resulting in more than 70 million

Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia.

military personnel, including 60 million europeans, being mobilised in one of the largest wars in history. The trigger for conflict was the June 28 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-hungary, by serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip in sarajevo. A diplomatic crisis blew up as Austria-hungary delivered an ultimatum to the Kingdom of serbia, and historical international alliances were invoked. Within weeks the major powers were at war and the conflict soon spread around the world.

August 1, 1914

Germany declares war on Russia.

The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY

The Christmas Truce





he Christmas truce — when for a few hours hostilities were laid aside — has gone down in history. the 5th battalion (angus and Dundee) took part in the truce and alfred anderson, the longest surviving Black Watch veteran who died a few years ago, mentions the occasion in an interview recorded at the Black Watch museum. Born in Dundee in 1896, alfred left his home at 20 Kirloch street in October 1914. he witnessed the 1914 “Christmas truce” that saw British and German soldiers cautiously emerge from their trenches on Christmas Day, exchanging gifts and handshakes in No man’s Land. the enemies even wrapped cigarettesandtunicbuttons,sang carols and played football amid the mud and shellholes of no man’s land. the informal truce spread along much of the Western Front, in some cases lasting for days. “i remember the silence, the eerie

sound of silence,” he recalled, who was billeted in a farmhouse. “all i’d heard for two months in the trenches was the hissing, cracking and whining

of bullets in flight, machine gun fire and distant German voices. But there was a dead silence that morning, right across the land as far as you could see. “We shouted ‘merry Christmas,’ even though nobody felt merry.

“the silence ended early in the afternoon and the killing started again. it was a short peace in a terrible war.” One soldier who wasn’t so lucky was Lochee man isaac stewart who was killed in action on Christmas Day 1914 before the truce started.

Battle of Mons The BaTTle of Mons was the first major conflict of the First World War and the first major action of the British expeditionary Force (BeF). It was a subsidiary action of the Battle of the Frontiers, in which the allies clashed with Germany on the French borders. at Mons, the British army attempted to hold the line of the Mons-Condé Canal against the advancing German 1st army. although the British fought well and inflicted disproportionate casualties on the numerically superior Germans, they were forced to retreat due both to the greater strength of the Germans and the retreat of the French Fifth army, which exposed the British right flank. Though initially planned as a simple tactical withdrawal The German attack on the Nimy Bridge at Mons.

August 3, 1914

Germany declares war on France.

August 4, 1914

United Kingdom declares war on Germany.

and executed in good order, the British retreat from Mons lasted two weeks and took the BeF to the outskirts of Paris before it counterattacked in concert with the French, at the Battle of the Marne. Field Marshal Sir John French wanted to withdraw his army to the coast but this was forbidden by lord Kitchener who insisted they stayed in contact with the French as they retreated to the Marne River. “had it not been for the phenomenal sacrifice of the British expeditionary Force, in particular the 1st Battalion Black Watch, the war may well have been over by Christmas with a very different outcome,” says Derek Patrick of the University of Dundee.

Words by Caroline Lindsay, Nora McElhone, Jacqueline Wake Young and Terry MacCallum

August 4, 1914

United States declares neutrality.

Left and above: troops enjoy a respite from the carnage.



The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY

Reminiscences of a Scottish prisoner of war


Above: the ruins of Ypres. Picture: PA.

Battle of Ypres



he small but strategically important Belgian medieval town of Ypres had already been seized by the German army at the very beginning of the war as part of the “race to the sea” but by early October of 1914, the British expeditionary Force (BeF) recaptured it. The Germans made a major onslaught to regain the town on October 15 and although BeF riflemen held their positions they suffered heavy losses. Relentless German attacks continued over the next month but with the arrival of the French army the line was held. as severe winter weather moved in, the Germans abandoned the Ypres offensive on November 22. around 135,000 Germans were killed or badly wounded while the BeF lost around 75,000 men and was pretty much destroyed as a professional army.

August 6, 1914

Cruiser HMS Amphion sunk by German mines in North Sea with loss of 150 men, first British casualties of the war.


illiam manson of the 1st Black Watch, from Bridge of allan in Perthshire, was captured at Ypres in november 1914, after being wounded in the thigh. Here he recounts his experience as a PoW:

Two more major battles were to happen at Ypres: the 2nd Battle of Ypres (april-may, 1915) and Passchendaele (July-October, 1917). When the americans entered the war in 1917 it hastened the defeat of the Germans and the last shell fell on Ypres on October 14 1918. along with the Battle of the somme, the battles at Ypres and Passchendaele will never be forgotten. The town had been the centre of conflicts before due to its strategic position, but the devastation of the town and countryside summed up the futility of battles in the First World War. In the area around Ypres more than 1,700,000 soldiers on both sides were killed or wounded along with an uncounted number of civilians. Interestingly, at a place called Wijtschate (about 10 miles south of Ypres) a German corporal called adolf hitler rescued a wounded comrade and won the Iron Cross.

August 7, 1914

“I was wounded in the advance on the 2nd November and left on the field. The French attacked and carried me back to a farm-house. They were compelled to retire, and left me with two other men in a barn. Two days later the Germans entered and captured me and my comrades, a man named Garner of my regiment, and a Frenchman. The Germans gave me some food. Shortly after I was picked up the British began to shell the barn, and I was taken out and laid on top of a trench in the rain; they covered me with straw. I asked to be put down in the trench out of the rain, but they took no notice of my request, and I was lying there for six hours. “At night they took me back to a field hospital behind the lines and dressed my wounds. I have nothing to complain of in regard of my treatment there. “The next day they removed me on an ambulance cart to a Belgian nunnery, which was being used as a hospital. I do not know the name of the place. The nurses were Belgian ladies, and I was well treated. I remained there for one night, and the next day was taken by train to St Vincent House, Paderborn, Westphalia. The journey occupied about two days, and I was treated well enough in the train,

British Expeditionary Force arrives in France.

but on the journey my comrades and I were turned out at a wayside station and laid on mattresses on the platform, and Germans spat in our faces and insulted us. Convalescent Hospital, Paderborn, May-June 1915/ Sennelager Camp Hospital, JuneJuly 1915/Sennelager Camp III July 1915-March 1916 — “I left St Vincent House in May 1915, and was taken to a convalescent hospital in the town, where I was detained for about a fortnight. “I was well treated there, but the quality of the food was not so good as before. I was then removed to another convalescent hospital for a fortnight, and in June was taken from there to Sennelager III Camp, which was about four miles outside the town. “I do not know the names of the Commandant or any of the officers

August 11, 1914

‘Your Country Needs You’ slogan is published, calling for 100,000 men to enlist in Kitchener’s New Army.

FirstWorldWar First

The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY

Spies, snipers and stolen uniforms



wo DunDee soldiers — Private John Mcewan, RAMC, 12 City Road, and Private Findlay Bruce, 2d Royal Scots, 2 City Road — returned from the front to recuperate from wounds received in the fighting at Ypres. They underwent remarkable experiences with German spies and snipers. one night a British sentry challenged a man who approached the regimental lines. The stranger explained that he was an orderly. “of what regiment?”

of this camp, which contained was utterly deficient in about 4,000 men. on arrival I was equipment, and there was put into hospital, and told to hold practically no treatment myself in readiness to proceed to at all, in fact, it might be england. My leg was practically described as a farce. useless, but they did not attempt There were no medicines, to do anything for me, and I got no bandages, and only a treatment whatever. student in charge, and the “I was in the camp hospital for remedy for every ailment about a month, and was then was aspirin. The food was quartered in a large wooden hut, awful and impossible to where we had to sleep feet-to- eat. The following is a feet on sacks filled with straw laid typical menu: on the floor. The hut was packed 7am Coffee without as tightly as possible, Algerians, sugar or milk and a ration French and British being all mixed of “war bread” about 4in up indiscriminately, and it was by 2in. infested with vermin. Its length was 12am Potato and 50 or 60 feet, and it was heated by sauerkraut — no meat. a stove at each end, but we were 6.30pm Boiled maize or only supplied with coal dust in ‘sandstorm’. insufficient “when first at the q u a n t i t y , camp I was often in a and it was starving condition, and, impossible but for a share of the to keep parcels received by my the place comrades, I should have warm. starved. There was a “washing so-called canteen at facilities were which one could buy very inadequate. cigarettes, and, at one we were taken down by time, sausages, but, later companies once a fortnight on, there was practically to get a shower bath, but only nothing to be had there.” succeeded in getting a sprinkling of water. The sanitary arrangements Private William Manson’s were totally inadequate medals (top) and tags (left). and most offensive. Pictures: Derek Patrick. “The Camp Hospital

August 13, 1914

The first squadrons of the Royal Flying Corps arrive in France.

demanded the watchful guard. “The Vilts,” responded the man, meaning the wiltshires. His German pronunciation of the english “w” cost him his life. He was a German in the uniform of the London Scottish. on another occasion two German snipers were discovered inside a hollow haystack. They had beside them rations for three months, and uniforms of eight different British regiments, and used noiseless rifles and smokeless powder.

Dundee soldiers Private John McEwan (left) and Private Findlay Bruce. See story above.

August 23, 1914

British Expeditionary Force starts its retreat from Mons.

August 25, 1914

The Royal Flying Corps claim their first ‘kill’ as aircraft from 2nd Squadron bring down a German plane.




The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY

A day of severe trials

At the battle of Aubers Ridge on May 9 1915, in one company of the 4th Battalion Black Watch, Dundee’s Own, a father buried his son and a son buried his father. The father who was buried was Archie Troup, the great grandfather of Lesley Smith of Newport-on-Tay. She has sent us the report that appeared in The People’s Journal of May 22 1915




ance-Sergeant J. Bowman, in a letter to his brother, Sergeant Thomas Bowman, DCM, 35 Peter Street, gives a vivid description of the fighting on the 9th. He says: “We took up a position in redoubts similar to those we occupied previous to our last engagement. At 3am the bombardment started. As an indication of how fierce it was I may mention that we had 14 wounded before we left for the front line. The bombardment lasted for hours, and the rattle of rifles and machine guns during the periodic lulls told us that hot work was in progress between our trenches and those of the enemy. “About eleven o’clock we received orders to move forward. It was a brilliant Sunday forenoon — very warm — and we felt the heat all the more, as we had to struggle forward

August 28, 1914

Royal Navy wins first battle of Heligoland Bight in the North Sea.

carrying heavy boxes of ammunition. When we got into the reserve trenches we found that the enemy’s guns had played havoc there. The sights in the old crescent trench of Neuve Chappelle fame made some of us sick. “For example, one traverse had been demolished, and the occupants (Indians) were dead, and some of them were actually burning when we passed. Then the survivors of the early morning charge began to file past. They were mostly Seaforths, and their appearance told its own terrible tale of what they had passed through. “A wounded officer came past and said to me: “Is this the Bareilly Brigade?” I replied in the affirmative, and he said: “Well, lads, I hope you have better luck than we have had.”

“At this time we were experiencing a heavy fire from the German guns, and Dr Rogers was being kept busy. At three o’clock the word was passed that another bombardment was to take place at 3.30, and another advance to be made. At the appointed time our guns started firing, but the Germans replied, shelling our trenches, and for an hour it was hell. Neuve Chappelle was outdone. We were falling everywhere. How I escaped passes my comprehension, for I was practically in the open all the time. “Sergeant Anderson, who used to work on A Company’s books in Wormit, received two shrapnel wounds in the left leg while sitting beside me. While I was bandaging him it simply rained shrapnel, and yet I was not touched. He gradually sank back into unconsciousness just as the word came: ‘B Company for the front trench’. “We experienced great difficulty in getting into the firing line, as the communication trench was being heavily shelled, and the wounded were being brought down in dozens. The A Company were first in the fire trench, and played a heroic part, for they were just in time to join a charge with the other battalions there. “I understand two platoons were over the trenches, and their death toll was very heavy. Lieutenant Weinberg was first, and he carried the flag to place in the enemy’s trench should it be taken. He died a hero’s death, falling under the rain of bullets which the platoon had to face from the Maxims in front. Young Donald Pyott picked up the flag, but he also was shot dead. His chum Jim Ross then grasped the flag, only to meet the same fate. Among the killed whom

September 26, 1914

Battle of the Marne checks German advance with 13,000 British, 250,000 French and 250,000 German casualties.

Above: a painting of the Battle of Aubers Ridge by H. B. Vaughan; Bottom left: Archie Troup (centre, with bass drum).

you will know are Jim Angus, LanceCorporal Taylor, Lance-Corporal White, Corporal Mulligan, Sergeant Brown, Lance-Sergeant Troup, McAvoy, Kolroy, McInroy and Brown, the officers’ servant, who used to reside at 54 Dudhope Street. The wounded include Sergeant-Major Leighton, Sergeant Naismith, and Peter Robertson. “Those who were not killed or wounded had to remain in the open, and many of them lay there till dark. Lieutenants Law and McIntyre were among the latter. “When darkness did come we had an exciting time bringing in the wounded. Many of the Seaforths had lain till 5.30 in the morning. Just as darkness was setting down a little Gurkha sergeant suddenly appeared on the top of our traverse trench, carrying on his back a Seaforth Highlander who had been wounded. He got a cheer from the boys for his plucky action.

October 1, 1914

First Battle of Arras, an attempt by the French to stop the Germans reaching the English Channel.


The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY


Black Watch’s bravery

A tribute to the members of the 8th (Service) battalion the black Watch, royal Highlanders by Major ronnie Proctor Mbe, whose wife Sonia’s grandfather William reid was in the black Watch in the First World War.

Archie Troup fell at Aubers Ridge.

“We were greatly relieved to hear that we were to go back into reserve that night, our places being taken by another battalion. Since then we have been under heavy artillery fire. “We have been sleeping in the open trench, and, as we have only our waterproofs, our greatcoats and packs having been taken from us before going into action, we have felt the cold at nights. “Luckily we have not been called to wear the masks supplied to counteract the effects of the gases which the Huns have been using. “It is remarkable the cheery way the men behave as soon as they are out of the thick of it. We are all wishing, however, we were back to our billets again, so that we can get a proper rest. Young Gordon, of 54 Dudhope Street, is all right, but I regret to say that Johnny Diamond is a ‘gonner.’ I got a lance-corporal and four men of the latest draft two days before the flight, and they are all wounded.”

October 16, 1914

The British Indian Expeditionary Force sails from Bombay to the Persian Gulf for the defence of Mesopotamia.

“The baTTalion was raised in august 1914 by lord Sempill of Fintray and first mustered at albuera barracks, aldershot in September 1914. it was part of the 26th (highland) brigade and 9th Scottish Division. “Unlike the Territorial battalions recruited from their own local area, the 8th and successive new army battalions recruited from the regimental area of angus, Dundee, Fife and Perthshire. “Farm workers stood side by side with miners, factory workers, shopkeepers and so on throughout the war. Many officers and soldiers were exregulars who had re-enlisted soon after war was declared, and the battalion had a firm backbone to steady the young men who had enlisted straight from civilian life. “although the battalion quickly reached its established strength, it took some time for uniforms, weapons and equipment to be issued and it was the new Year of 1915 before it was equipped to scale. The men were shipped to France in early May and were soon involved in trench warfare. “The battalion was engaged in most major battles, the first being the battle of loos in September 1915 where Captain The hon Fergus bowes-lyon, the brother of The Queen Mother, was killed at the hohenzollern Redoubt. “Trench warfare continued till May 1916 then the battalion took part in the battles of the Somme and Vimy Ridge, first battle of arras until april 1917 and the second battle of arras, followed by Passchendaele in March 1918. “March to May 1918 saw the battalion involved in repulsing the

October 18, 1914 First Battle of Ypres.

Pte William Reid.

German’s last assault against britain and her allies on the Western Front. “When David lackie Findlay joined in June 1918, the battalion had been in the line in the hondeghem area and were involved in the attack at Meteren. “The battalion was heavily involved in the ‘last one hundred days’, the advance to victory. From november 1918 to november 1919 the battalion carried out garrison duties on the Rhine until it was demobilised.”

October 29, 1914 Turkey enters the war.



The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY


T ASoldier’sStory

he Gallipoli Campaign took place on the Gallipoli peninsula in the ottoman empire (now known as Turkey) between april 25 1915 and January 9 1916. The peninsula forms the northern bank of the Dardanelles, a strait that provides a sea route to what was then the Russian empire, one of the allied powers during the war.

the invasion force was withdrawn to egypt. The battle was one of the allies’ worst disasters of the First World War. The doomed campaign was thought up by Winston Churchill, the First lord of the admiralty, to bring the war to an early conclusion by creating a new war front that the ottomans could not cope with.

Fred’s despatches from the front


hen war broke out, 20-year-old Fred Tait was a journalist with Courier publisher D C Thomson. after enlisting at Yorkhill in Glasgow, he joined 1/1st Lowland Field ambulance of the royal army Medical Corps, and left Scotland on June 4 1915 on a journey that would take him to north africa, Palestine, Gallipoli and France. During this time he wrote articles about his experiences for The Saturday Post and filled his diaries and journals with insights into the life of an ordinary Scot in extraordinary circumstances. These selected excerpts from 1914 and 1915 give a snapshot of what Fred, and hundreds of thousands like him, went through in the heat of war.

August 4 war was declared between Britain and Germany. September 11 enlisted at Yorkhill, Glasgow. November 15 at last we are arrayed in the coveted khaki. June 4 The fateful day. amid scenes of great enthusiasm we left Grahamston Station, Falkirk. There were two long trains; I went with the first at 3.30. Our route was via edinburgh, Carlisle, Birmingham, Cheltenham and Taunton, to Plymouth. we sailed from Devonport at 7pm the following day after a railway journey of over 21 hours.


hoping to secure it, Britain and France launched a naval attack followed by an amphibious landing on the peninsula with the aim of capturing the ottoman capital of Constantinople (modern-day istanbul). The naval attack was repelled and, after eight months’ fighting with many casualties on both sides, the land campaign also failed and

November 2, 1914

The United Kingdom begins naval blockade of Germany.

Fred Tait. June 22 about five o’clock we steamed out of alexandria and headed north-west. we had on board with us a large number of men who had been wounded in Gallipoli and, having recovered, were on their way back. we had every conceivable regiment represented. Several belonged to the 5th royal Scots. June 28 It was after one in the morning that we landed in Gallipoli. we could hear the thunder of the big guns and the rattle of musketry quite distinctly from the firing lines.

June 29 aT 2.30 in the morning we were called up to get to work amongst the wounded. Brg. Gen. Scott Moncrief, our Brigade Commander, and Col hahenaly 1/8 Sr. were killed in the charge of the 28th. The wounded were passed down this trench through our hands. The heat during the day was something terrible and made the work of carrying stretchers seem 10 times more heavy. I had about 12 hours of it on a stretch before I was relieved. I was never more done up in my life — so much so I would almost have welcomed a bullet. I had a narrow escape when it was dark. I was making my way from the open road into the communication trench and had just stepped aside into a dug-out when a high explosive shell burst right on the spot I had been a few seconds before. That was only about half a dozen yards away, and had it not been for the dug-out I might quite easily have been hit by some of the fragments. as it was I was about smothered by flying earth and dust. July 12 Big bombardment of achi-Baba commenced. we set out about five o’clock in the morning and crossed the French lines to take up duty on the right flank where the heavy fighting was to take place. During the afternoon a dozen of us penetrated right up to the firing line. The trenches were too narrow to allow the passage of stretchers, and to get the wounded out we had to carry them above our heads. It was killing work

November 22, 1914

Trenches are established along the entire Western Front.

December 24/25, 1914

In parts of the Western Front, an unofficial truce is observed between British and German forces.


The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY

This picture: a poignant moment at Cape Helles. Picture: PA. Below: British troops on ‘W’ beach. Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

January 19, 1915

as the heat was something terrible. All day and all night we worked and the bulk of the wounded weren’t down yet. The communications trenches were choked up with them. July 14 Altogether we have been 56 hours hard at it and we were almost in a state of collapse. We calculated that over 2,000 wounded had come down, and though every available ambulance was at work there were times when we could scarcely cope with the stream of wounded. Several times we were working under shrapnel fire while stray bullets were whizzing overhead, but fortunately none of us were hit. The Edinburgh Ambulance were very unfortunate; they had three killed and about 14 wounded. July 15 We returned to our base in the evening, after an experience we will never forget. We were completely done up, but we had earned everybody’s praise. Even men who had been taking part in the fiercest fighting were heard to exclaim that they were glad they were not in the RAMC. During these four days we saw many terrible sights and pathetic scenes. I was taking a patient down a very narrow part of a communication trench when a large number of troops passed us on their way to reinforce the men in the trenches. We had to put the stretcher down while they passed. About the middle of the line one of the men happened to look down at the patient — to recognise his own brother who had been wounded by shrapnel on the head. It was a most touching meeting. Another wounded man we were taking down wanted to get back to the trenches. He said his regiment were going to make a charge and he wanted to be in it to take his place beside his brother. Another one told me how he had seen his brother fall before his eyes, bayonetted by a Turk. September 27 Received word of big successes in France. For seven o’clock that night a special demonstration was ordered. Every group of batteries banged away 21 shots on a given objective, and no sooner had the first fired than a tremendous cheer was sent up from all over the Peninsula. The sudden outburst of heavy cannonading and cheering must have given the Turks a great shock, for they immediately started a very heavy rapid fire from their trenches. They probably thought that we were going to commence

First airborne attack on Britain sees bombs dropped by Zeppelins on Great Yarmouth, killing five civilians.

a general attack on them. The bullets were flying about as freely as hailstones and after giving three hearty cheers we had to make a rapid bolt for our dug-outs. December 24 That evening, being Christmas Eve, we held an open air concert and secured the aid of the 52nd Divisional Band to help us. The night was an exceptionally fine one and the concert was a great success. December 25 Bar the visit of one or two enemy planes and artillery activity, Christmas was a more or less uneventful day. The weather was ideal, the sun being quite hot during the day. December 26 Attached to the 29th Division today. In consequence we took over Pink Farm, C section, and details of A section going up. There had been some heavy rain during the night and the trenches were knee-deep in mud. Some of the men whom I saw down the trenches were scarcely recognisable. December 31 Had a hot time of it from “Beachy Bill”, the great gun brought round from Sulva by the Turks and now used to bombard “W” beach from behind the hill. It was a strange Hogmanay. Our camp was practically deserted, every available man almost being up at the gullies dealing with an abnormally large number of wounded.

Right (from top): a sled ambulance; destroying the railroad; examining a plane wreck.

February 4, 1915

Germans begin using submarines against merchant vessels.

February 18, 1915

Blockade of Britain by German U-boats begins. All vessels are considered viable targets.



FirstWorldWar Lusitania I

n her glory days rMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner, launched by the Cunard Line in 1906 and for a short time, the world’s biggest ship. In 1915 she was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat, causing the deaths of 1,198 passengers and crew. When she left new York for Liverpool on that fateful voyage on May 1 1915, submarine warfare was intensifying in the Atlantic. Germany had declared the seas around the United Kingdom to be a war zone, and the German embassy in the United States had placed a

newspaper advertisement warning people not to sail on Lusitania. On the afternoon of May 7 Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-Boat, 11 miles off the southern coast of Ireland and inside the declared “zone of war”. A second internal explosion sent her to the bottom in 18 minutes. But this action by the Germans was to have far-reaching consequences for them: by firing on a non-military ship without warning, they had breached the international Cruiser rules. Despite the Germans’ reasons

The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY

for treating Lusitania as a naval vessel — the ship was carrying war munitions and the British had also been breaching the Cruiser rules — the sinking caused a storm of protest in the United States, because 128 Americans were among the dead. The action was a major influence on the decision by the US to enter the war in 1917. Right: a Punch drawing of the Lusitania’s demise. Far right: antiGerman protests followed the sinking.

How The Courier reported the tragic liner’s sinking


Pirates jeer and mock victims as passengers are drowning: “Will you sing tipperary now?” Were there two or more submarines watching for the Lusitania? how was she waylaid? Upon these interesting questions light is shed by Mr ernest Cowper, a well-known American journalist, who asserts emphatically that about an hour-and-a-quarter before the ship was struck a submarine had been sighted on the horizon. As he himself put it: “I was standing with Mr rogers on the starboard side when all at once we observed the wake of our ship and realised that something was happening. When the vessel appeared to swerve we ran to the other side, and then clearly saw away on the horizon the conning tower of a submarine. She was evidently bent on heading us off, and sent us right into the other one. I have not the slightest doubt that a cleverly-laid scheme was planned and successfully carried out. the torpedoes struck at right angles. “When we saw the submarine Mr rogers, who is my editor, was most unconcerned, and said: ‘here’s where we get our copy.’

February 19, 1915

The Gallipoli campaign begins.

“the last I saw of Mr rogers was when I got into the second boat. he was then calmly walking up and down the deck nursing a baby. I have not heard of him since, and I fear he is drowned. “there were two very prominent and wealthy Americans in my lifeboat. When we got clear both stood up in the boat and recorded a solemn pledge that if the United States was not in this within seven days they would renounce their citizenship forever.” taunt from submarine crew here is another incident typical of many. After the ship had been struck we saw what appeared to be an overturned boat. We were soon disillusioned, for a loud cheer burst forth, and it emanated, as we found, from the submarine. there was more cheering, and then a shout: “Will you sing tipperary now?” after which the enemy craft disappeared from view. Huns jeer at Lusitania victims Lifeboats with helpless women and children were glued to the side of the Lusitania as the great liner

Mr George Nicoll of Dundee was just one of the passengers of the ill-fated Lusitania.

March 10, 1915

The British offensive at Neuve Chapelle begins. Allied losses amount to 12,800 in two days.

plunged beneath the waves. the civilised world has been stunned by Germany’s latest outrage against humanity. By the sinking of the mammoth liner Lusitania and the loss of close on 1,500 lives Germany has aroused a wave of indignation throughout the world, and stands condemned as the most wicked and unscrupulous nation on earth. the Lusitania carried 2,160 persons. Of these, only 703 have been saved. the figures as tabulated are: Passengers: 1,313 Crew: 847 tOtaL: 2,160 survivors brought ashore: 703 Dead brought ashore: 145 Death toll: 1,457 Very feW first class passengers have been saved. they believed that the great liner, with its water-tight compartments, would continue to float. So rapidly did the ship go down that only a small number of the ship’s boats could be launched. every effort was made to save the ‘women and children first’. Passengers jumped from the deck for the boats in the water

April 22, 1915

Start of second battle of Ypres, in which Germany first used poison gas.


The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY

below. Hundreds were left struggling in the sea. Survivors state that it was three hours before help arrived. Captain Turner, the commander of the Lusitania, is amongst the saved. He was on the bridge to the last, and went down with his ship. Fortunately he had been supplied with a lifebelt, and after three hours in the water was picked up by one of the rescue boats. Dundee survivor of Lusitania escaped by sliding down log-line: important suggestion as to the lifeboats. Mr WiLLiaM SCriMgeour, a Lusitania survivor, who has returned to his home at 3 arbroath road, Dundee, has had his full share of perilous adventures since he began to follow the sea as a marine engineer some eight years ago. in 1907 Mr Scrimgeour, who served his apprenticeship with gourlay Bros. & Co., Ltd., made his first trip on the Dundee steamer Naworth Castle. The voyage proved a disastrous one. The Naworth Castle, which was bound from the Tyne to the Mediterranean, was sunk in collision off Dover, and five of

her crew perished. Mr Scrimgeour had a narrow escape then, just managing to get up from the depths of the stokehole and clear the ship before she went under. Curiously enough, he had served for a time as an engineer on board the great and graceful Lusitania, of whose tragic end he was a witness. Treated as a joke TakiNg aN opportunity for advancement in his profession, Mr Scrimgeour left the Cunard Co.’s service and went to america. For some time back he had been running between New York and Central american ports, and had made up his mind to have a trip home. Like all the other passengers on the Lusitania, Mr Scrimgeour was aware of the published warning of the danger of german submarines. “i saw the advertisement in a New York paper,” he told the Courier yesterday, “and on the voyage the passengers talked freely about the matter, but all treated it in a joking manner.” it was not until the Lusitania was off the irish coast that the light-hearted dismissal of the great improbability

April 25, 1915

Allied landing at Gallipoli – 70,000 British Commonwealth and French troops come under heavy fire.

was changed into a fear that something might happen. This was the result of the ship’s boats being swung ready for action. Dundee man on board Lusitania No WorD has yet been received by his parents, who reside at 70 Peddie Street, Dundee, regarding the fate of Mr george Nicoll, one of the passengers of the ill-fated Lusitania. Mr Nicoll who is 26 years of age, started work at the age of 14, being employed at the bookstall at Tay Bridge Station. Later he was transferred to the West Station and thence to the Larbert. Several years ago he was promoted to the bookstall at elgin. Two years ago Mr Nicoll emigrated to Philadelphia, where he was employed as a night clerk in the YMCa, and resided with a married sister. He was home on holiday 10 months ago, and at the time of the disaster was on his way home to settle down. Right: a Punch cartoon shows the Kaiser being accused of ‘wilful murder’ by ordering the sinking.

May 7, 1915

British liner Lusitania is sunk by a German U-Boat.

May 23, 1915

Italy declares war on Germany and Austria.



FirstWorldWar Battle of loos



oos — aLso known as scotland’s somme — took place between september 25 and october 14 1915 and deserves to be called a scottish battle owing to the large number of scottish troops in action: 30,000 took part in the attack. scottish losses were so dreadful that no part of scotland was unaffected. Dundee’s own, the 4th battalion Black Watch, had massive casualties; the 9th lost 680 officers and men in the first hours of the fighting. of 950 men of the 6th Cameronians who went into battle, 700 were casualties. of 72 infantry battalions taking part in the first phase of the battle, half were scottish. By the end of the first day strong counter-attacks by the Germans forced the British back. When a second British attack suffered heavy losses on october 13, sir John French decided to bring an end to the offensive. The campaign cost the British Expeditionary Force 50,000 casualties. The French lost 48,000 and the Germans about 24,000. Dr Kenefick,a lecturer in history at Dundee University, and founder of the Great War Dundee Commemorative Project, said: “The Battle of Loos, a British offensive that started on september 25 1915, involved more than 60,000 scots and was a big one for Dundee. It decimated ‘Dundee’s ain’, the 4th Battalion of the Black Watch which was overwhelmingly Dundee men. “out of the 20 officers and 420 men who took part, 19 officers and 230 men were killed or wounded and by mid-october the battle had taken its toll on the 8th and

June 9, 1915

Above and below: the Black Watch Corner monument in Flanders. Pictures: Derek Patrick.

British troops in France first issued with hand grenades.

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A painting entitled ‘Scottish Regiment fighting the Germans at Loos’.

9th Battalions too. There wasn’t a tenement, house or cottage in Dundee that wouldn’t have been touched by this so you can imagine the effect it would have had on the city and its surrounding area. “To this day the beacon on Dundee’s Law is lit every year on september 25 to remember these men.” Dundee’s Own The day you marched away, Dundee’s own, Our hearts were like to break, Dundee’s own. But you smiled away our tears and we stifled all our fears, Changing them to ringing cheers for Dundee’s own. When Neuve Chapelle was o’er, Dundee’s own, We gloried in your deeds, Dundee’s own, For we knew the town’s good name, Had been honoured by your fame, You had bravely played the game, Dundee’s own. But alas our hearts are sad, Dundee’s own, We mourn your sleeping brave, Dundee’s own, Mid the storm of shot and shell where your gallant heroes fell, There lie broken hearts as well, With Dundee’s own. When victorious you march home, Dundee’s own, To the city proud to call you Dundee’s own. If we’re quiet do not wonder, We are glad, so glad, yet ponder On the loved ones left out yonder, Dundee’s own.

June 30, 1915

German troops use flame throwers for the first time against the British lines at Hooge, Ypres.

A study of the wreckage of war.

August 16, 1915

A U-boat bombards Whitehaven, proving Britain’s defences can be breached by German submarines.


The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY


Saved by a tin of bully beef



ames Ramsay of Kirkcaldy has written an account of his father’s lucky escape at the Battle of Loos: “My father, Private Robert Ramsay was in the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) and was 20 at the time. The information I have is a bit sparse, but what I know is that he fought at the Battle of Loos. “They were being bombarded with shells. They heard them coming over and were instructed to get behind a hay stack but my father just fell to the ground. The hay stack was demolished and everyone was killed — apart from my father. He was hit in the back with a piece of shrapnel, wounding him, but he was very lucky — he had his rations on his back with biscuits and tinned Bully Beef, and he reckoned the tin helped to stop the impact of the shrapnel and probably saved his life. “He crawled for quite a distance with blood filling his boots. He eventually came to a small house. He asked where the nearby medical centre was and they took him there. It was like a conveyer belt with all the wounded getting treatment. “He was then taken to the coast and then on to England where he

Comrades were “blown to atoms’’ PRivate James BRaid of the Royal Highlanders 1st Black Watch from Kirkcaldy wrote many letters home, detailing his war. He was killed in action on september 25 1915 on the first day of the Battle of Loos. this letter is sparse and to the point:

Dear Mother & Father, I received your parcel last night everything was alright nothing broken. We had a charge the other day and took the German trench which was 300 yds away. You talk about murder — you ought to have been there, they were throwing bombs at us. There was some of our chaps blown to atoms at this juncture that made the rest retire. I made for a shell hole five yards away from their trench and lay there till ten o’clock when I crawled back again in the dark. I will now draw to a close no more to say at present with love. To all respect the same, Mother & Father xxxxxxxx Jim

September 6, 1915

First tank, “Little Willie”, trialled.

was put on a train for Scotland. He actually travelled in the luggage rack for the journey to Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow for treatment. He had a hole in his back the size of your fist. “He was then moved to Chatsworth Mansion House near Derby for convalescence. “Once he was fit, he became a Redcap. After that he worked on various farms in the East Neuk of Fife.

He lived till he was 95. His daughter Janey is now 93, his other daughter is 85, son Andrew now deceased, and myself now 75. We all owe our lives to that tin of bully beef. “Have enclosed photo of him in Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow, and his war medals.” Pte Robert Ramsay is in the bed second from the left at Stobhill.

The Courier reports on the death of Captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon a WaR victim from aristocracy among the Glamis remembered is Captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon, born at the landmark 600-yearold castle on the north of the village and older brother of the late Queen elizabeth, the Queen mother. Captain Bowes-Lyon left behind a new wife and a love of cricket indulged on the village square to serve with the 8th Battalion, the Black Watch. He would meet his end in the early part of the Battle of Loos, which

September 8, 1915

brought the regiment’s darkest day on september 25 1915 at the appalling cost of more than 1,100 officers and men who wore the Red Hackle. the Black Watch were involved in an attack on a warren of trenches known as the Hohenzollern Redoubt but initial success was stalled by fierce German resistance. Courageously leading an attack on German lines on the third day of the battle, the 25-year-old captain’s leg was blown off by a

Tsar Nicholas II personally takes command of Russian Army.

barrage of artillery and, falling back into his sergeant’s arms, Bowes-Lyon was hit in the chest and shoulder by enemy bullets, and died on the field. the angus officer is buried in the quarry at vermelles, northern France, the location of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery. severely affected by the loss, the Countess of strathmore withdrew from public life until the marriage of her daughter, elizabeth, to the future king, in 1923.

September 25, 1915

At the Battle of Loos the British use gas for the first time but it blows back over their own troops with 2,632 casualties.



The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY

Your countrY needs You



n January 1916 the Military Service act was passed, introducing conscription for the first time in British Military History. as a result of the initial call to arms in 1914 more than 320,000 Scots had joined up by the end of 1915 — numbering around 13% of the British total. But the appetite for volunteering had begun to dwindle.Two Decembers had passed since the famous cry of ‘Home by Christmas’ and the harsh realities of life — and death — at the front were becoming ever more apparent. The Military Service act meant that single men were required to enlist by January 1916, with the net widening to include all men aged 18 to 41 by May of that year. Many young men who were keen to fight, however, such as Courier reader George McMillan’s father, Martin, managed to join up long before their 19th birthday.Then aged just 16, Martin presented himself at his local recruiting station in aberdeen. “Dad was born and brought up in aberdeen. He was 16 when he enlisted. Both his brothers — George and alex — had been killed on the Western Front and, grief-stricken, he wanted to avenge them.When he turned up at the recruiting station, he thought the minimum age was 18 and told the Gordons sergeant he was 18, but the minimum age was then 19 and the sergeant said he could not accept him at 18. “‘never mind,’ he said, ‘Just tak’ a wa’k roon the block and come back. ye’ll be 19 by then’. My Dad did and found himself in the army!” Dubbed the young Pretenders, young men such as Martin were often able to join up without producing any proof of identification and it wasn’t until they were well into their military service that their true ages were discovered. For others, or for their families, the thought of leaving their homes,

September 27, 1915

families and livelihoods behind was too much and they applied for exemption from military service on various grounds, including protected occupations, ill-health, business or domestic hardship and those appealing on moral or religious grounds, who would become known as conscientious objectors. There are some well-documented cases of parents who appealed to the exemption tribunal, unable to bear the thought of sending a third or fourth son to fight. Some of these were successful with exemptions being granted on the grounds of hardship. Men who were deemed genuine conscientious objectors could be granted non-combatant duties, such as stretcher-bearing.Those who refused this option could end up in special work camps or even in prison, as was the fate of Dundee Communist Bob Stewart. Two groups in Dundee played an important role both

British and Canadian regiments take Hill 70 at Loos and break the German line, but can’t exploit the breach.

in resisting the introduction of conscription before 1916 and as anti-conscriptionists after the event. The Independent Labour Party (ILP) and the no-Conscription Fellowship (nCF) had a lot of support in the city — most famously from Edwin Scrymgeour who stood against Churchill in the 1917 Ministerial By-Election.

October 12, 1915

British nurse Edith Cavell is executed by German firing squad for helping Allied troops escape from Belgium.

Left: this recruitment poster appeared in The People’s Friend on August 15 1914. It appealed to the fighting spirit of Scots and 600 years of history. Above: another recruitment poster demands: ‘Take up the Sword of Justice’ and was captioned: ‘Remember the Lusitania’.

October 31, 1915

Steel helmets are introduced for the British Army.


The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY

‘Young Pretenders’ often conned their way into the Army by lying about their age.

Edwin Scrymgeour’s role Samantha Bannerman, curator at St andrews Preservation trust museum, offers an insight into edwin ‘neddy’ Scrymgeour’s role. “he was a key figure in the anti-war movement in Dundee and, arguably, Britain.through his newspaper, the Scottish Prohibitionist, he reported on the injustices conscientious objectors were being subjected to at military tribunals at a time when the Defence of the realm act (DOra) was censoring anti-war propaganda,” she explained. “too old to be conscripted, Scrymgeour attested to the conviction of conscientious objectors at military tribunals and supported national organisations such as the no-Conscription Fellowship. most importantly, he was the only politician during the First World War to contest a by-election in Dundee, taking on the minister of munitions Winston Churchill.the ensuing by-election campaign in 1917 gave Dundonians a unique opportunity

December 19, 1915

Douglas Haig replaces John French as commander of the British Expeditionary Force.

not experienced anywhere else in Britain, to question a member of the Prime minister’s cabinet during the war.Whilst Churchill received a raucous reception from the Dundee electorate, Scrymgeour received a much wider hearing of his views, and was supported by over 40 ex-servicemen during his campaign. he is best known as Britain’s first and only Prohibitionist mP, yet he arguably achieved much more as an anti-war activist during the First World War.” this extract from the tribunal of conscientious objector michael reilly in Buckhaven on march 2 1916 was discovered in the Fife archives. the customs officer asked for total exemption from military service on the grounds that he saw himself as “a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ . . . not permitted to engage in warfare”. Reilly: “Can I take no military service at all?” Mr Hogarth: “had you a good breakfast this morning?” Reilly: “Yes”. Mr Hogarth: “are you aware that, but for the British navy and the brave lads who are fighting for you, you would not have got any breakfast at all?” [applause] Reilly: “But for the One above, I would not have Left, been able to get breakfast!” above and [Laughter] right: more Mr Hogarth posters [emphatically]: “But for playing on the British navy, you would potential not have got any breakfast.” soldiers’ [applause] sense of reilly was exempted from duty and combatant service. pride.

December 20, 1915

Allies complete the evacuation of 83,000 troops from Suvla Bay and ANZAC Cove in Gallipoli. Not one is killed.

January 8, 1916

Gallipoli campaign ends with evacuation from Helles.



FirstWorldWar Changing World A

s chAnge on an epic scale swept across the international stage, alterations that may seem small in comparison were touching almost every aspect of daily life.Yet the importance of these relatively minor details must not be overlooked — because together they made a

A hall in Dumfriesshire became a hospital run by aristocrats, a situation which was repeated across the country.

world of difference to ways of living and thinking that would be transformed forever. The great War hastened the end of the “Upstairs, Downstairs” era — when society turned on its head and differing classes found themselves shoulder-to-shoulder in the trenches and on the home front.

The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY

At Blair castle in Perthshire, the 7th Duke of Atholl sent three sons into military operations, while the women of the family contributed to the war effort in a variety of ways. Blair castle itself was transformed into a Red cross hospital run by Duchess Kitty. The grand ballroom became a hospital ward and recreation room, while some of the family’s other rooms were used as canteens for nurses and their patients. glamis castle in Angus was also used as a military hospital and captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon, who was born there, was killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915. l See full story on Page 13. The Queen Mother’s brother Captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon (in group right), born at Glamis, Angus, who died at the Battle of Loos. A single edition of The Courier, picked at random from those published during the war years, serves as an illuminating 24-hour snapshot of the time, and illustrates that change was constant and its impact all-pervading. On June 1 1915, The Courier announced: “Dundee gas and electricity rates are now on a war level.” it explained that a “rise of 7d on the gas rate, from 2s 2d to 2s 9d per 1,000 cubic feet and advances of 10 per cent for electricity” had been agreed upon by the Town Council. The great advance in the price of coal, was the chief cause of fresh calls upon the ratepayers and the report added: “The Town Councillors

Blair Castle in Perthshire saw its men go off to war and its women join the war effort.

were inclined to restrain criticism in the face of an inevitable position. “Treasurer soutar, in submitting the accounts, asked the members to keep specially in view the very extraordinary and unforeseen conditions resulting from the war which were encountered during the latter nine months of the year’s working. “The crux of this year’s finance was, however covered and explained by one word spelt large — ‘Coal’. it, like butcher meat, bread, and everything else had bounded to a price altogether unforeseen and unthinkable at the time the estimates were framed.” The coal industry serves as an


A miner and his family on strike before the war effectively put a stop to industrial action.

January 27, 1916

Conscription is introduced in the United Kingdom.

February 21, 1916

Battle of Verdun begins. The battle lasts 10 months and more than one million men become casualties.

March 28, 1916

Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp founded.


The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY


Left: an ambulance train carrying wounded soldiers arrives in Dundee.

example of the role reversals which were taking place across the board. As civilian properties and people were enlisted into the war effort, individuals found themselves in unexpected situations, performing tasks they had never envisioned for themselves. It is estimated that nearly 100,000 miners were sent to serve at the front where their tunnelling and construction skills were put to use. One of the biggest challenges was that they had to take care not to make a sound as they worked, lest they attract the attention of the enemy — no mean feat when armed with a pick and shovel. The outbreak of war also effectively brought an end to industrial action which had been a regular

April 2, 1916

Zeppelin raid on Edinburgh. Thirteen die, 24 are wounded.

occurrence in several sectors — and in 1916 mining was nationalised, giving miners more pay and excusing them from conscription. Trains were transformed into mobile hospitals and the first to arrive in Dundee came in on November 3 1914. It carried 100 men and consisted of 10 coaches with six wards, each with 18 beds. Meanwhile, the courts were dealing with a new brand of crime. The Defence of The Realm Act was passed on August 8 1914, four days after the outbreak of war and it was amended and extended six times over the duration. Under the act, philosopher and activist Bertrand Russell was sent to prison, and in Scotland it figured prominently in hearings during the so-called Red Clydeside period. On June 1 1915, however, The Courier reported the much less high-profile case of one William Witcomb Stainer, who the day before had pleaded guilty at Dunfermline Sheriff Court to a charge brought under the Act. His crime was to take a photograph. The case says something about an air of paranoia and of the sudden restrictions placed upon seemingly innocent pursuits. The Courier court report reads: “The indictment bore that on May 29 on the Forth Bridge, near North Queensferry, he had in his possession, without permission of the military or naval authority and in the vicinity of Rosyth Dock and Harbour Works, photographic apparatus consisting of a pocket Kodak camera and film and without lawful authority, attempted to collect

April 24, 1916

Easter Rising in Dublin against British rule.

and record information with respect to the description and disposition of certain ships of His Majesty by making photographs of them.” The accused was represented by Mr A. P. MacBain, who stated that his client had simply attempted to carry out what he thought was an innocent pastime without bearing in mind that he was within a prohibited area. “The accused was an entire stranger to Scotland and naturally was quite keen to see the place,” said his solicitor, adding that his client was a lecturer in technology at Manchester University. Mr MacBain told the court: “On Saturday afternoon he left Edinburgh by the 2.35pm train and was arrested before 4 o’clock. “He was unaware of the very proper precaution of relieving passengers of portable possessions before crossing the bridge. He had a waistcoat pocket camera which he wished to test. He along with his lady friend travelled first class with a fellow passenger. As the train passed over the bridge the accused took two or three ‘snaps’. Nothing was said by the other passenger but when they reached North Queensferry, the former reported the affair to the County Police and the accused was taken into custody. He at once gave up the film.” The Courier report added: “His Lordship said he had no doubt that this was more a piece of folly than anything else, but with a man of intelligence and education it was much more serious than it might be with other people. He imposed a penalty of £2.”

April 29, 1916

Besieged Allied forces surrender to Turks at Kut after 143 days — 9,000 British and Indian troops captured.

FirstWorldWar Women at Work


The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY

As they waved husbands, sons and grandsons off to the front at the beginning of the First World War, the women who stayed behind probably couldn’t imagine how their lives would be altered for ever

A Below: a Scottish Women’s Hospitals collection box.

t the outbreak of war,

women’s role in society was very much the homemaker and care-giver. those who did work tended to be in service or in the caring or teaching professions. Suddenly women from every background were thrust into new roles — taking charge as the head of the family and taking their first steps into the world of work. For the lucky ones, their family members would make it home but for many, dealing with the grief of losing their husband or sons would become part and parcel of the war experience. A look at newpaper pages of the


time gives a fascinating insight into life during the war years. Alongside updates on the latest gains on the front and enemy advances, are stories of gallantry from both men and women and photographs of families who will never see their husbands and fathers again. But life went on for Scotland’s women, and alongside the dramatic stories are reports on the latest fashions from Paris and tips on how to cook economically in wartime. As the world around them changed inexorably, so did the expectations of those women. Many had never considered or been given the chance to have a career outside the home.

May 31, 1916

Battle of Jutland begins. The German fleet ends up irreparably damaged for the rest of the war.

the women’s suffrage movement gathered pace and although many of the changes did not last as men returned home at the war’s end, the role of women in society would never be the same again. It is interesting to note that the suffragettes, who had long been viewed as an inconvenient problem by local police forces, were to see less persecution during the war years. the Fife Archives reveal memos to the police calling on constables to ease off on their surveillance of suffragettes, “as we are all friends now”. As well as work in first aid and the

June 5, 1916

TE Lawrence — Lawrence of Arabia — aids Grand Sharif of Mecca, in the Arab revolt against the Turks in Hejaz.

hospitals service, many women took on roles that had been traditionally reserved for men in agriculture, shipbuilding and munitions factories. In Dundee, which did have a history of women working in the jute industry that led to the city being known as the ‘women’s toun’ there was still a break from normal practice with female workers being taken on at the Caledon shipyard and in the munitions works, and becoming tram conductors. Nurses and medical staff were more in demand than ever, with hospitals helping to receive the war wounded in Scotland and many

June 5, 1916

HMS Hampshire sunk off Orkney. Lord Kitchener is lost along with 643 crewmen.

Above: girls making shells in a munitions factory. Above left: May Nelson takes on her husband’s occupation as a chimney sweep.


The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY


MRS WINSTON CHURCHILL VISITS DUNDEE: Mrs Winston Churchill, who was the principal speaker at a mass war meeting in the Kinnaird Hall, Dundee, last night, is seen on the left of the picture, in company with Lady Gwendoline Churchill and Sir George Ritchie. From The Courier, Wednesday March 10 1915.

Right: Bessie Bowhill, a PRI nurse who volunteered to serve in a hospital on the front line. women answering the call to nurse abroad. Female Scottish doctors and nurses were at the forefront of the drive to build field hospitals where they could treat soldiers at the earliest available opportunity. One such volunteer was Bessie Dora Bowhill (see picture right) who gave up her secure role as matron at Perth Royal Infirmary in 1915 to serve as a nurse in the Women’s Scottish Hospital in Serbia. A report in The Courier of April 8 1915 explains that she had previously served as a nurse in the Boer War in South Africa. The following year we pick up her story again with a report that the town

in which she was working had fallen. She was subsequently taken prisoner, along with some of her colleagues, before eventually being repatriated in 1916. Women who didn’t make the physical move into the workplace were often heavily involved with the war effort in other ways. Well-known figures such as Mrs Winston Churchill spoke at mass war meetings, and women from all walks of life put much time and energy into raising funds and war savings and bonds, and encouraging men to enlist. When the war ended, however, the strides that women had made

July 1, 1916

Battle of the Somme sees 750,000 Allied soldiers in action. In one day 60,000 are dead, wounded or missing.

into the workforce didn’t always hold firm. Women’s perceptions of their roles may have changed, but there were still men returning from the front with the expectation that their jobs — or a job at least — would be waiting for them. In most cases women were expected to stand aside for their male colleagues and if their expectations for a more equal role in society had been raised, it was unfortunately true that society more or less returned to the status quo of the pre-war years.

August 27, 1916

Italy declares war on Germany.

Air Mechanic John Brown, of the Royal Flying Corps, home in Dundee after serving two years in France. Pictured are Private Brown, his wife, and two of their family at their home. From The Sunday Post, January 21 1917.

September 2, 1916

First German airship shot down over Hertfordshire.


FirstWorldWar At the going down of the sun And in the morning

The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY

The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY


We Will remember them



FirstWorldWar The Somme E

arly on the morning of July 1 1916 whistles were blown to signal the start of what would be the bloodiest day in the history of the British army. Planned as a joint French and British operation, the plan — which turned out to be naiive and outdated — was to aim territorial gain and at the same time to destroy German manpower. Haig used 750,000 men (27 divisions) against the German frontline (16 divisions). However, the bombardment failed to

destroy either the barbed wire or the concrete bunkers protecting the German soldiers. this meant that the Germans were able to exploit their good defensive positions on higher ground when the British and French troops attacked. newspaper reports the next day told how “hundreds of dead were strung out like wreckage washed up to a high water-mark”. the British army suffered 58,000 casualties, with almost 20,000 dead — their largest single loss in one day, with more

than half of the officers involved losing their lives. a new offensive in September, in which tanks were used for the first time, also failed to make a significant impact. Many of those who fell at the Somme have no known grave and are commemorated on the thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

which ran north-west to southeast and was heavily defended by German machine gun posts. Here, Ken Kennedy of Broughty Ferry tells his grandfather’s story: “George McLaren was the husband of Mary McLaren and by the time George went to war the couple had two daughters, Joan and Elizabeth, and one son, John. “George and his father Joseph were yarn bleachers in the linen works in the village of Midmill, a site near the bend in Pitkerro Road at its northerly end. George had joined the 7th Battalion Black Watch as a reservist some time before 1912 as there is a postcard sent by him to his daughter, Joan, from the training camp at Monzie, near Crieff, dated July 10 1912. Many of the records from the Great War were lost during the Second World War and there are no details of his movements from the start of the war until the time he was killed. However, his regiment is known to have joined the 153rd (2nd Highland) Brigade on 16th April 1915 and sailed for France on 2th May 1915 landing in Boulogne. “The attack on Beaumont Hamel was to have taken place on the November 2 1916 but abominable weather conditions delayed this and the records of the 1/7 Battalion

Black Watch record that the Battalion was moved back to a village called Lealvillers and spent time clearing mud from roads. The Battalion moved forward to Mailly Wood on November 12 and was given orders that the attack would be at 5.45am the following morning. They reached their post in the reserve trenches in St John’s wood at 1.30am. “The morning of the 13th November was dark, cold and the ground was covered in thick mist. This made it easier to approach the German trenches without being seen too early but made navigation much more difficult. “Almost the entire 7th Battalion was employed as carrying parties which involved transferring heavy boxes of ammunition and grenades forward over No Man’s Land to support the forward troops. This was made even more difficult by ankledeep mud and machine gun fire from the enemy-occupied y-ravine. “At some point in the morning, George McLaren fell victim to enemy fire. How many times he made the journey back and forward with supplies we will never know. Exactly when he fell is another unknown but it seems that, like so many that day, he became disorientated by the heavy mist and lost contact with his

The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY

Right: British soldiers at the Battle of the Somme. Picture: PA.

A day of severe trials




rivate GeorGe Young McLaren, 6889, 7th Battalion The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) was killed on November 13 1916 during the last few days of the Somme at the Battle of Ancre. On that day, Beaumont Hamel, which was one of the objectives on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on July 1, was at last taken. In this area of the Western Front, fighting was to the south-west of Beaumont Hamel and attacking troops had to negotiate the deep y-shaped ravine

September 15, 1916

First mass use of tanks at the Somme.

November 18, 1916

Battle of the Somme ends. More than 1.5 million men were killed, wounded or listed as missing.

George McLaren in uniform (above) and (left) with his soon-to-be widowed wife Mary.

November 21, 1916

HMHS (His Majesty’s Hospital Ship) Britannic, Titanic’s sister ship, sinks after hitting a German mine. 30 die.


The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY

Jutland: a clash of naval titans


comrades. A letter received by Mary McLaren from John M Hunter (7th Black Watch) on December 19 1916 makes the following statement: ‘The sad news of your husband’s death will have reached you long before this. I am writing now to tell you that he was buried at a spot near the German lines. He had moved so far to the left that he went beyond our sector and was buried by another chaplain whose returns are just now to hand. The spot is carefully marked and will be well looked after both now and after the war.’ An even more poignant letter was received by Mary soon after George’s death. On November 17, Captain A. K. Watson, Officer Commanding ‘A’ Company, wrote from the front line: “It is with deepest regret I have to tell you of the death of your husband on 13/11/16. He was with a carrying party, the work of which is very arduous and dangerous without any compensating excitement. “No praise is too great for those who took part in this work. Their unrelenting energy and devotion to the work has, we know, materially helped towards winning the great success. I am sure that you will feel proud to think that your husband fell helping towards the successful outcome of the day.”

November 25, 1916

John Jellicoe becomes first Lord of the Sea.

few months before the Somme, the Battle of Jutland took place between the British Grand fleet and the German High Seas fleet on May 31 1916 in the North Sea off the mainland of Denmark. Jutland was the most important battle of the first world war in terms of the numbers of battleships and cruisers engaged, a clash between the two most powerful naval forces in the world. Other key naval events included the Battle of Dogger Bank, the Battle of Heligoland Bight, Battle of Coronel and the Battle of the falklands, and the scuttling of the German fleet at more than five miles at the outside Scapa flow. and at intervals the Germans appeared hazily in the mist. You could always see the ripple of fire flashing along the line as the ships discharged their mighty guns. at the outset the Germans seemed to have got the range of our ships pretty well, but by the time my ship got into action the “We got into a hot corner accuracy of their gunnery had right at the start,” says fallen off considerably. Shells Dundee officer were falling wide all round. THe STaTeMeNT that much of ”when our battle fleet got under the German gunnery in the great way with their guns the Germans naval engagement off Jutland was poor stuff is confirmed by a Dundee officer who was in the battle. His version of the fight is but another stone to the cairn of reliable testimony which shows how ridiculous is the German claim that they had a great victory. The British fleet actually kept up a close search for the ‘victorious’ Teutons, but they had skedaddled into safety. “The battle had been in progress for some time,” said the Dundee officer, “before we got up the cruisers were fighting and they had had a pretty rotten time. The odds against them were about three to one, but they had done the attacking. “we got into a very hot corner right at the start. It had been a lovely calm day. when we went into action in the early evening there was a bright red sun, but there was also a nasty mist. “we could not see ahead for

A sailor’s tale from The Courier

December 5, 1916

Henry Asquith resigns as Prime Minister.

were practically silenced. a most exciting time was when the enemy began to fire salvoes of torpedoes amongst us, but except for one or two minor things they did not to any damage. I attribute this to the wonderfully skilful handling of our ships.” British Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Jellicoe (above left) and German rival Admiral Scheer (above right). Below: Royal Navy ships ready for battle. All pictures: PA.

December 7, 1916

David Lloyd George becomes Prime Minister.




The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY

Dundee’s Camel Corps hero



ROM THE City Engineer’s Office in Dundee to the desert in Palestine — Isobel Turner, of Barnhill, Broughty Ferry, is proud of her father Captain Edwin (Eddie) Hogg Deas, who was awarded the Military Cross for the part he played in the Battle of Amman. He had signed up at the age of 24 in Dunkeld and went to Kettering as a member of the Scottish Horse regiment. He saw service in Gallipoli for seven weeks in 1915. He was then sent to the Middle East and, as a member of the Scottish Horse regiment, became part of the 7th Co Imperial Camel Corps in 1916 along with volunteers from the Scottish Yeomanry units in Egypt. Throughout the war years, Eddie kept a diary, and this excerpt tells of


Eddie and his compatriots pose by the Great Sphinx of Giza, Egypt.

December 12, 1916

the difficulty of trying to engage in battle when both men and animals were struggling. He wrote: “All the defences and the town of Beer-Sheba were captured by early morning. We came out of our trenches at 5.30 and having joined our camels we moved off. I don’t know what I expected, but I was certainly disappointed in Beer-Sheba, there being no decent building about the place bar the hospital which was full of Turkish wounded.” The company moves on but as he explains: “Progress was now getting much slower owing to heavy Turkish reinforcements arriving and as the most important thing to us was the possession of the wells at Kheweilfe, which the Turks now held, we set about trying to dislodge them from the high rocky hill which overlooked the wells. We waited till night time before getting a little nearer to the position. “When we left Beer-Sheba we did not bargain for this stiff opposition and the water difficulty was never taken seriously, but now matters became alarming for all our water was finished and there was no possible chance of being relieved; so we started the fight at daylight at a great disadvantage. “To make matters worse, the day turned out to be very hot, the temperature being well over 100 degrees. The Turks put up a determined fight and refused to budge an inch from their position, night time finding us in the same position as we were in the morning. “In desperation for water, I sent my servant on the hunt to see if he could pick up a drop anywhere and in about two hours, he returned with half a tankful of muddy water and a smell about it like to knock you down. After boiling this in a kettle, we enjoyed half a cupful each, but it only made us thirst for more.

Germany delivers Peace Note to Allies suggesting compromise.

“We stood to all night in case of accidents, but everything remained very quiet. Still no water and everybody about off their heads. My tongue was swollen about twice its size and it was with great difficulty that I could speak a word. The fighting continued at daybreak and got as fierce as ever. Received the welcome news that we would be relieved in the afternoon in order to go back to BeerSheba and get water. “I was dispatched off at 2pm with the water party to get the tanks full and ready for the Company on its arrival. On the way down several enemy aeroplanes severely bombarded us with hand grenades, but owing to the dust our camels kicked up, they missed their mark and no damage was done whatsoever. “I think I had the longest drink ever I had in my life when the wells were reached and made up for the twoand-a-half days I had done without a drop bar the half cupful. I will never forget the scene when the camels rushed to the troughs and, getting down on their knees, drank for a solid 20 minutes.”

Citation from General Allenby Eddie Hogg Deas.

December 18, 1916

The Battle of Verdun ends — the longest and costliest battle on the Western Front.

“HOnOuRS HAvE come quickly upon Captain Edwin H. Deas, of the Scottish Horse, the youngest son of Mr James Deas, tailor, Commercial Street, Dundee, who resides at Seaview, Barnhill, Broughty Ferry. For brilliant work with the forces in Palestine he, within the period of five weeks, was mentioned in despatches, promoted to Captain and

January 31, 1917

Germany continues with unrestricted submarine warfare, hoping to starve Britain into submission.


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Battle of Amman

Left: the Camel Corps in action. Below: Eddie Hogg Deas on his camel. decorated with the military cross. he received the military cross for gallantry at amman. “This officer, it is stated in the order bestowing the distinction upon him, ‘showed the greatest gallantry and coolness. On three occasions he led his company forward with the utmost dash and disregard for danger. after the officer commanding the firing line had been wounded, he took command of the firing line and organised the defence against Turkish counter-attack with great ability. It was greatly owing to his initiative that the battalion was able to maintain its advanced position’. The decoration was pinned on the Captain’s breast by General Chater and General allenby. “Captain Deas rose from the ranks, having joined the army as a private in September 1914.”

February 3, 1917

The United States severs diplomatic relations with Germany as U-Boats threaten US shipping.

The baTTle had begun on March 26 1918 and the british had suffered heavy losses. On March 28, all officers had to attend a Council of War and eddie hogg Deas wrote: “The General was not very well pleased at the day’s show, but said that in my case I had no alternative but to give up the attempt. “It was decided to attack the hill at 2am next morning and that one battalion would constitute the firing line, with another in close support. Captain Newsome was put in charge and, to my surprise, I was put second in command. We got busy at once making preparations and there was no rest for anybody that night. “The column moved off in mass formation at 2am about 300 strong, the night being pitch black with a slight rain falling. It took us 10 minutes to reach the enemy’s firing line, who again gave us a warm welcome. however, we simply rushed him off his feet and in a few minutes had possession of the first line of trenches. “Captain Newsome was killed at the first rush and I was faced with the responsibility of carrying on the show. We advanced over the ground at the top of the hill for about quarter of a mile and took quite a lot of prisoners, however as there seemed to be no more trenches about and as daylight was due, we retired back and occupied the first trenches. at daybreak we were able to see what sort of place we had found ourselves and were not impressed at all. The trenches were very narrow and you had to lie flat down before getting cover. “The Turks had got up reinforcements and we could see them coming on, but to our astonishment they had to be driven to it by their officers, who could be plainly seen coaxing their men to take up a position. at first we thought they were to surrender, seeing they did not attempt to fire, however we waited a few minutes to see what was going to happen, then opened out as hard as we could.

February 23, 1917

Germany begins its withdrawal to Hindenburg Line.

They must have suffered very heavily during that period. “The Turkish guns had the range of his trenches to a yard, no doubt worked out beforehand, and after eight o’clock he gave us a very hot time all day, inflicting a lot more casualties. Our new position was on the very edge of the hill and we looked like a lot of ants hanging on for dear life. “In the afternoon a machine gun commenced to trouble us by enfilading our line and picking off a few more men, so I paid a visit to the New Zealand Post on the next hill and got their assistance to locate the gun, which was destroyed after a good search. “Toward night it was no surprise to us to be told that we were to leave the line that night and retire back to our base. It was very apparent to everyone that the longer we remained there the worse it would be to get away, so that night at 7pm we commenced to leave the hill in sections under cover of darkness. “by 10 o’clock we had completely evacuated the hill and retired back almost half a mile where a rearguard was formed to allow the ambulance Corps and so on to get well away before morning. “Thank goodness we were allowed to retire in peace for we were all dead beat and thoroughly sick at everything. My company suffered the most in casualties and out of a total of 70 there were 52 killed or wounded. “No wonder we were fed up, but the weather was undoubtedly the cause of our failure for instead of our visit being a surprise, the Turks knew all about us long before we got there. “The net result of our raid was the blowing up of a good portion of the Turkish railway including a few bridges, also drawing a large enemy force away from their base which was to help us greatly afterwards. “There was no sleep for us, but we were compensated by being allowed to get a cup of cocoa, the first hot drink for five days.”

March 15, 1917

Russian Czar Nicholas II abdicates.



FirstWorldWar Passchendaele The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY


he Battle of Passchendaele, which took place between July and November, 1917, was the third major battle of Ypres and was known as the Battle of Mud. General Sir Douglas haig was convinced that the German army was now close to collapse and once again made plans for a major offensive to obtain the necessary breakthrough. It saw the biggest loss of life of any battle of the war with almost half a million British, Commonwealth and German troops killed, wounded or missing. Conditions were appalling: trench foot — a medical condition caused by prolonged exposure of the feet to damp, unsanitary, and cold conditions — was common on both sides.

A sea of mud and shell holes: The 8th Black Watch at Passchendaele, October 12 1917 Dr Derek J. PatrICk, University of Dundee, recalls the pivotal role the 8th Black Watch played in this terrible battle and takes a look at the battalion’s War Diary. “the Battle of Passchendaele (or third Battle of Ypres) is synonymous with much of what has characterised the Great War in the nation’s collective

memory. Fought between July and November 1917 with the objective of capturing the high ground to the south and east of the city of Ypres, shelling destroyed the fragile drainage system and, exacerbated by the wet weather, the waterlogged battlefield was likened to a ‘sea of mud’. “On October 12 1917, the ‘Jocks’ of the 8th Black Watch, 26th Brigade, 9th (Scottish) Division, were making final preparations for another attempt on Passchendaele. the 8th was a New army battalion raised in august 1914, and had served with distinction at loos, the Somme and arras. at 7pm on October 11 the battalion had left to take up its positions for the attack the following morning. From approximately 2am to 4am, the 8th was subjected to an intense gas bombardment and as a result box respirators had to be worn. there was some confusion as a and B Companies had failed to locate any guides or markers, and were unable to make contact with C and D Companies on the left, but all were in position by about 4am having suffered few casualties. “the battalion’s War Diary records that at ‘ZerO all four companies seem to have moved forward and got up close behind the barrage in their respective lines and advanced with it

Members of the Black Watch on their way to dig trenches.

when it began to creep forward’. From the outset a Company was subjected to heavy rifle fire in the vicinity of adler Farm. Shelling was heavy and as the Company moved forward it came under heavy machine gun fire from both flanks, but making good progress reached its objective, where Captain Ian W. W. Shepherd ordered his men to halt and consolidate a line of shell holes ‘as far as the state of the ground would permit’. “B Company continued the advance under Captain Peter James alexander. educated at Fettes and Baliol College, Oxford, he was the only son of James alexander, Midfield, Perth, and had already received the Military Cross for gallantry. Pushing on to the final objective, B Company discovered a German pill box, unmarked on the map, which was captured only after severe fighting. Captain alexander was killed, aged 23. “his men endeavoured to dig in, but subjected to machine gun fire from

the front and both flanks, and with snipers active in the area, Second lieutenant a. l. Milroy, the only remaining officer with the Company, had few options and ordered the survivors to withdraw. that afternoon a small and apparently unorganised German counter-attack was driven off, but the new front line was heavily shelled and machine guns and snipers were very active. “Shortly after the advance began the Company was exposed to enfilade rifle and machine gun fire from the direction of Oxford houses. lieutenant alexander S. harper, with one section of 14 Platoon and Company headquarters, attempted to capture a German pill box which was enfilading his command. all but the Company Sergeant Major were killed in the attempt. the 8th’s War Diary recorded several ‘outstanding features of the


Private David Sharp’s Soldier’s New Testament. Picture: Derek Patrick.

March 26, 1917

First Battle of Gaza, Palestine, as British attempt to cut off the Turkish in Mesopotamia from their homeland.

April 6, 1917

USA declares war on Germany. Troops begin to mobilise immediately.

April 9, 1917

Second Battle of Arras begins. British successfully employ new tactics of creeping barrages.

Above: stretcherbearers carrying a wounded man through the mud near Boesinghe, Flanders. Picture: John Warwick Brooke/ Getty Images.


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attack’. The Battalion had lost direction, and Companies had been unable to contact each other owing to the fact that it had been unable to assemble correctly. Heavy shelling had disrupted preparations for the attack and had caused severe casualties among the ‘taping’ party. “Communications were a serious problem, and it had proved impossible to send runners either to or from Battalion Headquarters. The casualties among the runners were particularly heavy. It proved difficult, if not impossible, for the Companies to recognise their objectives, ‘almost all landmarks being obliterated by shell fire and everywhere and everything being a sea of mud and shell holes’. Heavy rain made movement extremely difficult, the ground being waterlogged. “A cursory look at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s database highlights some three officers and 80 men of the Battalion who are recorded as

Top: a British tank wreck. Picture: PA. Bottom: Pte Alexander Cowper. having died on October 12 1917. These include a large number from the traditional Black Watch recruiting districts of Fife, Perthshire, Dundee and Angus, with just over 60 per cent appearing to have some connection to at least one of these areas.

April 12, 1917

Canadian victory in the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

“These included Private Charles Rattray, a native of Dundee whose father lived at 13 Miller’s Wynd. Before the war Rattray was employed as a miner at Bowhill in Fife. He was 33 years old. “Private Alexander Cowper was born in Errol, Perthshire, and had enlisted in July 1916. Before the outbreak of war he was employed at Stanley Mills. Private Cowper had not been at the front a year when he was killed in action at Passchendaele aged 25. “Like the families of Privates Rattray and Cowper, my own would receive a War Office telegram bearing the news that a son and brother had lost his life on October 12 1917 while serving with the 8th Black Watch. Private David Sharp, a 19-year-old miner, from Melville Street, Lochgelly, Fife, had joined the army in 1914. “His sister, my great-grandmother, received a letter from a Second Lieutenant in his Company, outlining the manner of his death. He wrote: ‘From what eye-witnesses tell me, your brother’s death must have been instantaneous and painless. He was killed by the concussion of a shell which exploded near where he was standing . . . your brother had been in my platoon for several months and I had a most implicit confidence in him and his abilities, and if any special work requiring exercise of unusual care and skill had to be undertaken I always felt it could be left to him with the fullest assurance that it would be executed thoroughly and conscientiously and his knowledge and experience have been extremely useful to me on many occasions . . . I am sure he has met the kind of death he would have preferred and will leave behind him a memory of which all his relations may well be proud’. “No photograph of David Sharp is known to survive, and like most of his comrades who fell on October 12 he has no known grave. His name, with others of his regiment, appears on the Tyne Cot Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, commemorating almost 35,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. His Soldier’s New Testament with a short dedication to my great grandmother is a cherished family memento, a tangible reminder of one young man’s sacrifice; one of almost 500,000 casualties sustained during the Battle of Third Ypres.”

June 7, 1917

At the Battle of Messines Ridge 19 mines were detonated under German lines. Explosions heard from England.

Tyne Cot Cemetery in Ypres.

The Courier reports on Passchendaele: Buckhaven Soldier Dies of Wounds The deaTh has occurred from wounds of Private harry McBeath, RSF, only son of Mr and Mrs Wm. McBeath, Station Road, Buckhaven. deceased was called to the colours in February last year, and drafted to the front in September. he was wounded in the Passchendaele push, and, after being in hospital for 10 weeks, returned to the firing line last month. he was in his 20th year, and was a plasterer to trade, but was working in the mines prior to joining the forces.

June 13, 1917

First successful heavy bomber raid on London, killing 162.



FirstWorldWar poets and painters Poets he Great War evoked a myriad of emotions in thousands of soldiers and civilians and many turned to poetry to express these. early war poems were patriotic and heroic, reflecting the heady excitement of going to war, but as the initial high levels of optimism faded and the horrors of war became more apparent after the Battle of the Somme, the mood changed dramatically to more realistic verse. Dundee’s Joseph Lee, one of the most important Great War poets, was born in 1876 and left school aged 14 years to begin work in the office of a local solicitor. Finding the job dull, he eventually took a job as a steamship’s stoker, making a number of sketches during his voyages. In 1906 he returned to Dundee and started to produce, edit, and write for several local periodicals including the City echo and the Piper O’ Dundee. In 1909 he became a member of staff at the firm of John Leng & Co. and was soon regularly contributing poetry to their People’s Journal, a publication which he eventually edited. In 1914 he joined the 4th Battalion of the Black Watch, although he was nearly 40. two books of his war poems and sketches, Ballads of Battle and Work-a-Day Warriors, were published while he was at the Front. In 1917 he became a second lieutenant in the 10th Battalion of the King’s royal rifle Corps and later that year he was captured near Cambrai. his experiences while a prisoner in camps at Karlsruhe and Beeskow are described in his book a Captive at Carlsruhe. In 1924 Lee married Miss Dorothy Barrie, a well-known viola player. the couple went to epsom and Lee became sub-editor on a local paper. after his retirement in 1944 he returned to Dundee, where he died in 1949. Lee’s other works include



June 25, 1917

poems, tales O’ Our town, and a short play called Fra Lippo Lippi. Lee captured the cold horror of war in the dispassionate lines of the Dead Man: He lay unasking of our aid, His grim face questioning the sky, While we stood by with idle spade, And gazed on him with curious eye”

jaundice. he rejoined his battalion in trenches west of the village of Serre in June 1916. On July 1, the first day of the Somme, he took part in an attack on the village of Serre. the British were met with severe shell, rifle and machine-gun fire and his body was never found.

aLexanDer rOBertSOn from edinburgh was a poet and biographer. his battalion sailed with the British Mediterranean Force for egypt in December 1915, then was sent to France in March 1916. For several weeks after arriving in France, robertson was ill in hospital with

LINES BEFORE GOING Soon is the night of our faring to regions unknown, There not to flinch at the challenge suddenly thrown By the great process of Being — daily to see The utmost that life has of horror and yet to be Calm and the masters of fear. Aware that the soul Lives as a part and alone for the weal of the whole, So shall the mind be free from the pain of regret, Vain and enfeebling, firm in each venture, and yet Brave not as those who despair, but keen to maintain, Though not assured, hope in beneficent pain. Hope that the truth of the world is not what appears, Hope in the triumph of man for the price of his tears.

First American troops land in France.

Courier reader Sheila Crichton’s father A. J. A. Samuel was in the 7th Black Watch and wrote poems and letters home regularly. His moving poem entitled simply “Jamie Nichol” is a tribute to his dear friend and comrade who lost his life, but also a fitting epitaph to all those who lost their lives in the First World War. You can read the poem on Page 39 of this supplement.

CharLeS haMILtOn SOrLey, writer of When you see Millions of the Mouthless Dead, was born in aberdeen and sent to France in May 1915. he was killed in action at the Battle of Loos, age 20. he loved Germany and hated the idea of the war and fighting for england. Before starting his studies at Oxford he had decided to spend a year in Germany, in 1913, first in Mecklenburg and afterwards at the University of Jena. It was during this time that war was declared. Sorley was initially interned at trier but released after one night, with instructions to leave the country.

June 30, 1917

Battle of Passchendaele begins.

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WhENYOu SEE MILLIONS OF ThE MOuThLESS DEaD When you see millions of the mouthless dead Across your dreams in pale battalions go, Say not soft things as other men have said, That you’ll remember. For you need not so. Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know It is not curses heaped on each gashed head? Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow. Nor honour. It is easy to be dead. Say only this, “They are dead.” Then add thereto, “yet many a better one has died before.” Then, scanning all the overcrowded mass, should you Perceive one face that you loved heretofore, It is a spook. None wears the face you knew. Great death has made all this for evermore.

July 28, 1917

Formation of Royal Tank Corps.


The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY

Above: Joseph Gray at work on After Neuve Chapelle; left: the completed painting. Picture: The McManus.

Left: First Wounded, 1914 by Irish painter John Lavery. Picture: The McManus. Below: The 4th Battalion The Black Watch in the Attack, 1915 by Joseph Gray. Picture: The Black Watch Museum.

August 15, 1917

Battle of Hill 70. Canadians take the hill, only 15 feet higher than surrounding land, but Allies lose 9,200 men.

October 9, 1917

Third phase of the Ypres Offensive begins with rain falling on saturated ground. Battlefield turns into a quagmire.

Painters The horror and complexity of war were represented in countless paintings. The McManus Galleries in Dundee hold several powerful works that represent scenes witnessed throughout the conflict. After Neuve Chapelle by artist Joseph Gray records the moments after the first large-scale organised attack undertaken by the British army during the war, in which Allied losses amounted to 12,800 in two days. english-born Gray joined the 4th (Dundee) Bn, The Black Watch, royal highlanders T.F at the start of the war. he explained his painting methods: he would complete preliminary sketches at the regimental barracks, drawing kit and portraits of the men, then he’d refer back to his early sketches of the terrain at each battlefield. “I will not do anything unreal or false . . . my pictures show the war as it was.” Gray’s reputation grew and he executed war paintings for several regiments, including his own. The Dundee Advertiser of April 1 1922 gives details of a ceremony at Dundee’s Victoria Art Gallery where Gray’s painting The 4th Black Watch Bivouac on the Night of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle was presented to the city. A group photo shows members of the 4th Black Watch (including the artist) who had served in France. The picture had been commissioned by several Dundee gentlemen and given to the battalion, who in turn presented it to Dundee. Gray granted them the publication rights to the picture, and copies were sold with profits given to the Black Watch Memorial homes at Broughty Ferry.

October 15, 1917

Dutch spy Mata Hari executed in Paris.



FirstWorldWar Wind of change T



he war had been grinding on relentlessly for three years when the wind of change started to blow. “The President is to be authorised and directed to employ the entire naval and military resources of the United States to carry on war against the Imperial German Government, and to bring the conflict to a successful termination. Nothing will be withheld” — so read a report in The Courier when america entered the conflict on april 6 1917. Up until then america had tried to keep out of the First world war, proclaiming her neutrality back in 1914, but it was Germany’s use of U-boats that pushed america into a corner and ultimately forced her to declare war. On February 4 1915,

Germany announced that merchant shipping in a specified zone around Britain would be legitimate targets and that this would include neutral ships because many allied ships had taken to flying the flag of a neutral nation to assist their safe passage. US President woodrow wilson warned the Germans that he would hold them to account if any american ships were sunk so when on May 7 1915, the Lusitania was sunk with 128 americans on board drowned, wilson saw red. however, as the Lusitania was a British ship wilson accepted the Germans’ promise that U-boats would adopt ‘cruiser’ tactics and surface and attack a ship by guns fitted on to their decks. while a major diplomatic

issue was averted this time, the German military had no intention of adopting the ‘cruiser’ tactic as it was too perilous. In mid-January 1917 wilson set up secret negotiations with both Britain and Germany to obtain their agreement for america’s mediation in a peace plan: “Peace had to be a peace of reconciliation, a peace without victory, for a victor’s peace would leave a sting, a resentment, a bitter memory upon which terms of peace would rest, not permanently, but only as upon quicksand.” But the negotiations failed and a combination of the sinking of the Lusitania, unrestricted submarine warfare, political and economic issues resulted in the US entering the war.

continuous travel for weeks, and lonesome, too. some of us were away from home for the first time in our lives. We did not know where we were or where we were going, and until we came to Perth we were rather gloomy, but somehow your kindness made things different. “I am one of the Us Marines who are trying to help to cause the defeat of Germany. I have a father and mother in faraway Ohio, and I have never known what it was to be away from home before. My father is a scot; I am proud of my scottish blood. My mother no doubt misses me as much as I miss her; I am her only son. I felt the country’s call, enlisted without telling her, and knowing how she would dread bidding me goodbye, I never told her. she has forgiven me, and is trying to do her bit to help in Red Cross and YMCa work at home.

I have not heard from her since I came across and probably that is why I thought of those sandwiches at Perth — they reminded me of mother. “I am going to ask you a favour. Please write my mother and tell her of your barrow. Father and mother would be much interested in such a letter. I love your country, and you may be sure that the United states admires your great heroism and sacrifice. I will never forget your kindness so long as I live, and if I have the opportunity of returning to my dear old home they will know of it, too. I thank you, with all my heart, and though it means nothing to you, who meet and cheer so many, it means an awful lot to me. Good luck to scotland, and my God bless the ladies of Perth!” The officials of the barrow have, it may be mentioned, written the young lad’s mother.

Perth supplies cup of cheer


s a snippet from the Perth advertiser revealed, an american soldier, one of the ‘Buds’, appreciated the ‘Patriotic Tea Wagon’ at Perth Railway station: “an american serviceman who passed through Perth recently, has written to one of the officials paying the following eloquent tribute to the work of Perth station Patriotic Barrow: “You will, no doubt, be surprised to receive this letter, but for many days I have wanted to thank the kind and patriotic ladies of Perth who cheered us up with those fine sandwiches and the best tea we tasted on the day we passed through your city. I remember the smiles and the words of cheer, too; and you will never be able to realise what they meant to us american boys, so far away from our homes in the Usa, tired from

October, 15 1917

The last airship raid on Britain is carried out by 11 Zeppelins.

November 10, 1917

Battle of Passchendaele ends. Allies have advanced only five miles, half a million men are casualties.

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Above (picture: Hulton Archive/Getty Images) and right: the US prepares for war. Below right: Sergeant Stubby, a dog who served with the US 102nd Infantry in France. Below left: US flyers at Montrose.

November 17, 1917

Second battle of Heligoland Bight.


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US flyers impressed by Montrose set-up AmericAn Airmen trained at montrose in 1918, including men from two pursuit (fighter) squadrons in the spring of 1918. “Although they were not there that long there were 11 weddings of montrose girls to Americans in that time so they must have been fast workers!” says Daniel Paton of the montrose Air Station Heritage centre. “Two American squadrons, the 41st and 138th Pursuit Squadrons, were at montrose in 1918. When the United States entered the war, the US Army had no effective air force and no modern aircraft so they came to Britain to train. “Sergeant Wilfred mack recalled being met at the railway station by a pipe band and was impressed by montrose Air Station, observing: ‘an immense field where a large

number of British pilots received their flying instructions, including aerial gunnery, photography and so on. many looked very young, some too young to shave . . . the British in my estimation have a wonderful training set-up for both flyers and mechanics’.”

“At montrose the Americans became familiar with modern combat aircraft. “The 41st and 138th went to France and were equipped with British Sopwith camels and French Spads but they were too late to see action.” Montrose Air Station, 1917. Picture: Montrose Air Station.

The American influence was very much in evidence in The Courier’s pages throughout 1918 The fashion columns and advertisements vaunted shoes from the United states, and the theatres were full of americaninfluenced productions:

The teams are styled The Lions, new York and The Cubs, Chicago. Much interest is being taken in the contest, and, given good weather, there should be a record crowd.

DUNDEE FASTENS ON TO BASEBALL CLEVER DISPLAY BY AMERICAN TEAMS The firsT baseball match ever played in Dundee attracted a crowd of over 8,000 spectators to Dens Park on saturday afternoon. it was now Playing to Crowded houses at a capital war charity attraction — Prince of Wales’ Theatre, London. novel, skilful, and exciting. The rival teams were sTanLeY CooKe as “BiLLY.” representative of the eastern Box office now open at and Western United states, and Paterson’s.‘Phone 1919. were composed of hardy soldier and baseball became the “it” sport players. inevitably there was a tendency amongst the spectators more or less overnight: to make comparisons of the BASEBALL MATCH merits of outdoor sports, and FOR BRECHIN probably because of the particular BaseBaLL has quickly spread atmosphere of Dens Park football to the provinces, and on saturday was frequently dragged in. now, first, a match is to be played at that’s a mistake. Baseball does not Brechin. The Town Council and challenge in any way the popularity Curators have granted the use of of our great winter pastime. it is the Public Park, and a charge will a summer game, and the throne be made for admission, the funds of easy-going “King Cricket” is going to help prisoners of war. HER MAJESTY’S THEATRE. TO-NIGHT at 7.30. SAT., MATINEE, 2.15. ALFRED BUTT’S CO. IN FAIR AND WARMER: THE GREAT AMERICAN FARCICAL COMEDY

November 20, 1917

The Battle of Cambrai begins. Royal Flying Corps drop bombs on German anti-tank guns.

December 11, 1917

Britain liberates Jerusalem, ending 673 years of Turkish rule.

threatened by the introduction and development of baseball in this country. Who has not heard the oft-repeated complaint that cricket is too slow? The same question cannot be put as regards baseball. america’s great summer pastime is kaleidoscopic in its movement, energy and vitality. An American woman encourages people to sign the ‘Declaration of Patriotism’, at the time of her nation’s entry to the Great War. Picture: Hulton Archive/ Getty Images.

December 23, 1917

Russian armistice with Germany.



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Tom’s warning saved many



ieutenant tOM Milne, from leven, who was in the edinburgh Seaforths, was awarded the Military Cross. after a mine was exploded, he was detailed to hold the crater at all costs, along with 10 men. He did so, though the price was high: two men were killed and four wounded, including himself, with a bullet in the thigh. His daughter Moira Officer, from Kellas, has sent us an extract from his diary, told in the third person: “When dawn broke with no signs of enemy movement, the order would be given to ‘stand down’. Some of tom’s happiest memories were of the period after stand down on cold frosty mornings with dawn just breaking and Jerry in a quiet mood. then he and Paddy would go round the Company in the front line, issuing the rum ration. the men would be slapping their


Lieutenant Tom Milne, who hailed from Leven.

March 7, 1918

Trotsky signs peace treaty with Germany at Brest-Litovsk.

hands against their bodies trying to restore circulation. the air would be calm and the breath of each man rising like a haze above him as it caught the first rays of the morning sun. Paddy, with a Balaclava helmet covering his grimy, stubbly face, would carry the jar and issue each man with a tot under tom’s supervision. On these occasions Paddy’s normal grin would be redoubled until he came to a man who was tee-total, when he would positively beam, fill the tot, and then say “Oh, i forgot. You dinna tak ony”. then, bang — it would go down Paddy’s capacious throat. “Stand down held another quite different memory. the order had just been given and, while most of the other officers had disappeared for breakfast, tom, interested as usual, was standing just in front of the dugout, gazing at the dim outline of the German trench about 50 yards way. all of a sudden, billowing from it came what looked like smoke. it could only mean one thing! ‘Gas,’ yelled tom. ‘Gas masks on!’ He rushed to the dugout opposite. ‘Gas,’ he yelled to the captain below. the latter came up at the double. ‘that’s not gas. it’s only mist,’ he said. But by this time, the men had their masks on and tom’s was at the ready. the cloud was only 30 yards away now. at 20 yards the first faint whiff of chlorine became apparent and the captain dashed for the phone to warn Battalion Headquarters several hundred yards behind. tom’s prompt action had saved the lives of his men. not one was lost while the casualties on both flanks were very heavy indeed. all along the line gas gongs were going now. Men, making breakfast, had been caught unawares and had inhaled the first whiffs of the deadly gas before they realised it. Some tried to put gasmasks on while others tore them off in a final effort to get breath, only to fall down gasping in the bottom of the trench where the heavy chlorine gas lay

densest, and death put an end to their agony. Yet, on that quiet april morning in 1916 as the greenish-white death rose simultaneously in wisps from all along the German front line it looked so innocent, even beautiful. “along the ground it came, then curled up on itself like a wave about three feet high, then on again carried mist-like by the cool morning breeze. “it is given to few to see such a sight and live, yet tom at that moment felt no fear. later that week, however, when the battalion called reserves to take over the front line from another which had suffered heavy losses in the gas attack, it was brought home to him what his prompt action had spared his men. “all the way up the communication trench, he had to step over motionless kilted figures who had been caught off guard, while on the firing step of the front line itself sat a young lieutenant gasping for breath, but wise enough not to try to make it back unaided. this was not war as painted in tammy’s youthful mind by uncle Robbie and uncle andrew! this was a filthy war. “even tom’s nerves were not always foolproof. Once, during a terrific bombardment, he was amazed to find his hands trembling. But on the whole he was more at home in the muck of the trenches than most of the other officers. “there were exceptions, of course, like old Dad Mason who had been a gold-digger in the Klondyke gold rush. He was always full of rum, so much so that when he was wounded in the stomach during an attack, the doctor said he owned his life to its antiseptic effect! luckily it was the bright side of war that tom remembered best. the day the shell fell just behind the latrine and the sight of its occupant running wildly down the trench, clutching his unhitched trousers; or the day the Captain was trying to shave in the dug-out by the light of a candle. “Five times he lit it and five times it was blown out by the gusts of shells bursting outside. For Jerry knew that dug-out! Very probably the German gunner placing the shells had once lived in it, before the British advance wrested it from him.”

March 23, 1918

Germans use new ‘Storm-trooper’ assault teams west of St Quentin, taking 16,000 British prisoners.

Top: Allied prisoners held in the German Cottbus ca German PoWS carry British wounded during the Ba

March 23, 1918

German assaults reach the Somme Line. The greatest air battle of the war takes place with 70 aircraft involved.


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Shot and rescued by enemy



amp. Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty Images. Bottom: attle of the Somme. Picture: PA.

March 26, 1918

French Marshall Foch becomes Supreme Commander of all Allied Forces.

oma Roy of Drumoig, Fife, has sent us this account of her father Robert Finlayson, who became a prisoner of war after being shot in the knee. “my dad, Robert Finlayson, born 1897, signed up to join the army as soon as the war started in 1914. He was assigned to the 11th Royal Scots. No doubt he thought this would be an adventure. “The only record I have is a handwritten 10-page account of his time as a prisoner of war, which spanned the last nine months of the war. It seems that in march there was a prolonged bombardment. “While sheltering in a ditch he and his comrades found that the enemy had in the night got round their flank so the order was to retreat to a position where there was no shelter. They ran, lay on the ground, ready to shoot, then he crawled to a shell hole. His comrades had advanced till at some point he was afraid he could

Robert Finlayson, who spent much of the war in a POW camp.

April 1, 1918

be a victim unintentionally of friendly fire.” at this stage he was wounded by machine gun fire. “Some Germans whom he describes as officers’ servants found him and carried him to another hole. “about 7pm of the next day he was picked up by a German Red Cross party and taken to a field dressing station. There he spent the night sitting on a table, his back against a tent pole. He was given black bread and coffee made from acorns. “The bullet removed, he was in field hospitals for a month on a stretcher all the time in the same clothes as when wounded, without washing or shaving. The prison camp to which he and others were taken was in Lamsdorf oberschliesien in the heart of the German coalfields. “a French prisoner became his friend as they could converse a little and he began to learn German. Then they made friends of various nationalities, but on meeting an Italian wondered how to open a conversation. “He called out: “allegro, Signor.” He had seen that on music! The Italian could speak French and became a good pal. He had some access to food! They corresponded after the war for a time. “my dad worked in the camp post office and in time took over all the work from a Russian (who spoke French). By September he received parcels and a complete uniform. He wrote, ‘I was a sort of millionaire, so to speak.’ “There were 1,500 British prisoners, 290 of whom were invariably in hospital. a 10 per cent death toll meant that 30 graves were dug each day, all nationalities being buried together with no mark of recognition. “When the war was over, they had to stay put for a month to be repatriated. They decided to hold a concert. To this end, those who had cigarettes obtained from parcels from home sold them to the Germans at four for a mark. “They made 500 marks and used the money to hire a piano. Two boys made scenery from whitewash and

Royal Air Force founded by combining Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service.

boot blacking and wigs were made from parcel string. The audience of Germans and prisoners seem to have enjoyed it. The proceeds of 1,200 marks or £60 went to raise a memorial stone to the British prisoners who died there. “Repatriation happened via Stettin and Copenhagen to Leith, this last crossing through a field of floating mines.”


John Henderson.

Low & Bonar’s wartime hero “JoHN HeNDeRSoN, my great grandfather, worked as a tenter with Low & Bonar Ltd, Bank mill, milnbank Road, Dundee before joining the Highland Cyclist Battalion in 1915 at the age of 31,” writes Fred Connor of Dundee. “When in France for 10 months, he was transferred to the Gordon Highlanders and was killed in action between July 18 and 25 1918 in the second Battle of the marne. He is buried in marfaux War Cemetery.”

April 1, 1918

German Spring Offensive halts outside Amiens as British and Australian forces hold the line.


FirstWorldWar War horses “A horse’s eye view of the universal suffering of that dreadful war in which 10 million men died, and unknown numbers of horses,” wrote Michael Morpurgo about his book War Horse. In fact one million horses were sent to the Great War — only 62,000 came back. Horses played a valuable part in the conflict, whether they were part of cavalry units or used to pull heavy artillery. Conditions were severe at the front and because horses were vulnerable to machine gun and artillery fire they were wounded and killed in their thousands or suffered from skin disorders, and were injured by

poison gas. Many were treated at veterinary hospitals and sent back to the front. The 1st Scottish Horse was headquartered at Dunkeld, carrying on the traditions and battle honours of the Scottish Horse raised in South Africa in 1900 for service in the Second Boer War. The regiment saw heavy fighting in both the Great War as the 13th Battalion of The Black Watch and in the Second World War as part of The Royal Artillery. The combined regiment lives on today in “C” Squadron of The Queen’s Own Yeomanry based in Cupar, Fife and 655 Squadron

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Army Air Corps. In the First World War the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Regiments of Scottish Horse were brigaded together and fought in a dismounted role in Gallipoli and Egypt. Later some men formed the Scottish Horse Battalion, 13th Battalion Black Watch, and fought in Salonika and on the Western Front while others were formed into the 26th Squadron, the Machine Gun Corps and served in Egypt. Right: a million horses went to war — only 62,000 came back. Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Happy reunion with old pal



erth reader George McMillan has sent in the following account of his father Martin McMillan’s own war horse experiences in the Great War. “My father was taken on first of all as a Gordon highlander, but the Black Watch had just taken a hiding in France with huge losses and were badly in need of men. he was therefore transferred to the Black Watch shortly after recruitment. “In France, he volunteered for the Cyclist Corps and did not go into the front line with his regiment. Most of his comrades who did so were killed shortly afterwards. “In his autobiography which he wrote shortly before his death from lung cancer in 1972 at the age of 74, he recalled his early years working with horses as a ferm loon in aberdeenshire, the death of his two brothers at Mons and his joining up as a 16-year-old to avenge them. “he wrote: ‘the black horse I got, called Sharp, was a pleasant-natured beast, so I was not unhappy. I became very fond of this black horse which I affectionately called Sharpie.’ “Shortly afterwards, my father, griefstricken at the loss of his brothers, left the farm and, with the connivance of

Martin McMillan. a recruiting sergeant, gave a false age and joined the Gordon highlanders. “he heard later that army agents went round the farms making compulsory purchase of horses for service overseas. a fellow ploughman who had also worked with Sharpie ended up at Gallipoli as a mule-driver. he was passing the horse-lines one day when a horse whinnied at him.

“he went over and asked the horse’s name. ‘darkie’ was the reply, but he said: ‘No, it’s Sharpie’. It had the same markings, black except for a white spot on the forehead and four white fetlocks. he spoke to the horse and called it Sharpie and it was obvious from the horse’s response that it was really the black horse from aberdeenshire they both knew. “he persuaded his sergeantmajor to let him have Sharpie along with another black horse and he worked with them until the end of the war. dad commented: ‘It was with some heart-wrenching that he had to leave Sharpie behind in egypt when he was sent home for demobilisation.’ “at another part of his story, my father contradicted the report that horses were badly treated by the army. he claimed that men were regarded as more dispensable and more easily replaceable than horses and that, consequently, horses were better housed, fed and looked after than our soldiers. Suffering from malaria contracted in Greece, dad was sent home across France in a cattle truck!”


Martin McMillan during his time with the Cyclist Corps.

April 21, 1918

Legendary German flying ace Manfred von Richthofen, known as the Red Baron, shot down and killed.

May 10, 1918

British launch a raid on Ostend. HMS Vindictive scuttled. German cruisers are no longer able to use the port.

May 19, 1918

German Air Force launches its largest and last raid on London. Forty-nine civilians are killed and 177 wounded.


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Pigeons and other animals AirplAnes And warships were always accompanied by racing pigeons, which brought tidings of crashed airplanes at sea. ninety five per cent of the military pigeons returned from their missions. Cats were kept in the trenches to kill the mice and rats while dogs played pivotal roles as messengers or as mascots. lt.-Col. e. H. richardson, who ran the War dog Training school, was mainly responsible for the appearance of messenger dogs in the British Army. Originally the idea to use dogs came from the red

Cross who wanted to use ambulance dogs, but this idea was deemed unsuccessful as early as the battle of Antwerp as the French banned the use of ambulance dogs within a few weeks of the war beginning. lt-Col richardson then started training sentry and patrol dogs around about autumn 1914 and found the Airedale to be well suited for this task. in the winter of 1916 he trained and supplied two Airedales (Wolf and prince) for use as message carriers, and both served with success. There was also a dogs’ training centre in Carnoustie.

Units woUld take turns in the trenches, while others would be brought back from the lines for R and R. (Rest and Relaxation). while being on rest time, the units would receive replacement soldiers, and also get their rum rations and warm food. Fresh clothing and equipment were also issued when available. But despite this morale was often at a desperate low. At the outbreak of war, recruitment songs such as we don’t want to lose You, But we think You ought to Go proved popular in music halls — as did anti-German songs such as when Belgium Put the Kybosh on the Kaiser. on the western Front, marching bands were sent to accompany the troops. soldiers would regularly put on concert parties and almost every division had its own entertainment troop. in the long periods of waiting between battles, songs played an important role in staving off boredom and boosting morale during those dark days. As war continued, upbeat messages about staying cheerful and carrying on, such as Pack Up Your troubles, played a vital role in keeping spirits up. the songs united people in a shared experience whether they were at home, on the western Front or stationed further afield. A long way to tipperary was the first hit of the war — a lively tune with fond thoughts of returning home soon. songs about home resonated

throughout the war, with Keep the Home Fires Burning, released in 1914, remaining popular throughout. Recordings of these old songs may still be found, such as the old records Bawdy Barrack Room Ballads and Granddad’s Army. the songs would employ a lot of black humour, fatalism, and insults for their leaders and the enemy. Unit-made stage shows were also created. different soldiers would dress up as women and put on song and comedy skits. Much alcohol was drunk by the men, and as good a time as could be had, was had. “Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag, And smile, smile, smile, While you’ve a lucifer to light your fag, Smile, boys, that’s the style. What’s the use of worrying? It never was worth while, so Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag, And smile, smile, smile.”

Pack up your troubles From The Courier OUR DUMB ALLY: HOW THE BLUE CROSS MEN WORK IN FRANCE British headquarters, France, May 13 From a PA correspondent: in putting to visitors to the British front the somewhat stereotyped question as to their impressions of what they have seen, i have found that what has chiefly struck them in the teeming activity behind the fighting line is the wonderful condition of the horses. i believe that there still exists at home a vague but very general idea that the “poor horses” are bearing to the full their share in the sufferings of war, and that the battle area is strewn with the carcasses of “our dumb friends” which during the months of conflict have dropped from wounds, exhaustion, or disease, and have been left to perish. in justice to the admirable and beneficent organisation for dealing with sick and maimed horses upon this front, it may be said at once that such a conclusion is quite false. The royal Veterinary Corps, aided most generously and effectively by

the royal society for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals, have done, and are ever increasingly doing, all that human skill and devotion can accomplish to alleviate the ills of our war horses. Although it is true that cavalry, as such, are playing an almost negligible part in the progress of this stationary struggle, yet the total number of animals daily employed in transport and artillery movements exceeds many times the number engaged in any previous year. Of every kind and description they are, to be sure, from the thoroughbred to the coster’s trotter, from the lean and dogged mule to the cheerful and willing cab hack. But their splendid condition is the one point they all have in common.

Officers of B Company 6th Black Watchwith Dash their mascot.

July 15, 1918

Start of collapse of German Army at second battle of the Marne.

Soldiers celebrate Christmas in the trenches while a sentry uses a mirror to keep an eye open. Picture: PA.

July 17, 1918

Russian Tsar and his family shot by Bolsheviks.

August 8, 1918

Second Battle of Amiens. German resistance is sporadic and thousands surrender.




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The bravest of the brave We highlight some of the brave men from Courier Country who won the Victoria Cross


here were many winners of the Victoria Cross across Courier Country. The VC is the highest military decoration awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy” and can be awarded to a person of any rank in any service and to civilians under military command. The VC is usually presented to the recipient or to their next of kin by the British monarch at an investiture held at Buckingham Palace. The VC was introduced on January 29 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of valour during the Crimean War. Since then, the medal has been awarded more than 1,000 times.


Seaman George M. Samson.

September 30, 1917

Due to its rarity, the VC is highly prized and the medal has fetched over £400,000 at auction. Seaman George M. Samson, Carnoustie SamSon Won his Victoria Cross after rescuing and treating dozens of his comrades aboard HmS Clyde during the disastrous amphibious assault at V Beach in Gallipoli on april 25 1915. Robert Samson of Broughty Ferry has sent in an evocative account from The Courier about George m. Samson, who was Robert’s father’s cousin: First Seaman VC For Fifty Years — How Carnoustie Hero Won the Coveted Honour From Arbroath Milk Boy to Wearer of the Victoria Cross When the bayonet is sheathed and the road of the cannon is no more — better still, when the Kaiser is isolated, a sadder and wiser man, on the dreary clifftop of far-away St Helena — and when the children of other generations grow up to manhood, the great deeds of the 1914-15 European War will be recalled, and pictures painted of brave men who risked their own lives in saving the lives of others. When all this has come about, our sister seaside Burgh of Carnoustie — then, perhaps, grown to a large and flourishing watering place — will still be proud of being able to boast of what her brave sons had dared and done in a time of severe national trial. and good reason she will have for so doing, for are not two of her sons today wearers of the coveted Victoria Cross. Lance Corporal Jarvie, of the Royal Engineers, was awarded the greatest decoration of the British army in november last, and this week Seaman George m. Samson, of the Royal naval Volunteers Reserves, has been mentioned for the VC. The VC seaman, who is a son of mr David Samson, shoemaker,

British and Arab troops take Damascus, capturing 7,000 prisoners and securing stability in the Middle East.

63 Dundee Street, Carnoustie, is recuperating after being severely wounded at the historic landing at Sedd-el-Bahr, when his heroic conduct gained him the recognition he had just received. The official reading of the award says: “Worked on a lighter all day under fire, attending wounded and getting out lines.” In one of his letters home to his parents he said: “We won a landing, but at what a cost.” He was in action over 30 hours before being wounded in the shoulder. In fact, Samson has wounds in 17 places, and there are still 13 bullets or pieces of shrapnel in his body. He was first in hospital in Port Said, then at Portsmouth, and latterly at aboyne, aberdeenshire, enjoying a brief holiday along with his father.

Lance-Corporal Charles Alfred Jarvis.

Lance-Corporal Charles Alfred Jarvis, Carnoustie JaRVIS WaS awarded the VC for his actions at the Battle of mons in august 1914 when he demolished a bridge while under heavy German fire for an hour-and-a-half. He died in Dundee in 1948 and is buried in Cupar cemetary. Report from The Courier: Lance-Corporal Charles alfred Jarvis VC, 57th Field Company Royal Engineers, paid a short visit to Carnoustie yesterday. Lance-Corporal Jarvis received an enthusiastic ovation on arriving in the town, and for some time was the centre of an admiring crowd. The corporal goes to Buckingham Palace on monday, and on Tuesday will be presented with the Victoria Cross.

October 4, 1918

Germany asks Allies for an armistice.

October 17, 1918

The whole of the Channel coast in the West of Flanders is liberated.


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Cpl David Ferguson Hunter.

Corporal David Ferguson Hunter, Dunfermline On September 16 and 17 1918 at moeuvres, France, Corporal Hunter was detailed to take on an advanced post which was established in shell holes close to the enemy. there was no opportunity for reconnoitring adjacent ground, and the following afternoon Corporal Hunter found that the enemy had established posts all round him, isolating his command. Hedeterminedtoholdoutand despite being exceedingly short of food and water this nCO managed to maintain his position for more than 48 hours until a counter-attack relieved him. He repelled frequent enemy attacks and also barrage from our attacks, which came right across his post.

guns, the lieutenant handed over his command to an nCO, rallied the infantry, organised an attack and captured the strongpoint. He then led a frontal attack on a pill box which was causing casualties. the pill box was captured but he was killed. Hugh mcKenzie also received the French Croix de Guerre for his actions. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the menin Gate. Corporal John Ripley, St Andrews ripLey waS 47 years old, and a corporal in the 1st battalion, the black watch (royal Highland regiment), at the battle of aubers ridge was awarded the VC: on may 9 1915 at rue du bois, France, he led his section on the right of the platoon in the assault and was the first man of the battalion to climb the enemy’s parapet. From there he directed those following him to the gaps in the German wire entanglements. He then led his section through a breach in the parapet to a second line of trench. with seven or eight men he established himself, blocking other flanks, and continued to hold the position until all his men had fallen and he himself was badly wounded in the head. He later achieved the rank of sergeant and died after falling off a ladder. He is buried in Upper Largo Cemetery.

Lt Hugh McKenzie. Lt Hugh McKenzie, Dundee On OCtOber 30 1917 at the meetscheele Spur, near passchendaele, belgium, Lieutenant mcKenzie (an amateur wrestler) was in charge of a section of four machine guns accompanying the infantry in an attack. Seeing that all the officers and most of the nCOs of an infantry company had become casualties and that the men were hesitating before a nest of enemy machine

October 20, 1918

Germany suspends submarine warfare.

Corporal John Ripley.

October 29, 1918

Sailors aboard the High Seas Fleet at Jade, Northern Germany mutiny and refuse to engage with British Fleet.

More heroes of the hour

Lt Col William Anderson, Largo, Fife. March 25, 1918. Captured 12 machine guns and 70 prisoners at Bois Favieres. Lt William Bissett, St Martins, Perthshire. October 25, 1918. Led a bayonet attack against the enemy at Maing, France. 2nd Lt John Buchan, Alloa. March 21, 1918. Remained with his platoon during the Battle of the Somme and continued fighting against overwhelming odds, despite severe wounds. Wing Commander John Craig, Comrie. June 5, 1917. Rescued comrades whose advance post had been overrun by the enemy in Egypt. Col James Dawson, Tillicoultry. October 13, 1915. At Hollenzollern Redoubt, France, exposed himself to enemy fire while directing sappers clearing trenches of enemy gas cylinders. Cpl Robert Dunsire, Buckhaven. Rescued a wounded man under heavy fire at Hill 70 on September 26, 1915. Sgt John Erskine, Dunfermline. Rescued three men under fire on June 22 1916 at Givenchy, France. Capt Samuel Frickleton, Slamman, Stirlingshire. On June 7 1917, successfully attacked two machine gun posts, despite being wounded twice. Maj James Huffman, Dunblane. On August 31 1918, captured two enemy machine guns and captured eight prisoners. Sgt David Hunter, Dunfermline. Held out for 48 hours on September 16/17 1918, at Moeurvres, France, despite frequent attacks from enemy who surrounded position. Sgt John McAulay, Kinghorn, Fife. On November 27 1917, at Fontaine Notre Dame, assumed command of his company and repulsed an enemy attack by using machine guns. Pte Charles Melvin, Craig, Angus. In November 1917 advanced through machine gun fire to enemy trenches, killed four men and took nine prisoners. Petty Officer George Samson, Carnoustie. Worked all day under very heavy fire attending the wounded and securing ships at Gallipoli, Turkey on April 25 1915.

October 30, 1918

The Turkish Army surrenders to the British in Mesopotamia. Turkey signs an armistice with the Allies.



FirstWorldWar The long walk home


he war that was supposed to be “over by Christmas” finally came to an end after four years of bloody fighting at 11 am on November 11, 1918 following an armistice with Germany. The war came to its official end during 1919 and 1920 as the allied powers signed the Treaties of Versailles, Saint-Germainen-Laye, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Trianon, and Sèvres. Scotland truly punched above its weight in the First world war, losing more of its troops from fighting than any other country. More than 300,000 Scots enlisted before conscription was introduced in 1916. By the end of the war, more than 550,000 Scots had joined the British army. as the war raged on year after year, regiments had to recruit from anywhere in the British Isles to replace casualties.

The afTermaTh VICTorIouS BuT exhausted and traumatised by the horrors of the past years, the warriors of the Great war made their weary way home to face

demobilisation and a return to some kind of normality. But this was a very different world to the one they had left four years earlier. The aftermath of war and the slump in the global economy led to the decline of Scotland’s industries as hundreds of people emigrated to america or Canada, seeking a better life elsewhere, as pay and conditions at work worsened. The resources the war had consumed in such great quantity — cloth, munitions, paper, engineering, iron and steel, which were the main industries of Scotland — were no longer required in such vast amounts.

TalenTed local illustrator and stained glass designer, aimee Mcculloch has just graduated from duncan of Jordanstone college of art and design. For dJcad’s 2014 degree Show she created a stained glass window commemorating the centenary of the Great War. The piece is 1 x 1.5 metres of hand-made, painted and leaded stained glass, representing aimee’s contemporary reflection on World War one. “after looking at local memorial windows, such as the First World War window in dundee’s central Baptist church which celebrates chivalry and

heroism, I felt it was necessary to create a memorial window which looked back on the war from a contemporary perspective — looking at the harsher realities of the conflict,” says aimee. “My window depicts the traditional memorial poppy (with a barbed wire stem), but is also intended to reference the shape of Rorschach ink-blot tests used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, or shell shock. Within the the poppy are images showing various elements of the conflict, from cavalry to gas-masked troops.” The window was completely

hand-made following the lengthy and traditional stained glass process of cutting, painting, firing, leading and soldering the glass. “a hundred years on from the conflict, I feel it’s as important as ever to remember the Great War and the impact it’s had on our lives today. “The minute we become apathetic and brush it aside as ‘irrelevant history’ we run the risk of repeating the same mistakes. Hopefully artworks like this will help people to connect with the centenary commemorations and reflect on the war from a modern viewpoint.”

Scotland’s own National war Memorial at edinburgh Castle reflects the ultimate sacrifice that so many made during these dark years.

The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY


An artist’s lasting memorial

November 8, 1918

Armistice negotiations between Allies and Germany begin in Marshal Ferdinand Foch’s railway carriage HQ.

November 9, 1918

Germany’s Kaiser Willhelm II abdicates.

Aimee McCulloch’s stained glass memorial.

November 11, 1918

Germany signs Armistice at 6am, fighting ends at 11am.


The Courier & Advertiser 1914-1918 100 ANNIVERSARY

A very speciAl moment “to Be opened on august 4 2014, by the Postmaster in the presence of the then lord Provost” — so read the instructions on a very special box located in royal Mail’s Dundee east Delivery office. Men from all works of life lost their lives, and the Post office was one organisation that was particularly affected as the

post seemed to be a popular career for many ex-soldiers. When war was declared and the reservists were called up for service, many postmen were recalled for the colours. later today the 100-year-old box — a time capsule, thought to contain a large number of letters, newspaper cuttings, photographs, as well as coins and stamps — will be opened

in the City Chambers as part of the city’s commemoration of the First World War. the discovery of the historical treasure chest came about as local historian Janice Kennedy was researching her family history. the memorial was mentioned in her grandfather’s diary and her search led her to track it down.

In memory of a friend Sheila CriChton of tayport has moving poems and letters written by her father Pte aJa Samuel of the 7th Black Watch. his poem “Jamie nichol” is about his friend from newport-ontay who died in battle. it is also a fitting tribute to all those who fought for our Scotland and for Courier Country. his preface reads:

“To the undying memory of the Officers, NCOs and men of the 7th (Fife) Batt. Royal Highlanders (Territorial Forces) Black Watch, I dedicate these works. Comprising as they did, a unit of the immortal 51st (Highland) Division, they arrived in France on May 2nd 1915, and I need say no more. The world at random knows the rest. You who read my lines, think, but pass no remarks on the writer, as he is no “high flown son of a Duke”, but one of yourselves, and one of the 51st.” The Newport-on-Tay war memorial.

The poem Jamie Nichol NOW I’M going to tell you a story of how a hero fought and died. How he struggled along, from dusk till dawn, till he dropped down by my side. He was only a council carter. One of the many unknown till he listed up at Belgium’s cry in the ranks of Dundee’s Own. In July (sixteen) he landed at the base to do his bit and never a grouse escaped his lips. From then till the day he was hit. Jamie Nichol was his title. And there in Newport’s town he left a wife and kiddies five gone forth without a frown. T’was the twenty first of March sir When the whole world read

with gloom of the German attempt to break us with gun, and murderous bomb. The gas hung thick around us. Jim stood there in his place. He’d still his smile for everyone though we stared death in the face. T’was then he thought of the homestead near Newport’s rocky shore. Said Sam, “You’ll write to the missus if I see them no more.” Poor lads, they lay in dozens covered with sand and sod, I left Jim for but a moment to engage in prayer with God. I shall never forget that prayer a few simple words, not class “My God, If it be possible this cup from me, let pass.” We heard the distant whistle of

things we held in dread for the deadly mortar o’ whizz-bangs death all around do spread. The ground vibrated near me. It seemed as hot as toast. Then I realised one had landed right into Jim Nichol’s post. My reeling senses I gathered. Then like a madman flew caring not for death or disaster. When I reached his side, I knew. So now they’re in God’s keeping, in the care of King of Kings. And they’re living in the shelter of his everlasting wings. So that’s the story ended now. This is all my repertoire. But let me answer till I meet. “Jamie Nichol — Au Revoir”

With grateful thanks to Dr William Kenefick and Dr Derek Patrick, University of Dundee; Samantha Bannerman, St Andrews Preservation Trust Museum; Susan Goodfellow, On At Fife Archives; Bruce Leckie for the information on Bessie Dora Bowhill.

November 11, 1918

At 10.57am American Private Henry Gunther is killed, the last soldier to die in action on the Western Front.

November 21, 1918

Nine German battleships, five battlecruisers, seven cruisers and 49 destroyers arrive off Rosyth to surrender.

December 12, 1918

The British Cavalry cross the Rhine and begin the Occupation of Cologne.



First World War  

The Courier newspaper's 40 page supplement marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

First World War  

The Courier newspaper's 40 page supplement marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War.