Scots on the Western Front

Scots on the Western Front

The Role of Scots

  • Scottish regiments played a crucial role on the Western Front, particularly in key battles like Loos, the Somme and Passchendaele.

  • The battalions of the Black Watch, for example, were involved in most of the war’s major battles and often held down difficult positions.

  • Scots were also common among the officer class, with many serving in high-ranking positions and winning notable decorations.

Conditions on the Front

  • The Scots, like all soldiers on the Western Front, faced horrendous conditions including mud, lice, and the constant fear of shellshock.

  • Weather conditions could be highly variable, from the wet and muddy winter to the hot, dry summer, making the daily life very difficult.

  • Trenches also came under frequent enemy bombardment, leading to severe psychological stress.

Casualties and Loss

  • Scots suffered high casualties during the war. For instance, the 15th Scottish Division had 5000 casualties in the first day of the Somme offensive in 1916.

  • The Battle of Loos was particularly devastating, as Scottish losses were heavy from the failed use of gas and the sustained machine gun fire.

  • After the war, many Scottish communities bore the marks of the war for decades, with a Lost Generation of young men wiped out.

Home Front Impact

  • The sacrifices of Scots soldiers had a significant impact on the Home Front.

  • There was a strong public reaction against the high casualties, leading to changing attitudes about the war and towards the government.

  • Additionally, following the end of the war, the experiences and sacrifices of the soldiers had a lasting impact on Scottish identity and society, strengthening the calls for greater political autonomy.