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(Duncan Duff)


Battle of Culloden April 16 1746SCOTS SOLDIERS HAVE WON FAME throughout the world for many centuries, but the significance of their deeds, and the consequences to Scotland of their sacrifices, have never been fully evaluated.

In this work Mr Duncan Duff surveys the military contribution of Scotland to the British Forces since the Union of 1707, and outlines the most important features in a straightforward and telling way.

Two thousand years ago the Roman historian Tacitus records how the soldiers of Scotland defended their national independence and personal freedom against the slavish hordes of the Roman Empire. There is ample testimony to the repeated and glorious struggle of Scotland for freedom against Norse and Danish, Norman and English aggressors, until the year 1603, when the King of Scots inherited the crowns of England and Ireland, and the executive government of Scotland had its chief authority removed to London.

Apart from the defence of Scotland, Scots soldiers took part, as professionals or as volunteers, in foreign military operations, as “gallowglasses” in Ireland, as household troops of the King of France, as the backbone of the Netherlands’ forces, as eagerly sought experts in the employment of Sweden, Prussia, Russia, Spain, Austria, and other powers. What was the value to Scotland of the skill and valour devoted by Scotsmen to the service of France and Austria, Sweden and Holland ? No value to Scotland. What was the value to Scotland of the skill and valour devoted by Scotsmen to the service of Great Britain, alias Greater England ? Mr Duncan Duff answers, and proves his answer, No value to Scotland.


Mr Duff himself served in the 1914-1918 war in the Cameronians, and has spent the better part of thirty years investigating the history of Scots soldiers in the British Forces, reading innumerable histories of wars and of particular regiments and districts. The statements made are well documented, and the conclusions drawn are clearly reasoned and convincing.

Mr Duff proves that in every war in which Great Britain has participated in the last two centuries Scotland has made a military contribution greatly above her due and fair share, having regard to the Scottish proportion of the British population. This excessive Scottish contribution has been especially heavy in the infantry arm. Still to-day Scotland is compelled to maintain an unduly high proportion of Infantry, and to sustain more than her proper share of casualties, with an unfairly excessive allocation of front-line risks. All this is matter of common talk among Scots soldiers and their families, but Mr Duff has performed a valuable national service in proving it so clearly from British official and other authoritative evidence.

Mr Duff shows how the British War Office and British politicians exploited the tartan and the local and clan and patriotic loyalties of the Scots to recruit cannon-fodder for the conquest of India and Canada, and of African and other Imperial interests. With relation to the last two wars, 1914-1918 and 1939-1945, in which the new factor of mass-conscription supervened, Mr Duff explains how the economic policies pursued by all British governments resulted in a continuance of the excessive contribution made by Scots manpower to the British Army, with a consequent disproportionately high casualty figure, so far as can be gathered from the partial statistics supplied by the British Prime Minister.

Members of Parliament and other public men should be urged to compel the disclosure of full accurate figures relating to the Scottish bill in blood for Great Britain's last two major wars, figures which Messrs. Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee, and other supposedly responsible British Ministers have consistently refused to disclose.


Mr Duff does not assert that all the wars waged by Scots soldiers since 1707 have been wrong and unjustifiable, though some have been so. For example, his own regiment, the Cameronians, in Queen Victoria's Liberal and Christian reign, lost two-thirds of their strength in three weeks in a campaign to coerce the Chinese into admitting the deleterious drug opium for the profit of British merchants.

The 1914-1918 war was fought, according to the British authorities, on behalf of the national independence of the Belgians and the Serbs—a praiseworthy profession of war aims. Immediately before the war the British Liberal Cabinet had sent up the Secretary for Scotland, the Right Hon. Mackinnon Wood, to make a public promise that they would in the current session pass an Act for the establishment of a Scottish Parliament. No action was taken to implement the pledge, and after the victory of 1918, when majorities of Scottish Members of the British Parliament repeatedly demanded legislation for Scottish Self-Government successive British Governments either voted down the demands, or prevented their coming to a vote.

The 1939-1945 war was undertaken, according to the British authorities, on behalf of the national independence of the Poles, the Czechs, and the Austrians—again a praiseworthy profession of aims, to which was eventually added, under the terms of the Atlantic Charter, the general aim of restoring self-government to every nation. Scotland as a nation has so far not been a beneficiary of these professed war aims, and once again it is obvious that, whatever the use to Poland, France, Norway, or Thailand, of the Scots soldiers' sacrifices! Scotland has been cheated of her due.


Mr Duff points out that in the first century of the Union relatively many Scots were permitted by the British Govern­ment to attain high command in the British Army, but that after Waterloo (1815)  the proportion of Scots general officers, and indeed of officers of any rank in the Scottish regiments, rapidly declined, till by the time of the Crimean War (1854) Scots soldiers were  mainly commanded by English officers. Concurrently, Scots were taking eminent places in the United States forces, as in the second war of independence (1812), and more recently Scots have come up on top in the forces of the British Dominions overseas.

Scots conscripts in the recent war (1939-1945) observed the advantages of Dominion self-government in regard to the treatment of troops, not only in pay, dependants' allowances, comforts, intelligent discipline, and such matters, but also in the allocation of risks in the active theatres of war. Mr Duff gives figures for the 1914-1918 war to prove that "the losses of Scottish infantry regiments alone exceeded the whole Canadian losses (Navy, Army, and Air Force) by nearly 23,000, and those of the Australian Commonwealth by over 25,000." But Scotland was only about half the size of these great Dominions in population. "Though New Zealand is generally credited with having made the greatest sacrifice of all the units of the British Empire, yet its rate for all Services is much less than that of Scottish infantry, whose losses were more than double Belgium's total of all arms." It is often said that the British Commonwealth is a happy family of self-governing nations, freely associated under the British Crown. If that be so, then Scotland, the oldest nation of them all, lacking Self-Government, must be reckoned "the saftest o' the family."

It may be argued that Scotland will naturally wish to have joint military arrangements with England for the common defence of the British island against European and other aggressors. There is substance in this contention, but co-operation must be on a basis of equality and freedom. Otherwise how shall Scotland defend herself against the notorious inveterate tendency of the ruling class in England to impose on Scotland an excessive share of the burdens of war and to appropriate for England the lion's share of the advantages of peace ?

Furthermore, most of the military enterprises of the British Government are not devoted to the defence of this island of Britain, but to imperial power-politics all over the world. Is it in defence of Scotland or of England that at this time of writing Scots conscripts are using armed force against the people of Java, and getting mixed up in Palestine in the squabbles of the Jews and the other Arabs? Scotland has no say in the decisions of war and peace affecting Scots soldiers, though Canada and Australia have a say, and exercise their rights with good sense. For example, in 1922, when the British Prime Minister, Mr Lloyd George, showed every sign of going to war with Turkey over the Chanak incident, Canada intimated her neutrality in that event, and wiser counsels pre­vailed in London. In 1941 the Australian Government with­drew Australian troops from Egypt for the defence of Australia, trusting rather to their own efforts than to a supposed Imperial or Commonwealth collective security, with excellent justification, as events proved.


Since the explosion of the American atom-bombs in Japan, the world is entering into a new stage of war, which makes all the more urgent the development of an international system of keeping the peace. Scotland is not yet represented in the United Nations, and the man-power of Scotland continues to be exploited by the British Government under its conscription and its preliminary training of youth. It has been plausibly contended that, having regard to the terms of the Treaty of Union of Scotland and England, the British Parliament com­mits an international illegality in conscribing Scots, whether for military or industrial purposes, and it is certainly grossly unfair that Scotland should be conscribed when the six counties of Northern Ireland, which are equally part of the United Kingdom, are exempt from conscription for the British Forces. After two centuries of Scots soldiers' fighting for Britain, half of Scotland is a desert and the other half more or less a slum. It is senseless irresponsibility for any Scot to tolerate or attempt to justify the continued waste of Scottish energy and blood in the service of an ungrateful Cockney caucus. For the international policing obligations proposed in Article 43 of the United Nations Charter, self-governing Scot­land would no doubt be willing, like Canada and Eire, to do her fair share in furnishing a Scottish contingent, but Scotland cannot so pull her weight internationally until the Scottish people first of all have a democratic Scottish government at home.

Mr Duncan Duff has marshalled the relevant facts and drawn the correct conclusions, and all lovers of Scotland are in his debt for his work. It now remains to circulate it, which is a personal responsibility of every reader. Let all Members of Parliament, members of Local Authorities, Ministers of religion, teachers, and other public persons be confronted with this booklet and canvassed for their views, and let every means be taken, both locally throughout Scotland and nation­ally, to concert action for the securing of Scottish self-government and in the meantime for resistance to the unconstitutional and ruinous conscription of Scots youth by the British Government.

DOUGLAS  YOUNG. January, 1947.



For two hundred and fifty years we have thought of the military achievements of Scotland in terms of the glory and romance with which a subtle propaganda has invested them. We for too long wishfully averted our gaze from the more realistic aspects of that sad history, failing to perceive that those losses which initially and most poignantly affect the lives of individuals and families must ultimately in their cumulative effect bring corresponding injury to the nation.

That Union which linked our destinies with those of Imperial England brought in its train losses through war which no independent nation of Western Europe of comparable size and population has ever had to bear. Over a long term of years we have experienced the callous exploitation of our youth and manhood by an alien government which has never hesitated to exact from Scotland sacrifices far in excess of what its population warranted.

We have been forced to participate in aggression, and in so doing have betrayed the ideals of our fathers. We have seen the inevitable consequences of war to a nation yoked in unequal partnership with a powerful neighbour, whose con­sistent policy for centuries before the Union was the ultimate liquidation of the weaker partner, and which since that event has never scrupled to utilise the latter's post-war weakness to the same end. It has been our lot to experience the gratitude of the Great Imperial Power to its satellites. War, even when victorious, has brought no more to us than it has to the con­quered: widespread unemployment and misery, industrial decay, frustration of enterprise, uprooted populations, forced mass emigrations, alien ownership of our land, the worst housing conditions and the most desolated countryside of Western Europe, together with the almost complete destruc­tion of our national life and culture.

Than Scotland, no country has ever given more in war and none 'has gained less. It would indeed be difficult to prove that the sacrifice of Scottish youth under the British flag was any less futile as regards the advancement of the welfare of the Motherland than were the services rendered by her exiled sons to foreign powers: by the Scots Dutch, or by those who, under the silver lilies of France, marched in the ranks of Royal Ecossais or the Regiments d'Ogilvie and d'Albanie, or who, like Spanish John McDonell, served in the white-coated Regiment Irelanda, or laid down their lives under alien skies for Swedish king or Muscovite Tsar.

Under an incorporating Union which leaves the lesser partner bound and helpless, with a representation in Parlia­ment inadequate to achieve anything from the majority save indifference, ridicule or contempt, such conditions and such consequences are inevitable. To-day, the hard logic of facts has forced those who not so long ago sneered at "narrow Nationalists" to acknowledge the truth of the Nationalists' contentions, both in the political and economic fields, and even to hint at the desirability of some such remedy as "devolution" or "a measure of self-government." They still refuse, how­ever, to consider their country's disabilities in other spheres, preferring to believe, for instance, that all is fair in war, if not in peace.

The geographical relationship of the two countries, England and Scotland, may render necessary some form of co-operation between them for purposes of defence, but the extent and manner of that co-operation and the proportionate contribution of each should not be, as at present, a matter for England solely to determine. Such questions as the right to refuse participation in overseas military adventures, or of the composition of forces defending Scottish soil from invasion for instance, intimately concern the Scottish people and are for them alone to decide.


"The British Empire," writes Innes of Learney, "is really the creation of the Scots, for prior to the Union, England could not even retain the territories which it from time to time inherited." (1) That may or may not be wholly true, but it can scarcely be denied that our contributions and sacrifices on behalf of that Empire have been out of all proportion to our resources. "The military power of Scotland," wrote Andrew Ross in 'The Lowland Regiments,' "had always been a source of uneasiness to the Southern Kingdom, and a principal object of English statesmen who urged on the proposals for Union between the two nations was to obtain control of it. In the Articles of Union, there is no mention of the military forces. The policy decided on after that event took place, and followed with determination for three-quarters of a century, was to obliterate national (i.e. Scottish) distinctions." (2) The first step was to transfer all contracts for the supply of arms, clothing, etc., from Scottish to English tradesmen.

Scottish recruiting laws were later assimilated to those of England, by which able-bodied unemployed, etc., could be impressed for military service for life. English counties were assigned to Scots regiments from which they must accept pressed men, in many cases the off-scouring of the jails. (3) This was displeasing to Scottish opinion and to the regiments themselves, which wished to retain their nationality. Scots recruits no doubt trickled in, as Scots in war have always wished to preserve their national identity by fighting as Scots and with Scots, but Whitehall was bent on denationalising these historic corps, and the request of the officers of the Royals in 1709 to be allowed to recruit in Scotland was answered by an influx of English drafts. So too almost a century later Cameronian officers were reproved for their unwillingness to accept non-Scottish recruits. Moreover the British Government garrisoned Scotland as a conquered country with English corps, and for half a century after the Union Scottish troops were scarcely ever permitted to visit their native land, except when dire necessity required their assistance in crushing their disaffected fellow-countrymen.

The old Scottish corps to-day denominated 'Lowland' were in origin national rather than regional in their composition, the pre-Union Scottish military authorities making little dis­tinction between Highlanders and Lowlanders who served side by side. Even after the Union we find that the Jacobite Gaelic poet-warrior, John Roy Stuart, had served in the Greys, and Sergeant Donald McLeod, the memoirist, in the Guards and Royals. Many Highlanders were numbered among the Fusiliers, while even in the ranks of the Cameronians they might be found serving. The exploitation of regional, district and clan loyalties, justifiable and perhaps even desirable in an army of defence, but in wars of aggression bringing all too frequently disastrous casualties to a limited area, was the devilish invention of the British Hanoverian Government, and has been a major factor in the depopulation of the Highlands. At the same time as the Government endeavoured to extinguish all national feeling in the Lowland regiments it was to exploit such sentiments among the Highlanders not for their benefit but for their destruction.

The Scots as a people, unlike their Southern, neighbours, had never shown eagerness for wars of aggression or conquest. When they did invade England they were moved rather by dynastic or religious loyalties, hoping to bring assistance to those of like sympathies beyond the Border. The failure of the Jacobite invasion of England in 1745 was in part due to lack of enthusiasm for aggression in a people whose attitude towards war was expressed in their national mottoes of 'In defens' and 'Nemo me impune lacessit,' English and Scottish ideals of patriotism were to clash on many occasions.


With peoples other than the English, Scotland's relations had seldom been of a hostile nature, but the close association of the two countries in the Union was to bring about the severing of many ancient ties between Scotland and the Continent. Henceforth she must defer always to England to whom was given the power to dictate who should be her friends and who her enemies. And England with her foreign policy of the Balance of Power on the Continent, and with her world-wide aggressive Imperialism never lacked enemies. Without an increase in her resources of man-power, England could only with difficulty, if at all, maintain her influence on the Continent and at the same time add to her territories beyond the seas, and the Union strengthened her position not only by the removal of a possible threat to her security from the North, but by the addition of a hardy population whose lives she could squander as cannon-fodder or utilise for colonisation with correspondingly less expenditure of her own native resources. When towards the close of the French wars Scotland's resources in manpower were temporarily exhausted, Ireland proved a substitute. The important part played by the populations of Scotland, Ireland and Wales as the raw material of Empire-building is not generally recognised, and it comes as a surprise to find that one hundred years ago their combined populations made up more than 40 per cent, of the inhabitants of the British Isles and contributed 50 per cent, of the recruits to the British Army. To-day they are barely a fifth of the total population, to such an extent have neglect, misgovernment, exploitation for war and mass emigrations weakened them. England, it would seem, has prospered by the Union, has increased her power, her wealth, her resources and her population at the expense of the ' lesser breeds.' What other purpose could there be in an incorporating Union than the weakening of the lesser partner that her nationality having been destroyed she might be the more easily absorbed in a Greater England ?


With the passing of time the attitude of the military authorities to Scottish sentiment was gradually modified. It was realised that in the Highlands was a nursery of potential soldiers who could not be induced in large numbers to under­take military service without appeal being made to their patriotism, still Scottish rather than British. The hard core of nationalism in the North might be broken up by the employ­ment and dispersal of these men overseas, but as the men might suspect the intentions of the authorities the latter had to 'gang warily.' The experiment was undertaken with the raising in 1739 of the Highland Regiment, later to become famous as the 42nd or Black Watch. At first the experiment seemed doomed to failure, but being persevered in, under later changed conditions proved so profitable to Imperialism (and at the same time disastrous to Scotland) that this exploitation of national, regional and later feudal loyalties was afterwards extended to raise not only further Highland contingents but Lowland ones also, local patriotism being always a stronger force among Scots than among the English.

In 1739 the independent companies policing the High­lands were embodied at Aberfeldy in the regiment known as 'Am Freiceadan Dubh' or The Black Watch. To its original members and their countrymen its primary function was implied in its title — a 'Watch ' or armed police force to preserve order in the Highlands. "It is most certain," says an account of their mutiny published in 1743, "that they always looked on themselves, from the time they were raised, as a corps destined to serve in Scotland, or rather in the Highlands, and nowhere else." "Moreover," wrote Duff McWilliam, "if any doubt existed in the minds of the men as to this it would have been finally dispelled by the positive assurances which, accord­ing to contemporary writers, were given them by their officers that they would not be required to leave the Highlands." (4) For the men desirous of overseas service there were the old Scots regiments. The Watch was quite distinct, uniformed, armed and accoutred differently from the Line, recruited on a territorial basis and requiring of its members, as a necessity for its particular duty, that they should be Gaelic-speaking. After embodiment it was stationed for a time about Inverness and continued to perform the duties of the old independent companies.

The British Government, however, had other plans. For the advancement of England's power and prestige, and for the .quarrels and intrigues of foreign potentates, more Scottish blood must be poured out. Aware of the impending move, and foreseeing danger, Lord President Forbes wrote to General Clayton, commanding in Scotland, of the necessity of the corps remaining, it being the only body of men able to move freely in difficult country in the event of French invasion. This warning was ignored.


Highland soldiers 1744The regiment was to proceed South to be reviewed by some great personage. Stage by stage the men were persuaded to march, only to meet with successive disappointments. They began to suspect the Government's intentions, and before their journey's end was reached sixty deserters had taken the road Northwards. On arrival in London, where they had been told the King was to inspect their ranks, they learned that His Majesty had gone abroad and there would be no review. They had been betrayed! Was their real destination the Indies?

At midnight on 17th May, 1743 the men met on Finchley Common, "being determined not to go abroad. As they were raised for the Highland Watch they think that their duty extends no further." Despite the endeavours of their officers to dissuade them, by 1 a.m. a party, having chosen as leaders Malcolm and Samuel McPherson, corporals hailing from Laggan in Badenoch, set out for Scotland. Dawn came, and Samuel McPherson saw that the pitifully small numbers of his party rendered the success of their undertaking impossible, yet, despite his better judgement, he felt he could not desert those who had trusted him and who still desired to return home. Two days later the little party was surrounded in a wood near Oundle, Northamptonshire. Seeing that resistance was impossible and anxious to avoid bloodshed, the High­landers after protracted negotiations finally agreed to surrender unconditionally. They were disarmed and marched under escort to London where they were imprisoned in the Tower to await their trial. To those in charge of them they confided some of their grievances—' several things they accounted unjust, and ill-usage which provoked them ... as that many of them being as well-born as many of their officers were never enlisted by them nor received any pay, but were desired to come up only to be reviewed by the King, and then return to Scotland, whereas they were to be sold as slaves."


The authorities desired no excuse. They wanted Scottish blood. Here was the opportunity to show rebellious Scots that since the Union had made them England's subjects it was not for them to say when, where, why and whom they should fight. They were to obey! They were cannon-fodder. On the day when news of their surrender reached London the Secretaries of the Lords Justices had written to Carteret, Secretary of State accompanying the King on the Continent, with a full account of the matter and of their Lordships' proceedings, all of which was laid before His Majesty. "It is somewhat startling to find conveyed in the reply," writes McWilliam. "even before the warrant for the Court Martial had been signed, what was virtually a command that 'some of the more guilty should be shot.' "

The Government having already decided on their fate before trial, no consideration was given to the petition drawn up by the men, or to the intercessions made on their behalf. According to Rev. Mr Campbell, a Gaelic-speaking minister who attended the prisoners, they were visited by a stranger who advised them to plead guilty and ask mercy, making no complaint against their officers. Following this advice, he said, would work their deliverance and no punishment would be inflicted. He presented them with a petition; which was read by Private Gordon, the first of the prisoners to be tried. By its terms the men pleaded guilty, and, faithfully following the advice given, said nothing by way of defence. Thus persuaded to conceal any circumstances which might mitigate their 'crime,' the men's case was prejudiced and the promised acquittal did not come off. In evidence it was revealed that several had not been duly attested, yet this did not prevent their being found guilty of mutiny. Eighty-four of the one hundred and twenty-four prisoners knew no English and were at great disadvantage. All were found guilty and sentenced to death, save one, who, having deserted before the march, received sentence of one thousand lashes in instalments of two hundred a day. The death penalty was carried out, however, only in the case of three principals, the remainder, divided into four parties and distributed to various theatres of oper­ations, pass from our ken, and in all probability never saw Scotland again.

The Caledonian Mercury of 5th July, 1743, describes the final scene, when in presence of their assembled comrades, disarmed and under guard, the three leaders faced a firing-party of the Guards. "Yesterday, contrary to the hopes of many, Samuel and Malcolm McPherson, corporals, and Farquhar Shaw, centinel in the Highland Regiment, were shot in the Tower. They all died with the greatest composure of mind and manly resolution. Two of them were shot twice.

In life their country's love possessed each mind,

One death, one grave their faithful friendship find.

I'm told Farquhar Shaw regretted to the last having surrendered, and that they had rather resolved to die sword-in-hand."


The affair was the talk of the town. "While the wiser sort condemned the flight," writes a contemporary. "some of their hot-headed countrymen compared it with the flight of the Ten Thousand Greeks under Xenophon." To Scotland the news of the deaths of the MacPhersons and Shaw came as a shock. The Highlanders, in particular, found their worst fears for their ultimate fate under the Union confirmed. They remembered the victims for long after, and two years later the Rising of 1745 gave their clansmen the opportunity to avenge them. Mackintosh in his 'Mackintoshes and Clan Chattan' refers to the effect of these executions. "The treatment of the Black Watch in 1743 raised throughout the Highlands a general cry of indignation. To many these acts seemed to show that the Government was bent on exterminating the Highlanders, its own servants as well as the rest and that no trust was to be placed in it." Other writers testify to the widespread nature of this belief and to its influence in rallying support to the Stuart Cause. Recruiting was seriously affected and for the Black Watch practically ceased for some years afterwards, while a sister-regiment, London's Highlanders, which remained in Scotland, proved unreliable so far as loyalty to a British Government was concerned, and did not long survive the Rising.

How far were the fears of the Highlanders regarding the British Government's attitude towards them justified? Judg­ing by results one might be excused for agreeing that they were amply justified, and there is little doubt that the desire to destroy them as a people was strong in many circles of Government supporters. Cumberland expressed himself to that effect. The humane Wolfe, in advocating the employment of Highlanders in British military service, wrote, "I should imagine that Highlanders might be of use. They are hardy, intrepid, accustomed to a rough country, and no great mischief if they fall. How can you better employ a secret enemy than by making his end conducive to the common good ? If this sentiment should take wind what an execrable and bloody being should I be considered!" (5) The Scottish nation was to be divided and destroyed. Meanwhile the 42nd was fighting in Flanders, whither the main  body   had  proceeded while  the ' mutineers ' awaited trial.

"I had a letter from Torboll," wrote one Easter Ross gentleman to another shortly after their landing there, "that the Highland regiment does very hard duty and are sent on all commands of great danger." (6)


The 18th century was for England a period of successive wars and of increasing territorial expansion, her commitments being of such an extent that it is difficult to see how the necessary manpower could have been obtained, had she not had at her disposal the resources of Scotland and Ireland to squander on far flung overseas adventures. The failure of the Rebellions and the decay of Jacobitism, the (apart from initial trouble) successful experiment of the Black Watch, and the urgent necessity to procure men for wars all over the world led ultimately to a modification of the British policy of denationalising the Scots regiments, and to a realisation that, if Scotland's resources in manpower were to be exploited to the full, concessions must be made to national sentiment. Recruitment of Scottish regiments in English counties having proved unsatisfactory, they were given some freedom in their enlistment of personnel, and enabled to recover to a certain extent their national character, while still having to compete for recruits from Scotland with the English regiments normally stationed there. With the Seven Years' War (1756-63) the elder Pitt ' looked for Valour to find it in the North,' and Scotland was called to make its first great contribution to the spread of Imperialism. With a population in 1755 of roughly one and a quarter million the country had to furnish men for two regiments of cavalry and twenty-four definitely Scottish battalions of infantry. That was not all. Six new regiments received express orders not to recruit in the Highlands, instruc­tions which seemed to confine their recruiting activities to the Lowlands. Three depleted English regiments were sent to Scotland to complete their strength, and to raise second battalions which afterwards continued as separate and, for a time at least, Scottish formations. Edinburgh Castle was so full of pressed men, including Highlanders convicted of the grave offence of wearing the Highland garb, that no place could be found for them in Scotland, and 330 were sent to York to fill up the llth (Devon) Regiment, while large numbers of men from Orkney, Caithness, Sutherland and Skye went to the 7th Royal Fusiliers, and the surplus of men enlisted for Fraser's and Montgomery's Highland regiments were turned over to the 38th Staffordshire in Antigua. (?) The Union was paying England handsome dividends in the provision of cannon-fodder and the saving of English lives. As yet Irish resources, which were to prove so useful later, were not being drawn upon, religious fears and scruples being against the employment of "Papists."

In spite of Pitt's eulogy of the undoubtedly great services rendered by the 42nd and new Highland regiments at this period the greater contribution was made by the Lowlands.

Throughout British history that contribution, whether intentionally or not, seems to have been belittled. At most periods the Lowland infantry contribution has been far greater than that of other British regions of comparable population, and in the later 19th and 20th centuries, owing to the depopulation of the Highlands without corresponding reduction of Highland regiments, the Scottish Lowlands have been expected to maintain battalions, regular, territorial, and service, in number far exceeding that maintained by regions of like population such as Lancashire and Yorkshire. With the cessation of hostilities Scots war-service regiments were in the mid-13th century either disbanded altogether, or, in the case of many of the Lowland units, lost their national character through the usual excessive drain on Scottish manpower in-the early stages and later replenishment with recruits from other sources. Thus an entirely false impression is given of the extent of Scottish contributions to the wars of the 18th century, the number of ' Lowland' regiments to-day being less than at the Union. Many of the 18th century Scottish units had brief histories, but there are survivals of one-time ' Lowland' Scots regiments to-day in the 7th Hussars, 1st Loyal North Lancashire, 2nd Border, 2nd Royal Berkshire, 2nd East Surrey, 2nd Wiltshire, and. up to the end of the 1914-18 War, in the 2nd Connaught Rangers, some of which were Scottish for a considerable period of their history. (8)

Their services as such, however. have been forgotten or ignored. Of the Highlanders engaged in the Seven Years' War and of their tasks and rewards the Edinburgh Courant of 18th July, 1763, drily remarked :—" Were not Highlanders put upon every enterprise where nothing was to be got but broken bones ? "


Imperial expansion is invariably effected by lavish expenditure of the lives of subject peoples, thus accomplishing a double purpose—the acquisition of territory at a minimum cost to the master-race, and the destruction of the distinctive life and culture of the 'lesser breed.' It is claimed that the Welsh archers were the real victors of Crecy and Agincourt, and Professor G. M. Trevelyan has stated that from the reign of Henry V. to that of Charles II. " it was always easier to recruit infantry from among the Door of Wales than among the more 'peaceable and settled English." (9) The Union with Scotland gave England during the 18th century additional resources in cannon-fodder, which came opportunely for the expansion of Empire and the acquisition of wealth which followed. By the 1770's the Jacobite movement had become no more than an 'auld sang,' the experiment of raising Highland regiments had proved a success, while the need for men to carry on the war with France, to crush the revolting American colonists and to win an Empire in India became clamant. If during the Seven Years' War Scotland! had trebled or quadrupled her contribution to the British army, why not again seek reinforcements from the same source ? "Whenever a war breaks out," writes Innes of Learney, "the War Office is thoughtful to exploit the Clan Spirit." (10) With the disband­ing of most of the Scots regiments raised for the Seven Years' War the Scottish contribution to the redcoat British infantry consisted of the Guards and 1st Royals (two battalions each), 21st Fusiliers, 25th Borderers, 26th Cameronians, 42nd High­land Regiment, and the 70th, still preserving its Scottish associations and popularly known as the ' Glasgow Greys." The population of Scotland was then one-ninth of that of the British Isles and this contribution of 9 battalions represented roughly her due quota. In 1775 the old 71st (Fraser's Highlanders) of two battalions was raised, and in 1778 orders were issued to raise twelve new regiments (old 72nd to old 83rd), of which nine were to be Scottish, including one, the old 73rd (later 71st or 1st H.L.I.), of two battalions. In addition there was embodied in America the 84th or Royal Highland Emigrant Regiment of two battalions, and in 1779 a second battalion of the Black Watch was raised which was later to become the 73rd, so that Scotland, in addition to the old regiments, was called on to furnish fifteen new battalions to England's three. (11) England did later contribute a round half-dozen of short-lived units which saw little or no service, but even with this the Scottish contribution was very many times greater, considering the relative population of the two countries, than should have been required of her. In time of war Scottish stock rises. Valour is sought for and found in the North, though there is 'no great mischief if they fall.' In our own days British statesmen have more than once expressed regret that for purposes of war the Scots were not more numerous, (12) while a great British soldier has paid them the compliment of stating that for a 'killing match' the Scots are best.(13)


To enlist the Scots voluntarily every sentiment, feudal, clan, or local, that could be exploited, was utilised. Though loyally accepting the obligations of Union in the matter of defence, it is clear that there was a very great divergence in outlook between the Scots and their London masters. Scots soldiers had to feel that they were fighting in some measure for Scotland, with fellow-countrymen as comrades in Scottish formations, with national distinctions in designation and uniform. They required no persuasion to defend their country, or to carry war into the territories of those powers which they believed threatened its security. The British Government, astutely exploiting these sentiments, took advantage of the people's martial spirit to break the terms of enlistment as the soldiers understood them, deporting them against their wills to the Indies, where lives were sacrificed for no benefit to their own land, but for the financial and mercantile interests of the City of London.

The many' Scottish regiments raised about 1778 showed strong national spirit, which manifested itself in two different ways. In the 80th Royal Edinburgh and 83rd Glasgow regi­ments it was shown in the refusal of the officers to accept any but Scots recruits. (14) The Northern corps showed strong antagonism to English ideas concerning their utilisation abroad, and in so doing reflected the popular opinion of the country. The military authorities, remembering their previous experience with the Black Watch, and the harmful effect their execution of the leaders on that occasion had on recruiting in the Highlands, went very tactfully about the work of sup­pressing the mutinies, and on the slightest sign of trouble modified their demands until circumstances made any opposi­tion on the part of the men impossible.

In 1778 the 72nd (14a) (1st Seaforth) refused to embark at Leith and took up position on Arthur's Seat until they obtained a promise of redress of their grievances and a pledge that they would not be sent to India, which was afterwards broken once they had been isolated in Jersey. That same year a company of the 71st (1st H.L.I.) attempted a similar refusal. Between 1778 and 1783 several other mutinies occurred. The 76th Macdonald Highlanders mutinied at Burntisland. Several lives were lost at Leith in the revolt of parties of the 42nd and old 71st (Eraser's) against embarkation to America and drafting to other corps, contrary to their terms of enlist­ment. At Portsmouth the 77th Athol Highlanders defied the order to embark for the Indies, and had to be returned to Scotland for disbandment. Similar disaffection in the ranks of the 81st Aberdeenshire Regiment was, according to General Stewart, responsible for the disbandment of that corps. (15)


Down the long corridor of the years comes the faint echo of the soldiers' songs. Defiantly and triumphantly the Atholmen sang :

At Portsmouth we were shipped to be

To serve the East India Company,

But the Highland lads would not agree

To go aboard that morning       

Were it to fight 'gainst France or Spain

We would with pleasure cross the main,

But like bullocks to be sold for gain

Our Highland  blood  abhors it .....

To the East Indies we wont go

            To join Eyre Coote and Hector Munro

Our time is up and home we'll go

In spite of all your saying no. (16)


Tradition has it that, in retaliation for the part they played in this incident, and for the refusal of many of them even to join the regiment, the inhabitants of Glen Tilt were evicted by the Ducal family of Athol. The soldiers who reached the Indies fought valiantly, but with resentment in their hearts. In a song of the 72nd Seaforths Sergeant Christopher McRae (Gillechriosd Mac Alasdair), longing for the bens and glens of far Kintail and the kinsfolk he was never again to see, tells how

Mar a rinn sinn ar gearain

Ris a cheannard a thachair bhith oirrn

'S ann a mhaoidh e ar crochadh

Feart grannda mi-choltach gu leoir

Los bhith 'g iarraidh a cheartas

Chuir an righ a bha'n Sasuinn fo bhoid

'S bidh na's miosa mu dheighinn

Mur dean e ruinn reite gu foil. (17)


(Translation—When we made our complaint (about return to Scotland) to the commander who happened to be over us, he threatened to hang us, a right vile and unseemly attention, because we were seeking the justice which had placed the king who was in England under a vow, and there will be worse to follow unless he makes peace with us softly).

At the close of the American War of Independence all the regiments numbering beyond 70th were disbanded except three Scottish battalions serving in India (71st, 72nd, 73rd). (18) Not all who survived the American campaign returned home; many of the time-expired men of the Black Watch, Fraser's, Macdonald's, the Edinburgh, Hamilton and Glasgow regiments, as well as the Emigrants, being encouraged by free grants of land to settle in Canada. This was a repetition of what had occurred after the Seven Years War, and was to become for Scotland a customary and inevitable consequence of all wars —the loss of manpower not merely by actual casualties but by the large-scale post-war transplanting of her population overseas.


To reinforce the three Scottish battalions serving in India (71st now 1st H.L.I., 72nd or 1st Seaforth, 73rd now 2nd Black Watch) it was ordered in 1787 that four new regiments should be raised. (19) Of these two (74th later 2nd H.L.I., and 75th Abercrombie's now 1st Gordons) were Highland, so that a region with population roughly equal to that of one forty-fifth of that of the British Isles, and already with heavier commit­ments in India than any other, was to supply half of the fresh troops required. In the wars against Hyder Ali and Tippoo, the 71st, 72nd, 73rd, 74th and 75th were constantly in action, reinforced during the last decade of the century by the 78th (2nd Seaforth) and the Scots Brigade. (20) This last, formed in Holland in 1574, 'the greatest regiment of mercenary troops in Europe,' and the senior of all those in the service of the United Netherlands, which never in its long history lost a stand of colours, ' even when whole battalions seemed to fall, the few that remained joined in preserving these emblems of their country,' was denationalised by the Dutch in the eighties, when most of the officers returned to Scotland and with veteran soldiers reinforced by Scots recruits were re-embodied as the Scots Brigade of three battalions, later augmented to four, and finally by war's wastage reduced to one and num­bered the 94th Foot. Scotland was certainly being bled for the benefit of the East' India Company and the City of London. Sometimes, as in the case of the 73rd at Mangalore, and the 74th and 78th at Assaye, her sons bore the whole brunt of the fighting, and there was scarcely a major engagement in which Scots did not form at least one-half of the British forces engaged. Their losses were heavy, both in action and from disease, Highlanders in particular being so little able to endure the vicissitudes of the monsoon climate that Sir Eyre Coote had unsuccessfully petitioned Whitehall to send out no more of them. The 72nd, for instance, had lost 247 men on the voyage out and, according to a state­ment in the memoirs of Sir T. Munro quoted by Fortescue, had barely fifty men fit for service within three weeks of their landing at Madras. They had left home over a thousand strong.

One would have thought that the great part played by Scottish troops in a theatre of operations so prodigal of human life might have led to a compensating reduction of sacrifice in other military adventures, but it was not so. England was insatiable in her demands for men, and whenever there was fighting to be done the smaller nation was called on to pour out her lifeblood.

Towards the end of the 18th century it was becoming evident that many parts of Scotland were being bled white. The Government must have deemed the resources of the Highlands inexhaustible, or, more likely, were quite indifferent to the fate of that countryside. The regiments serving in India, with their heavy losses from disease and casualties, were like a running sore draining the Highlands of their strength. For the unfortunates who served there the prospects of seeing home again were poor. The cadres of the regiments might return with officers and invalids, but the soldier if fit was transferred to some other unit remaining in India, 'and only old age, disablement or death could release him. Such treat­ment by the Government of its victims is referred to by Rev. Mr McPherson of Aberarder in a letter to the Duke of Gordon :— (21)

"The people have been successfully deceived since  the last war by recruiting officers and their friends. It has con­stantly been since that period the common belief that the recruits were only enlisted for three years or a continuance of the war, yet they saw or -heard of these poor men being draughted to other regiments after their own had been reduced, and thus bound for life instead of the time they were made to believe. The people will not believe, not even by giving them written obligations. They have been so often cheated that they scarce know whom to trust."


Military enthusiasm was waning. The people were war-weary and disillusioned in the realisation that the lives of their fathers, husbands, sons and brothers were being squandered on adventures which could bring no possible benefit to themselves or their country. British Imperialism again exploited Scottish patriotism. The old devices were once more resorted to. .Local attachments, clanship, feudal influence affection for the Highland garb, emulation of the warlike past, love of Scotland itself—all those sentiments which the British Government had in the past done its utmost to destroy —were exploited to encourage recruiting. Between 1792 and 1800, with six Highland regiments serving continuously abroad, ten new regular battalions were raised. In the far North the Seaforth family influence provided two battalions of the 78th Ross-shire (now 2nd Seaforth), and in 1800 the 93rd (2nd A. '& S.H.), the last to be raised in the Highlands, was recruited from the Sutherland estates. Inverness-shire provided the 79th Camerons and the largest quotas of recruits to both the 92nd Gordons and the 97th Inverness-shire, but in these" last two cases there were signs that the local supply of men was becoming exhausted, only a little more than 40 per cent, of the Gordons being Gaelic speakers, so that the recruiting net had to be cast over the whole of Scotland. The 91st Argyll­shire (1st A. & S.H.) had to depend largely on Clydeside. Reinforcements were difficult to obtain, and finally the 97th Inverness-shire, 116th Perthshire and the shadowy 132nd and 133rd Highlanders, along with the 109th Aberdeenshire Regi­ment were drafted into other regiments. (22) Fifteen Line battalions and more than twenty of Fencibles were rather too many for the Highlands, now with a population of about 300,000, to maintain, when it' is remembered that their manpower resources had been continually on tap for half a century.

Military service was undoubtedly unpopular. Recruiting parties were mobbed by the populace. Fraser Mackintosh, who knew the old Highlands as few have done, wrote—" There was no strong feeling in favour of enlistment. All investigation points in the opposite direction." Dr J. M. Bulloch, the authority on the early history of the 92nd and other regiments raised in Inverness-shire, Banffshire and Aberdeenshire, de­molished what he called the 'facile view' of the raising of Highland regiments (and with it the myth of the beautiful Duchess, the kiss and the shilling). "Statesmen, we are some­times assured, had but to speak of Empire or its equivalent at the time, for the clansmen to rise like gourds in the night and flock to the flag. In reality the inner history of recruiting was very different." (23)

How were the ranks filled ? In some districts tradition asserts recruits were kidnapped. Assurance of security to parents in the tenure of their holdings, payment of generous bounties by noblemen commissioned to raise regiments, promise of prefer­ment in the occupancy of farms by relatives or by the soldiers on their return, a crude conscription under which those charged with petty offences were given the alternative of prosecution or enlistment: all were inducements. (24)


Leading men in the North with a sense of responsibility to the country had begun to realise where the Government's policy of bleeding the Highlands white was leading. To the Duke of Gordon regarding proposals made by Dundas, the Home Secre­tary, for further recruiting for Home Defence, Cluny McPherson wrote in 1797 :— "Your Grace must be very sensible that this country has been much drained by different levies, so much so that if the number now proposed are taken out of it there would be great danger of a total stop to the operations of husbandry." (25) In similar strain wrote Aeneas Mackintosh, Chief of that name :— "It appears from the great drain the country has sustained it will be almost impossible to raise the body of men proposed," (26) while their neighbour the public-spirited Sir James Grant, writing to his factor on recruiting for the 97th, said :— "Out of consideration to the extent the district has been drained of men, and as I do not wish to distress the country, prevent recruiting by every means in your power in Strathspey." (27) Other districts had suffered in like degree. The Seaforth and Cromartie estates on the Ross-shire mainland and in the Isle of Lewis were estimated by General Stewart to have contributed in forty years over 11,000 men to the 71st, 72nd and 78th, this in addition to men enlisting in two Ross-shire Fencible Corps and in other regiments. Skye within thirty years, according to the Historical Record of the 42nd Regiment, had supplied the army with nearly 700 officers, and 10,000 men. (28) General Stewart had also stated how, in eighteen months of 1779-80 (after the original Highland regi­ments of that day had been embodied), 'the Highlands sent 13,586 men to the colours : that from 1793 to 1811 they had furnished for National Defence 74,412 men for Line, Fericibles and Militia, the Line being all the time reinforced by men who had received initial training in the; other formations. (In 1804 the Highlands were called on to raise 2nd battalions to all their regiments, then eleven in number. They managed to scrape together 8,615. their last big effort.) (29) By 1809 the burden of supporting; eleven regiments, each of two battalions, had become too great, and in that year orders were given that, as the population of the Highlands was unable to supply recruits for all the Highland corps, the 71st, 72nd, 73rd, 74th, 75th and 91st were for the future to discontinue the Highland dress. These were, with the exception of the 91st. the older Highland units, and all had spent long terms of service in the Indies or the Cape, followed in one or two instances by participation in the Peninsular War, suffering heavy casualties, both in battle and from disease, from which they had never recovered. (30)

The 71st had lost contact with its native countryside, and had begun the long association of the Highland Light Infantry with, the City of Glasgow. The 72nd had forsaken its clan-country of Ross-shire to recruit in Aberdeen and Angus. The 74th was for a time more Irish than Scottish. The 75th had returned from India with less than a hundred Highlanders in its ranks. The 91st showed on the Record Book of its second battalion 197 foreigners, 'mostly German.' (31) Five Highland battalions remained—42nd, 78th, 79th, 92nd and 93rd, and these, though the native Highland element diminished year by year, managed to preserve with difficulty the old Highland military tradition until 1881, when, on the reorganisation of the Army, the War Office, realising the possibilities of exploiting the Balmoral phase of Scottish sentiment, linked them up again with the lost battalions which in the interval in some cases must have quite forgotten their Highland origins.


The Highlands as a recruiting ground had been drained dry. Their inhabitants were resentful and nursed a feeling that their kinsmen's lives had been squandered away. In 1793 a Home Defence Force had been embodied, mainly of, Fencible Infantry, to which force Scotland contributed a large part. The original Scottish battalions were enlisted for ser­vice in Scotland alone and the attempts of the authorities to force these men to cross the Border aroused such dissatis­faction and suspicion of their intentions and revived so many memories of previous deceptions that, though the men expressed readiness to march South in the event of actual French invasion only, the original formations had ultimately to be disbanded, not before several mutinous incidents had occurred, for which men suffered the death penalty, (32) The employment of the 42nd Black Watch against their fellow-countrymen in Ross-shire in 1792, (33) and the use of the military again during later clearances in that county had its repercussions on recruiting in the North. Men saw the inconsistency in the so-called defenders of their country being at the same time the agents in evicting their own fellow-countrymen from their native soil. Perhaps dimly at times they perceived that the idea of an Imperial Britain was incompatible with that of a contented, happy, prosperous Scotland. The heavy losses sustained by Scottish regiments in Imperial wars of aggression brought disillusionment, and for a long period rendered military service unpopular amongst the peasantry. Among those who were forced to emigrate' it was said there was no feeling so strong as that of hatred of the rulers who, ignoring the sacrifices of the people in the cause of Britain, and indifferent to the injustices they had suffered at the hands of oppressing landlords, complacently permitted their wholesale deportation from the land they had fought to save. "Later, in the American-War of 1812, it was remarked with dismay, if not with compunction, that many of the forces of the enemy were largely composed of Highlanders who had done with their ungrateful mother for ever and become enthusiastic adopted sons of the young Republic." (34) In the last years of the French wars the temporary exhaustion of Scot­tish man-power had forced the British authorities to abandon their former prejudices against the use of Catholic Irish as British soldiers, and to seek new supplies of cannon-fodder from Ireland. The great Wellington himself, in a plea to the House of Lords for the enfranchisement of his Catholic countrymen, made the startling claim that of the troops under his command in the Peninsula they supplied at least half. (35) Considering the Scots' contributions to these forces, one wonders what proportionate sacrifice England has made for her own Empire. The gains have been to her.

"The contribution of Lowland Scotland to the long wars with France is difficult to estimate. Reference has already been made to the heavy calls made on its population during the Seven Years' War, and in later years it had added to its commitments by the raising of the 90th Perthshire Volunteers (later 2nd Scottish Rifles: two battalions, one drafted) and by the 94th Scots Brigade, for a time four battalions strong, and by other shorter-lived formations. In 1804 extra bat­talions had been added to the 'Lowland' regiments, so that the 1st Royals had four, 3rd Guards. 21st Fusiliers, 25th Borderers, 26th Cameronians, 90th Perthshire and 94th Scots Brigade two each. Increasingly the Lowland population had been called on to fill up the gaps in the ranks of the High­landers, so that some of the latter regiments, like the 71st, were Highland only in name. McKerlie points out also that there were few, if any, English and Irish regiments in which Scots were not to be found. (36) Many of these had been long stationed in Scotland and had recruited there, while many Scots realised that the then superior- standard of Scottish education gave them advantages in English and Irish units in securing promotion.


That Scots were fighting in India in the late 18th century in far greater numbers than the ratio of their population to that of the United Kingdom—one-ninth—justified, has already been demonstrated. In other theatres of war the same state of affairs prevailed. At Aboukir six of the twenty British infantry battalions engaged were Scots (30 per cent, instead of 11 per cent.). At Alexandria, where Abercrombie fell, they made up eight out of twenty-six (31 per cent.)(37) Two Scottish regiments, the 90th and 92nd, and no others, shared the battle honour of "Mandora" between them. At the recapture of the Cape there were three Scottish out of seven British battalions (42 per cent.);(38) at Corunna seven out of thirty-three (21 per cent.), (39) while throughout the Peninsula campaigns the proportion of Scottish battalions was well above their just quota. (It is pleasing to note exceptions at Badajoz and Ciudad Roderigo, where the behaviour of British troops towards the civilian population indelibly stained the Army's reputation). Finally at Waterloo eight Scottish battalions fought in a battle where the total British infantry strength was thirty-one, (40) and of the four regiments singled out by the Great Duke himself for special commendation three were Scots.

It seems certain that in these old wars Scotland was being asked to provide too many men. It has been shown how excessive were the demands on Scottish manpower during the Seven Years' War, and how the Highlands, during the campaigns in India against Hyder Ali and Tippoo, with a forty-fifth of the population of the United Kingdom were being called on to supply half of the British troops engaged. By the beginning of the 19th century the Scottish population was roughly one-ninth of that of Great Britain and Ireland. With thirty-eight regular Scottish infantry battalions in 1804 there should have been in the whole contemporary British Army three hundred and forty-two. It is doubtful if there were actually in exist­ence as many as two hundred and fifty. By the standards which the Highlands were expected to maintain in the supply of manpower, the United Kingdom should have been maintaining roughly one thousand battalions. Scotland was losing in a double sense. First she supplied far more than her due quota to the infantry, and secondly in most major engagements Scottish troops were present in proportions even greater than the country's contributions warranted. It is not surprising, therefore, that towards the end of the French Wars some Scots regiments (e.g. 25th, 74th, 90th and 94th) had. to a large extent lost their national character.

What was gained ? For Scotland nothing, though much was lost. Indeed it may well be argued that the Highlands at least were ruined. By 1808, Mackerlie states, the effect of the drain on the country's resources was being felt by all the Scottish regiments. "The demands on the population," he writes, " were too many and large, continuing with scarcely any intermission for nearly half-a-century, as one war succeeded another in the most rapid manner, and the demand for men was so great, and the martial spirit of Scotsmen so taken advantage of by the Government, that it is wonderful the resources of Scotland, limited in population as it was were not exhausted altogether." (41)   To the ungrateful gibe of such as the Anglophile McCulloch, (42) that the Scots regiments were largely  composed  of non-Scots,  McKerlie offers a complete answer.  In his work on the Scottish regiments he shows that any  influx of Irish and English to these regiments which retained national distinctions of uniform and title was negli­gible; that when, in the case of those which had served long away from Scotland and had suffered severe losses 'in tropical lands, it did take place it was of a temporary nature; that Ireland with thrice the population of Scotland had fewer regi­ments;  that regiments regarded as  typically English, despite England's relatively large population, accepted large numbers of Irish recruits, and that any influx of outsiders into Scottish regiments was balanced by Scots serving in non-Scottish regi­ments. The 42nd in 1808 had only 12 English and Irish out of 826. In 1811 the 78th had 17 out of 1,036, the 93rd 35 out of 1,049; while the 92nd had never been less than nine-tenths Scottish. (43)   The taunt was on a par with that of the English Minister of War, Sir James Grigg, who, in the House  of Commons on 6th June, 1945, in paying a tribute to Scotland and the 51st Division,  qualified his praise by stating that "the number of Englishmen in the 51st Division would surprise a great many Scotsmen in   this House." There would be little in the nature of surprise to these Scots if  they considered  their   country's past  experience ; that   in every war its men have stepped into the forefront of battle in the early stages when odds against them are greatest and losses  heaviest; that from the middle of the  18th century to the present day Scotland has had to furnish a contribution in infantry whose losses it is beyond the power of the population to replenish in any prolonged large-scale warfare ; that the proportion  of  infantry to other arms, and consequently  of casualties, has always been much higher than in the case of England, and Scottish manpower being therefore the more quickly exhausted, the gaps in the ranks are filled from outside sources in the final and usually easier stages of operations.

The long-drawn-out hostilities with France, which reached their culmination in the Allied victory at Waterloo in 1815, left Scotland exhausted. To some extent the military authori­ties had been forced to recognise this fact in their depriving six of the Highland regiments in 1809 of their distinctive uniform: in the disbandment on the cessation of hostilities of the 94th Scots Brigade: and in the conversion in 1823 of the 70th Glasgow Lowland Regiment (which for the second time In its history had become Scottish) into the Surrey (now 2nd East Surrey) Regiment. (44)

It was to a very different Scotland from that which they had left that the surviving veterans returned. Changes which normally might have been spread over a long period and have been so adjusted as to cause a minimum of human suffering and damage to the nation's fabric had been accelerated, and war conditions had been exploited to the full by stay-at-home profiteers, so that in the soldiers' absence the whole fabric of Scotland's life had disintegrated. The substitution of large-scale commercialised agriculture for the old system, whose primary function had been the maintenance on their native soil of a numerous peasantry, the enforced and heartless deportations of the rural population, not confined to the Highlands, but affecting, less spectacularly perhaps, many Lowland districts also, the growth of urban industry and consequent rapid expansion of cities, all combined to create problems which to this day have defied solution, if, indeed, their solution has ever seriously been sought. One is tempted to believe that the British Government was content to allow matters to drift and that it viewed with indifference, if not with satisfaction, the disruption and ultimate extinction of an ancient nation. It would seem from the complacency with which those in authority viewed the successful liquida­tion of the Highlanders by their utilisation for war that they shared the feelings towards them formerly expressed by 'Butcher' Cumberland and General Wolfe. The only regret ever expressed seemed to be for the loss of a potential source of fighting men.


Britain was now a full-fledged Imperial power, and for such there is no end of warfare. France, her great rival, had suffered a crushing defeat, and the way lay open to expand and consolidate her Empire.     Imperialism   invariably  adopts   the policy of sacrificing the 'lesser breeds,' and in the exploitation of her subject races Imperial Britain proved no exception to the rule. With a measure of recovery after a half-century's exhaustion,  Scotland  must  again   contribute  more  than  her fair proportion to the redcoat infantry of the British Army. One by one the 71st, 72nd, 74th and 91st were again habited in tartan, in variegated pantaloons, however, rather than the "indecent barbarian philabeg." The 75th became Scottish again as the Stirlingshire Regiment. Later the 73rd became the Perthshire. The 94th Scots Brigade was resurrected at Glasgow and a new regiment, the 99th Lanarkshire, raised. There was some recognition here of the shift of population. The Lowlanders were permitted to wear diced bonnets when not in full dress,  and some of their units  to have pipers— harmless   but- profitable concessions   to   Scottish sentiment these. Though the Highlands could no longer fully maintain the  five remaining kilted  regiments (a Parliamentary Com­mittee in 1850 sat in regard to Army and Ordnance expendi­ture  and  elicited  the information  that  the  Highlands  could only supply men   for   two   or   three   regiments; Mackerlie doubted their ability even to do that) they were still the most purely Scottish formations. In 1854, just before the Crimean War, the 42nd had 16 non-Scots out of 856, the 79th 11 out of 889, the 92nd 16 out of 1,001, and the 93rd one Englishman out of 876. (45) Scotland's population in 1851 was rather less than three  millions, out of a total for the United Kingdom of twenty-seven and-a-half millions, or between  one-ninth  and one-tenth of the total, her contribution of line infantry bat­talions  being  in  excess of that  quota  at  roughly one-sixth. The single Scottish cavalry regiment was at times absent from its native land for long periods,  the artillery and engineers were  barely,  if at all.  represented  in Scottish  garrisons, so that Scotland's youth, unlike that of England, had little oppor­tunity for military service   except as infantrymen. If the recruiting figures about the middle of the nineteenth century are examined in relation to the respective populations of the three   constituent   kingdoms, Scotland is clearly seen to be still contributing more than a just quota to the British armed forces. In 1841 the population figures were:(1) England and Wales,15,914,148; (2) Scotland, 2,620,184 ; (3) Ireland, 8,175,124. Expressed in percentages on the basis of the 1841 population returns and the 1845-49 recruiting figures, we shall find;—


England and Wales



Percentage of total population of U.K. (1841)




Percentage total number of recruits













(Artillery and engineers, at this period administered by Board of Ordnance, are excluded).

Or again, take the years 1853-60, which includes the period of the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny, when artillery and engineers were reckoned in the totals :—

England and Wales



Population of U.K. (1851)




 Recruits passed














In every year from 1853 to 1860 the Scottish rate of recruitment was higher than that of England, in 1853 more than twice as high, but in two years fell below the Irish rate (46) It was the old, old story. Scotland and Ireland were contributing, as they had done in the pre-Waterloo era, far more than their just proportion.


One considerable change had overtaken the Scottish regi­ments since the eighteenth century and the early years of the nineteenth. Gone were the days when their officers were almost without exception their own fellow-countrymen. As with the native troops of the Indian Army it seemed that Scots soldiers must be under English leadership. The old wars had seen numerous Scots general officers achieve fame: Sir Hector Munro, Sir Ralph Abercrornbie, Sir John Moore, Lord Lynedoch, Sir David Baird, Lord Dalhousie, Hope, Kempt, to name but a few. Since then there, may have been an occasional Colin Campbell or Douglas Haig, but it is in the armies of the United States or the Dominions that in these latter days we find Scottish names in the higher ranks: Macarthur, Sutherland, McGrowther, McNair, Crerar, Macnaughton, Currie and Mackay. In forty years of war, according to the official Historical Record of the 42nd Royal Highlanders, published in 1837, Skye alone had furnished no less than 24 Lieutenant and Major Generals, 45 Lieutenant Colonels, and 600 other officers. Mull in the years 1800-1815, with a population of roughly 10,000, had given to the British Army, 9 General Officers, 20 Colonels, and 81 other officers. (47) From the present-day wilderness of Glen Cannich came in one generation 3 Colonels and 14 other officers. (48) These days were gone. Scotland might still supply the cannon fodder but the army as a career was being increasingly reserved for the English Public Schoolman. Thus in 1861 the 26th Cameronians, though Scots formed the largest element in their ' other ranks,' could only muster 4 Scots officers out of 46. The Guards (two battalions) had 15 Scots officers out of 74, the Greys 16 out of 34. The Highland regiments were as yet for the most part in somewhat better plight: 42nd—26 Scots out of 50 ; 71st—8 out of 44 ; 72nd—13 of 47 ; 74th—14 of 53 ; 78th—19 of 44; 79th—26 of 51; 92nd—23 of 45; 93rd—29 of 51. (49)


Scottish soldiers photographed during the Crimean War 1853-56Even if military service offered little to the Scots in material reward or advancement, where Glory was the only gain they were not forgotten. Of the original force dis­embarked in the Crimea, six infantry battalions, or one-fifth of the whole, were Scots, and by the spring of 1856 the final composition of the army showed eleven Scots battalions out of fifty-two (21.6 per cent, of army, from a population 10.5 per cent, of U.K.). (50) In every engagement save Inkerman (where no more than a just Scottish contribution was present) Scots troops were in excess of their due proportion. In India, from the outbreak to the suppression of the Mutiny, every single 'Highland' battalion was engaged along with the 75th and 90th. In Sir Colin Campbell's force which marched to the Relief of Lucknow in February, 1858, the Scots fur­nished one-third of the British battalions. (51)

From the composition of some of these regiments before and after hostilities, conclusions may be drawn which tend to confirm those previously arrived at in considering the French wars. In 1854, in the six 'Highland' regiments which were to serve in the Crimea, Turkey, etc., the percentage of non-Scots was 4. In the four kilted regiments (52) it was less than 1.2 per cent., or in all, 39 men (22 English, 16 Irish, 1 foreign) out of 3,211. At the end of the Crimean War the non-Scottish percentage had risen to. 11.8. (53) The Indian Mutiny followed, and in the eight 'Highland' regiments taking part (several of which were in reality ' Lowland,' though in the case of the 93rd, Surgeon-General Munro states that the great majority of the men were Gaelic speakers (54) the proportion of non-Scots had by the end of hostilities in 1861 risen to 24.5 per cent., and this in spite of the fact that from 1853 to 1859 (no later figures available) the recruiting rate was always in Scotland in excess of that of England, and in most years higher than the Irish rate. (55) Such figures suggest that Scotland was required to maintain too many infantry regi­ments, that these were more purely national in character at the beginning than at the termination of hostilities, that casualties in the British Army being invariably higher in the earlier than in the later stages of warfare, Scottish resources in manpower were overtaxed and losses heavier than was just; that Scottish battalions bore frequently a heavier share of the fighting in the early stages. Only on such grounds can we explain why, in spite of a higher Scottish recruiting rate, Scottish regiments contained a larger non-Scottish element in the final stages of warfare. There were, and are too many Scots infantry regiments, and neither under voluntary enlist­ment nor conscription can the country maintain them all. The very fact that there are so many means excessive losses to Scotland in the early stages of warfare. The British authorities, however, gave little consideration to such triviali­ties as the exhaustion of Scottish man-power, and in 1859 added new second battalions to the Scots Fusiliers and the Borderers.

There is a widespread belief in Scotland, seldom expressed in print or on the public platform (since Mackerlie wrote), that too much has been demanded of the country in time of war, and this belief has not been weakened by the refusal of the War Office to furnish separate English and Scottish casualty figures for the past two wars, on the plea that it is impossible to obtain figures regarding nationality of personnel. It seems strange that this should be impossible when it is remembered that in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the monthly returns showed the respective strengths of the three nationalities of these islands in the ranks of each regiment. The dilution of Scottish formations with English recruits in the final stages of the World War now ended may have been intended to even the incidence of casualties if there are differences, or it may be that the very dilution, in the absence of more definite information, is evidence that there is justifica­tion for the above belief.


Victoria's reign was one of Imperial expansion, when war followed war in continuous succession Shepherd in his “Short History of the British Army" states that between 1860 and 1908, leaving out of account the large-scale operations of the South African War of 1899-1901, scarcely a year passed without seeing British troops in the field on one or other of the Continents, while on many occasions we had two or three little enterprises at once; e.g., in 1896-97 Britain had on her hands no less than five campaigns. In most of these cam­paigns Scots troops were heavily engaged, and frequently— as on so many occasions in the past—to a greater extent than Scotland's population justified. In the Egyptian campaign of 1884-85, for instance, out of twenty-one British battalions engaged, no less than six (28.6 per cent.) were Scots.(56) In the later Omdurman campaign they were two out of eight. The Scottish regiments of Victorian days reaped their reward in the glory, dearly bought by the sacrifice of young lives, which blazoned in gold on their colours such names as 'Koosh-ab', 'Peiwar Khotal', 'Tirah' and 'Kirbekan’, poor recompense for Scotland where British mis-government and indifference had expressed itself in roofless walls and err glens and fetid 'slums, and where old brave names like Knoydart and Ardnamurchan were to fade into the shadowy realm of legend, to become mere synonyms for desolation and memorials of tyrannical oppression. The young men of Scotland laid down their lives in the faith that they were bringing freedom—so they were told and believed—to the oppressed peoples of the world, without realising that for their own land their sacrifice was not merely futile but disas­trous. "At the very moment when Cawnpore was being taken," according to the "Highland Ensign”, "the fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters of the 'Invincible 78th' were being evicted from their native soil." (57) The ageing veterans of past wars were evicted with the rest of their people.

Meanwhile that portion of the countryside's uprooted population which had escaped emigration to become herded in the slum-swollen urban agglomerations, the industrial concentration camps of the Central Belt, clung pathetically to what poor duds of nationality were left it. The soil which had been the nursery of a people's culture had become barren, and national feeling, lacking healthy vigorous roots, had become in its new environment a sickly mawkish growth, finding expression largely in the nostalgic sentimentalities of the Kailyaird, in the Scotch 'coamic,' and in the cult of the tartan. It proved itself, however, ineradicable, and the authori­ties astutely bent it towards their own purposes. The tartan, once the proud symbol of defiant nationalism, became the badge of subjection. Under British patronage it might well be termed the 'Curse of Scotland’.


Queen Victoria in her own way loved Scotland and the Scots. The carpets and the curtains of Balmoral were woven of the white Victoria tartan. She was for a time enthusiastic in her attendance at Highland Balls and Gatherings. Such gestures pleased the public.

Her apparent enthusiasm for all things Scots flattered even the patriot, and blinded him to a realisation of the ill effects of her interest, which in the event was to produce for country and people such results as would have gladdened the heart of her deceased Royal Cousin, the Butcher Cumberland. The mongrel holders of old Scots titles, viewing with one another to entertain her in fitting state, and to keep pace with the plutocratic English Society which now made Northern Scotland its playground, impoverished themselves, and to foot their bills had to dispose of their or their clans' ancestral lands to Saxon brewers and sauce manufacturers. The new alien gentry for a time played at being chiefs and lairds over the native remnants still permitted to survive for such necessary services as gillies, etc., built raw new castles in the Scottish Baronial style, and went all 'tartan’, It was an age of shams—sham-chiefs, sham-clans, sham-tartans, sham-castles, sham-history, etc., etc. The Scots themselves, lacking self-government, and therefore powerless to influence their country's future, for the most part abandoned themselves to the luxury of a sentimentalism compounded of all the shams of Balmoral and the Kailyaird, with a weak infusion of romantic Jacobitism, blindly accepting the mushroom growth of industry (and of city slums) as proof that all was well with their native land, and wishfully averting their gaze from the distressing spectacle of a dying countryside. Some few, like Donald McLeod of the ' Gloomy Memories,' saw only too clearly the trend of events, and Donald's ' voice in the wilderness,' through loyalty curbed his tongue, appealed to Her Majesty with a vain hope that his prayer would be heard. " Our beloved Queen taking up her residence in the Highlands has turned up a curse for the remainder of the people. Since then the country is becoming one vast deer-forest. Oh, my Lady Queen, you should show the cruel monsters a better example, than to chase away the few Highlanders you have found on the Balmoral estates." The attitude of the British Government towards Scotland was one of cynical indifference. Let the patriotism of the Scots, denied all opportunity of influencing the development of their own land or the future welfare of their people, be diverted into Imperialist channels. Thus throughout the, Victorian era and afterwards the educational system was directed towards the elimination of Scottish nationality and the Anglicisation of Scottish life, while at the same time the British military authorities in their recruiting activities assiduously encouraged every superficial national distinction of designation and uniform, etc., for their own ends.


In 1881 the British Army was re-organised under the Cardwell system, by which two single-battalion regiments were linked to form the two-battalion Regular infantry regiments of today, each of which was allowed a regimental recruiting district. The War Office, cynically ignoring the depopulation of the Highland area, (or perhaps to conceal past British crimes towards that unhappy region), took advantage of the prevail­ing tartan craze to double the number of so-called ' Highland ' battalions, while at the same time reducing the number of other Scots formations. In so doing, little regard was paid to genuine tradition or historic fact. The 75th Stirlingshire was transferred to Aberdeen to become the 1st Gordons, while the old 92nd—the real Gordons—became their own second battalion. The 93rd Sutherland were transferred to Stirling and linked with the 91st Argyllshire to form the present day meaningless combination " Argyll and Sutherland." In their own desolated countryside the 93rd, despite their glorious record, had become a mere memorial of the betrayal of the Sutherland tenantry by the British Government and the noble family of Sutherland-Leveson-Gower. Scant consideration was paid to the 99th Lanarkshire, which changed its nationality to become the 2nd Wiltshire, or to the historic 94th, always resentful of the juniority implied in its title and proudly claiming, by right of continuity of descent from the Scots Dutch, to be one of the oldest military formations in the world, and as such the rival in antiquity of the 1st Foot, the Royal Scots. Its origins in the Presbyterian Scottish exiles in Holland were ignored, and it was assigned as second battalion to the most Roman Catholic regiment in the army", the Connaught Rangers. The honours and badges won by Scottish heroism and sacrifice at Seringa-patam and in the Peninsula were gratuitously handed over to the Irish for no apparent reason save that, according to the descriptive account beneath their colours in St. Michael's Kirk, Linlithgow, their tunic-facings happened to be green. So much for tradition !

These were, however, mere matters of sentiment. The hard fact was that Scottish 'patriotism' was still being exploited. The Highlands had been emptied, they could not maintain unaided a single regular regiment, yet here were 'Highland' battalions equal in number to those existing before 1809. They were not and never could be 'Highland' again in the old sense, but Scotland was supposed to maintain them, and the Lowlands were thus called on to bear a heavier burden in supplying man­power than any other part of the United Kingdom, a state of affairs which brought tragic repercussions in the first years of the 1914-18 War with its expansion of existing regiments by the raising of the New Army and increasing the strength of the Territorial Force. The Cardwell system gave the British Army sixty-eight Line regiments, of which ten were Scots and eight Irish. In 1881 the population of the United Kingdom was approximately 35 millions (England and Wales 25,914,439 : Scotland 3,739,573 : Ireland 5,174,836), Scotland's percentage of the whole being 10.7, yet she was expected to contribute 15 per cent, to that arm of the service which always sustains the heaviest casualties, the infantry. Ireland with almost a million and a half more people, had only eight regiments (16 battalions) to Scotland's ten Line regiments (19 battalions till 1896, there­after 20), though, as Irishmen did not identify patriotism with British military service, many, as in the time of the Peninsular War, joined English regiments. Lancashire, with a larger population, than Scotland, had only seven regiments (14 battalions) allotted, while Yorkshire, with a comparable population, had six (12 battalions) as its quota. On the basis of population the remainder of the United Kingdom should have had as its quota over eighty infantry regiments instead of fifty-eight, to Scotland's ten.

The tartanisation of Scottish regiments (for the old pre-tartan pre-Union Scottish battalions were also now clad in a modification of the Highland garb) proved very profitable to the authorities as long as recruiting was voluntary. When with the introduction of conscription it ceased to be so the tartan was withdrawn. Without such trappings and the fiction that men were fighting for their country, the tasks allotted to our fighting men would have appeared mean and ignoble enough. Backward peoples were the natural prey of the Imperialist. Humanitarian reasons might be advanced as justification for interference with their private affairs, yet, though no doubt barbarous conditions were altered, the driving motive in most Victorian conquests was that implied in the phrase: 'Trade follows the flag.' A fancied insult to that flag, or a minor act 01 injustice involving a British subject was sufficient to bring on the offending native ruler Imperial vengeance, the conquest of his land, and his ultimate dethronement. Colonel King in his 'Short History of the British Army' has outlined the process by which territories were acquired either for commercial development or to forestall occupation by other European powers. The missionary, no doubt unconsciously, was often the pioneer of conquest, followed by the colonist and the trader with his trade rum, trade firearms, and other blessings of civilisation. Afterwards came friction, then intervention and fighting, followed by conquest and in many cases the alienation of the land from its original owners, the exploitation of the native race, and frequently its practical extermination. One remembers too the losses of the Cameronians in the Opium War with China in the early years of Victoria's reign, when within two or three weeks the regimental strength was reduced from 900 to 300 through casualties and disease—and for what? That the Chinese Government, which in the interests of its own subjects had prohibited the importation of opium, should be forced for the profits of British merchants to permit its entry, regardless of the drug's demoralising effect upon the Chinese people.


In the years between the two Great World Wars a recruiting poster was shown on Scottish hoardings. It depicted a happy group of Scottish soldiers in a variety of colourful, obsolete full-dress uniforms (which no post-1914 recruit would ever have the opportunity to wear, unless privileged to perform before the master-folk in the arena of the Aldershot Tattoo) eagerly watching a performance of the Sword Dance to the music of the pipes. Underneath was the caption: 'This is the Life for a Scotsman.' It made one think—of many things. Could one imagine a similar poster claiming that the life of the soldier was ' the Life' for an Englishman? Yet there was an element of truth in the claim. How often has the British Government offered to Scots the choice between these two alternatives—the life of the soldier or that of the exile! At that very time post-war unemployment caused by the ration­alisation of industry, its control from London and the partiality shown by the British Government towards the claims of Southern England, was driving thousands of young Scots to the Army or into exile. And in what country save Scotland are the survivals of rural folk-culture—the national costume, music and dances—prostituted for military ends? How false a picture of military life it was!

The Great Tartan Myth so sedulously propagated by the militarists has proved exceedingly profitable from their point of view. While in the eighteenth century the wearing of the Highland garb by the civil population was rigorously repressed the British Government encouraged its adoption by the army for recruiting purposes. When the clearances and the excessive wastage of manpower in the French and Indian Wars led to the depopulation of the North and to popular distaste for military service in any form the wearing of tartan by the army was largely abandoned. Its popularity revived with the shams of Victorian Balmoral and was exploited to the full, but the tradition was artificial, being largely founded on fictions. Only five out of twenty-two regular Scots battalions have worn tartan continuously since the eighteenth century. About half of the regimental tartans have never been seen on the battle­field. The forerunners of the present-day 51st and 52nd were not the red-coated, tartan-clad heroes of Waterloo, but the sombre black and grey Rifle Volunteers of Victoria's reign whose uniform and organisation were gradually assimilated to those of the Regular Army after 1881, as also were their obligations for service, until to-day, in these respects there is practically no difference between Regular and Territorial. To achieve this end Scottish patriotism was exploited and rendered subservient to Imperialism by the utilisation of every super­ficial trapping and symbol of nationality in the peace-time uniform. Until 1906 half of the battalions represented in the 51st did not wear the kilt, and except for the 1914-18 war when it was covered by a khaki apron, have never worn it on active service. The British Government is consistent in this fostering and encouragement, only of such Scottish characteristics as bring it profit. The genuine tradition of these battalions, that of ' Defence not Defiance' of the old Volunteers raised solely for the protection of their native land from invasion has been obliterated and in its place has been substituted the false one of the professional soldier liable for service in any part of the world.


Victoria's reign ended in a war of aggression—the last in all probability in which Imperial Britain was to be engaged. There would be thereafter no further expansion of Imperial territory but instead a long-drawn-out and stubborn fight to retain the old position in the world, with a gradual weakening of hold over peoples so long held in subjection by the power of the sword. The South African War of 1899 saw the British Empire matched in a protracted contest against the two Boer Republics whose combined population was less than that of present-day Edinburgh. In the end numbers prevailed. The War was interesting from many aspects. The Jingo fever for the first time spread North of Tweed to infect Scotland. For the first time, too, the War Office called on the Militia, Yeomanry and Volunteers, hitherto without obligation save that of Home Defence, to volunteer for service overseas. The valuable services thus rendered by these citizen soldiers was recognised by the authorities, who thereafter were to have no scruples in making overseas military service compulsory for all. For the first time, too, and almost certainly for the last time, the neces­sity for a large force of mounted troops enabled the Scots to enter that chivalry which had hitherto been a peculiarly English preserve. Not only did the single Scottish regular cavalry regiment serve in South Africa but units of mounted infantry were raised from the Scottish infantry battalions. Scottish Yeomanry Cavalry regiments furnished battalions of Imperial Yeomanry, and there were raised for the first time: Lovat Scouts, Fincastle's Horse, Scottish Sharpshooters, and two regiments of Scottish Horse.


Scottish Highlanders on their way back from the front WW1Six years after the South African War as part of Haldane's reorganisation of the Army came the conversion of the Yeomanry and Volunteers of the United Kingdom into the Territorial Force, a fully organised Home Defence Army in which all arms and services were represented, so that to Scots was given the opportunity of enlistment in other services than the infantry to an extent in which they had never previously participated. Ireland had no share in this new force. The Scottish population at the nearest census was between one-eighth and one-ninth of that of Great Britain (Great Britain 40,831,396: Scotland 4,760,904). The Territorial Home Defence Army was to consist of fourteen divisions, of which two, the Highland and Lowland (later 51st and 52nd), were allotted to Scotland. (59) This required from the smaller country a some­what higher contribution in proportion to population than was asked of the larger. Fourteen divisions of twelve infantry battalions gives a total of 168, to which Scotland contributed 24 instead of her due share of roughly 20. This, however, was not all. The full infantry strength of the pre-1914 Territorial Force was 204 battalions (including H.A.C. infantry and certain senior O.T.C. battalions trained as Territorials and 10 Cyclist battalions). (60) There were thus 36 battalions supernumerary to the 14 Divisions, and of these Scotland contributed no less than 14, i.e. in all 38 battalions out of 204, or more nearly one-fifth of the Territorial infantry than one-eighth her due proportion. On the basis of population the Scottish quota should have been 24, and this excess of 14 was no trivial matter in terms of lives of men. There was worse to come. Infantry always suffer the heaviest casualties, and from the beginning of Scotland's association with England the Scottish contribution to the infantry of the British Army has been consistently greater, proportionately to population, than that of the predominant partner in the Union. To the Yeomanry the Scottish contribution was at first nine regiments, including two regiments of Lovat Scouts and Scottish Horse and later, with the raising in 1914 of the 3rd Scottish Horse, ten regiments and was also relatively higher than that of England. There were in all fifty-six Yeomanry regiments, (61) of which Lanca­shire, with a greater population than Scotland, maintained two while Yorkshire, with a slightly less but still comparable population, furnished three. The full extent of these excessive and exhausting calls on Scottish manpower was not to become manifest until the outbreak of the 1914-18 war.


At the beginning of the First World. War, relatively to the population of the component parts of the United Kingdom, Scotland was required:—

To supply men for more regular battalions than any other country, viz. 22 out of 157 (population 10.2 per cent., i.e. about half a dozen too many).

To supply more infantry to the Territorial Force than England and Wales, roughly 14 battalions more than was her just quota. The thirty-eight Scottish Territorial infantry and cyclist battalions were, in common with the whole Territorial Force, duplicated by the formation of Second Line units in, 1914, and for a short time in 1915 trebled by the raising of Third Line draft units, so that the 14 became at least 28 more than should have been required (omitting Third Lines).

To expand by raising Second and Third Line units the Yeomanry already numerically stronger in proportion to population than in England and Wales.

To furnish more than a fair share of the New Army, and in particular of its early formations. The raising of Kitchener’s Army in 1914-15 brought further demands on Scottish manpower. These at first were for addition of three Service and one Reserve battalion to each infantry regiment. The ‘First Hundred Thousand’ consisted of six divisions, of which one, the 9th, was Scottish, one Irish, and four English. The second six divisions similarly consisted of one Scottish, the 15th, one Irish, and four English. Thus of the first twelve divisions of the New Army one-sixth instead of one-tenth-the proportion of Scots in the population of the United Kingdom-was contributed by Scotland. It seems reasonable to claim, therefore, that in the early part of the 1914-18 War Scotland in Regular, 1st and 2nd Line Territorials and the first twelve divisions of Kitchener’s Army had incurred the responsibility of maintain over forty infantry battalions beyond what should fairly have been allotted on the basis of population. There were also Scots battalions in the later formed divisions of Kitchener’s Army, but these did not number more than a dozen, a sure sign that Scottish resources in manpower were being exhausted by the excessive expenditure of Scottish lives in the first half of the war. The last of these later Scots battalions, however, was in action overseas before several English divisions had set foot on foreign soil. The natural consequences of this unfair allocation of risks was losses fell more heavily on the smaller country, which was more deeply engaged in the early stages., Length of service overseas diminished the soldiers’ chances of survival, and those who went first inevitably fared worst.

At an early stage in the war, Kitchener had announced as his objective that ' England' (by which he meant the United Kingdom) should furnish to the Allied Forces seventy divisions. (62) These seventy came into being, though not all served in major theatres of operations overseas. Three or four English 1st Line Territorial Divisions were dispatched on garrison duty to the East, to relieve regular troops for active service, while several of the later 2nd Line Territorial Divisions had either very brief experience of actual warfare or did not proceed abroad. Among these were two Scottish Divisions— 64th (2nd Highland) and 65th (2nd Lowland) of which more hereafter. If the number of Regular, Territorial and Service or New Army infantry battalions of Scottish origin be reckoned up it will be found that, with a division consisting of twelve infantry and one pioneer battalion. Scottish regiments supplied the equivalent of rather more than nine divisions. (This estimate excludes London Scottish, Liverpool Scottish and the Tyneside Scottish Brigade). The infantry of six divisions, the 9th, 15th, 51st, 52nd, 64th and 65th were entirely Scottish (all troops were in the 51st, 52nd, 64th and 65th) and in the case of the first four by their valour and sacrifice they gained for themselves and their country imperishable fame. The other Scots units were distributed among many divisions, notably the Regular' divisions lst-8th and 27th-29th (except 6th and 28th) and the New Army or mixed divisions, particularly 26th, 32nd, 33rd, 34th, 35th and 40th, in some of which they formed one-third of the infantry strength, suffering severely but with little recognition of their heroism and sacrifice by their country­men, save among those who had too good cause to remember. In a war in which human life was squandered so prodigally, and which brought so much suffering in its train to every part of the British Empire, it would be wrong to draw invidious comparisons between troops of different nationalities, or to claim any particular military virtues for our own countrymen. Such is not our purpose, but rather to endeavour to show, in the absence of accurate figures, which the British Government consistently refuses to give, that the First World War was no exception to the long list of wars since the Union which have exacted excessive sacrifice from the Scottish people. It should be noted that the Scottish contribution to the New Armies con­sisted almost wholly of infantry. In the Territorials, Scotland was represented by units of all arms and services. In the New Armies only the infantry normally had any local connections. In certain cases English cities and boroughs encouraged the raising of local units of artillery and engineers, but this rarely or never occurred in Scotland.


During 1914 and early 1915, before the 51st and 52nd Territorial Divisions proceeded overseas, there was a steady flow of Scottish Territorial battalions to join the regular divisions serving abroad. They included the 5th, 8th and 9th Royal Scots, 5th Scottish Rifles, 4th and 5th Black Watch, 9th H.L.I., 4th Seaforths, 4th .Camerons, 6th Gordons, 7th and 9th Argylls and 1st London Scottish, etc., and, though English units did the same, a perusal of the lists given by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of the composition of the early divisions shows conclusively that Scotland was bearing a greater and earlier share of this contribution than was her Southern neighbour. (63) It was not long before War took heavy toll of eager youth. Festubert brought disaster to the 4th Camerons and the County of Inverness ' Gaelic-speaking troops from Skye and the Outer Isles," so John Buchan describes them, and goes on to tell how 'the remnant of this fine battalion was disbanded at the end of the year, without any recognition of its record'— treatment as ungracious as was shown by official indifference to the unfortunate 51st at St. Valery. The turn of the New Army was soon to follow, and when it first took the field the first two divisions to be blooded were, as might have been expected, the 9th and 15th Scottish. It may have been, as the cheap press and the propagandists maintained, an honour to them to have been thus chosen to bear the brunt of the first day at Loos, in the first great allied attempt to turn back the German hordes, but it was dearly bought, with 6,600 casualties in one day in the 15th Division alone. Of these 3,055 were killed and missing. (64) In the 9th Division from 25th to 28th September there were 2,920 killed and missing. (65) It argues callous indifference to the well-being of Scotland on the part of those responsible that for such a task and for such a baptism of fire Scotland's only two New Army divisions were used together. Surely the sacrifice might have been more-evenly spread, and one at least have been spared in order to prevent the losses falling too heavily on one small country. More than thirty Scottish battalions were in action that day. "When Kitchener's Army was formed," wrote Ian Hay. "it was a Scottish Division which was ready first, and which was the first to set foot, on the soil of France. At the great Battle of Loos, where the British Army in conjunction with the French took the offensive for the first time, two Scottish Divisions led the way into action on that ten-mile battle front. Loos itself was captured by a Highland Brigade."(66) "On the 2nd day (Sept. 26th)," writes Sir A. Conan Doyle, "the 15th Division Was withdrawn after having sustained losses which had probably never been excelled up to that hour by any single division in one action during the campaign. The net result after many weeks' fighting," he continues, "was a gain to the British of nearly 7,000 yards of front and 4,000 of depth, though if one be asked what advantage this gain brought, save as a visible sign of military virtue, it would be hard to find an answer." (67)

Loos was a foretaste of things to come. The 52nd Lowland Territorial Division having proceeded East to Gallipoli and Palestine, the 51st Highland had landed in France and had been for some time in the Somme area before being, joined by the 9th and 15th. (68) Its appearance there had aroused some criticism of its officers. Nearly a century had elapsed since Scottish troops had been led by Scottish officers, for after Waterloo Scots soldiery had been generally commanded by English or Anglo-Scots officers, educated and domiciled South of the Border, and it was apparent that the newcomers —solicitors, bankers, farmers, schoolmasters and shopkeepers from the small burghs and country parishes of the North— did not conform to the accepted type. "They came nearer," wrote John Buchan, "than any other I know to the description of a middle-class division. When they first landed in France I remember hearing the criticism that the men were extraor­dinarily good but that the officers were too nearly of the same class as the men. I fancy that that was true, but both officers and men ended by being super-excellent." (69) In the terrible ordeal of the Somme other Scottish, English, Welsh, Irish and Dominion troops, all nobly played their part, but after the first day the main advances were all associated with the three Scottish Divisions. " We always knew there was some­thing big on when we found the Jocks near us," remarked a South African artilleryman to the writer in 1917. On July, 14th, 1916, the 9th Division took Longueval and Delville Wood, clinging desperately to them for a week. On 15th September came the turn of the 15th, who went beyond their objective to capture Martinpuich and push East and West of that village. " All that section of the front," wrote Buchan, " was wholly successful, and, had it not been for delay on the right, September 15th might have seen the end of the enemy's stand on the Bapaume Ridge." October again saw 9th and 15th heavily engaged between Le Sars and Guedecourt. and on November 13th came the final blow in the Battle of the Somme when the 51st, taking Beaumont Hamel and the adjoining village of Beaucourt, determined the enemy's retreat. Ian Hay, referring to the part taken by the Scots at Loos and on the Somme, was to write at the beginning of 1917 :—" In each of these tremendous battles the Divisions which led the way suffered so severely that practically none of the original mem­bers are now serving." (70) In other engagements the Scots played no less a part. Sir A. Conan Doyle wrote of a ' Scottish front' at Arras, described by John Buchan as ' one of the greatest Scottish battles of the war,' when 9th, 15th and 51st were all engaged. Thirty-eight Scottish battalions went over the parapets, a larger number then engaged than in the whole British Army at Waterloo. At the 3rd Battle of Ypres all three Scottish Divisions were put in several times and never failed to perform the tasks required of them. So the tale goes on. Any attempt even to summarize the achievements and sacrifices of the Scots in a war so long drawn out, so full of fluctuations, changes and confusions, is, from the limitations of space, if for no other reason, impossible. The three Scottish Divisions, joined later by the 52nd Lowland, were only a part of the Scottish contribution, and Scottish troops in other Divisions (e.g. the 33rd, where they were one-third of the infantry) suffered losses at least equal to those of their Divisional comrades of the English, Irish and Welsh. Were we having a repetition of ' the old, old story,' of Mackerlie's allegations of half-a-century ago, that Scotland in the French wars was being drained of her best blood ? Many, judging from the never-ceasing demands made on the 9th, 15th, 51st and 52nd, were inclined to agree, and pride in their achievement was tinged with resentment. In the dusk of a summer evening I walked with a chance acquaintance of the Connaught Rangers along the sand strewn road between the tented lines of that barbed-wire encircled military hell of Etaples where like cattle awaiting the shambles we reinforce­ments were assembled before being sorted out for our destined places at the front. "Jock ! " said he. "we're both in the same mess—Scots and Irish, cannon-fodder for England! The difference is we Irish know it, and you Scots don't! "


The feeling became widespread that Scotland was bearing too great a proportion of the War's casualties. It was, however, seldom expressed on the public platform, or in the Press, the Government's repeated refusals to furnish the essential figures to the public rendering it difficult to produce proofs. There was, nevertheless, evidence, which established grounds for the belief that in Scotland's case the wastage of manpower was greater than in that of England, in such facts as the disappear­ance at an early stage in the war both of Scottish units serving in the Expeditionary Forces, and of Scottish units at home intended for service with, and trained and equipped to 'join them, and again in the absence in the later stages of the war of any fresh Scottish units. At home the 2nd Line Territorial battalions were intended to carry out the duties of Home Defence formerly performed by their corresponding 1st Line units, and at the same time to supply drafts to the 1st Line overseas. It soon became evident that the calls made on them for the latter—a larger proportion of the Scottish 1st Line had gone abroad earlier—were weakening them to such an extent that the two functions could not be combined, and finally (as throughout the Territorial Force) 3rd Line units were formed to provide drafts—the depleted Scottish 2nd Line battalions, 36 in number, being telescoped to form 24. (In some cases it took three original battalions to form one weak battalion, to such' an extent had they been emptied by drafting). These 24 battalions were organised with Scottish units of artillery, etc., to form the 64th (2nd Highland) and 65th (2nd Lowland) Divisions. With gradually diminishing strength the 3rd Line units were combined to form one drafting battalion for each regiment, so that, with Special Reserve, New Army Reserve and Territorial 3rd Line Reserve Units, there came to be between 30 and 40 Scottish drafting battalions for the forces overseas. These in their turn failed to cope with the heavy demands made on them by Loos and lithe Somme, etc., and by the middle of 1916 the 64th and 65th Divisions, which had been strengthened by the influx of recruits under the Derby scheme, and which had been training for overseas, were emptied of their trained men to replenish the Scottish battalions in France, and from that time were heard of no more. The English 2nd Line Territorial Divisions were able to function as such in the later stages of the war, in which some of them saw later service overseas.

Abroad it is noticeable that it is amongst Scottish troops that we first find telescoped battalions formed, by the amalga­mation of two depleted battalions which from lack of reinforcements could not be restored to their previous strength. After Loos the number of such battalions was large, and continued to increase with the passage of time, e.g., 5/6th Royal Scots, 6/7th Royal Scots Fusiliers, 10/llth H.L.I., 4/7th and 8/10th Gordons, etc.—sure signs of the country's exhaustion. If such designations ever appear amongst the English regiments they are few and late. A South African Brigade had to be included in the 9th Division to replace the Scots battalions which no conscription could restore. The Scottish Yeomanry, unlike so many of 'the English Yeomanry regiments, soon lost their identity as cavalry, their personnel being either drafted into existing infantry battalions or emerging as new units of infantry. Scotland, it seemed, was, as always, being called on to provide infantry to an extent unparalleled in England, provid­ing more battalions, and these earlier exhausting her reserves, emptying the later divisions to replenish the older ones, con­verting her Yeomanry cavalry regiments into infantry, telescoping battalions, or having them disbanded, so that by 1916 it became clearly evident that she had shot her bolt and would, therefore, unlike England, whose maximum effort was to come later, fight in a weakened and exhausted condition.


It was on the more sparsely-peopled areas of Scotland that the burden at first fell heaviest. Being called on to do too much in the beginning, their losses were all the more severe, and their exhaustion came earliest. Take the case of Ross-shire, with a population of about 65,000 men, women and children. It seems incredible that, in addition to the men in the Regular Forces, to which Lewis in particular made a large contribution, the Royal Naval Reserve from the Eastern and Western mainland and from the island of Lewis should number its men in thousands rather than hundreds, and that Lewis should, in addition, raise practically the whole of the 3rd Special Reserve Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders, and also contribute some hundreds to the 3rd Gordons and 3rd Camerons. The mainland districts of the county main­tained the 4th Seaforths, the county Territorial battalion, a squadron of Lovat Scouts, a company of coastal Royal Garrison Artillery, afterwards drafted into siege batteries to serve overseas, and, along with Stornoway, a mountain bat­tery and ammunition column of the Royal Garrison Artillery. All these latter, being Territorial units, had in the early months of the war to be duplicated and trebled. Nor was this all. Along with -Morayshire, Caithness and Sutherland, all comparatively sparsely peopled and with similar Territorial obligations, the county was expected to, and did, contribute to the New Army battalions of the Seaforth Highlanders. With so small a population, it was obviously impossible to maintain the local units at strength, and, though Ross-shire's contri­bution in men in the early days must have been extra­ordinarily high, the losses sustained, when it is remembered that the Naval and Special Reservists were early in the front of war and the county Territorials amongst the first over­seas, were exceptionally heavy. The task of maintaining such units from rural districts had therefore to be taken over later by the towns and the industrial belt, already sufficiently bur­dened by their own commitments. Both rural and urban districts of Scotland were thus overtaxed, nevertheless, it is disquieting to find that the incidence of casualties was, for the numbers of battalions- involved, relatively higher in those regiments which recruited initially in the purely rural counties or on the outside fringe of the industrial belt, e.g.. Camerons, Seaforths, Gordons, Black Watch and K.O.S.B! (The Scots Guards, it may be noted, for relatively small numbers, had probably the highest casualties).


Concerning the 1st World War much was the information and many were the figures and estimates doled out to the public by official propaganda. At times the vagueness of the wording seems intended to conceal or mislead. Sometimes estimates appear contradictory. To one simple request the British Government has consistently turned a deaf ear—that they should show the total Scottish losses during these four tragic years. When the demand for information became too insistent to ignore, Government spokesmen had recourse to one or other of two stock answers, viz.: (1) that it was impossible to furnish separate figures for each constituent nation of the United Kingdom; (2) that it was not in the public interest to reveal such information. Why should the ascertainment of such figures be found more difficult than those regarding the number of men 'provided' for the army between the outbreak of war and the conclusion of the Armis­tice, viz.: England, 4,006,158; Wales, 272,924; Scotland, 557,618; Ireland 134,000 (this last obviously an approximation). These figures, on the basis of population, seem to show quite a fair distribution under conditions which latterly included compul­sory service for all except Ireland, which resisted conscription and was in the latter years of the war so bitterly antagonistic to British rule that voluntary enlistment practically ceased. It is doubtful from the dates given in the statement whether men serving in the forces prior to the declaration of war are included, whose numbers, especially in the Territorial Force, must have been proportionately higher for Scotland.


The Concise Universal Encyclopaedia, edited by J. A. Hammerton, quotes "an authoritative statement made in the House of Commons in May, 1921," and gives the total for Great Britain as 743,702 killed. Another statement in the Encyclopaedia Britannica (14th edition), in article "Great Britain," referring to military personnel only, gives in round numbers half-a-million killed or died of wounds or other causes overseas, and about 37,000 at home. If one or other of these estimates is correct, then Scotland's war losses are far in excess of those suffered by any part of the British Empire. Whitaker's Almanac has for several years past given what we may surely now take as the final word regarding total war casualties for the United Kingdom, viz.: 812,317 killed in all services. Scotland should on a population basis (10.5 per cent, of the United Kingdom) therefore have incurred a total loss by deaths of no more than 85,293. a figure which is covered by the losses in the eleven Scots infantry regiments alone, viz.: 85,548. Owing to Ireland's refusal to supply a proportionate quota of men, the Scots contribution to the army was, of course, higher than 10.5 per cent. To this figure of 85,548 must be added many thousands more for the Navy, Merchant Navy and Air Force, for the Cavalry, Artillery, Engineers, English, Irish and Welsh regiments, including the eight battalions serving overseas of London, Liverpool and Tyneside Scottish (the first of which demanded qualifications of Scottish nationality and was reinforced from Scottish regiments, the other two presumably with many Scots in their ranks), Machine Gun Corps, Labour Corps, Tanks, the various corps like R.A.S.C., R.A.M.C., etc., many of whose members were drafted into infantry, Royal Defence Corps, Nursing and other women's services, etc.


It may well be that the total Scottish loss in the War does not fall far short of that of the United States of America, which was 126,000 out of a population of 106,000,000. It is rather startling to find that the losses of the United States of all services, Army, Navy and Air, were at the rate of nearly 1,200 per million of population, while Scotland's loss in infantry alone worked out at about 18,000 per million. The losses of Scottish infantry regiments alone exceeded the whole Canadian losses (Navy, Army and Air Force) by nearly 23,000, and those of the Australian Commonwealth by over 25.000. They were considerably higher than the total Indian losses, and though New Zealand is generally credited with having made the greatest sacrifices of all the units of the British Empire yet its rate for all services is much less than that of Scottish infantry, whose losses were more than double Belgium's total of all arms. (71) All these countries (with the exception of New Zealand) had much larger populations than Scotland, yet their aggregate losses are less. All were countries whose right it was to choose between war and neutrality. All of them had their say in the settlement of peace terms. Scotland paid a higher toll of sacrifice than any of them. She had not, nor has yet, any voice in the decision between war and peace. It is for aliens to say where and when Scotland's sons must fight, and in what numbers. In alien hands, too, rests the decision as to who shall be entrusted with the defence of Scottish soil. Scotland's sons are denied that privilege of all free peoples, and must go overseas while an alien government decides whether the defence of Scottish shores shall be entrusted to Poles, Norwegians, English, or Punjabis.


Can we arrive at a fair estimate of Scotland's war losses? The figures already given for Scottish infantry obviously sug­gest a very high casualty rate, probably unequalled in the case of any of the Western or Dominion belligerents, with the possible exception of France. This total figure, 85,548 killed is taken from the memorial tablets of the Scottish infantry regiments in the Scottish National War Memorial, and as given by Ian Hay in his descriptive volume on the memorial. It includes most, though not all, of the casualties of the Scottish Yeomanry whose personnel in the majority of cases was transferred to infantry. Some other figures are suggestive. We find from the Roll of Honour Album of the Royal Artillery in the Memorial that the deaths of Scotsmen in the Royal Regiment numbered approximately 5,500. In the .Royal and Merchant Navies they exceeded 6,000, in the Royal Engineers they approached 3,000 ; the Machine Gun Corps and Tanks, the latter in their infancy, had about 2,400 Scottish deaths ; the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force almost 1,000 ; R.A.S.C. and R.A.M.C. about 2,000 ; Labour Corps approximately 500. Cavalry and Cyclists (exclusive of Scottish Yeomanry regiments) about 1,500. Scotsmen in English and Welsh regiments were surprisingly numerous, and between 8,000 and 9,000 of them were killed. In Irish regiments about 2,400 names are given, but obviously though there were many Scots among them, the majority were probably Irish domiciled in Scotland who enlisted from there. The Indian Army had 360 Scottish officers killed. These numbers do not complete the full record of sacrifice. There are in addition hundreds of women in the Nursing and other women's services, many of whom died by enemy action by land or sea, and there are the men of the many less-known services—Ordnance, Veterinary, etc. (Of the thousands of Scots who fell in the forces of the Dominions and of the United States, and who were already lost to their Motherland, there is, of course, no record). It will, of course, be objected that Scots infantrymen are not all Scots, and after every war in order to allay our anxieties we are told that the Scots regiments contain many Englishmen. In the 1914-18 war there were certainly many Englishmen posted or transferred to Scots regiments, but their numbers have been greatly exaggerated. The Special .Reserve original battalions, the First and Second Line Territorials and Yeomanry, the Kitchener's Army battalions of the 9th and 15th Divisions, later formations like those units of the Highland Light Infantry raised in Glasgow by the Chamber of Commerce, or among the employees of the Corporation Tramways, the 16th and 17th Royal Scots, 14th Argylls were wholly Scottish in composition. The number of English in Scottish regiments must have been more than offset by the numbers of our countrymen in English regiments when the casualties sustained by Scots in the latter are considered. Making a generous allow­ance for the presence of English in Scottish regiments, Scottish losses in killed must be in the neighbourhood of 110,000, possibly more. The total loss suffered by the United States from a population about twenty-five times that of Scotland was 126,000.

In quiet country places the losses of war were most felt. The percentage of killed in the Empire's forces was 12, but seldom, if indeed ever, were the losses sustained by any Scot­tish community, urban or rural, so low. If the examples following are mainly taken from the North, it is because the writer's connections and associations with that part of the country have brought these local facts to his notice. Many districts, e.g., South West Ross, showed figures for 'killed' of over 23 per cent, of those serving. (72) Villages like Dornic and Bundalloch in that area lost one young man out of every three. Of one hundred and two local young men joining the Seaforths and Camerons from the three parishes, Lochalsh, Kintail and Glenshiel thirty-six were killed (73) "Always they went forth to war and always they fell." Such figures were not exceptional. As one moves through the Scottish country­side and looks at the little parish or village memorials to those who made the great sacrifice, one cannot but realise what irreparable damage was done to the fabric of rural life. The 4th Seaforth Highlanders, a county Territorial battalion, according to the regimental history by its Commanding Officer, lost by death 28 per cent, of those who passed through its ranks. (74) The island of Lewis lost 1,151 men out of 6,712 serving. This was not an excessively high proportion of deaths from the number serving—a little more than 17 per cent.—and in many Scottish districts it was exceeded. To realise the full significance of the figures, however, it must be remembered that, to an extent unknown in the industrial

centres, practically every fit man in the island was early in the forces, or 6,712 out of a total population of 29,603 men, women and children. (75) If the ratio of the killed to the total population be considered, the island paid twice as much as the rest of the kingdom in sacrifice. What, indeed, had Lewis gained from its association with the Empire that it should be called on to pay so high a price? Though the above examples have been taken from the North, the South suffered no less, and in pastoral Tweeddale, the County of Peebles was, for its population, but a fraction behind Lewis in its war losses. (76)


War losses were not, however, confined to actual battle casualties. Much was promised by politicians in the early days of voluntary recruiting. They had said that in the Isles and on the mainland, where there was still land-hunger, no man who had fought for his country would ever again be .denied the right to till its soil or to build a home, but when peace came the Government refused to implement the bargain with the men who fought. Mr Stanley Baldwin could come up to Scotland and, addressing a meeting of his North British supporters, appeal to Scots to give up their narrow conception of patriotism and think Imperially. This appeal to Imperialist sentiment is invariably, as Scots should have learned by that time, the prelude to Scotland's betrayal. The promised homes for which the soldiers fought were not to be in the land of their birth but beyond the seas, and, to swell the loss of 1,151 dead, 3,000 Lewismen, mostly young ex-service men, left the island for Canada in the three years following the termination of hostilities. (77) Out of every hundred people of the island, old and young, to the four young men who went forth to death were to be added a further ten who went forth to exile. The loss did not end there. The withdrawal from the island's population of so many potential husbands denied the oppor­tunity of marriage to thousands of the younger women, and with peace began a steep decline in the population of the island, until that time the only part of the Highland area unaffected by depopulation.

Commenting on the exodus of young men from the Western Isles, and the statement in a contemporary journal that they presented a splendid appearance, the standard of physique being exceptionally high, and "that they are sure to be an acquisition to the land of their adoption," a Scottish regimental magazine, which could scarcely be accused of Nationalist bias, observed: " What is Canada's gain is unfor­tunately our loss. We have the men and yet nothing is done. Our huge cities are already over-populated, and what is required in the interests of the physical well-being of our race, if nothing else, is for suitable inducements to be held out to those already on the land to remain there. If none are forthcoming it is only natural that the most high-spirited of our countrymen will go elsewhere. We neglect the encour­aging of developments which would make all the difference between success and failure to those already on the land, and we do nothing to ensure profitable employment for an increased population. Millions upon millions are sunk for the development of the Empire in all parts of the earth, but here at home we look in vain for even a small share of those monies which, if properly spent, would transform the High­lands and Islands and provide suitable occupations for the population." (78)

Lewis is but a symbol of what was taking place in greater or less degree throughout the land, — North, South and Isles. It may have been that Lewis and the Outer Isles were over-populated, but there were parts of Scotland which, under neglect and misrule, had become desert and which might have been repeopled with Scottish stock. That seemed to be the last thing desired by British politicians, and, in spite of war-time promises to rehabilitate the Highlands, next to nothing was done. That there was still a section of the Scottish people anxious for settlement on Scottish soil was evident from the returns of the number of applicants for new holdings, or enlargements of holdings, all over Scotland from 1st April, 1912, to 31st December, 1926, in all 22,124, of which only 4,761 were settled, many of them under conditions unfavourable to success, (79) Death and Despair and Emigration settled most of the applications undisposed of. Many were forced un­willingly to seek overseas what they could not obtain in the land they had fought for, and so a further opportunity was lost of re-establishing a Scottish rural population on Scottish soil. The British Government did not desire it. never had desired it, and never will do anything effective. The inter-war years brought with them the New Clearances. They were not now confined to croft and farm, but from the cities tens of thousands left to seek the livelihood which alien rule denied them at home. Between 1921 and 1931, 392,000 Scots were forced to leave their native land 'through pressure of economic circumstances ' or government-assisted emigration — 329,000 of them overseas and 63,000 to England. After 1931 overseas emigration decreased but Government transference schemes still continued to exile thousands of Scots from their native soil.


The one thing the Government seemed determined to prevent was the settlement of a rural population. As a reinforcement of the age-old expedient of mass emigration it was claimed that hydro-electric construction work would provide employment, for ex-servicemen, but once powers to proceed with the work were obtained the promoters found Irish labour more profitable. The Irish monopolised the unskilled work; the administrators and technicians were mainly English. Where local men were able to obtain permanent employment in the new factories it was in effect but a further emptying of the glens, the trans­ference from a healthy rural life to that of the factories in whose neighbourhood the very cattle perish on the fume-poisoned pastures—in a country already over-industrialised. As far as the preservation of the Scottish way of life was concerned, the population might as well have been transferred to Sheffield or Coventry, for in places like Kinlochleven the tender plant of native culture is choked by the weedy growth of industrialism. Afforestation was another solution whose claims were plausibly advanced, but the areas afforested were in the main food-producing, noted grazing areas, once self-sufficient and even exporting so far as meat and dairy produce were concerned. To-day in 'Kintail of the Cattle,' as in many another once pastoral area, the school children receive their daily milk ration in the form of reconstituted dried milk. How wonderful is this boasted progress under British rule, which, it is claimed, has given us ' the highest standard of living in Europe,' which even in peace-time has substituted for the folk of the glens and Western seaboard imported, tinned, adulter­ated, dehydrated foodstuffs for the good milk, butter and cheese: the beef and tender black-faced mutton: the salmon, trout, sea fish, lobster, game and venison of the old days! Whatever food is still produced goes South, as luxuries for the pampered idlers of London's West End. The forests have been planned from considerations of British war requirements rather than from any interest in the welfare of rural Scotland, and their influence in stemming the tide of rural depopulation has been negligible. When war comes and work is plentiful the native forestry workers go off to the battlefield, their places being taken by Canadians, Hondurans and Newfound­landers. On the seaboard, East and West, the post-war years found the once-great fishing industry in decay. Loss of foreign markets, depredations of Fleet-wood and other English traw­lers, poor transport, expensive freight, deterioration of boats and gear during the absence of fishermen on war service and lack of funds to make good these losses—all tended to the industry's ruin. Altogether the inter-war years give a sorry picture of the benefits of British rule, the great basic indus­tries of fishing and agriculture in decay, the numbers of workers diminished yearly, the area of land under cultivation decreasing. In six years after 1919 the acreage of arable land decreased by over 200,000 acres. Large areas of the country­side had become derelict, rural schools closing down because there were no children to fill them.

In the war the heirs of many historic Scottish families had fallen, their estates  passing into the hands of alien 'New Rich,' who sought ownership of Scottish land from motives of prestige or pleasure. This change of ownership was more than a matter for sentimental regret. Whatever the faults of Scottish landowners of an earlier generation, their successors had been for the greater part kindly, tolerant and well-disposed towards their native tenantry, in whom their supplanters had little interest, regarding them all too frequently as an encumbrance.


Rural depopulation was by no means limited to the High­lands. No part of the country escaped. The process was not confined to the post-war years, but had been at work over a long period. There were doubtless many causes at work in producing the decline, and the British Government cannot in fairness be held responsible for all. One can, however, with justice accuse it of being wilfully blind to the condition of Scotland. That seemed to be a matter of little or no concern to them as long as they could still procure men for military service or for the colonisation of the Empire. It is only to-day, when the position of England in world affairs is threatened by a declining birth-rate, that alarm and anxiety is felt about the future. In the half-century before 1921 the total decrease in the Scottish population engaged in agricul­ture amounted to 63,000. (80) Orkney in that period had lost over 7,000 of her population. The population of the parish of Latheron (Caithness) had fallen from 7,400 to 3,866; Durness (Sutherland), 1,049 to 606; Applecross (Ross), 2,470 to 1,019; Gairloch (Ross), 5,048 to 2,781; Lochbroom (Ross), 4,406 to 2,318; Dores (Inverness), 1,401 to 687; Kilbrandon (Argyll), 1,930 to 855; Carmyllie (Angus), 1,309 to 805; Glenbuckat (Aberdeen), 570 to 260. (81) The process of depopulation did not end in 1921. In the five years following 1921 the population of the landward parts of Aberdeenshire declined by 4,800, and during the same period, according to the reports of Medical Officers of Health, the landward districts of Banffshire lost 1,700; Ross and Cromarty 1,300; Sutherland 2,300; Wigtown 600; Berwickshire 900; Eastern landward districts of Stirling­shire 900. (82) In his report for 1944 the Registrar-General for Scotland stated that more than one-and-a-half million people had left Scotland in the last eighty years, 900,000 since the beginning of the century. "The vitality of Scotland," he asserted, "is being sapped or has been sapped by the export of the most virile of her people, her young men and women."

In the. years following the First World War this whole­sale loss of the best elements of the population was also to affect the industrial districts. Before 1914 the inhabitants of these areas, whether from ignorance of what was happening outside the large towns, or feeling themselves in a position of comparative security, had shown little concern for the fate of their rural compatriots. The countryside had been bled white by London misrule and neglect. It was now their turn to suffer. The policy followed by successive governments, Tory or Labour, of concentrating industry in the South-East and Midlands of England, was to lead to widespread misery. Banks, railways and factories all came under London control, with the inevitable results that work was transferred to England, factories closed down, unemployment increased and the skilled labour of Scotland forced to participate in the Drift or Drive South, or to emigrate overseas, while thousands of young Scots people were transferred under British Govern­ment schemes to man the factories of England. The policy seemed deliberate: all protests were in vain.

Speaking in Edinburgh on 18th June, 1946, Sir Frank Mears, P.R.S.A., drew attention to the perilous condition of Scotland, warning his hearers of what had happened in America where many areas have to be run by labour gangs. In the Scottish countryside population has been in decline, the number of deaths in many rural areas now exceeding the number of births per annum, a terrible condition for a country and for a people who had once gone out to populate great areas of the earth. Not only could no overseas emigration take place, but a city like Edinburgh could not count on the flow of new blood necessary for growth and organisation. 'The cities of Scotland,' said Sir Frank in conclusion, "could only expand at the expense of the rural areas, and these were already down to danger point." There is in truth 'the writing on the wall'! British misgovernment and the Union have brought our ancient nation to the verge of dissolution. Could conditions have been otherwise ? All through the late 18th and 19th centuries down to the years following the First World War, there were tens of thousands of men of country birth and upbringing who sought no better lot in life than the occupation of some acres of their country's soil whereon to build a home and rear a family. ' Why were they not permitted to do so ? They might have helped to save Scotland, but the British Government and the British political parties, Tory, Liberal, Labour were not interested in the preservation of Scotland as a nation or in the advancement of her well-being, seeing in her people only a reservoir of fighting men in War and of colonists for the Dominions in time of Peace.


If Peace between the two World Wars brought little in the way of prosperity, but rather unemployment and misery to Scotland, there was always the British Army for the workless to fall back on as a last refuge from starvation.

After the Peace Treaty the British Army was reorganised and reduced from its pre-1914 strength (1) by nine cavalry regiments either disbanded or amalgamated with others: (2) by the disbandment of the 3rd and 4th regular battalions which had been added to some English Line regiments just before the outbreak of war: (3) by the disappearance of twelve out of sixteen regular Irish Line battalions. Scotland was expected to furnish infantry on the pre-war scale, its contribution alone remaining unchanged. It may have been, of course, that military service, in conjunction with mass emigration, transference of workers and unemployment doles, was intended as part of the solution of Scotland's desperate economic condition. In the years between the wars there was little active service in which Scottish troops did not partici­pate. .Every Scots regiment had its turn of duty in Palestine, generally two or three battalions together, and Scottish lives were sacrificed in the feud between Jew and Arab to establish another people's right to a ' national home ' while their own land and people were drifting to death. The Territorial Army was reorganised and the infantry reduced in strength, though in proportion to the whole the Scottish ratio of infantry was not diminished. The old fiction of its function being ' Home Defence' was definitely discarded, and it was perhaps not without significance that in the process of chopping and changing the senior battalions in Scotland—the 4th and 5th Royal Scots (Queen's Edinburgh Rifles) and the 5th Scottish Rifles—which had preserved most successfully the distinctive traditions of the old Volunteer force, and indeed of the older Scotland, in spite of their war records disappeared almost unnoticed. In recruiting the two Scottish Territorial Divisions, Highland and Lowland (51st and 52nd) generally headed the list.


Private Edward Connelly in the uniform of the Highland Light Infantry (HLI) before being transferred to an English Regiment. Killed in action on August 18 1944 in Normandy. Born in Glasgow commemorated on a war memorial in Croydon, England and buried in France. A fact which left the family heartbroken.War came in 1939. The 9th and 15th Scottish Divisions were resuscitated, this time as new Territorial formations. The 51st, drawn initially from the most scattered communities, with least resources in manpower and least facilities for peace­time training, received the promise of being one of the two first Territorial Divisions to proceed overseas. It is remark­able how frequently such privileges as this are granted to Scots by a British government normally so grudging in its gifts to us. There followed the tragedy of St. Valery, as once before Loos had followed a similar boon to the old 9th and 15th The 52nd Division had also been landed in France, but was withdrawn in time to escape a similar disaster. The new 9th Division disappeared. A reconstituted 51st, with a long and trying ordeal ahead, arose. There was prolonged silence over the old 51st and St. Valery. Wherever there was hard fighting to be done the new 51st had to go—from El Alamein to the forcing of the Rhine—Montgomery took them with him. "For a good killing-match give me Scotsmen," he said, while Winston Churchill, echoing Lloyd George's phrase of a previous war, lamented that there were not enough Scots in Britain's hour of need. In Scotland itself many came to distrust this alternation of flattery and exploitation. In the Highlands the young men, except those who had found themselves swept up in the Territorial Army net at the outbreak of war, took opportunities when they offered to volunteer to join other arms and services than the historic Highland regiments. They had heard too much of the excessive toils and sacrifices involved in membership of these, and realistically preferred service elsewhere. An extra burden fell on the Lowlands which had to support both Lowland and Highland regiments, thus supplying a contribution in infantry to the British Army unequalled by any other region of comparable population. It is of course sometimes objected that not all the members of Scottish regiments are Scots. If so why continue them under present designation? In the past there never were scruples about denationalising them when circumstances required, and the present system of allocating an excessive number to Scotland means that at the outset of war Scottish casualties are too great.


Heavy tasks were laid on the 15th, 51st and 52nd Divisions, and not only on them, for in every theatre of war Scots troops played a prominent part—Norway, Eritrea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Burma, where there was present more than the equivalent of a Division—Sicily, Italy, right up to the crossing of the Rhine, and it was to be expected that, though losses were not on the scale of the 1914-18 War, they would still be heavy. Glory like everything else being rationed by the British Authorities, we learned little either of their exploits or their losses. The English industrial districts, where the British Government had in the inter-war years encouraged the rise of new industries, and where most of the war munitions factories were concentrated, offered better facilities for technical education, training and advancement than did the decaying industries of Central Scotland, and therefore more opportunities for the essential key-workers whose value was greater to the State in the factory than in the ranks. Young Scots starved of such opportunities had perforce to go in greater numbers to the Services. Scotland with a larger proportion of infantry to maintain would, we should expect, have a higher casualty rate, and this, though exact figures were not furnished, seemed to be confirmed in a statement by Mr Attlee in the House of Commons on 25th October, 1945, when he said the following estimate of men in different parts of the United Kingdom in the Services and Merchant Navy, killed and wounded by the enemy on war service, was based on analysis of samples :—England : killed, 205,000 ; wounded, 221,000. Scotland : killed, 29,000 ; wounded, 32,000. Wales: killed, 12,000; wounded, 12,000. N. Ireland : killed, 3,000 ; wounded 4,000. These figures are puzzling. They total 249,000 killed, yet nearly a year before war casualties from September, 1939 to November. 1944 were given for the United Kingdom (excluding figure for Merchant Navy included in Mr Attlee's total) as 238,880 killed and missing. Accepting them as from a reliable source and in the absence of further detail, we find that with an estimated population in 1941 for England and Wales of 41,460,000 ; Scotland, 5,007,000: N. Ireland, 1,288,000 (85) the losses are first, actually, and secondly, in proportion to population.


 Actual losses 

 Losses if equally borne in

 proportion to population

 England and Wales 217,000 216,177
Scotland 29,000  26,107
Northern Ireland 3,000  6,715


It will be noted that by these figures Scottish losses are relatively higher than those of other parts of the United Kingdom.


Casualties per million inhabitants work out as :—


 England and Wales 5,234 killed
 Scotland5,792 killed 
 Northern Ireland2,329 killed 


From these figures it seems that, as in the past. Scotland has had to pay the highest (price for the doubtful benefits of partnership in the United Kingdom, a price two and a half times that paid by Loyal Ulster. It is indeed gratifying to find that losses were not on such a scale as those of the 1914-18 War, in which, making allowance for English casualties in Scottish infantry regiments, the total Scottish losses were approximately 110,000 or between 20,000 and 25,000 more than a just quota, a rate of more than 22,000 per million of her population or about eighteen times that suffered by the United States, From the above figures for 1939-45 Scotland would appear to have incurred a loss of nearly 3,000 more than was due from her population.

Every fresh statement, however, serves only to bewilder the inquirer for accurate figures. A White Paper issued on 7th June, 1946, gives the total number of killed in the Armed Forces as 264,443. The Merchant Navy (included in the previous figures) adds a further 30,248, so that the total number of lives lost in the Forces and Merchant Navy during the War is 294,691 or 45,000 more than the figures given on October, 1945. From this new total one would assume that according to the former scale Scotland's losses were in the" neighbourhood of 34,500, whereas a just quota would be no more than 31,000.

On the 8th July, 1946, Mr Attlee in the House of Commons circulated the following statement in answer to a question by Mr Scollan (Labour, W. Renfrew), "I would refer my hon. friend to the reply given to the hon. and gallant member for Carnarvon Boroughs on 25th October, 1945, when I stated that the estimated number of men from Scotland in the Services and Merchant Navy killed while on war service was 29,000, and the number of wounded was 32,000. I would remind my hon. friend that these estimates were based on analyses of samples, and on the assumption that the proportion of Scottish total casualties is still the same as the proportion revealed by the sample. It is estimated that the number of men from Scot­land in the services and Merchant Navy killed up to February, 1946, is 31,000, while the number of wounded remains unchanged at 32,000."

Thus by a merciful dispensation of Providence the number of Scottish killed is exactly in proportion to her population. This figure leaves one puzzled and, it must be admitted, suspicious. The previous figure of 25th October gave Scotland the highest proportion of the total number killed. To satisfy the latter figure, out of the additional 45,000 deaths recorded there must have been only 2,000 Scots so that among -these the Scottish proportion has apparently (the writer is no expert in figures) been reduced to less than half of that of the first total.

In an article in the 'Scots Independent' for August 1946, Arthur Donaldson, commenting on the latest figures, asks, "How good were these analyses and these samples? "He pointed out that until the compilation of the names of the Scottish dead was undertaken for the National War Memorial we had no statistical proof for the disproportionate loss sustained by Scotland in the 1914-18 War, and cites the example of Forfar in the recent war where a compilation of war casualties not yet believed to be complete shows that the burgh lost some 90 dead. There is no reason to believe, he continues, that Forfar's loss has been higher than the Scottish average, and in all probability it is less than that of many of the fishing and seafaring communities but if Forfar's loss is typical of that of Scotland as a whole, he estimates that the country has suffered not 31,000 but 45,000 casualties which is far out of proportion to her share of the United Kingdom's population. This result also is obtained by ' analysis of sample.'

There being little likelihood of the public obtaining access to official figures of Scottish casualties there only remains to take such local samples as come to hand. In so doing we but follow Mr Attlee's lead with, it must be admitted, poorer facilities for a complete and satisfactory survey, yet so far as our information goes with very different results. The John O' Groat Journal of 6th September, 1946, in a summary of the war losses of the County of Caithness gave the total killed, missing and dead in the Services (there were civilian deaths in addition) as 274 from a population estimated by the Registrar-General in 1945 as 22,400. Such a sample if represen­tative would give Scotland a total loss of over 61,000, a considerably higher figure than was obtained from the Forfar estimate referred to above. Lewis which was reported in an article in the Scots Magazine to have had by the end of 1942 three hundred dead from a population of 25,000 would undoubtedly give for the duration of hostilities an even higher figure than is shown by either of the above two cases.

This method of answering all inquiries by ' analysis of samples ' is unsatisfactory. Why are the actual figures with­held from the Scottish public ? The refusal of the Government to supply such figures after the 1914-18 War did not inspire confidence in their good faith. It was felt that the truth was being concealed. To-day one feels that the information supplied is valueless and that there may be a deliberate motive behind the refusal to furnish actual figures.

It is indeed difficult to see how Scottish war losses could fail to be higher than those of other parts of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland did not supply men for the Territorial Army and was exempt from conscription. The sur­viving Anglo-Irish regiments numbered in their ranks a large proportion of volunteers from Eire. Scotland with adequate contributions to the Royal Navy, especially to its Reserves, to the Merchant Navy and to the R.A.F. continued her traditional excessive contribution to the infantry of the British Army, her quota of Regular battalions being almost one half more than a fair and equal distribution would assign her. With the reduction some time before the outbreak of war of the Field Divisions of the Territorial Army from fourteen to twelve and the subsequent duplication of the latter to twenty-four the Scottish contribution, always from the inception of the Force too large, was proportionately increased as the English diminished, so that with a population between one-ninth and one-tenth of that of the United Kingdom Scotland had to supply one-sixth of the fighting troops of the Territorial Army. England had in the process of reorganisation lost the equiva­lent of four infantry Divisions.

But Scots losses in the recent war were not confined to those sustained by the fighting services. It seemed indeed at times as if the policy of the British Government was as much directed against Scotland as a nation as it was against the Axis, that we were, in short, in a kind of triangular fight in which our allies and supposed friends taking advantage of war-time conditions were continually stabbing us in the back. The carefully planned and guarded monopoly by England of war industries, the conscription of girls for the Services, the wholesale deportations of tens of thousands of young Scots women to English factories, the withdrawal of Scots troops from Scottish soil, and their replacement by Poles, Norwegians, English, etc., all these seemed deliberately calculated to weaken and destroy us. Fifteen thousand of the deported young women, it has been estimated, have been lost to their country permanently, and many thousands more through inter­marriage with the foreign garrisons quartered upon us. Scotland did not in this war receive the treatment due to a loyal ally and an equal partner in the Union. It seems safe to say that no free people in history has ever consented to this degradation, the conscription and deportation of its young womanhood to forced labour in another land.


In a score of ways besides the loss of our youth through the tribute we pay in the lives of young men and maidens, we paid and shall continue to pay for this one-sided partnership in Which all the profits and advantages go to the stronger ; in the excessive post-war unemployment rate, the invariable consequence of war to Scotland ; in the progressive deteriora­tion of our housing conditions, in the purchase of Scottish land by aliens, in the selling out of Scottish business to Southern rivals, in the general frustration which' prevents men doing anything for the advancement of their country's welfare. While our men were presumably fighting to defend their land from invasion, in came the ' creeping Saxon ' so that to-day a larger area of Scotland than at any time, since the days when David I. bestowed Scottish estates on the incoming Norman barons, is in the hands of aliens. The sale of the Seafield lands at Balmacaan in Glenurquhart to English speculators met with some publicity and aroused indignant feeling, but it was only one instance of many that were quietly taking place all over the country.

In these transactions every interest save that of the' Scottish people seemed to be represented in the new owners. Alien industrial concerns invested their profits in Scottish land, buying up farms, hotels, deer-forests, etc. Alien speculators bought Scottish land to sell it again with profit. It was purchased by those who desired its possession for Sport, for Pleasure, or for Privacy. There were instances where the new owner raised his tenants' rents on the expiry of their leases, so ridding himself of the remnants of the native agricultural population, and replacing them by incomers who were willing to pay higher rents for farm and farmhouse, for the privilege of possessing a country holiday residence. While Scots fought and died to save other peoples in the Hitler War, as in the Napoleonic Wars, their own countrymen were being driven from their own countryside with the connivance of the British authorities.

To-day many Scottish counties are almost entirely in the hands of non-Scottish owners. Like the native peoples of Britain's African territories, or the peoples of the Baltic lands, the Scots are fast sinking into the position of a subject race. Scots do not now fight for their own country and people : they fight for their alien masters and for them they die. From the patriotic point of view there is little sense in repelling one set of invaders in order to assist another and so place one's country under the domination of a power whose centuries old purpose has been the liquidation of its national life.


Nearly eighty years ago Mackerlie 'wrote " There is no doubt but that the Government took advantage of the martial spirit existing in 4 Scotland and made demands for over half

a century beyond what the country should have borne and which at last was felt. We may say the same to-day not of half a century but of two hundred years. Neither to the Scots nation nor to the individual soldier has there been compensating advantage for excessive sacrifice, and participation in England's wars has brought us to the verge of ruin. Long ago Principal Shairp wrote of the peasant-soldiers who returned from the Peninsula and Waterloo.

'And this is all reward they have,

These- unroofed homes, this emptied glen,

A forlorn exile, then the grave.'


Have their townsmen successors of a later date got much more out of it ? This country's welfare was never of much concern to British Governments preoccupied with Imperial affairs, and now that British power and prestige are on the wane, is even less likely to be so. England is Britain, and Britain England and ' Who dies if England live ? ' Scotland has never been regarded as an equal partner in the Union, but rather as a subject province, a reservoir of manpower which might be exploited to provide colonial pioneers and fighting men. These last were cheaply rewarded with such military gewgaws as Red hackles, blue facings, tin tigers and elephants, eagles and sphinxes and Assaye colours, or with such transient honorifics as 'First of Foot and Right of the Line,' 'Second to None,' 'Brave 42nd,' ' Invincible 78th,' 'Glorious 90th,' 'Saviours of India' and 'Thin Red Line.' These soldiers of old days did not fight for Scotland. Often enough, though they knew it not, they were fighting against their own land. Had there been no Highland regiments there would probably have been no Highland Clearances. Had those who came later fought as gallantly and unselfishly for Scotland's right as they had done for England's might their country would not have been in its present lamentable con­dition. Regimental records make strange reading at times. One famous old regiment fought against Covenanters at one period and later against Jacobites, and, though its regimental historian makes no reference to the incidents, Professor Hume Brown tells how in the early eighteenth" century it helped to drive out the ancient peasantry of Galloway from their small farms, (86) while in the nineteenth Donald McLeod mentions it being brought into Sutherland to intimidate the crofters then threatened with eviction (87) Whomsoever its members served it was not their country or their country's cause. Scottish sentiment and Scottish patriotism were with subtlety diverted to ends that either bore no relation to Scottish interests or were diametrically opposed to them. The Scottish soldier of the past might toil and suffer and give up his life for the Honourable East India Company's interest or for the advance­ment of the commerce of the City of London. These were the real causes for which he died, but to secure his willing service he had to be persuaded that he was fighting for Scotland. The British Military Authorities saw that long ago, and by every means in their power fostered an artificial national sentiment. In their hearts the fighting men kept always alive the flame of undying attachment to their native land, and in their moments of great peril or exaltation it was of Scotland alone they thought; the differences sundering Highland and Lowland were forgotten. When the Greys, in that fierce charge at Waterloo, thundered down the slope with the 92nd hanging on to their stirrup leathers, Lowland and Highland together joined in the cry ' Scotland for Ever.' When the 42nd, after long years of foreign service, landed at Stranraer they were still far from their native glens, yet they knelt on the strand to kiss the loved earth. It was Scotland and that was enough! To-day we can see how cynically and callously these men were used.

1914—In the corridor of a South-bound train between Inverness and Perth, I stood with a student-soldier from the Isles on his way to join his battalion, the 4th Camerons, at Bedford. We talked as strangers thrown together by chance sometimes do. He had joined the Army to fight neither for Belgium nor Britain, but for his own land and people, wronged and betrayed. In their relations with Britain they had loyally accepted all the obligations of citizenship, had freely sacrificed the lives of their men to an extent unequalled by the English themselves, yet there had been no recognition, no appreciation on the part of the British Government, content to perpetuate a state of affairs which could only lead to a people's death. Perhaps this time in the hour of greatest need there might be a change of heart in those who administered the affairs of Britain, and with that faint hope he had enlisted and would fight. When the war ended those who survived would see if faith was to be placed in the promises of British statesmen and politicians. We parted, Cameron and Cameronian, and never met again. The 4th Camerons moved to disaster at Festubert. By 1916 the battalion ceased to exist. The promise of justice to Scotland and the Highlands was never redeemed.


At the outbreak of the late war, unlike 1914, no promises were made to Scotland. There was no need. Conscription was in force. Centralised London control takes from us the last vestiges of freedom. Wars will come again, unrest throughout the Empire and other people's Empires, too, and "Jock" will have to go again to settle other people's quarrels as to-day he has to do in Java and Palestine. There is no reason to believe that Scottish casualties in the future will not be higher than England's. They always have been in the past. Meantime, the Labour Government, whose party was the one-time nursery of such great pacifists -and conscientious objectors as Herbert Morrison, Arthur Woodburn, Patrick Dollan, etc., whose supporters . in their anti-militarist zeal abolished the cadet corps of the schools of the London County Council, and attempted to do the same in Glasgow, now sees nothing wrong in soldiering for schoolboys. The Cadet move­ment, Army, Navy and Air Force, is encouraged to spread throughout the land, and to-day no Labour organisation utters a cheep in protest. Even in the farthest Hebrides, where youth always fared forth to war far too soon, cadet corps are now established to hasten the day when the child will become the efficient soldier. The movement, we are told, is "not militarist in aim," but rather for the formation of character. In English cities the shoulder-flashes of the young Army Cadets denote units of all arms and services. In Scotland there seems to be no sign of the existence of other than infantry units.


One's native land must be defended! Under the new Totalitarianism a conscript is not enrolled for defence, but may be sent to the farthest ends of the earth to slay or be slam in a quarrel that concerns him not, to fight for a cause, the rights and wrongs of which he may not understand, or which he may abhor. His sacrifice may be of no service what­ever to his country and people. All past experience leads to the conclusion that participation in war forced upon us by London government has brought no benefit to Scotland. Even where the righteousness of a war has not been questioned, our, losses have always been excessive. There are questions we ask that are never answered. Why, for two hundred years has the Scottish contribution to the British Army been almost entirely of infantry — cannon fodder ? Why have there always been, relative to population, more Scottish infantry formations than English ? Why are Scottish troops so frequently accorded the 'privilege' or 'honour,' whichever it is, of being first in the fighting, when all other privileges and rights are denied their country ? Why should we always have reason to suspect that our losses in war are higher pro­portionally than our neighbour—England's, higher, indeed, in 1914-18 than was suffered by any self-governing unit of the British Empire ? Why is accurate information regarding such losses invariably withheld ? Why should a small country, drained continuously over a long period of the best of its youth in the interests of England, the Dominions and Colonies, and whose population is therefore "ageing to an extent unparalleled in other parts of the Empire, and which on that account can least afford the loss of more young lives, why is such a country called on to endure the greatest sacrifices ? Why are mass-emigration, unemployment, etc., always the effects of war to Scotland to a far greater extent than to England ? Why, in every relationship in war and peace, does the balance always Come down heavily in favour of England? Is there any answer to all these questions but one—that we in Scotland are not a free people ? We can neither make war nor refuse it: we have no part in the making of peace. We have no power to protect our young people from exploitation: we cannot, without English permission, make good the ravages of war as they affect our own land. We are mere satellites, and, as recent experience has shown, must grovel, and cringe, and beg, accepting insults or whatever London is pleased to give us.

There is but one remedy—not a mere 'measure of self-government ' or 'devolution' but a resumption of sovereignty, —Repeal of the Act of Union. What are ' purely Scottish affairs ' anyhow ? Is not the protection of our people from exploitation for military purposes a ' purely Scottish affair ? ' We cannot trust them to Britain's care. The record of casualties in past wars shows that, far from defending Scottish interests, Britain has taken advantage of our powerlessness to protect them in order to squander Scottish lives in thousands. The lives of her young people are Scotland's greatest asset, far greater than any Prestwick Airport, Forth Road Bridge, or Rosyth Dockyard. Every generation has seen the best of our young men taken away for war or by emigration. It says much for the quality of the original stock that, being subject over so long a period to this process, it has not deteriorated more than it has, yet such conditions cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely. That way lies national suicide and an end to Scotland. Only Freedom can save us. If we are to be in the British Commonwealth we must be, like its other members—free. We must be free to judge the righteousness of a cause and to choose war or peace ; to decide in what numbers our young men face the ordeal of battle, and by •whom our shores shall be defended. We must be1 free to afford refuge to the victims of tyranny and oppression, and, in the event of their return home being impossible, to decide under what condi­tions and in what numbers they may remain among us. We must be able to protect our young folk from those who would transfer or direct or deport them to labour in other lands. We must be free to choose our allies. We must ourselves have the power to carry out our own plans for the rehabilitation of our land, the restoration of its prosperity and the preserva­tion of its own way of life. These things we cannot do or have under a ' measure of self-government.' or ' devolution,' or a Parliament for 'purely Scottish affairs.' Is there anything unreasonable in claiming our rights ? In Freedom's name our young men still go forth to war, but to-day under London bureaucratic control Freedom is lost and sacrifice is vain.


'Union is strength' runs the old adage. For Scotland it should rather read ' Union is Death.' The purpose of an incor­porating Union was not to conserve Scottish nationality but to destroy it, and as long as the relationship remains in being, however conditions may change, the process of destruction continues. For two centuries and more Scots listened ,to and believed the tales told them by English and Anglo-Scots politicians that their country was too poor to maintain its population (though there was always room in it for everybody but the Scots), and that large scale Scottish emigration was a necessity. The disastrous consequences of our faith in these people are clearly seen to-day. The British Labour Government seeks to reverse this depopulation trend by building new towns and by further industrialisation regardless of the fact that we are already over-urbanised and over-industrialised, and that the establishment of new towns must with our declining population still further deplete the surviving rural communi­ties. Towns must be replenished from time to time from the countryside. Our rural population is at such a low ebb to-day that so far from being able to replenish the towns it cannot maintain its own numbers. Mr Shinwell talks of a population for the new Scotland of ten million people. He does not tell us where they are to come from. Scotland cannot double its population and the newcomers must therefore be immigrants from other lands, from England or the Continent. The impor­tation and infiltration of new peoples from the South or the Continent of Europe, swamping the native population, partic­ularly in the sparsely peopled Highlands, will put an end for ever to the ancient Scottish nation, which by assimilation with these other elements, all like itself subject to intensive pressure from Anglicising influences, will gradually weaken and dis­appear. There is nothing more likely than that a British (or English) Government in developing Scottish resources will at the same time destroy the Scots as a nation. Already Press reports tell of the renewal of our customary large-scale, post-war emigration movement, and of Scots, ex-soldiers and civilians alike, despairing of their country's future under present administration, seeking in their thousands, new homes across the Atlantic.

Scotland, if it is to remain Scottish, must have a Scottish Government. If one is of the British way of thinking, the liquidation of Scotland may not matter much. It may be 'the end of an auld sang,' but ' there'll always 'be an England!' No true Scot, however, can consider the future possibilities of British government activities in Scotland without anxiety.

There are two forms of Union, and the only worth-while association of two peoples is that in which both are free and equal partners. Any other is oppressive and forced, and can only end in bitterness and strife, or in the destruction of the weaker by the stronger. It is this latter form of Union that we experience to-day. Scotland must be free or die!

"By oppression's woes and pains,

By our sons in servile chains,

We will drain our dearest veins,

But they shall be free! "




(1)        "Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland " :   Introduction by Thomas Innes of Learney. Edinburgh: W. & A. K. Johnston, 1945.

(2)        "The Lowland Regiments": edited by Sir Herbert Maxwell: chapters by various authors.

(3)        "The  Lowland  Regiments":  Andrew Ross   (ed. Maxwell).

(4)        The fullest account of the mutiny, its causes and incidents is given by H. Duff McWilliam in his work: " The Black Watch: Official Records of the Mutiny."

(5)        Finlay: "Wolfe in Scotland" ; p. 226, Longman's. Waugh: "James Wolfe, Man and Soldier," p. 101.

(6)        McGill: "Old Ross-shire and Scotland, from the Balnagown MSS."

(7)        Ross: "The Lowland Regiments"  (ed. Sir H. Maxwell).

(8)        Ross: "The Lowland Regiments"  (ed. Sir H. Maxwell).

(9)        H. V. Morton: " In Search of Wales," p. 175.

(10)       "Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland": Introduction by Thomas Innes of Learney. Edinburgh: W. & A. K. Johnston.

(11)       Stewart of Garth: "Sketches of the Highlanders."  Dr. J. M. Bulloch: " Territorial Soldiering in the North-East of Scotland." Fortescue: "History of the British Army." Chichester and Burgess Short: " Records and Badges of the British Army." Ross: "The Lowland Regiments" (ed. Sir H. Maxwell).

(12)       Lloyd George: Churchill.

(13)      Montgomery.

(14)       Ross: “The Lowland Regiments” (ed. Sir H. Maxwell)
(14a) At this date 71st and 72nd were numbered 73rd and 78th.

Stewart:    "Sketches   of   the   Highlanders";    Volume   II.

"Cabarfeidh" (Seaforth Regimental Magazine), Volume IV., Dec., 1928. "Great Historical Mutinies " : Edinburgh, 1850. Bulloch: " Territorial Soldiering in the North-East of Scotland" (New Spalding Club).

(16)       Bulloch: "Territorial Soldiering in the North-East of Scotland," p. 68.

(17)      Unpublished  Kintail  song.

(18)      Bulloch: Fortescue, Chichester and Burgess Short.

(19)      Bulloch:  Fortescue,  Chichester  and  Burgess  Scott.

(20)      Chichester and Burgess Short: " Records and Badges of the British Army."

(21)       Bulloch: "Territorial Soldiering in the North-East of Scotland," p. 91.

(22)       Stewart: "Sketches of the Highlanders." Mackerlie: "Account of the Scottish Regiments with the Statistics of each from 1808 to 1861 " : Edinburgh, 1862.

(23)   "Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness": Volume XXXVI.; Article "The Gordons as Invaders": J. M. Bulloch.

(24)      Bulloch: "The Gordons as Invaders."

(25)       Bulloch: "Territorial    Soldiering   in   the   North-East    of Scotland."

(26)       Bulloch: "Territorial    Soldiering    in   the   North-East    of Scotland."

(27)       Bulloch:  "Territorial   Soldiering   in   the   North-East   of Scotland."

(28)      Stewart: "Sketches of the Highlanders."

(29)      Quoted in Mackerlie's "Account of the Scottish Regiments with   the   Statistics   of   each   from   1808   to   1861 ": Edinburgh, 1862.

(30)       Mackerlie:   "Account   of   the   Scottish   Regiments   with   the Statistics of each from 1808 to 1861 " : Edinburgh, 1862.

(31)       Mackerlie:   "Account   of  the   Scottish   Regiments  with   the Statistics of each from 1808 to 1861 " : Edinburgh, 1862.

(32) "History of the Grant or Strathspey Fencibles."
Stewart:  " Sketches of the Highlanders," Vol. II.

(33)      Watson : " Ross and Cromarty"     (Cambridge County Geographies).

(34)      Kelly:  "Children of the Mist": London,  1945.

(35)      Stephen   Gwynn:   " The   Case   for   Home   Rule":   Dublin, Maunsel & Co.

(36)      Mackerlie.

(37)      Fortescue: " History of the British Army." Vol. IV., Part 2, p. 819.

(38)      Fortescue: Vol. V., p. 306.

(39)      Fortescue: Vol. VI., p. 331.

(40)      Fortescue:.Vol. X., App. II. and III.

(41)      Mackerlie.

(42)      Quoted in Stewart's " Sketches."

(43)      Mackerlie.

(44)      Chichester and Burgess Short.

(45)      Mackerlie.

(46)      Figures given by Mackerlie.

(47)      McCormick: "Island of Mull."

(48)      Mackenzie: " Highland Clearances."

(49)      Mackerlie.

(50)      Fortescue: Vol. XIII.

(51)      Fortescue: Vol. XIII.

(52)      All Highland regiments were not kilted at this period, e.g., 71st, 72nd  and 74th wore trews.

(53)      Mackerlie.

(54)  Munro, Surgeon General: "Reminiscences of Military Service with the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders."

(55)      Mackerlie.

(56)      Fortescue.

(57)      Quoted in Mackenzie's " Highland Clearances."

(59)      "Encyclopaedia Britannica"; llth Edition, 1910: "United Kingdom " (article).

(60)       "Encyclopaedia Britannica";  llth Edition,  1910; "United Kingdom"  (article).

(61)       "Encyclopaedia Britannica";  llth Edition,  1910; "United Kingdom"  (article).

(62)       Arthur, Sir Henry': " Life of Lord Kitchener " : Vol. III.

(63)      Conan Doyle, Sir A. : "British Campaigns in Europe, 1914-1918."

(64)       Stewart, Lt.-Col. and John Buchan: " The Fifteenth Scottish Division, 1914-1919."

(65)       Ewing, Major John, M.C.,: "History of the Ninth Scottish Division,  1914-1919."

(66)       "The Book of the Feill ": Edinburgh, 1917: Ian Hay. (Book published in connection with the Feill or Highland Bazaar).

(67)       Conan Doyle, Sir A. ; " British Campaigns in 'Europe, 1914-1918," p. 289.

(68)       M. Raymond Poincare in a speech at Glasgow, on the 13th November, 1919, in paying tribute to the 51st High­land Division, mentioned the total losses of the Division as 27,500. ("Records of the Men of Loch-broom, 19.14-1918 " : Fraser).

(69)       Buchan: "The Battle Honours of Scotland," 1923. (Glasgow: Outram).

(70)      "Book of the Feill" (Edinburgh, 1917) Ian Hay.

(71)      Whitaker's Almanack.

(72)       From Parish Rolls of Honour given in "The Clan McRae Roll of Honour" (1914-1918).

(73)      “Clan McRae Roll of Honour” (1914-1918).

(74)       Haldane,   Lt.-Col.,   M.M.,:   "History   of  the  4th  Battalion. The Seaforth Highlanders"  (1927).

(75)       "The   Scots   Magazine,"   January,    1943.      Other   districts show similar high casualty rates; e.g-., Parish of Loch-broom (N. W. Ross), pop. (1911) 2,794; H931) 2,004: had 85 killed, 44 in Seaforth Highlanders (natives of parish known to be serving in Dominion Forces bring total to 97) : " Records of Men of Lochbroom, 1914-1918": Fraser (Glasgow). Parish of Kiltearn (E. Ross), pop. (1911) 1,138, had 37 killed.

(76)       Gunn:   "Book of Remembrance for Tweeddale":   3  Vols. (Peebles, 1920).

(77)      "Scots  Magazine,"  January,   1943.

(78)      "Cabarfeidh," Regimental Magazine of the Seaforth Highlanders, Vol. I., No. 7.

(79)       "The  Scottish  Countryside " :  Scottish Liberal Federation, 1928.

(80)      "The Scottish Countryside."

(81)      "The Scottish Countryside."

(82)      "The Scottish Countryside."

(83)      Whitaker's Almanack.

(84)      Hume Brown: "School History of Scotland."

(85)      McLeod:  "Gloomy Memories."