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Source A: From Scotland: A New History by Michael Lynch (1992). More than one miner in four joined up in the first year of the war, but this was no higher than in industrial Scotland as a whole. Height restrictions, which would have kept out many of what Christopher Harvie has called the ‘wee hard men’, were waived. ‘Pals’ battalions’, such as those of the Highland Light Infantry which recruited mainly from Glasgow’s slums, were formed almost overnight from particular localities or the workplace: another battalion in the same regiment was entirely made up, in the space of sixteen hours, of the employees of Glasgow Corporation trams. In other cases, it was fear of unemployment, which resulted in 36% of miners in the vulnerable Lothian coalfield enlisting, or pressure from employers such as the Earl of Weymss, who threatened to dismiss any employee on his estates between the ages of eighteen and thirty who did not volunteer. • How far does Source A explain the issue of recruitment in the First World War? 10
Part Model Answer Source A partly explains the issue of recruitment in the First World War although it has its limitations. It mentions the fact that many Scots volunteered and that some joined in ‘pals’ battalions’. It also suggests that fear of unemployment and pressure from employers were factors for soldiers joining up. However, there are many aspects of recruitment which the source fails to mention. Firstly, the source mentions that many Scots volunteered to fight where it says “More than one miner in four joined up in the first year of the war”. This is accurate as Scotland had high numbers of volunteers. In the first few months of the war, 20,000 men from Glasgow alone had joined up. Secondly, the source mentions that many Scots joined in ‘pals’ battalions’ where it says “’Pals’ Battalions’, such as those of the Highland Light Infantry which recruited mainly from Glasgow’s slums”. This is accurate as many Scots joined in this way. For example, Hearts Football Club’s entire first team joined as a group in 1914.
Source B: From Scotland: A New History by Michael Lynch (1992). The war brought into employment thousands of women – the ‘clippies’ on Glasgow’s trams with their distinctive Black Watch tartan uniforms were among the most visible of the new female workforce – but it did not keep them in work after 1918. Most were put to work on jobs – such as the filling of shells with high explosive – which came to a natural end in 1918. In 1914 over two million women in Britain already worked outside the home; the war brought a further million into the workplace, mostly in the munitions industry, although less than one in four – despite the outcry over ‘dilution’ of male labour – were doing men’s work. • How useful is source B as evidence of the involvement of Scottish women in the First World War? 5
Source B: From Scotland: A New History by Michael Lynch (1992). The first year of the war brought 20,000 munitions workers into the Glasgow area, concentrated in Govan, Parkhead and Clydebank. Empty flats were filled, overcrowding became endemic as families took in lodgers unable to find even a ‘single end’. With the building of new housing brought to a halt by the war and demand vastly exceeding supply, rents rose steeply; rises of 23 per cent were recorded in Fairfield and Govan. The first rent strike took place in May 1915, in south Govan; within six months some 25,000 tenants were withholding their rent. Standardised defiant placards, with the words ‘Rent Strike. We are not moving’, appeared in windows; factors were set upon by women and pelted with rubbish and flour in ritual rites of violence which were reminiscent of the demonstrations against the bailiffs during the Clearances in the Highlands; mass protests were held when tenants answered summonses to appear in small debt courts. • How far does Source B explain the events of the Rent Strikes of 1915? 10
Source B partly explains the events of the rent strikes of 1915 although it misses out some key details. It mentions the reasons for the strikes, the number of tenants involved, the reactions of those tenants and the fact that strikers appeared in court. However, there are many aspects of the rent strikes which the source fails to mention. Firstly, the source mentions that the rent strikes came about as a result of landlords taking advantage of the high demand for housing where it says “overcrowding became endemic…rents rose steeply; rises of 23 per cent were recorded in Fairfield and Govan”. As well as munitions factories, many people flooded into Glasgow to work in shipyards as there was a great demand for weapons and ships to aid the war effort. Secondly, the source mentions that many people refused to pay rent during the strikes where it says “The first rent strike took place in May 1915, in south Govan; within six months some 25,000 tenants were withholding their rent”. The initial strikes in Glasgow soon influenced people in other parts of the country to do the same and shortly after rent strikes took place in Aberdeen and Dundee.
Thirdly, the source mentions how people protested where it says “Standardised defiant placards, with the words ‘Rent Strike. We are not moving’, appeared in windows”. Various types of protests took place and another method used was that women embarrassed Sherriff Officers by pulling down their trousers. Fourthly, the source mentions that many strikers were taken to court and this led to protests where it says “mass protests were held when tenants answered summonses to appear in small debt courts.” The biggest demonstration took place in George Square in Glasgow on 17th November 1915 which worried the government greatly.
However, there are many aspects of the rent strikes which the source fails to mention. The source does not emphasise the leading role played by women in the strikes. In February 1915, Helen Crawfurd, Mary Barbour, Agnes Dollan and Jessie Stephens helped to form the Glasgow Women’s Housing Association to resist rent rises. It fails to mention that in spite of extremely poor housing conditions, landlords did little to improve their properties and bullied and threatened women to make them pay higher rents. They were seen to be taking advantage of women whilst their husbands were fighting. Furthermore, the rent strikes protests often involved placards which criticised landlords for taking advantage of women whilst their husbands and sons were fighting. One placard sais “While my father is a prisoner in Germany the landlord is attacking our home”. Mary Barbour was the leader of the protests at the Govan shipyards and her followers were known as “Mrs. Barbour’s Army”. The source also fails to mention that landlords threatened non-paying tenants with evictions, fines or prison. Eventually, the government became very concerned about the protests because it affected wartime production. Eventually, the government passed the Rent Restrictions Act which meant that rents were frozen to 1914 levels unless improvements had been made to the property. In conclusion, Source B only partly illustrates the events of the 1915 rent strikes. It gives details of reasons for the strikes, the number of tenants involved, the reactions of those tenants and the fact that strikers appeared in court. However, it misses out key details such as the involvement of women like Mary Barbour and the Glasgow Women’s Housing Association and that women were intimidated by landlords who took advantage of the fact that many men were fighting in France.
Source B: From The Scottish Nation by Tom Devine (2006). The escalating rent increases and eviction threats of the spring of 1915 elicited an angry and vigorous response from several working class communities in Glasgow. It was at its root a women’s campaign with the organisation managed by housewives through tenement and kitchen committees and coordinated by the Glasgow Women’s Housing Association. Sharp increases in rents were an attack on the home and its defence was often a women’s responsibility., especially when so many husbands and sons were fighting with the armies in France. The climax to several months of agitation and protest came on 17 November 1915 when 18 tenants were due to appear in court for refusal to pay rent increases. Strikes in support of the defendants were combined with a huge demonstration in George Square of women, children and men determined to oppose the right of landlords and factors to set any level of rent they wished. • How far does Source B explain the events of the Rent Strikes of 1915? 10