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Scotland and the Impact of the Great War 1914-1928. Introduction. Scotland the Impact of the Great War is one of the new Scottish based topics in the Higher History course. It will be assessed in Paper 2 of the exam. You will be given five sources to study about this topic.

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  • Scotland the Impact of the Great War is one of the new Scottish based topics in the Higher History course.
  • It will be assessed in Paper 2 of the exam.
  • You will be given five sources to study about this topic.
  • You will have four questions to answer in 1 hours 25 mins.
outline of topic
Outline of Topic

This topic is divided into five main areas:

  • Scotland in 1914
  • Scots on the Western Front
  • The Home Front – Scotland During the War
  • Scotland at Work and at War
  • Scotland After the War
impact of the great war
Impact of the Great War
  • Over a quarter of all Scots who fought in the First World War were killed.
  • The way in which people in Scotland reacted to and coped with the war was unique
  • One of the biggest changes was in how people chose to remember the war and those who died.
section 1 scotland in 1914
Section 1 – Scotland in 1914

The first section will give you an overview

of Scotland before the outbreak of war:

  • Population Change
  • Scottish Economy
  • Scottish Politics
  • Scottish Identity and Martial Traditions
scottish population
Scottish Population
  • In 1900 Scotland had a population of about 4.5 million.
  • Towns and cities had grown rapidly as people moved from the countryside to the towns – URBANISATION.
  • By 1900 1 in 3 Scots lived in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee or Aberdeen.
scottish population7
Scottish Population
  • Emigration was another aspect of population change.
  • Between 1904-1913 over 500,000 Scots left to start a new life abroad – although one in three eventually returned home.
  • Significant numbers of immigrants came to Scotland from Ireland, Italy and Lithuania.

Countries like Canada

were popular

destinations for Scots.

scottish highlands
Scottish Highlands
  • The Highlands of Scotland was particularly affected by population change.
  • Many Highlanders moved to the towns/cities or abroad.
  • The Land Question was a key issue. Many crofters had suffered during the Clearances and were thrown off their land.
  • Others faced crippling rents and struggled to make a living.
  • 1886 Crofter’s Act stopped forced evictions and ended the right of landowners to charge what they wanted for land.
the scottish economy
The Scottish Economy
  • The majority of the Scottish population lived in the Central Belt – an area of the country stretching from Glasgow in the West to Edinburgh in the East.
  • The majority of the Scottish population lived in this area working in key industries such as shipbuilding, engineering, coal, iron and steel.
  • The Scottish economy depended on international trade to maintain a strong economy and keep people in jobs.
  • Due to trade, investment, movement of people and new technology, the Scottish economy had a huge effect on other parts of the world.
scottish industries
Scottish Industries

The Scottish economy was dominated by

five key industries:

  • Coal
  • Iron and Steel
  • Shipbuilding
  • Fishing
  • Textiles


  • Fastest growing industry
  • Employed over 150,000 miners.
  • Facing growing competition from oil, gas and electricity.
  • Mine owners were reluctant to adopt new technology

The Main Coal Fields in Scotland


Central Belt



  • New technology allowed steel to be mass produced.
  • Steelworks were built in towns such as Airdrie, Coatbridge, Mossend and Wishaw
  • Parkhead Forge in Glasgow produced armour plate for Royal Navy battleships
  • Naval arms race with Germany provided a boost for iron and steel industries.


  • Clyde shipyards were among the best in the world.
  • 1879 world’s first steel hulled ship was launched on the Clyde and orders flooded in.
  • 1 in 5 ships in the work were built on the Clyde.
  • Again the naval arms race and the building of Dreadnoughts provided an important boost for shipyards.
  • The growth of the railways allowed fresh fish to be transported across the country.
  • The main catch for Scottish fishermen was herring.
  • The men travelled around the coast following the shoals of herring.
  • The fisherwomen travelled to the ports to gut the fish and pack them into barrels.


  • Continued to be a major employer.
  • Jute – a raw material for sacking - was brought to Dundee from Bangladesh and treated with whale oil.
  • It was then used to make coal sacks, nose bags for horses etc.
  • Over 70,000 people in Dundee were employed in the Jute industry.
  • In Paisley many factories produced cotton and provided thousands of people with jobs.
scottish politics in 1914
Scottish Politics in 1914

Before 1914 the Liberal Party dominated Scottish

politics and in the 1910 election they won 57 out of 70

seats in Scotland.

They were popular for a number of reasons:

  • Their policies at times challenged the aristocracy and big business.
  • They also opposed big landowners.
  • New Liberal ideas of government intervention to help the poor were increasingly popular.
scottish politics in 191415
Scottish Politics in 1914
  • Young Liberals – a group of 2,500 young Liberal supporter took their message to the streets of Scotland through leaflets and public speeches.
  • In 1886 the party was split over the issue of Home Rule for Ireland. Some who were UNIONISTS left the party and formed the Liberal Unionists.
  • They joined with the Conservatives in 1912 to create the Scottish Unionist Party.
other political parties conservatives
Other Political Parties - Conservatives
  • Conservatives were associated with landowners and landlords in the towns so working class people were reluctant to support them.
  • The Conservatives also supported PROTECTIONISM – the policy of imposing taxes on import to protect home industries.
  • Scottish farmers and businesses who depended on international trade were worried about this.
other political parties labour
Other Political Parties - Labour
  • In 1888 James Keir Hardie, an Ayrshire miners’ leader stood for election as an independent Labour candidate.
  • By the summer of 1888, Hardie set up the Scottish Labour party who campaigned for improved working conditions and political reform.
  • In 1893, Hardie also played a key role in setting up the Independent Labour Party. This merged with the SLP the following year and in 1900 the ILP joined the Labour Representation Committee (LRC).
  • However before the First World War, Labour had failed to make any great impact in Scottish politics.
scottish identity
Scottish Identity
  • Before the Great War, most Scots thought of themselves as British and were happy to be part of the British Empire.
  • Scots took pride in the fact that Scotland was part of the world’s leading industrial and military superpower.
  • Scots soldiers served bravely as part of the UK army and many Scots businessmen contributed greatly to the success of the UK economy.
  • Scotland had a stereotypical tartan and bagpipe image and this was reflected in newspaper and magazines.
martial tradition
Martial Tradition
  • In the 1700s under the Highland Clan System men were expected to be effective soldiers ready to fight under their Clan chiefs.
  • Scottish soldiers were praised for their martial tradition – they were brave and trustworthy who would fight to the end for their regiment and country.
  • Highlanders were regarded as fierce warriors and between 1777 and 1800 the Highlands produced 20 regiments with the British army.
  • The kilt was officially adopted as part of their uniform and they marched to the sound of the bagpipes wherever they went.
  • As the Empire grew, so too did the need for soldiers.
the outbreak of war
The Outbreak of War
  • When war broke out in 1914 there was great pressure on young men not to let down their ancestors and family traditions.
  • 557,000 Scottish men who joined up were killed or injured.
  • The overall death rate for the British army during four years of war was 11%.
  • The Scottish casualty rate was 26%