The Courier has just published The Scottish Soldier’s Story, a commemorative book of much of the material from our special First World war supplements published over the last five years.
The First World War was probably the single most important event of the 20th Century – it shaped the world in which we live today and changed the global landscape forever in so many ways. In 2014 The Courier began producing a series of commemorative supplements telling the story of the Great War and, most importantly, of local people.
Over the following five years we told stories of heroism, heartache and a hell that is difficult to contemplate in this century.
These accounts, many of the first-hand, have now been collected into a special Courier book, First World War: The Scottish Soldier’s Story. Each of the five chapters looks in details at each year of the war, the major battles, sea and air warfare, the political scene, and the home front, illustrated with poignant and relevant archive photographs, paintings and satirical cartoons.
Buy your copy at www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk
Over the last five years, many local readers have shared stories of their loved ones’ exploits in the First World War, many of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice. In addition, prominent historians from Tayside and beyond have contributed detailed and informative features for the supplements.
Dr Billy Kenefick and Dr Derek Patrick, founders of Great War Dundee, are glad to see much of the material from the supplements amalgamated into a commemorative book.
Presenting some astonishing statistics, Dr Kenefick says: “For the UK as a whole (not counting the colonial troops) there were more than 740,000 casualties although some have argued that the figure is even higher. Of these 100,000 would have been Scots.
“The Scots gave in disproportionate amounts relative to the general population, and the figure could be as high as 150,000,” he continues.
“Dundee had more than 4,200 war dead, a devastating casualty rate of more than 15%, double the rate of Glasgow and one of the highest of any city in the UK.
The Battle of Loos, a British offensive that started on September 25 1915, decimated ‘Dundee’s Ain’, the 4th Battalion of the Black Watch which was overwhelmingly Dundee men.
“Out of the 20 officers and 420 men who took part, 19 officers and 230 men were killed or wounded,” says Billy. “And by mid-October the battle had taken its toll on the 8th and 9th Battalions too.
“There wasn’t a tenement, house or cottage in Dundee that wouldn’t have been touched by this so you can imagine the effect it would have had on the city and its surrounding area.
“But even before Loos, Dundee was already being disproportionately affected by the war. To give an example, there was a tiny lane in Dundee called Todburn Lane and even by December 1914 five men from there had left behind their families.”
Drs Kenefick and Patrick believe The Courier’s supplements have made a fantastic contribution to the centenary commemoration of the war and The Scottish Soldier’s Story is a fitting tribute to the part played by the men and women of Courier Country during the Great War.
“The Courier supplements examined major battles, events, local personalities linked with the First World War, and coverage of a myriad of activities across the Home Front that helped provide a comprehensive account of events between 1914-1918 across the area,” says Dr Patrick of St Andrews University.
“Courier readers have contributed many local stories that ensured the content of each supplement has a deeply personal feel with real relevance for the area and engage with a local audience, so much so that most can relate to at least one of the featured stories.
“Many of these have focused on little known aspects of the war, and often unearthing hidden histories overlooked in some publications,” he continues.
“It is these local stories and accounts, outlining the experiences of our relatives, men and women, from familiar cities, towns and villages, which bring the history of the Great War to life.”
Dr Kenefick adds: “The war will always be synonymous, rightly or wrongly, with lengthy casualty lists but we need to remember that behind each name there is an individual, a family and a story. The supplements – and now this book – have provided a platform for these stories of courage, sacrifice and endurance, to reach a wide audience and will hopefully inspire future generations to take a close interest in the events of 1914-18 and ensure the stories of the 30,490 men who left Dundee to fight and of the people left at home were never forgotten.”
Naval historians Iain Stewart and Roderick Stewart have also made many valuable contributions over the past five years.
“The first conclusion I reached after four years of research was the extraordinary bravery shown by ordinary men and women to even participate in the First World War, either as volunteers or conscripts,” says Lieutenant Commander Iain Stewart RD Royal Naval Reserve.
“The bravery and selflessness of those who left safety and home to join the fight meant that subsequent generations followed their example and took on the greater struggle in 1939. If they hadn’t then our lives today would be radically different. The Courier book The Scottish Soldier’s Story will commemorate the sacrifice made by so many and ensure the legacy lives on.”
Lt Cdr Roderick Stewart adds: “The Courier First World War supplements have covered important topics and it is right that much of this material should be compiled into a more permanent format in The Scottish Soldier’s Story.
“The war was so dominated by the terrible deadlock in the trenches that it is often overlooked that there was also the challenge of creating tactics to suit new technology, and that many successful lessons were learned on land, sea and in the air. The RNVR War Memorial on board HMS Unicorn is an important tangible reminder of Courier Country’s local naval contribution.”
First World War: The Scottish Soldier’s Story, £11.99, available from www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk or call 0800 318 846 (Freephone), quoting CSOST, lines open Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, Sat 9am-5pm.
Also available from the DC Thomson Shop, Albert Square, Dundee DD1 1DD