Reaction to the outbreak of war

When war was declared in August 1914, there was mass enthusiasm for it all over Europe, as hundreds of thousands of men rushed to join up, confident that they would be home for Christmas.

Britain had a very small army in comparison to other European powers and immediately began a recruiting campaign. In Britain, 900,000 volunteered in the first three months, 20,000 signed up in Glasgow in August alone. Some were younger than the 18 years of age they claimed to be.

Scottish army volunteers

Highland troops in kilts pack their kits in World War One
Highland troops

Young men from Scotland were encouraged to join the army. More Scots volunteered in proportion to the size of the population than in any other area of the UK.

Young Scots came forward for many reasons such as peer pressure, feelings of guilt and a desire for adventure. Some joined as they would earn more money and believed that it would be better than life at home!

Most believed that if they did not join up quickly they would miss an adventure with their mates. For many young Scots the opportunity to sign up with their friends as part of a Pals Battalion encouraged them to go to war.

However, it was soon clear that the war would not be 'over by Christmas'.