The Doric Columns
WW1 ~ 1914-18
Between 1905 and 1914, inflation spiralled and the population was expanding. At first the War seemed like an escape route, as men enlisted to guarantee themselves food and regular wages. On 28th July 1914 WW1 began. Against a rising tide of Scottish Socialism and Trade Unionism a large numbers of Scottish men volunteer to fight. By the end of hostilities over 140,000 Scots soldiers had lost their lives. A higher ratio of the population than the rest of the UK.
There was an initial rush to enlist with the British Expeditionary Force; it had 157 battalions, 22 of which were Scottish. The Royal Scots regiment alone fielded 35 battalions throughout World War I and lost 12,000 men. Out of 10 Scottish Regiments it was estimated that Scotland lost about 100,000 men out of a British total of 745,000 losses. The fallen were known as ‘the Lost Generation’.
The Great War was a conflict of unparalleled ferocity.
There were 2.75M battle casualties on the Western Front alone, 25% of whom were killed, died of wounds or were missing in action. The majority suffered filthy contaminated wounds from high explosive shell, bomb and mortar blast. It was clear that the surgical experience of previous Wars was useless and existing standards of surgical care were hopelessly inadequate. In the early months of the war, many men died from gas gangrene because there had been far too long a delay in providing treatment. Consulting Surgeon to the British Forces Sir Anthony Bowlby realised that the wounded had to have surgery before they were sent back to the base hospitals. A complete revision of the way in which care would be delivered to the wounded soldier and surgical thinking and approach to the management of war wounds was required. Prominent in this regard was Aberdeen Surgeon Sir Henry Gray (inset) Consultant to the Royal Infirmary and the Sick Children's Hospital who made major contributions to all branches of surgery, especially orthopaedic surgery, and was instrumental in revolutionising the management of gunshot fractures of the femur or thigh bone. He was widely regarded as one of the leading figure in Wartime Surgery.
War Bonds & Julian the Tank Bank
In 1916, the Government began to issue War Bonds as a way of raising money. Since the 1st World War, National Savings campaigns have invited the public to invest in War Bonds and related products. The result has been a range of attractive posters, often by the best commercial artists.
Julian the Tank Bank (Tank No.113) - he was given to Aberdeen at the end of the 1st World War - sited at the Broadhill and remained there until 1940 when it was taken taken for WW2 Scrap. An area of town around the Castlegate where Julian was stood in 1918 is still known as "the tank" site, £2 million was raised in a week in Aberdeen by Julian over 16 Guineas per head from the ever canny and frugal Aberdonian Population. The incentive was that the City that invested in the most War Bonds got to keep Julian the Tank Bank.
There is a record of the `Tank Bank' tour through Scotland designed to raise money for the 1st World War through the issuing of War Bonds. Charged with raising money for the war, the Scottish War Savings Committee initiated a ‘Tank Bank’ campaign which, though carried out at home, would become one of the most successful tank operations of the entire war. A Scottish Regiment followed on Parade, a Tank No. 113 and referred to as `Julian' is active in the background demonstrating its capabilities by crossing barbed wire fence, a mound, a ditch and a wall Tank Bank Week in Aberdeen was a great success. Crowds in Rosemount Viaduct and Union Terrace clamoured to attend Julian while dominated by the large statue of William Wallace. The Tank also gave a demonstration in the Castlegate.
A Tank would arrive for a week with great fanfare, Civic Dignitaries and Local Celebrities would greet the Tank and speeches would often be made atop it. The tank would be accompanied by soldiers and artillery guns, sometimes an aeroplane would drop pamphlets over the Town or City prior to the Tank's appearance exhorting the people to invest. The Tank would usually put on a show for the crowds in order to demonstrate its capabilities. The visited town or city would have a fund raising target it tried to meet, the amount raised by each location would be reported in the National Press thus ensuring a strong competitive element, especially between the larger Industrial Cities
The mechanical patriot does doughty deeds under the statue of Wallace giving shots of crowds around "Julian", the "Tank Bank"; The Chairman of the Scottish War Savings Committee, Lord Strathclyde, (Alexander Ure) opened the campaign alongside another dignitary Lord Provost James Taggart (Granite Merchant) who invested £50,000 on behalf of the Aberdeen Corporation. Two ladies inside the tank itself busied themselves proffering War Bonds to Provost Taggart in uniform; .
The Tank Bank brought home to the community the necessity of saving all we can and lending all we can for the War effort. Lord Provost Taggart (Inset) said "We want your money not to continue but to end the war". while the War Savings Committee personnel stood atop the tank. Miss Findlay, Secretary of the War Savings Committee on her podium stated "Bonds and Certificates are really weapons with which you can strike dismay into the heart of the Germans". She was filmed walking in Union Terrace Gardens; Aberdeen Tank Bank Week realised £2,501,000 at £16.6s.2d. per person. "Tank You!"
The lesson the Tank teaches us is the spirit of overcoming difficulties.
Sir William Robertson, Lord Lieutenant of Fifeshire said "If anyone doubts the security of the Tank Bank - Well! Aberdeen was satisfied with it and many queued for Bonds." It is not surprising that Aberdeen invested so heavily as a near Garrison Town with 3 active Barracks many families would have had men in the Army and or at the front.
In 1918 the people had lost faith in their Politicians and their Propaganda as a result of a mismanaged War. Soldiers returning from the front found unemployment and poverty; the ‘land fit for heroes’ never happened. Although 200,000 new homes had been completed, plans for 1M did not materialise. The Wartime boom was followed by a sharp downturn in Trade from 1919 onwards. Britain lost its leading position as a world Economic power. Unemployment was severe as heavy industry collapsed. Revolution was in the air as the Red Flag was raised in George Square, Glasgow, demonstrating that politics were changing - radically. The Government fearing a Russian style revolt used Tanks against workless men while Glasgow's soldiers were confined to Barracks. By 1924 Britain had its 1st-ever Labour Government.
After a couple of feet of digging the soldiers inevitably hit water and the trenches became flooded. To make matters worse, the heavy artillery barrages destroyed the agricultural land-drains and the whole landscape became a sea of mud in which men could literally drown. Conditions were arguably at their worst at the Battle of Passchendale in the Ypres salient. After hours and days of standing in soaking socks and boots, Trench Foot would begin to set in. The men's feet would swell and go numb and then the skin would start to turn red or blue. Untreated feet rapidly became gangrenous and would need to be amputated.
To minimize the chances of contacting Trench Foot, the men were ordered to change into dry socks as often as possible. Around 1916, John Logie Baird started to sell under-socks prepared with borax to help alleviate the problems of wet feet. These were widely used by soldiers at the front. The soldiers were also instructed to 'anoint' each others' feet with whale oil at least once a day. It is estimated that a Battalion (1007 men and 30 officers) at the front would use up to 10 gallons of whale oil every day.
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