Recruitment and Conscription, Pacifism and Conchies

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Paper 2 How Far Checklists: Scotland and the Impact of the Great War


Recruitment and Conscription, Pacifism and Conchies

  1. The Independent Labour Party was a socialist party separate from Labour who had a strongly pacifist attitude, its pacifist newspaper “Forward” was closed down.

  2. The Union of Democratic Control (UDC) was an anti-war organisation that opposed conscription, censorship and other DORA restrictions. A left wing organisation, famous UDC members included the future Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald.

  3. UDC members were often threatened with arrest or violence from members of the public or accused of being traitors. At its highpoint in 1915 the UDC had 300,000 members though this dropped to 10,000 by 1918.

  4. Due to a shortage of volunteers military conscription was introduced in January 1916 for unmarried men from 19-40.

  5. Later this was extended in May 1916 to married men. By 1918 men up to age 50 with military experience were conscripted.

  6. Exemptions from conscription – physically or mentally impaired, work of national importance e.g. coal miners.

  7. Conscientious objectors (conchies) objected on moral/political ( e.g. a socialist/pacifist) or religious grounds( e.g. a pacifist religion such as Quakers)

  8. Those wishing to avoid military service had to appear before a military tribunal to prove their case. Tribunals needed as many men as possible for the war so found most cases unproven.

  9. 16,000 men in the UK objected to fighting, around 7,000 conchies agreed to join the army in non-combat duties e.g. stretcher bearers, ambulance drivers.

  10. Alternativists did non-military work of national importance e.g. farming or coal mining, a hard, dirty and dangerous job. 1,500 Absolutists refused all military service and were sentenced to military prison and hard labour, at least 73 died in prison.

Paper 2 How Far Checklists: Scotland and the Impact of the Great




  1. DORA was the short name for the Defence of the Realm Act which allowed the government to introduce new measures to protect the country during war. Became law on 8 August 1914.

  2. Initially, government introduced measures to protect the country’s ports and railways from sabotage, controlling resources and communications and defending against spies.

  3. The War Office Press Bureau was created and this censored the fighting. Reporters were not allowed anywhere close to Western Front. News was censored, as were letters sent home by soldiers. Battles such as The Somme were reported as successes.

  4. Aliens – Many people lived in Britain who were not born here. If they had been born in an enemy country e.g. Germany, Austria etc and had not become British subjects, they were classed as enemy aliens. Failure to register could result in a fine or imprisonment.

  5. Enemy aliens in Scotland were taken to internment camps like Stobs Centre in Hawick. There were cases of violence against foreigners, e.g. anti-German riots following the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915.

  6. Sale of alcohol – Laws were passed restricting the sale of alcohol and the opening hours of public houses. The price of alcohol was also controlled by the government. By 1916 opening hours had been reduced to 5.5 hours per day (previously 13 hours) and pubs were closed on a Sunday. The strength of beer and whisky was reduced.

  7. Curfews – were imposed giving the right to stop and search anyone out at night without proper authority. People were forbidden to enter certain areas e.g. the docks, train stations without a ticket or even buy binoculars without official permission.

  8. Industry –The Munitions of War Act of 1916 gave complete control over war production to Lloyd George. He could settle disputes, forbid strikes, limit profits and send workers where they were needed. It also set up its own munitions factories and took control of the coal industry in 1917.

  9. Conscription was introduced as part of DORA.

  10. The Highlands and the land question – DORA was used to maximise food production within the country. Local councils could take over land that was not being used for food production and grow crops on it. Propaganda to eat less and grow more spread across the country. Local crofting tenants were allowed temporary access to unused farmland to help food production. After the war some tenants refused to return land to owners.

(Also see class notes for opposition to DORA)

Paper 2 How Far Checklists: Scotland and the Impact of the Great War



  1. War work - Munitions, land army, police, conductors etc. Some women, such as nurses, filled more traditional jobs.

  2. During the war nurses such as Mairi Chisholm became important role models for women eager to feel they were ‘doing their bit’ for the war effort. Mairi Chisholm – awarded the Order of Leopold by King of Belgium for nursing bravery

  3. Elsie Inglis created the Scottish Women’s Hospitals Committee that sent over 1000 women doctors, nurses, orderlies and drivers to war zones across Europe and the Balkans. She was also involved in setting up four Scottish Women’s Hospitals, which had much lower levels of death from disease than the more traditional military hospitals.

  4. Employment figures - Before the war, fewer than 4,000 women worked in heavy industry in Scotland. By 1917 over 30,000 women were employed during the war making munitions in Scotland.

  5. Dilution meant the fear expressed by skilled men who had served a seven-year apprenticeship that their skills would be ‘diluted’ by quickly-trained women. Those men feared that working women would threaten their skills, their status in the workforce, their wages and even their future employment.

  6. Rent strikes were the refusal of people to pay high rents charged by landlords. 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 and threatened evictions.

  7. In May 1915 the first rent strike began and soon about 25,000 tenants in Glasgow had joined the strike. Eventually strikes spread to Aberdeen and Dundee.

  8. Rent increased by as much as 23%. Women protested by holding placards during protests, blocking access to authorities trying to evict tenants. If Sheriff Officers got the entrances of buildings, women would pull their trousers down to embarrass them.

  9. In Govan, an area of Glasgow where shipbuilding was the main occupation, the women organised an effective opposition to the rent increases. The main figure in the movement was Mary Barbour and the protestors soon became known as “Mrs Barbour’s Army”.

  10. On 17 November 1915 a mass demonstration in George Square worried the government. The government passed the Rent Restriction Act. Rents were frozen to 1914 levels unless improvements had been made to the property.

Paper 2 How Far Checklists: Scotland and the Impact of the Great War


Impact on society: Commemoration and Remembrance

  1. Estimates of Scottish war dead vary from 74,000 to 100,000; the Glasgow HLI alone lost 18,000 men. Few families in Scotland escaped the death of some male relative during the war.

  2. All Scottish regiments suffered heavy losses. 40% of the Royal Scots forces at Gallipoli died fighting the Turkish forces.

  3. The Royal Scots Fusiliers had only 70 men left from 1000 after the retreat from Mons in autumn 1914.

  4. Over the course of the war, the Royal Scots lost 11,000 men. The Gordon Highlanders lost 9,000 and the Black Watch lost 10,000.

  5. Glasgow lost 18,000 men, Dundee lost 4,000 and 17% of the soldiers from the Isle of Lewis were killed.

  6. The minutes silence began on Remembrance Day November 11th 1919.

  7. The British Legion & the British Legion Scotland were set up in 1921 under the direction of retired General Douglas Haig. The Haig Fund Poppy day started in 1921.

  8. The Scottish National War Memorial opened in Edinburgh Castle in 1927, paid for by fund raising throughout Scotland.

  9. Smaller memorials sprang up in towns and villages throughout Scotland e.g. the memorial to the fallen Hearts players at Haymarket in Edinburgh.

  10. The War Graves Commission was set up to care for British war graves throughout the world, over 600 cemeteries in France & Belgium alone.

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