This exhibition explored the stories of the Scottish diaspora and the war experiences of Commonwealth nations during the First World War.
In 1914, as the world prepared for war, thousands of men in Scotland enlisted for military service. Across the world, in the countries of the British empire where Scottish emigrants had settled, thousands more joined up.
Men of Scottish birth and kin became part of the armed forces of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, while in the great cities of England the Scottish military tradition also went to war.
Through poignant objects on loan from some of the countries where Scots had made new lives, as well as newsreel footage and photography, discover how war and loss was experienced and commemorated in different parts of the Commonwealth.
Pipe banner of the 92nd Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1915. The regimental badge, with its Gaelic motto ‘Dileas Gu Brath’ (Faithful Forever), was borrowed from the 48th Highlanders of Canada, based in Toronto. New overseas battalions drew upon the identities of older Scottish regiments.
Kilt made for issue to the 4th South African Infantry, 1918. The kilt was the ultimate expression of Scottish cultural and military identity. New Scottish units went to great lengths to achieve the traditional image.
Harold Brierley was a resident of Oldham, Lancashire when he volunteered for the ‘Manchester Scottish’. Serving with 15th Battalion Royal Scots, he was wounded and taken prisoner during the battle of Arras in 1917. This purse and coins were damaged by the impact of a bullet which hit Brierley in the chest.
Slouch hat belonging to EG Sinclair MacLagan, 1918. This type of hat became a symbol of Australian military identity. Sinclair MacLagan was a senior officer who commanded Australian troops at Gallipoli and in France. He was a Scotsman, but was considered an ‘honorary Australian’ and was one of the very few non-Australians still commanding at the end of the war.
James Sutherland was born in Caithness, Scotland. In 1914, when war broke out, he was working as a farm hand in Knapdale, near Gore in Southland, an area of concentrated Scottish settlement in New Zealand. He joined the 2nd Battalion Otago Infantry and served on the Western Front until his death in action in December 1917. This print was produced locally to commemorate men of Knapdale killed in the war. Sutherland’s portrait is at bottom left.
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