Blantyre’s Call to Arms

In the first week of September 1914, the Hamilton Advertiser Newspaper told its readers that between three and four hundred men in Blantyre had responded to the wartime call to arms.

All those men had left their daytime employment and signed up in a hurried effort to get to training and onwards to the front line. It was very much thought the war would be over by Christmas time and there was an overwhelming sense of wanting to do their duty. Little did they know what horrors on the battlefields and the millions of deaths to come in an unprecedented prolonged war that would shape the first half of the 20th Century.

The following week, the Advertiser reported a correction when it came to light that actually 660 men had responded for active service. This followed an authentic reconciliation of names.

It was said, the collieries in particular were suffering badly as men chose to be “above ground”, rather than below, joining the colours. On average Blantyre collieries each lost 100 miners who had signed up for service. The paper rightly recognised that 660 people in such a small village as Blantyre signing up in the first week alone was a truly remarkable and brave “call to arms”.

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