Monday, 6 December 2010

2.3 scale and effects of military losses on Scottish society; commemoration and remembrance.

Source: The war memorial in Strontian

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The village lost nearly all the men who left for the war. The inscription on the memorial says ... "These were ours in the days of their boyhood and their names are our heritage".

The casualties caused by the war were only the first sign of change. The war was followed by an economic depression which caused high unemployment. Emigration from Scotland reached its peak in the early 1920s.

The rapid changes brought about by the war brought about a feeling that a bridge had been crossed between an old and a new Scotland. This feeling was especially apparent in books and poetry of the time. The most famous example is "Sunset Song" by Lewis Grassic Gibbon.(1932) The book tells the story of how the war changed a fictional farm community of Kinraddie in the Mearns. (The farming lands south of Aberdeen.) The book ends with a speech by the Minister at the unveiling of the war memorial.

A Memorial for the Fallen

The sense of loss led to the creation of a Scottish National War Memorial. This was designed by the architect Robert Lorimer and built on a site in Edinburgh Castle. It contains the roll of honour listing the names of all Scots or people of Scots parentage who lost their lives during the war. The graves of the fallen were far away in France or Belgium or even further. Many had no graves. The memorial became a place of pilgrimage for many Scots families.

The photograph shows the wreaths laid outside the memorial on the day of its formal opening.