WW1: On the Falkirk Home Front during Great War

'Julian', a First World War tank, is surrounded by children when it visits Denny Cross in October 1918. Picture: Falkirk Archives
'Julian', a First World War tank, is surrounded by children when it visits Denny Cross in October 1918. Picture: Falkirk Archives

While the brave men of the Falkirk district fought in Europe against a merciless enemy during the Great War, life still went on back home.

The war had a severe effect on all aspects of everyday life and by 1915 weary communities were starting to strain over the burden of an all-consuming conflict.

The Falkirk Herald was full of stories from both the battlefields and the home front and a great emphasis was put on helping the families of soldiers and sailors cope with the loss of incomes that war brought.

In one extract, the difficulties faced by the East Stirlingshire branch of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association was highlighted.

On February 6, 1915 we reported: “... it might be pointed out that in order to be of greater service to those among whom it operates, the branch has been cut adrift from any opportunity of recovering help in its work from the Prince of Wales Fund.”

A total of £3000 was raised locally for the fund but anger was raised about where the money was going.

The report added: “It is an undoubted fact that this £3000 was mainly subscribed on the understanding that the soldiers’ and sailor’s dependants would primarily benefit from it, but the illusion need be no longer entertained, as not one shilling of this huge sum can or will be granted for this purpose.”

Other national emergencies were taking their toll on the local population, especially for necessities like food which rose in price.

Another report on February 6, 1915 said: “In a moment of national strain like the present it is unfortunate that we should have to face a serious rise in the cost of foodstuffs.”

Blackouts became the norm during conflict

Residents in the Falkirk district were praised by Brigadier General Hare for their treatment of troops who were stationed in the burgh during World War One.

Blackouts at night to prevent attacks from Germany were also becoming common.

A report on February 20, 1915, said: “Street lamps are unlit and shopkeepers and householders have to keep the lights from their windows obscured. That there is sufficient cause for this has been amply demonstrated by the murderous raids that have been made on certain towns in England.”