Scots in Great War London

Scots in Great War London

Paul McFarland with Hugh Pym
ARRSE Rating
2 Mushroom Heads
This book pulls together many stories, of people and organisations, with a connection to the Scottish community in Great War London. The author has researched military records, club and church records for several organisations and knits them together by their Scottishness. The choice of featured organisations is interesting, from the London Scottish rugby team to the Caledonian Club, Scots Guards and Canadian Scottish Regiments.

I liked the level of detail about St. Columba’s Church, which fed and entertained nearly 50,000 Scottish troops throughout the conflict, using Boy Scouts, Junior Church members, and a large number of ladies in the congregation to provide meals, collect and deliver soldiers to railway stations, and make Scottish lads feel at home. The amount of organisation, work and money needed for this epic effort is astounding.

There’s a section on Sir Douglas Haig, and another on Burns Clubs as well as the Crown Court Church of Scotland. Each section has details of some of the individuals who belonged to them, their military service and what happened to them.

The book is crammed with detail, but I found it rather disjointed, as the focus on organisations meant bobbing back and forth in time as each new section started. My other half, with a Scottish Father, also read the book, and used the word ‘turgid’ to describe it. I wouldn’t be quite so blunt, but my summary is that it takes a lot of effort to take so much interesting information and produce a book I can only describe as dull.

Two mushroom heads to acknowledge the research undertaken.

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