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 Dunbartonshire’s War

News from the front was slow and often inaccurate, and some families were badly misled, suffering an emotional time because of false information.

For example, in 1914, Malcolm McLean was informed that his son Robert had been killed in action on 24 September but , on the same day, Mr McLean received a letter from Robert dated after the 24th. Private Robert McLean was one of the first to enlist and survived the war.

Correspondence played a major role in morale for both troops and those left behind. Soldiers often wrote letters to their families and many were published in local newspapers. Some soldiers drew pictures and cartoons, or wrote poetry.

A letter from a Sergeant in the 9th Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders told how they were sent into the trenches, and as usual "B" Company, which comprises the Kirkintilloch and Milngavie Companies, were sent first to show the stuff the battalion is made of.

An officer described "ruined Belgium" and said that it would be impossible to describe "the utter terribleness and the ghastly reality. The roads are torn and blown up by shells; each village is worse than another - uninhabited, crumbling, smashed to atoms. No birds sing in this region of death".

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Private Archie Gilkison.


Small Boy: "Excuse me, old chap, but if any of these toys were made in Germany, I...I can't, you know!" This cartoon was drawn by Private Archibald Gilkison, 2/10th (Cyclist) Battalion, Royal Scots, who was born at 199 High Street, Dumbarton.

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