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The Scottish Branch of the British Red Cross Society worked independently from the parent body in London and, unlike other UK branches, Scotland enjoyed a high degree of autonomy. At the outbreak of the hostilities the Scottish Branch established a war executive committee under the Chairmanship of Sir George T Beatson, KCB. Immediately, the committee set about increasing voluntary staff, establishing suitable stores accommodation, and organising medical and surgical supplies for the front. The goal of the committee was to supply comforts for the troops without wasting money, materials or the efforts of the paid and voluntary personnel. The unspoken mantra of the Scottish Branch was efficiency, economy and endeavour.

In accordance with the War Office scheme for the organisation of Voluntary Aid in Scotland there were 459 Scottish Voluntary Aid Detachments with 15,000 volunteers placed at the disposal of the military authorities. In the opening months of the war, hospital equipment, a fleet of motor ambulances and the first mobile operating theatre were gifted to the War Office by public subscription and under the auspices of the Scottish Branch. On the home front, rest rooms for troops were established at Aberdeen, Arbroath, Bonar Bridge, Dingwall, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Larbert railway stations. Clothing and comforts collection depots were organised around the country and in the first six months of the war a quarter of a million garments alone were collected and dispatched to hospitals and hospital ships. A report into the activities of the Scottish Branch during the early months of the war claimed, 'it was the ungrudging personal effort' of the Scottish people that was at the heart of effective humanitarian aid.

Source: Record of War Work - An Appeal 1914-1916, The Scottish Branch, The British Red Cross Society.


9th Battalion Royal Scots with a donated ambulance christened "Auld Reekie".

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