September 1914

September 1914

Recruitment for the armed forces was still popular in Lanarkshire in September 1914, with rallies and meetings still going strong, calls to join up were even being raised at local football games. The majority of the Hamilton Academicals first team had already signed up. It was noted in the local Press that a 'rich harvest of recruits are welcomed at the barracks'. Even those who were previously non-conformist were said to have begun to enlist. Grants were now to be made available to local men with families as an incentive to join up with them receiving £3 for moving their wife to the Barracks and £2 per child.  Even Harry Lauder’s son Lieutenant John Lauder rushed home from a tour in Australia to re-join the 8th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Interestingly, a man on assault charges was allowed to leave without punishment on the condition that he 'promised to use his energies against a common enemy' and join the Army.

Not everyone who wanted to fight was eligible' however' as every man who wished to enlist had to undergo a medical examination before they were allowed to train. Certain physical attributes were important in any man who wished to fight for his country and minimum physical standards were set. Men had to be 5ft 3in or taller to enlist and have a chest of over 34" and waist measurement of over 30". These criteria were set at the outset of war but relaxed to let smaller men join up once all the taller men had joined up. Initially the age limit was 19-30 years old but again this was to be extended, only three weeks later. The average adult male was much smaller 100 years ago, the average height was 5ft 7in due to poor diet, lack of healthcare and harder working conditions.

Driving accidents, like mining accidents, seem to become more commonplace, with a doctor running down two sisters at New Cross,  seriously injuring one. Local children were warned to be more careful on the roads too, after a local lorry driver appeared in court for whipping an eight year old boy for jumping on his truck and stealing some bottles. The driver was found guilty but not sentenced as he said that he had only meant to scare the child, and the judge said that he had been a constant target for the children. Lastly, a man was fined 15s for driving on without having his license with him as "police were particularly vigilant on account of the possibility of German spies still knocking around". Other stories circulated around the country dealing with German spies, which may or may not have been true. In one, it was said that a quick thinking engineman was able to save a speeding train when the driver had been immobilised by a spy!

Many Belgian refugees began to arrive in the country, including the Queen and the Royal children, the Belgian King, Albert the 1st was prescribed by the Belgian constitution to lead his army during war time. He would also allow his eldest son and heir Leopold III, who was fourteen years old, to enlist later in the war. British trade, however, was suffering greatly due to German blockades with submarines and warships targeting vessels around Britain, resulting in trade decreasing by £33 million compared to the same month in 1913. As a result of this it was a priority for everyone to reduce waste, save money and save lives.

Citizens were asked to use water sparingly. Parts of Lanarkshire only had about two months excess supply of water in case something went wrong. Further to this people were asked to use milk sparingly or, if a family had an excess, to think about making it into cheese so it would last longer. Cheddar, Cheshire, Derby, Gloucester and Leicester cheeses were suggested. This month over fifteen British shipping vessels were either captured or wrecked by the Germans, who patrolled with four destroyers and two cruisers.

Further to this, the War Office made an appeal for anybody with spare spectacles, or riding gear to donate these to help men on the front line or in training as they had no saddles, stirrups and bridles left. Glasses were said to be more important for men on the Front, so any spares or non-essential pairs should be donated. Every effort would be made to return any borrowed items, it was said.

Cadzow Bridge, Hamilton.