West Lothian Highlight

West Lothian Highlight

Lance Corporal W Smart, Armadale, with his wife and family. He was killed on the first day of the Somme, 1 July 1917. Photo courtesy of Mr Jim Ferguson.
West Lothian played its full part in the First World War, whether making explosives, shell cases, or army boots...

At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, West Lothian was in its heyday - strategically located in the Central Belt between Edinburgh and Glasgow, with many thousands employed in shale, coal, and the other heavy industries, supplying some of the oil which powered the mighty Royal Navy, but one of the worst housed counties in the whole of Scotland.

Despite its small size and its small population, West Lothian played its full part in the First World War.  It sent thousands of soldiers to fight, and its heavy industries were turned over to the war effort, whether making explosives at Camilty, army boots in Linlithgow, shell cases in the foundries of Bathgate and Armadale, or digging fuel from the shale and coal mines all around the county.

In their 'spare time' too, the West Lothian people were busy in support of the war effort and the multifarious charities and good causes that depended on voluntary effort - notably the Edinburgh War Hospital at Bangour.