Blackburn soldier home from the front

Blackburn soldier home from the front

On 26 February 1915, the West Lothian Courier reported:

Private Thomas Smith of the Royal Scots has just arrived at his home in Albert Buildings, Blackburn, suffering from frostbite in the feet, sustained by too long exposure in the mud of the trenches. He has often been up to the waist in the mud, and altogether he says it is a most trying experience, what with the mud, discomfort and the incessant danger they run from German snipers, who were ever ready to fire at the smallest object that rose above the British trenches, which were not 100 yards distance from those of the enemy.  Good shots these snipers were. He thought the kilties were the greatest sufferers in the mud trenches, as once their kilt got "slaigered" with mud, it "caked" in time, and peeled their limbs by periodic contact with them.

Private Smith had seen Private Meek, Blackburn, just in the passing to and from the fighting line. They gave each other a wave of the hand.  Private John Erskine of Bathgate had also been met, and he said that Erskine had to be hauled out of the trenches, he having been nearly up to the neck in mud. It is believed that Erskine is lying in a London hospital at present.

Of the value of a "tot" of rum during exposure in the trenches, Private Smith speaks with certainty. If it had not been for the little rum they got, many of the men would not have been able to stand the intense cold. He remarked that this was the general opinion of the many teetotallers out there in the trenches, some of whom were only too glad to get it.

© West Lothian Local History Library

For more information on any aspect of West Lothian and the First World War, contact localhistory@westlothian.gov.uk   -  htttp://www.westlothian.gov.uk/article/2055/Local-History-Library.

Kilted troops in action
Highlanders on active service, 1914-15. Internet Archive Book Images on Flickr.