War is declared

Britain declared war on 4th August 1914. The immediate reaction, as reported in the Barrhead News, was not too severe; the war seemed more of an inconvenience that dampened the mood, as local people prepared for the holiday season. At this point, no one imagined that the conflict would last very long.

At the start of the war there was no shortage of local men volunteering for the armed forces. This state of affairs was reflected on a wider scale. From the beginning of the war to December 1915, it is estimated that Scotland produced over 300,000 recruits. Glasgow alone raised 30,000 men in the first ten weeks of the war.

On 5th August 1914, the local Barrhead Territorials, 'G' company, 6th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, were mobilised. Eighty-four men under the command of Captain Hugh Locke prepared for duty. About a hundred army and navy reservists mobilised and joined their units.

On the same day, all local Busby territorials in the Highland Light Infantry, Cameronians and Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders reported to their respective HQs.

After 'G' company set off, two more battalions of Territorials were formed: 2/6th Battalion and 3/6th Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. These became draft finding units and sent thousands of men to war over the next four years.

By the end of September 1914, over one hundred men from Busby were serving in the Army or Navy. Many Busby men responded to Lord Kitchener's famous 'Your Country Needs You' recruitment drive, with most serving in the 9th or 15th (Scottish) Divisions. The 9th Division was the senior Division in the New Army.

J. J. Laws, the local Neilston historian, recounted his memory of going to Loch Libo Road as a young boy, to see a battalion of Highlanders who had marched from Irvine, recruiting volunteers along the way. A number of young men from Neilston entered the ranks of civilians who had already joined. They continued on their way to Maryhill barracks, where most of them became recruits. The bottom photograph shows soldiers from the 9th Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry arriving in Southampton in November 1914.

The enthusiasm for signing up was not limited to those who were eligible to fight. The Southern Press newspaper of 11th Sept 1914 published a poem by a Clarkston lady, urging mothers to let their sons go off to do their duty:

'Our country is calling to mothers
Will you send us your sons - today
Or selfishly keep them beside you
While other folks sons ride away?'