At home - support for soldiers

As soon as war was declared, local people sprang into action and War Relief Funds were set up almost immediately: Barrhead's Relief Fund started on 20th August 1914 and raised £3000 in its first seven months. A selection of the donors are listed here (top right image). (Barrhead News image (c) British Library Board. All rights reserved. Shelfmark: 1914 SCT 2928 [1914]).

Women's groups at local churches began to collect money and items to send comfort to the lads at the front. Food, clothing and cigarettes were parcelled up and delivered to members of the congregations serving in the war. Giffnock South Parish Church Ladies Work Party bought a sewing machine in November 1914 to make articles for the Red Cross, including shirts, cuffs, mittens, socks, towels, vests and body belts. By the end of May 1915 over five hundred items had been despatched.

Schools also played their part in the war effort. As well as knitting socks, mittens and balaclavas for the troops, Busby School pupils' subscriptions paid for cigarettes, sweets, soap and pencils to be sent to Scottish regiments at the front and to the Scottish hospital at Rouen.

The war left many local clubs and societies short of money and members. However, this did not deter them from finding ways to raise funds. Despite the lack of subscriptions and players, Giffnock Bowling and Tennis Club raised the substantial sums of £100 in 1917 and £230 in 1918. Busby and Clarkston Musical Association donated the takings from several of its annual concerts to war relief.

As the war progressed and wounded soldiers began to return home, local people put on entertainment for them. In May 1916, members of Clarkston Bowling and Tennis Club entertained forty-eight wounded soldiers from Bellahouston Hospital. The men were cheered by a large crowd and each soldier received a packet of Scottish Gem cigarettes.

Many more individual acts of charity and compassion took place during the war years. The Christmas greeting shown (middle right image) was sent to Private James Miller by the Thornliebank Soldiers & Sailors Comforts Association. The message on the back sums up the gratitude many people felt towards the soldiers fighting on their behalf:

'Dear Friend,
As we have now reached the final stage in this part of our work, we desire to sincerely thank you for the services rendered to the cause of freedom. We congratulate you on the glorious victory gained - Hope soon to be welcoming you back to village life again.'

Further impact: employment and rationing

However, by the end of 1914 it became obvious that the war was not going to be over quickly.

More and more men volunteered and left their jobs, resulting in a lack of skilled labour. All over the country production was threatened and services reduced as workers from all industries went to fight. A notice for the Giffnock branch of the Clydesdale Bank from 1917 shows how all kinds of businesses were affected:

'Giffnock, Clydesdale Bank. - Mr Andrew Lane, agent of the Clydesdale Bank at Pollokshaws, intimates that owing to the depletion of staff for military purposes, the sub-branch at Giffnock will, after 27th April, be open only on Friday for the transaction of business while the war lasts. Mr Lane adds that customers requiring to do banking business on other days of the week should call at the Pollokshaws office.'

Women became more important to the work force than ever before to do the kinds of jobs left vacant by servicemen. For example, by September 1917 the Glasgow Corporation Tramways department workforce was over 50% female. The advertisement from the Barrhead News (bottom right image) is looking for young women to work in the Ferguslie Thread Works in Paisley, but warns 'Applications from those on Munitions Work will not be entertained'  (Barrhead News image (c) British Library Board. All rights reserved. Shelfmark: 1917 SCT 3732 [1917]). 

In the decades before the war, Britain had been producing less of its own food and importing more from abroad. The war meant less food could come through from Europe and this was combined with the loss of agricultural labour as more men enlisted.

Locally, there was a drive to get people to grow their own food. A Barrhead Food Production Committee was formed; local people began to work garden plots and areas of Cowan Park were turned over to agriculture. In Clarkston, the trustees of Overlee Estate granted several acres of ground on Overlee Hill for use as wartime allotments. Williamwood Golf Club offered use of part of its land for growing vegetables.

The shortage of food was not a huge problem until the end of 1916. Britain had been importing and exporting to the Americas but in 1917, Germany started to intensify a successful U-boat campaign in the Atlantic and many merchant ships were sunk.

This had a major effect on Britain's food supply and the government finally introduced rationing in 1918. Rationing affected normal life in all sorts of ways: for example, in Busby, children were deprived of Alfonso Coia's local ice cream, as its production was banned.