The Home Front
Soldiers from East Lothian served overseas from Baghdad to Belgium. Those who stayed in East Lothian supported the war effort in different ways: in reserved occupations, through voluntary work, by fundraising or simply supporting any remaining family members. They faced new challenges, developed local infrastructure and learnt new skills to meet the changing needs of a country at war. East Lothian’s people also made major contributions to national food production, defence and nursing.
In October 1914, Princess Mary, the daughter of Britain’s King George V, launched a Christmas Fund to send gifts to all those fighting in Britain’s armed services. Most men received a brass box containing a pipe, tobacco, cigarettes, a lighter and a Christmas card from the Princess Mary.
People left at home supported the war effort by volunteering with organisations like the Red Cross, organising fundraising events or by making and sending comforts out to the front line troops. These packages included clothing, toiletries and medical supplies. The Haddingtonshire Courier kept up momentum by reporting deliveries such as this example from 1916: ‘the committee had, during the past month given over 50 pairs of socks to Tranent men in the front in regiments other than the 8th Royal Scots, and to those in the Navy’.
Whilst children were aware of the impact of the war many of their later life recollections of the time highlight the excitement and interest they found in all the new experiences, sights and sounds around them.