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Stobs and the Volunteers

Stobs – the very name could send shudders down the spines of generations of Scottish soldiers!

Because for some it would conjure memories of mud and midges; wind and wet; and a sense of abandonment in the middle of nowhere.

Stobs was located deep in the Scottish Borders, by Hawick, and became one of the largest military training camps in Scotland. But in those balmy days before the First World War, it was a grand place for a summer holiday (or, officially, camp and manoeuvres) for any number of Territorial units. The photographs on this page are part of a set taken with the obvious object of encouraging enlistment. Some were taken around the battalion’s home base at Haddington; others are clearly marked ‘Stobs Camp, 1904’.



Published by the photographer Gordon of Haddington the set runs through a demonstration of the attractions of volunteer service – splendid uniforms, exercises in the countryside, camping under canvas, band practice, comradeship and guns. However, the volunteers in these images were in for some radical changes in their near future.

In 1908 the 6th and 7th Volunteer Battalions of the Royal Scots merged to form the 8th (Territorial) Battalion. They trained in the coast defence role and expected to be deployed in that duty in East Lothian, or at least in Scotland, if war came.  Despite this, on mobilisation in August 1914, they were rapidly brought up to war establishment, trained for active service overseas and were in France as part of the 7th Division by November 1914.

Much of the military history of East Lothian in the First (and Second) World War is still unexplored and uncatalogued. Resources at the John Gray Centre can open a window on this period. Photographs, documents, memorabilia and official records such as valuation rolls can help track the footprint of the many units that passed through the county in these times of national mobilisation.

If you are researching a relative who served in the Great War or who lived in East Lothian during that period, please contact us to share their story with us or feel free to post it on the website yourself.

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