About a month after Britain entered the war the article below appeared in the PA. I think it is worth reprinting in full as it gives a chilling insight into the patriotism, xenophobia and clear sense of purpose which was current in 1914.
Three local men, all pillars of the community, are mentioned in the article. Provost William Garrick lived at Drumlea, Perth Road. Later during the war he was succeeded as Provost by William Peddie. Garrick’s neighbour, David Wishart of Pittarrow was owner of the Strathearn Power Loom Works which then occupied the Branston site on Back Dykes. He was the largest employer in the parish. Major Williamson lived at Easter Clunie. We later hear of him chairing the tribunal and hearing the appeals of those men who were reluctant conscripts. However at the start of the war there was no conscription, and the armed services depended on young patriotic men volunteering en masse.
ABERNETHY AND THE CALL
MUST FIGHT THE MILITARY MONSTER
“Last night a large and enthusiastic meeting was held in the Public Hall, Abernethy, with view to stimulating recruiting in the neighbourhood. Provost Garrick, who presided, mentioned that a good number of men had already heard the bugle call of the Motherland, and had taken their stand round the colours in the defence of right and justice. He thought they could do still better, however, and he was willing to enrol all young men who felt it their duty to assist Lord Kitchener in building up the great army to decide the fortunes of this deplorable war. Mr D B Nicolson, Perth, who appeared as a special delegate under the Perth City and County Recruiting Association, made a rousing appeal to the patriotism of the young men of the district. He said that we were engaged in open hostilities with a first class Power, who were bent on prosecuting the war with a savage brutality which would put to the blush the cruellest days of vandalism of the Dark Ages. They must fight, and fight to a victorious finish this military monster, who has been sharpening his teeth and grinding his sword on our very hearths the while he was enjoying the unsuspecting hospitality of our country. The soap has been taken out of our eyes, and Heaven save us if we ever again allowed this serpent to nestle in our bosom and batten on our life’s blood. He urged the young and strong men to come forward in great num- bers in this time of grave national danger, and to bear in mind that their county regiment, the Black Watch, was still urgently requiring men, both for their Territorial service and regular battalions.
Major Williamson explained the conditions of enlistment in the National Reserve, and expressed the hope that the older men of the community would join in good numbers.
Mr Wishart exhorted the men who had no military training to swell the numbers of this civic guard, as he hoped soon to overcome the difficulty of rifles and ammunition.
Mr John Little, of the Recruiting Association explained the terms of enlistment in the various arms of the service, and invited inquiries and enrolments at the recruiting office at 42 St. John’s Street, Perth. A vote of thanks to the Chairman concluded a very successful evening.’
Perthshire Advertiser 12/9/1914
The War Time Abernethy exhibition in the museum has some new material to show this year. The museum welcomes artefacts, photos and information to add to this topical display which will be retained for the time being. (Tel. 01738 850 889).