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'The Cost of Patriotism: Glasgow, 1914-1925.'

University of Stirling

Graham MacSporran graduated from Stirling in 2012. Fourth year part-time PhD researcher at Stirling. Research topic is the impact of the war on the well-being of the civilian population of Glasgow with particular reference to the works of Professor Jay Winter.

The cost of patriotism was borne not only by the men who served at the Front but also by their families who suffered hardship during their absence. Demobilisation did not bring normalcy or prosperity but even greater hardship. The presentation will focus on the impact of war on veterans' families during and after the war.  

Veterans returned from the war to find that their families had also paid the price of patriotism. Many families were immediately placed in poverty after the main wage-earner enlisted. Most struggled to survive on government allowances which were eroded by price inflation. As the war progressed, their plight became more acute with many being unable to clothe their children. In contrast, other families enjoyed the fruits of war: full employment, high wages in munitions work, improved standard of living and better health. The military families which had made the greatest sacrifice gained the least.

The immediate post-war years in Glasgow were difficult for veterans. They returned to their previous civilian jobs but the decline in world trade and the excess capacity created during the war led to a decline in the staple industries, such as shipbuilding. Unemployment, poverty and industrial unrest was the reward returned to the streets of Glasgow. The levels of hardship after the war were greater than during the war and would continue to be so for many years.

The cost of patriotism had been high.