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from volunteering to conscription


So It Looks To Me


the autobiography of SirWilliam Darling



n the outbreak of war,William Darling,a future Lord Provost of

Edinburgh,expressed an attitude that was shared by many young


‘I must somehow,get into uniform’


Reflecting on the mood of the country he wrote:

What an urgency there was in these days! How eager men were to

enlist!Was it that they were bored with their civil occupations or was

it because there had not been any opportunity since 1900 to take part

in a war? The excitement was general and it possessed me.

He joined Kitchener’s newArmy,initially serving as a Company

Quartermaster Sergeant with the 9th BlackWatch.Darling was

an educated man and received rapid promotion on account of his

background.Like many he held rather romantic ideals of war and what

military service entailed,imagining himself ‘a Sir Galahad in the field of

battle’.He would soon become familiar with the hard work,training and

physical exertion that was the life of a new soldier.

I recall my circumstances as a new soldier: we had no weapons of war.

We had,at this stage,no


had only an ardent willingness to train

for battle,and to get into it with the least possible


through the long

t h e

l u r e

o f

w a r



mu s t

s om e h ow


g e t

i n t o

u n i f o r m