|This is from the archives. I thought with the Scottish election coming up it is worth another look....I have also added some bits (thanks to delescluze)
I was listening to music on the way up the road today and one of those strange synergistic things happened. There were some military recruiters and as I walked by this tune by The Pogues came on...
As I was walking down the road
A feeling fine and larky oh
A recruiting sergeant came up to me
Says he you'd look fine in khaki oh
For the King he is in need of men
Come read this proclamation oh
A life in Flanders for you then
Would be a fine vacation now
That maybe so says I to him
But tell me sergeant dearie-oh
If I had a pack stuck upon my back
Would I look fine and cheerie oh
For they'd have you train and drill until
They had you one of Frenchies oh
It may be warm in Flanders
But it's draughty in the trenches oh
The sergeant smiled and winked his eye
His smile was most provoking oh
He twiddled and twirled his wee moustache
Says he I know you're only joking oh
For the sandbags are so warm and high
The wind you won't feel blowing oh
Well I winked at a cailin passing by
Says I what if it's snowing oh
Come rain or hail or wind or snow
I'm not going out to Flanders oh
There's fighting in Dublin to be done
Let your Sergeants and your Commanders go
Let Englishmen fight English wars
It's nearly time they started oh
I saluted the Sergeant a very good night
And there and then we parted oh
This all jogged my memory. My brother once said to me that about 50% of the SAS was made up of Scots even though Scotland only accounts for about 9% of the British population. I don't know if it is true but he was quite proud of this. He is a supporter of Scottish independence so I asked why he should be so proud of Scotland doing England's dirty work for it. He didn't have a reply.
I decided to look into it a bit more.
Not the SAS stuff but the general numbers involved.
As I said, Scots make up about 9% of the UK population but it seems that more Scots as a percentage get killed in almost every war we have been to.Some stats...
World War 1 - 27% of the Scots that fought were killed as opposed to the 12% total for the UK as a whole . 110,000 Scots dead in WWI, 15% of the total British war dead, higher in proportionate terms than for any other country in the Empire. And, of course, of those dead 13 out of 14 were privates and NCOs from the working class: not enough is done to remind people today of the 1930s definition of a bayonet as 'a weapon with a worker at each end.'
I think this photo with Churchill looking on as they go to sacrifice themselves is emblematic of the problem.
In World War 2 the Scots accounted for a third of the UK's dead.
In Korea the Scots were one in four of the UK's dead.
In Iraq 14 of the UK's dead have been Scottish, which accounts for about 14%. I haven't been able to find stats for how many of those sent are Scottish as opposed to English. Incidentally, there is often talk here that the British run sections of Iraq better than the Americans but the UK total of just over 100 deaths is consistent with the amount of American casualties when you factor in the numbers of troops sent.The historical record is even more damning. When the Jacobite rebellion was put down the majority of those killing the rebellious Scots were other Scots fighting for the British Crown. What reward for service and loyalty were these people given? Here is a quote that tells you...
[The Duke of] Cumberland gave orders for "No Quarter Given": in other words'none shall live'. His army marched on and killed every wounded Highlander left
on the field - and then made his way to Inverness to carry on the fight. Raiding
homes looking for Jacobites, all were labeled as one and swiftly put either to the end of a musket - bayonet - hangmans rope or burnt alive in their homes. Women, children, old and young, his orders were "No Quarter Given" - and none was. For months his army moved around the Highlands clearing out any threat once and for all that Highlander should ever pick up a Broadsword against England.
The English parliament, in reply to Cumberlands reports, said that "It will be no great mischief if all should fall". The support for Cumberland's ethnic cleansing was total.
Some 500 years before Culloden it is also documented that King Edward (Longshanks) I of England said "The trouble with Scotland is that it is full of Scots". Famous words that were spoken not only by Longshanks, but by every conquering Englishman who set foot on Scottish soil. It was now 1746, and these words were being echoed by these gentlemen, albeit in a different sentence.
The thought occurs - why on earth do we keep doing it?
One possibility is economic conscription - Scotland is a poorer country than England and it is likely that more people go into the military because of lack of opportunities in other areas.
Another is that the interests of the Scottish people are deliberately kept from them.
Scotland has always been kept tied to England through a combination of force and bribery. Some people in Scotland have tried to fight this, others have went along with it and played their part in all the empire building and the genocide. Our hands are dirty, no doubt about it, but when Tony Blair goes on about being willing to pay "a blood sacrifice" I just wish the people of Scotland would realise that it is statistically and historically far more likely to be them that is paying it.