War and the ancestral homeland

Screen-Shot-2015-05-27-at-16.52.24The ways in which military service could connect and re-connect soldiers with the Scottish homeland – an issue explored in more detail here – was not restricted to ex-servicemen: war effectively promoted contact between the old world and the new. Throughout the diaspora, Scottish clubs and societies sought to promote the establishment of Scottish regiments, and patriotic funds in support of the war effort were set up. The Wairarapa Caledonian Society in the North Island of New Zealand, for instance, discussed a request to collect money at its annual Caledonian sports to establish a fund for the families of the fallen soldiers of the Highland Regiment in South Africa – an initiative pursued in many a location around the world at that time, and also during the First World War.…

Returning Soldiers

returnsoldiersThere were many reasons why Scots did not permanently settle overseas. One group of returnees among which the Scots are disproportionately highly represented is that of military pensioners, especially in the early nineteenth century. Existing scholarship has largely focused on soldiers settling in the colonies at the end of their service, for instance in North America or South Africa—a pattern related to the provision of land grants in these locations. Soldiers were perceived as valuable settlers, securing frontiers and supplementing colonial populations in areas where settlement was only sporadic. While the Empire Settlement Act of 1922 was the first act to specifically facilitate the settlement of ex-servicemen, with the UK government co-operating with governments in the Dominions to provide assisted passages and land settlement schemes, there had been earlier initiatives …

Homecoming in the 1920s

homecomingIt’s another year of Homecoming – a good opportunity to explore an earlier example of it in the early twentieth century. It was then that a growing number of organised group returns took place, with trip planning often facilitated by Scottish associations such as St Andrew’s and Caledonian societies. One such group return, that of over 600 Australians of Scottish descent, took place in the summer of 1928. Described by Australian newspapers as a ‘national pilgrimage to Scotland’, the visit was jointly organised by the Victorian Scottish Union and similar bodies in other Australian states. The idea for the trip was first discussed in 1927, when the hope was expressed that 200 to 500 people of Scottish descent would go on the trip for the purpose of making Australia better …