Recruitment and Training
With the outbreak of war, men flocked to enlist and their names were recorded in the local papers. Even young boys tried their luck – some managed to bamboozle their way into uniform. Some were found out but others made it to the firing line. By October 1914, 2,800 men had enlisted from Kirkcaldy alone. Competition for recruits was fierce - the recruiting officers received a bounty for every man they took on. Cupar complained of recruiters coming across from Dundee to poach men.
Patriotic employers provided allowances to men who enlisted. Several Dunfermline firms offered £5 bonuses to their employees who enlisted as well as half-pay during their service and the promise of reinstatement on their return. In Kirkcaldy, Nairn’s granted 5/- a week to wives and families of all employees and promised to keep their situations open. Wemyss Coal Company offered £5 to the first 200 of their miners who enlisted. Other coal-masters granted free houses and free coal to families of all employees who enlisted. By the end of 1914 it was estimated that 8,000 miners enlisted from Fife and at one point 60% of the men and officers of the 7th Black Watch had some connection with mining.
Not every man was taken. Newspapers reported men who killed themselves when faced with continual rejection. But not everyone wished to fight. When conscription was introduced, many employers made special pleas for the services of certain individuals. Military Tribunals sat in judgement on men who through conviction or pragmatism did not wish to enlist.