The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
Our Allies — The Scotties
Caesar having conquered England and Gaul and Spain, and many times smashed the Germans, was content to build a wall between Scotland and the Roman Empire. England could bring Ireland and Wales to submission, but with Scotland she formed the Union and gave her throne to a Scottish King. When Germany in this war established her famous Black List she began with a division of terrible Lowlanders. "Who's on the Flank?" is the anxious question always asked when our infantry is going into a big show in France. And if the answer is "The Scotties," the Australians push on with redoubled confidence.
The great bond between the Australian and the Scot in this war is primarily due to the regard each has for the other's qualities as a fighter. But on our side at least, it goes far beyond that. As the war has grown older, we have discovered in the Scottie a dozen features which have contributed to make him our favourite comrade in arms. We like him because he is a plain dealer; he does not bluff; he is honest about what he is after, and direct and obvious in his pursiut of it. We appreciate his intelligence; he appeals to us with the strength and clearness of his thinking and the frankness of his speech. And although we do not get much time or have much inclination these days for politics, there is no doubt that the average Scotchman's advanced Radicalism is not distasteful to the average Australian. We have common ground in our aversion to excessive show and ceremonial. We both revolt at taking the verdict of tradition: we both instinctively test men and things by the light and strength of our intelligence. We have tested the Scot in this wav, and we have found him prime.
The Scotchman is so widespread in the war that one sometimes thinks that the War Office, regarding him as the salt of Britain's fighting millions, has scattered him as freely as possible. You find him wherever there is fighting. He is easily the most distinctive soldier in the war, not even excepting the men from the Dominions. Put some Australians into English Units and English tunics and you might not, in the first moment of acquaintance, recognise them as Australians. But you would never mistake the Scot. There are to-day Scotties fighting in France, and Italy, Salonica, Palestine and Mesopotamia. They are splashed right through the Navy. Beatty is a Scot, so is Haig. Go where you will among our Allies and enemies and they will talk of the supreme fighting man who comes from north of the Tweed. The French are consciously paying the Australians their highest compliment when they declare: "Your men are great natural fighters; they are like the Scotch. They have speed; they never lose the barrage; they always reach the enemy." And in all Scotland there are only some four million souls. Since the time of the Greeks no little race has played so heroic a part on the world's stage.
Popular education is older and more thorough in Scotland than in England or Wales or Ireland. The Scotchman excels in all the works and graces of civilisation. And yet the war has disclosed him as the most fierce and pitiless fighter in arms. He has fought with the native ferocity of the Serb and the science and skill of the French. Civilisation has not tamed him as a soldier. The German will surrender in confidence to a Canadian or an Australian, but he deems it well to fight to the death against the Scotch. To the Scottie war is war all the way. Chivalry, he believes, is outside the understanding of the modern German.