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'For Scotland and true liberty' Speech to Veterans

 
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'For Scotland and true liberty' Speech to Veterans by HAIG, Douglas; Field Marshal; Earl (1925)
Author: HAIG, Douglas; Field Marshal; Earl
Title: 'For Scotland and true liberty' Speech to Veterans
 
Year: 1925
Publisher: Unpublished
Place: Wishaw, Scotland
Dust Jacket: No
Signed: No
 
Price: £2500
 
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Added under Manuscripts  

ff 7. Manuscript of a stirring speech to Scottish veterans made by Britain's commander on the western front in which he urged Scotland's soldiers to look after each other in peacetime - 'the hardest battle of their lives' - even as they readied themselves for the moment 'when storm and peril once more threaten our beloved country, men such as they, may one again be found to stand and fight for Scotland and true Liberty.' The speech was delivered on 7th November 1925 at the opening of a Scottish Ex-Servicemen's Institute at Wishaw in South Lanarkshire where it was framed and hung until the Institute closed two years ago.

These seven leaves of paper have been laid down on card for framing; the paper is speckled and browned with a couple of tears. Haig has corrected and emended his pencil-written speech throughout, with gaps left for ex tempore additions - he is known to have found speeches like this one a trial. Accompanying the manuscript is a printed cover page and a portrait photograph of Haig which were also framed and hung in the Wishaw Institute along with the brass presentation plaque which names two second lieutenants: 'Gifted by Wishaw Club in Memory of...'

Haig began his speech to the Wishaw veterans with thanks and effusive praise for those who served in the forces he had commanded and he extended 'in all sincerity my personal sympathy to the relatives and friends of those brave and loyal men to whose enduring memory the Memorial Institute has been dedicated.' Haig praises the wartime response of Wishaw, 'township and District in the days of crisis', when the 'call to arms' was made, 'You were well in the forefront in the matter of recruiting when an army was needed to defend our hearths and home to fight for the maintenance of Liberty and Justice.' In a central passage Haig urges ex-servicemen to stick together, discusses the funding and foundation of Institute and the work of the British Legion (of which he was President) in keeping 'alive the old spirit of War Comradeship and cooperation.. In unity we ex-servicemen have found strength' and he urges 'those thousands of ex-officers and men who have not kept up their old service connections - I ask them all to join up again now and keep their old comradeship - that is perhaps the hardest battle of their lives.'

In a stirring nationalist passage Haig observes that 'We stand together as men who still have faith in the splendid destiny to which God has called our race and Country' and gives a nod to the economic depression of the mid 1920s, urging a great effort in 'these dark days to make sacrifices, to sink petty jealousies and to unite in making a great effort now to bring back prosperity to our native land.' Haig praises the sacrifice of those who 'did their duty. May this memorial Institute to our dead, remind us all your duty to the living - that when storm and peril once more threaten our beloved country, men such as they, may one again be found to stand and fight for Scotland and true Liberty - "At the going down of the sun in the morning we will rember [sic] them"' Even by 1925 Binyon's words had become the traditional way to finish such a speech.

Earl Haig's legacy is vexed. Seen by some as the heroic victor of the latter stages of the first war and by others as responsible for its most terrible butchery. What is uncontroversial is that he worked unstintingly after he left the army to support veterans and the organisations such as that at Wishaw that sprang up around them.
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