Yes, but there were tanks in Glasgow and what about the omissions in the history curriculum?

I know, myths abound in the teaching of history and the Battle of George Square is full of them, but remember, there were six tanks parked in the Gallowgate cattle market in a Scottish city, with no armed revolutionary groups threatening armed insurrection. They were there with some plan in mind.

So, by all means correct the material, but while you’re at it how about correcting the key omissions from the story of Scotland in the British Empire?

Just for starters, how about Ireland and India? Genocidal policies on the supply of food and murderous suppression using Scots troops, of popular and at first peaceful protest.

There’s more, much more to say about the Empire. Where is it in the curriculum?

16 thoughts on “Yes, but there were tanks in Glasgow and what about the omissions in the history curriculum?

  1. State aid is appropriate within EU rules if it is for essential service or health care reasons. The island ferries or MUP. The EU governments have to make a legitimate case for it. Then it is approved. The rules are made for trade fairness and equal opportunities in the EU. Preferential trade treaties with the rest of the world, en bloc.

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  2. This really annoys me because I am British and German, and have to put up with self righteous English people going on about the National Socialist era, as if nothing of its like had ever been perpetrated by the British Empire.
    I sometimes think that’s why the second world war is taught so much in British Schools: it’s a smokescreen for the crimes of the British Empire.

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      1. Yes there definitely was Tanks in Glasgow. The Clyde workers were on strike for the very “Revolutionary” demand for a 40 hour week.
        The H.L.I. were up in North Frederick Street. Glasgow is full of ancient tunnels. Such a tunnel ran from the H.L.I. barracks in Maryhill. The tunnel was full of English troops, in case Scottish soldiers would not fire on their former comrades from the trenches of the Imperialist W.W.1. Yes, the Riot Act was read. The leader’s of the Clydeside Workers Committee where arrested, including its Chairman, the future Communist M.P. William Gallacher, who book “Revolt on the Clyde”, published by Lawrence & Wishart, is still in print. It gives the best record of the events. Anyone interested in a copy it available from, “Unity Books, 72 Waterloo St, Glasgow G2. It is shocking that what passes for “history” taught in our schools omits the history of the very people who make history, the people themselves. “all ideas and norms are those of the ruling class in every society”.

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  3. From The Sunday Times 3 February, 2018


    “A Scottish historian has called for a permanent memorial in the heart of Glasgow to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Scotland’s most famous workers’ uprising.

    The Battle of George Square took place on January 31, 1919, when police used baton charges against more than 60,000 men, women and children who had gathered to demand a 40-hour working week.

    Alarmed by the prospect of a “Bolshevik uprising”, ministers sent more than 10,000 troops with tanks and machine guns to occupy the city and crush the revolt.

    Sir Tom Devine, a historian from the University of Edinburgh, has said that a monument should be created to mark the centenary of the uprising, and is supporting the idea that Glasgow city council open an appeal for suggestions on how …”

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  4. From The Herald 29 January, 2018

    “Myth of 1919 Glasgow tank finally stopped in its tracks”


    “Research, confirmed by The Herald, suggests the (referring to the much used, iconic) photograph, which depicts the tank surrounded by soldiers and large numbers of Glaswegians on the Trongate, was actually taken a year earlier, in mid-January 1918.” So it argues that it is not a photo of events in January 1919.

    However, although rejecting the relevance of a particular photograph, the same article in The Herald in January 2019 confirms the presence of tanks in Glasgow:

    ‘Under pressure from the Clyde Workers’ Committee, a general strike in pursuit of a 40-hour working week was called for January 27, 1919. According to the TUC website, the strike spread from Glasgow to other Scottish cities, involving over 70,000 workers.

    ‘The Glasgow episode is notorious for ‘Bloody Friday’, when strikers clashed with police in George Square on January 31 amid “unprecedented scenes of violence and bloodshed” in the words of the Glasgow Herald. The red flag was also flown in the square. Further trouble was reported at Glasgow Green and the Saltmarket.

    ‘That night and over the weekend, armed soldiers from Scottish and English regiments were posted at electricity stations, rail stations and bridges, tram depots and gas works. TANKS were sent into the city on the Monday to reinforce the message that order had to be restored.’ (my emphasis)


  5. Source:


    “We’ve just passed the 97th anniversary of the Battle of George Square, when a mass strike in Glasgow was brutally attacked by the police in 1919, sparking riots across the city and the calling in of the military.”

    “In fact, although both Scottish and English troops and armaments were sent by rail into Glasgow the day after the Battle of George Square, there’s no evidence that tanks actually took to the street. Rather, they were held in the cattle market on Bellgrove Street, although machine gun placements were set up in the city centre. It’s also true that local troops were kept in their barracks rather than be deployed.”

    “The Julian tank (in the much used, iconic) was also a different type to those deployed to quell the unrest in 1919 – a Mark IV rather than the Medium Cs that there’s photos of from 1919. How the photo ever came to be mislabelled by the Herald is a mystery – perhaps an honest mistake by a picture editor in a decade gone by.


    1. Stewart, re the reference to machine gun placements in the city centre, I have a friend in Canada who is a great grandson of one of the Glasgow Baillies in a photograph taken while the Riot Act was being read out in George Square. My friend talks of information passed down his family which describes heavy army machine guns set up at street junctions in the vicinity of the Square. These were sited to give a clear field of fire down 4 streets in the event of rioting and, if the order to fire had been given, mass carnage of unarmed citizens would certainly have occurred. The order for their placement was not given by the City Council, but by the UK Gov to the Army, Fortunately the crowds dispersed without casualties, but there can be no doubting that the UK Gov would have ordered them to be fired had civil unrest happened.


      1. This a fascinating additional and lengthy account of what happened in Glasgow in January 2019 that I have only just found:


        Just a few extracts:

        ‘At the front of this march were ex-servicemen who had returned from the war to “a home fit for heroes” and who were completely in support of the strike. When they reached the Green the police were waiting, ready to charge again. Undaunted the strikers, led by the ex-servicemen, pulled up the park railings and chased off their attackers. For the rest of the day and into the night, further fighting took place throughout the city.

        ‘But the defeat of the police put an end to the government’s hesitation. Thousands of troops, fully equipped, poured into Glasgow late on the night of Bloody Friday and early Saturday morning. “Accompanied by heavy munitions wagons, the general appearance of long columns of khaki-clad men… suggests that at last the government is in earnest in the measures to crush the new revolutionary spirit,” wrote the Glasgow Evening News.

        ‘Scottish soldiers billeted at Maryhill barracks were not used. They were all veterans of the front and could not be trusted to obey orders to turn their guns on the strikers. Instead, the government used young and inexperienced English troops, who were ignorant of the situation.

        ‘Howitzers were positioned in the City Chambers, the cattle market was transformed into a tank depot, machine guns were posted on the top of hotels and, remembering Easter 1916, the main post office, and armed troops stood sentry outside power stations and patrolled the streets:

        ‘Photograph showing armed English soldiers on sentry duty at Glasgow’s Princes Docks in the days following the Battle of George Square. The English troops deployed in Glasgow were mainly young conscripts aged between 17 and 19, as can be clearly seen from the photograph.’

        Also in this article there is this account, an excerpt from The Times of Feb 3rd 1919:

        “A Veteran Recalls:
        I had come home wounded from France and (when my wounds healed) was sent back to the Seaforth Highlanders at Cromarty. We had no idea what was going on in Glasgow. But one morning the whole battallion was paraded and all men from Glasgow and district were told to come out to front of the parade. We thought that was us going to be demobbed but instead we were kept in Cromarty while all the rest (around 700 men) were sent to Glasgow to shoot if it were necessary.”

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  6. I am fed up with the massaging of history the glorification of people like churchill who brought out troops on workers in Scotland and Wales and his disasters in gallipoli and dardanelles and his abandonment of the highland division in France,it is time the real truth was told but media are owned by the rulers


    1. If you want to talk about mismanagement of history, you should consult the SQA. The Battle of George square is horribly miss-taught in Higher History. Purposefully lying to villainize the English, while ignoring the fact that it was Glasgow constables that started the riots and it was the local government, the Sheriff of Lanarkshire to be exact, who requested the use of the army. While ill admit the use of machinegun nests and tanks were far to extreme, the army never quelled or clashed with protestors and rioters since the riots had already ended two days before they arrived. Let alone the fact that it is blatantly stated in the SQA text book that it was English troops that were sent in. No mention of the Scottish troops from surrounding areas from Glasgow that were also sent. I have been living in Scotland for the last seven years, my Dad is Scottish and my mum is Irish. I know there is a massive problem with glossing over British atrocities in English schools. However Scotland’s education system cant claim they are above politicizing their history course, not to mention ignoring atrocities committed by Scotts during the Empire. I want to reiterate. It was Scottish local authorities that requested the army, not Churchill acting on his own accord. If you want to blame anyone for the use of the army against Scottish workers, blame the Sherriff of Lanarkshire and the Lord Provost of Glasgow, and don’t ignore the miss-telling of history by the sqa.
      ps. I have studied history in scotland from s2-s6 from cfe to Advanced Higher.


  7. It’s a wee bit late to add to this.
    George Square was a police riot.
    Most of the stories are actually based on teh writings of the so called “Red Clydesiders”pushing up their achievements in their biographies.
    If ever any MPs went to Westminster to settle down it was this group of people


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