Food production a necessity

Privates Litterick and Black
Privates Litterick and Black

In the sping of 1917, farmers in Galloway were under increasing pressure to use as much of their land for food production as possible.

Througout the country, Scottish farmers had been told to put 350,000 additional acres under the plough to feed the nation. The two sources for this land were permanent pasture and temporary pasture.

At a meeting of the Machars Agricultural Committee in May, farmers were told by a member of the Board of Agriculture that “far greater efforts” were expected regarding the crop for 1918. He pointed out the submarine menace to merchant shipping and said the aim was to have Scotland self supporting. The Board wanted 13,500 more acres brought into production in Wigtownshire.

However, because the Machars was dairy orientated, some land was allowed to remain as pasture for cows rather than be sown with oats. As a government spokesman said: “However interested the country was in oat production it was also interested in milk.”

But beef and mutton were classed as luxuries and if cropping and stock-keeping clashed, the land was needed and the stock must go.

The sad news reached Port William that Private J Black, who served with the Cameron Highlanders, had been killed by a shell on April 24.

Before the war, the 24-year-old worked for the Marquis of Ripon.

Private Robert Litterick, from Sloehabbert, Whauphill, was listed as missing since April 19 during the Battle of Gaza. Private Litterick was well known to the residents of Whauphill as he was the delightful soloist in many of the school operettas at Longcastle. He was 20 year old and had been in the army for three years.