IN Mark Smith’s column on Scottish history ("We Scots have been looking at our history the wrong way", The Herald, June 22) he states that “one of the great myths about the First World War ... is that Scots suffered more per capita than other parts of the UK”. He must consider Professor Niall Ferguson as one of the myth makers.

Prof Ferguson tells us that “the Scots were (after the Serbs and Turks) the soldiers who suffered the highest death rate of the war; yet the Scot regiments fought on to the end.” He tells us that 26.4 per cent of Scots mobilised were killed, 10.9% of males of military age in the population. For Britain as a whole the figure was 11.8% of those mobilised and 6.3% of those of military age (The Pity of War, page 298) These figures may not include merchant seamen who accounted for many of the losses from island communities and they won’t include Louisa Jordan and Elsie Inglis. There is little to suggest that the Scottish soldiers saw themselves as victims.

I believe the situation is broadly similar in just about every other war in which Britain has been involved from the French Revolutionary Wars to Korea and maybe even Afghanistan. Mr Smith also seems keen to perpetuate the myth that Earl Haig was a callous and incompetent commander, whereas informed military historians are inclined to regard him as the most successful commander on either side and to accept his claim that he never launched an attack just to wear down German resources.

Ronald Cameron, Banavie.

ANENT the skimpy history of Scotland that featured in Scotland's schools (Letters, June 23) , this was less the case in my days as a primary pupil and I remember Mons Meg, the characters of the successive Jameses, and the little light blue hard cover textbook in which these accounts were packed. As for the mainly English history on which secondary schooling O- and Higher Grade history was based, the sanitisation of this is nowadays only too clear – no allusion to Gladstone and his enormous financial stake in the slave trade and so on. There is more authentic history divulged on the Letters Pages of The Herald than was ever subject matter of secondary exam-level history papers.

But a whole lot more can be said regarding, for example, slavery, which should not only be defined in the context of trading, but also in such contexts as the wage slavery so associated with the studies of Karl Marx. Systems of bonded slavery were commonplace up and down Scotland, from Shetland to the agricultural practices on the Scottish mainland. The bothy ballad lyrics of Scotland's north-east betray all this bonded labour in its stark and harsh realities, and the resilience of its sufferers, for whom the ballads were a repository of their tough sense of humour and relief from their unending toil.

Ian Johnstone, Peterhead.

BOTH David Stubley and Ruth Marr (Letters, June 23) rightly bemoan the absence of Scottish history from their education. If they had shared my own good fortune in being taught by Doctor Iain McPhail, things would have been different. The “Doc”, as we knew him, made sure that his charges were well educated in the history of their own country, even back to the pre-historic “cup and ring” marks at the “Whangy”, in the hills above Clydebank.

To ensure material, he even went as far as writing his own textbook – the two volume History of Scotland, now sadly out of print, but still available second hand.

During my working career, it never ceased to surprise me when my own knowledge of Scottish history caused a reply such as “How do you know that? I thought Scotland was only discovered in 1603”.

As Ms Marr presciently observes this morning, “in making today's history, how we deal with present issues, many of which are rooted in the past, will determine our future”, but if we have no, or little knowledge of our own past, no sense of historical context, then learning from it is really not an option. As Mr Stubley observes “history is written by the victors”, which of course, quite deliberately, puts the "losers" at a significant disadvantage. The involvement of the education system in perpetuating this lack of awareness is doubly unfortunate, but as Iain McPhail demonstrated all those years ago, it is not necessary and certainly not inevitable.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.

I HAVE a problem with the current distribution of guilt complex that I am supposed to feel regarding Scotland’s shameful past involvement in the slave trade and colonialism.

It is a truly shameful history and needs to be acknowledged more openly. However, I resent being tarred with the same racist brush from centuries ago, as though I was somehow responsible for those events.

I was born in 1952 not 1652. I have no connection with the tobacco barons or the sugar barons, other than I was born, by pure chance, in the same city as many of them.

The colour of your skin is of no concern to me as a positive or a negative. I feel no guilt, but the media has presented this as though we are all guilty by default for actions taken centuries ago by people we never knew and had no control over and have no real connection with.

Not guilty.

Robert Taylor, Newton Mearns.