I WAS struck by the comments from Ronald Cameron (Letters, June 24) in response to Mark Smith’s column ("We Scots have been looking at our history the wrong way", The Herald, June 22). Mr Cameron is critical of Mr Smith’s comments that “one of the great myths about First World War… is that Scots suffered more per capita than any other parts of the UK”, arguing that more than one in four mobilised Scots (26.4 per cent) were killed.

This is an oft-quoted figure by historians and is based on Professor Jay Winter as the source of data. Professor Winter compares Scotland’s 26.4 per cent with the figure of 11.8 per cent for the same numbers of dead for Britain and Ireland as a whole.

Winter’s figures in his book are based on the statistics referenced in a variety of publications. However, in none of these publications is the figure of Scotland’s war dead quoted.

Historians have given us a figure of 557,000 of Scots who enlisted in all services in the First World War. If you compare the figure of 147,000, which was the total number of dead recorded in the rolls in the Scottish National War Memorial – against 557,000, you get 26.4 per cent.

However, the Memorial figure includes many non-Scots serving in Scottish regiments and the double and triple counting of entries. According to historian Sir Hew Strachan, the number of Scottish war dead is likely to be nearer 100,000 to 110,000.

If we look at the 557,000, figure this is the total number of Scotsmen and women recruited by the British Army during the First World War. However, this does not include tens of thousands of pre-war Scottish recruits to the regular army, those who served in the Royal Navy and in other sectors. It is also missing the Scotsmen in the armed services of the Dominions. Historian Trevor Royle says that 690,235 Scots were mobilised.

If we look at the figure of c.100,000 dead and 690,235 served, this gives a percentage of 14.4 per cent. It should be noted that this is still higher than 11.8 per cent, but nowhere close to 26.4 per cent. 14.4 per cent also compares a total of the dead which includes the Scots diaspora serving in Dominion and Imperial units against a mobilised total for UK units.

If the mobilised figure includes the Scots who served in other overseas forces, the total number of Scots who served in the Great War might be as high as 800,000. This would give us a Scottish dead compared to mobilised percentage of 12.5 per cent – much closer to the UK total of 11.8 per cent.

It’s worth remembering that the 11.8 per cent doesn’t include English, Welsh and Irish diaspora numbers, so by factoring that in, and despite common perception, there may not actually be any difference between Scottish and UK war dead percentages.

At a time that Scotland is revisiting its past on a variety of issues, this may be an appropriate time to look again at these figures.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh EH9.