WGF Scott

William Gerald Forbes Scott (L), Kerry, 1922, Scott Family Archives.

My intention in beginning this blog is to explore a personal account written by my grandfather, William Gerald Forbes Scott (1899-1977), who was Scots born but Irish reared, on his return from South Russia in 1920. He was an apprentice in Dublin when he joined the British army specifically for this campaign which was mobilized by Churchill to assist in the civil war against the Bolsheviks between 1919 and 1920. His account maps the trip by boat from Wendover to France then down to Marseille by train, across the Mediterranean via Malta and Greece to Istanbul and on across the Black Sea to Novorossiysk where the unit stayed for a number of months assisting in evacuations before returning to England via Egypt.


Europe political divisions in 1919 (after the treaties of Brest-Litovsk and Versailles and before the treaties of Trianon, Riga, Kars and the establishment of en:Soviet Union and the republics of Ireland and Turkey) published by London Geographical Institute. Available at

The account in question is written in longhand in an old notebook after his return. This sounds a lot more interesting than it first appeared to me. It is short, forty-eight small pages, (about 5×4 inches), and seems to be little more than a roll call of ships’ names, times and dates of departures with a few snippets of scenes of other cultures and the war, seen as if out of the corner of the eye. But the more I looked at it the more I caught glimpses of what my grandfather was trying to process in setting down his words in a time when men, or anyone, did not talk of their feelings. Like the flicker of a silvery fish caught in a net below the murky surface I began to see the richness that lay beneath.

In a series of bite sized blog posts I will be tracing his journey, the places he passed through and the things he saw. To put the account in context I will also touch on Ireland during this period, my grandfather’s life prior to the journey, which had, like many lives of the time, its share of tragedy, including losing a brother in the 1916 Rising, as well as his life afterwards as a member of the Free State Army and later the Garda Siochana, throughout the south-east of Ireland.

Some of the things you can expect to read about will include ships names and histories, the players in the Russian a civil war, a Russian Princess, duck hunting, diving in Malta, Churchill’s motives, whales, rest camps, kit, dervishes, Mount Etna, The Hagia Sophia, the 1916 Rising, The Irish Civil War, plague, quarantine, a funeral and a wedding, sharks and the Bay of Biscay. A little bit of everything.

I plan to publish a book for the centenary of this expedition, using the posts on this blog to provide a structure on which to hang a more emotional interpretation which might include any personal connections I have, in the shape of experiences or stories, to his journey as well as some thoughts on the possible psychological role of such an account could play for a young man in a young country. You could say then that this blog is the loom on which I will weave my interpretation of my Grandfathers’ experience but I envisage the posts will be engaging and colourful in themselves and I will be learning along side you, the reader.

I will be posting once a week, at the weekend, with additional posts as research continues.  I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to comment or point out any errors or supply additional information and stories.




30 responses to “THE FIRST POST

  1. Terrific. My own grandfather was around the same age and from what I hear had an eventful few years between 1916 and 1922. Alas, he never wrote it down. And his grandson is not as talented a wordsmith as you. Best of luck. Looking forward to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Bren…they were ‘interesting times’…I’d probably argue with you about your writing skills remembering all your brilliant letters in the times of snail mail 🙂


  2. What an interesting journey you’ve embarked on. I’m curious to see where it leads and how you flesh out or interpret what was written down first hand. I feel like we’ll see a window into a whole new world through your eyes (and your grandfather’s). Looking forward to it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll certainly be following your blog posts with considerable interest, this looks fascinating.
    I’d recommend a look at the online resource for the British Library Russian Revolution exhibition if you’ve not already done so..
    I visited the exhibition a few weeks ago and learned there for the first time that British troops were involved in the civil war.
    How wonderful that you have such a fantastic source of first hand experience!
    Good luck with the project 😃

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Clare,
    I find this post interesting on a professional level. I’m a history teacher.
    Congratulations on starting your blog recently. If you need any help, let me know. I help new bloggers at my site.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Following! I got goosebumps when I read your story. I have started writing about my great-grandfather when I started blogging in April of this year. I’m excited for your journey because I’ve found so many amazing connections while writing about my great-grandfather after combing through his memoirs. I’m sure you’ll find the same. Good luck and I’m excited to read more of your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Civil Wars by Clare Scott – Fraggle's Other Place·

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