Wonder Fools came to Dumfries and Galloway this October with their show 549: Scots of the Spanish Civil War. As part of the project, Wonder Fools have created an archive of information about Scottish Volunteers for the Spanish Civil War. When this show was programmed, Wonder Fools did not have any information about the volunteers from Dumfries and Galloway. Subsequently, our intern Erin began an archival task to find information about D&G volunteers.
549: Scots of the Spanish Civil War explored the stories of the Scottish volunteers who were involved in the war, focussing on four miners from Prestonpans who fought as part of the international brigade. The stimulus for the play was the verbatim account of George Watters from Ian Macdougall’s book Voices from the Spanish Civil War, which details George’s experiences of fighting in the conflict. Robbie Gordon and Jack Nurse, the co-writers of the play spent 18 months visiting East Lothian and speaking to relatives of the four miners in the play to get a grasp on the details of each individual. Robbie and Jack also worked with historian Daniel Gray who wrote the well-regarded book about Scottish involvement in the Spanish Civil War, Homage to Caledonia and acted as historical consultant on the project.
The first phase of information that was acquired from contacting local museums in Dumfries and Galloway can be found HERE. From the first enquiry, we were able to find information about a gentleman named Jack Brent from Whithorn, and a Robert Grierson from Eastriggs. From this blog post and subsequent sharing, we have had people get in touch about connections friends and family had to 549 Scottish volunteers.
Firstly, a gentleman named Murray Learmont got in touch with us with information about his father John Learmont. John Learmont, originally from Dumfries, went to the Spanish Civil War from September 1937 until July 1983. He was part of the third team of the Scottish Ambulance Unit. John moved from Dumfries to St Albans and lived there until his death in early 1953. He is buried in Dumfries. We have kindly been sent some images of Mr Learmont from his son, that we are delighted to share with you. We would like to say a massive thank you to Murray for getting in touch with us, and for attending the opening performance at Castle Douglas Town hall.
Similarly, as part of an enquiry within local Facebook groups, a Jock McMorrine from Lincluden, Dumfries has been mentioned to have been one of the 549. Jock was originally from Dumfries and lived there the rest of his life after his time fighting in Spain. Jock lived at 66 Criffel Road, Lincluden, Dumfries and was known to those around him to always wear a black beret and to be followed by his wee dog. Thank you to Pete Fortune for supplying this information.
We would like to extend a thanks to those who got in touch with us with information linking to the Spanish Civil War, and a thank you to everyone who came to the performances in Castle Douglas and Moffat.