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Remembered Today:

British troops in Georgia 19181-1921


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Hi all

A friend of mine is running an archaeological project in Georgia and has unearthed some material that may relate to the British deployment in Georgia towards the end and after WW1

Does anybody have any info on forces deployed (navy, airforce) but especially regiments deployed. Any information or recommended reading gratefully received .

Also does anybody know if graves still exist in Batumi and Tblisi ( I assume not as they CWGC site does not list any)?


Dominic :D

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Is this Dunsterforce?

The following is taken from a BBC webpage:


Listener's query

"My grandfather was a member of a force which operated in Persia during the First World War. It was known as the Dunsterforce. Why, and what did it do?"

Brief summary

Dunsterforce was the name given to a small multinational force of just under 1,000 elite troops (British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand) who were commanded by the Russian-speaking General Lionel Dunsterville (1865-1946). It was put together quite late in the war - in late 1917. It was intended to prevent an invasion of India by a combined German and Turkish force, and to secure control of Persia.

Dunsterforce's area of operation was in what is now north and west Iran, and the area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, what is now in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Dunsterforce left Baghdad in late January 1918 with the intention of securing the oil-producing part of western Persia. General Dunsterville's aim was also to support the local opposition to the Turkish forces and to protect the Ukraine against the Germans. Crossing the country using armoured cars was quite a feat but there were reverses. Following the Russian revolution, that country had split into several factions. The Bolsheviks forced Dunsterforce to withdraw from Enzeli, and later, when Dunsterville advanced to occupy the oil port of Baku on the Caspian Sea, he had to withdraw in the face of overwhelming Turkish forces, though he reoccupied Baku by the time the war ended. The post-war assessment of the Dunsterforce's achievement was mixed; the expedition was certainly underfunded.

Expert consulted

Andrew Robertshaw of the National Army Museum

Further reading

John Keegan, The First World War (Pimlico, 1999)

Peter Hopkirk, On Secret Service East of Constantinople: The Plot to Bring Down the British Empire (Oxford Paperbacks, 2001)

W. Bruce Lincoln, Red Victory - A History of the Russian Civil War (Da Capo, 1999)

Alan Palmer, Victory 1918 (Grove Press, 2001)

Homa Katouzian, Iranian History and Politics: State and Society in Perpetual Conflict (Routledge Curzon, 2003)

Stephen Pope and Elizabeth-Anne Wheal, Macmillan Dictionary of the First World War (Macmillan, 1996)

In 'Eastern Approaches' I'm sure Fitzroy Maclean refers to someone tending Highland Light Infantry graves in Baku in the late 1930s.

If you can find old copies of the IWGC registers for that area then you'll find locations of graves and units in the area.



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Just to add there is a bit about this force in the book "With Horse and Morse in Mesopotamia" edited by Keast Burke.

It has maps and a large bit on this force from an aussie point of view as its about our (Australian and NZ) forces in that area.



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I can tell you that 27th Division was sent and had military 'control' for British forces in this area after the war. Not sure if this is the same area as you require as my geography is a little sketchy on this area.

However if so Gen Forestier-Walker was technically nominal commander of this region and was involved in talks with ta Russian commander called Deniken (spelling!)if I recall correctly.

I do have some papers on a disk somewhere around but not to hand at the moment. if this is of relevance I could look them out and let you know if there is anything of interest. As I say not sure if this is the correct area.

Obviously 27th obit is on the Long Long Trail for units involved, it had come from Salonika.



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I don't know a lot at all about this theatre, if you can call it that, but an example of the cunfused nature of the events at this time and place is the fact that at one point German and Turkish units came to fight each other. I feel that they generally were quite good allies thru the war on the several fronts.

Perhaps it is the scent of oil that makes men mad, or do stupid things. Just look at some of the dumb things going on now in the Middle East!

Bob Lembke

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Hello domsim, On 5 December 1918 British Royal Navy ships anchored off Batum. Transports carried HQ Company 27th Division. The bulk of the 27th Division arrived in Georgia on 18 December. It was led by General Sir G.T. Forestier-Walker. Their task was to link with the British garrison (units of the 39th Infantry Brigade) at Baku in Azerbaijan. Most of the 80th Infantry Brigade arrived on 23-24 December, with the 81st Brigade on 30 December and the 82nd Brigade on 8 January 1919. Brigadier General W.J.N. Cooke-Collis was appointed Military Governor at Batum. To my knowledge there were no British aviation units based in Georgia. Am uncertain about the Royal Navy. Hope this helps you. Cheers, agblume

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Also does anybody know if graves still exist in Batumi and Tblisi ( I assume not as they CWGC site does not list any)?

The graves were declared unmaintainable many years ago and all names are now commemorated on the Baku Memorial in Azerbaijan.

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