George Drever

1910 - 1996

George, who would later be associated with Howden Chess Club in Glasgow, was born 31 March, 1910 in Leith, the son of George, a shipyard labourer and Louisa (Balfour). Both parents were from Orkney.

After primary school, he attended Leith Academy where he was Dux in 1928.

George was one of many volunteers who fought in the Spanish Civil War; his name occurs in several volumes about that war, one example being the following:

From page 134 of The Scottish Soldier Abroad 1247-1967, by Grant G. Simpson, Edinburgh.

'I had a B Sc First Class Honours in chemistry from Edinburgh University, and a Ph D after doing two years' research. I wanted to help the people in Spain in their struggle against Franco and the Germans and Italians - Fascists...and being a Marxist-Leninist of course I recognised at that time ─ and still believe so ─ that the working class will never be able to achieve its aims without fierce opposition from the ruling classes whoever they are, and of course there will be military struggles.'


Members of the International Brigade at the unveiling of 'La Pasionaria' in Glasgow in September 1981. George Drever is second from left in front row.
(Glasgow Herald, 5 December 2009)


Glasgow 1986 (Left-right): Eddie Brown, Phil Gillan, George Murray, George Drever, Steve Fullarton.

An article in an issue of the National Library of Scotland magazine on the Spanish Civil War prompted a letter from George's son, David.

From the NLS magazine, Issue 4, Spring 2007, page 11:

Dear Sir,

I was interested to read Daniel Gray's excellent article on the Spanish Civil War in the current issue of Discover NLS
(which goes from strength to strength as a publication). My father, George Drever, (1910-1996), was also a member of the International Brigade, joining early in 1937, being taken prisoner at Belcite and spending 16 months in a POW camp. Our family have some interesting records of this.

We have his death certificate, issued by the Republican government in Spanish, which was sent to my grandmother after he was lost in action. Also his obituary, as a well known Leith communist, appeared in local newspapers and in the Orkney Herald at the time (both his parents were from Westray). In addition a memorial meeting was held to celebrate his life - and no doubt to raise further funds for the struggle. The story had a happy ending and he turned up very alive and was repatriated after the fall of the Republic.

In his later years he was actively involved in the International Brigade Association and represented them at events in Spain and Germany. Months before he died he was awarded, along with all surviving Brigaders, honorary Spanish citizenship.

He remained a lifelong communist and was an interviewee in Ian MacDougall's excellent book, Voices from the Spanish Civil War: Personal Recollections of Scottish Volunteers in Republican Spain, 1936-1939. Socialist politics remains the lifeblood of our family and his children and grandchildren are immensely proud of his part in one of the great democratic struggles of the 20th century.

All best wishes,
David Drever

ScotlandsPeople web site:
The Scottish Soldier Abroad 1247-1967, by Grant G. Simpson, Edinburgh (page 134).
National Library of Scotland magazine
, Issue 4, Spring 2007, page 11:
Glasgow Herald, 5 December 2009.

Alan McGowan