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Anne Robinson

Fri 7 February 2020

Wakeful reconstructs the voyage of a Clydeside destroyer following the Bolshevik Revolution, in an expanded screening foregrounding experimental approaches to historical memory.

Anne Robinson's Wakeful concerns a hidden history. A few days after the declaration of ‘peace’ on November 11th, 1918, a small squadron of British ships were dispatched from Rosyth on the east coast of Scotland. Later called the ‘Red Trek’ or ‘Baltic Cruise’, they headed for the Gulf of Finland: an ‘undeclared’ war on Bolshevism. On ‘Red’ Clydeside in 1917, at John Brown’s yard where Wakeful was built, the workers were on strike.

In archived sailors’ journals and cabinet war diaries, Robinson found accounts of Wakeful’s voyage through mine-infested waters and photographs of her father as a young sailor. By December 1918, Wakeful was moored at Tallinn. The crew were cold, tired, hungry and frightened, but threatened with bombardment, they played and sang.

The following day, two Soviet battleships sent by Trotsky to investigate the British presence, were captured, and 40 young men of their crew were taken to Naissaar Island and shot without trial. Within days, Wakeful was shelling the coast, creating ‘human debris in the snow’.

One hundred years on, the arms trade brings in cash and scatters human debris and the seas are still in conflict, as fluid borders move and move again.