23-24 Enero Long Live the Lincoln Battalion!

Long Live the Lincoln Battalion! Merriman’s diary from the 23rd and 24th of January

The title of the page is clear.  Bob Merriman had been appointed as Adjutant to James Harris to lead the Lincoln Battalion in Villaneuva de la Jara.  His first task was to meet with the Non-commissioned Officers (NCOs) and start a boot camp training regimen.

Merriman talks about two Irish comrades who will be a problem.  It is unclear from the diary who that may be.

Since this is a short, clear two day period, it is possible to address “Vidal”, who was the head of Training for the Brigades in the Spring of 1937.   According to Antony Beevor¹ and Martin Sugarman², Lucien Vidal was a nom-de-guerre for Vital Gayman (or Gajman) of France.  The link gives a wikipedia entry from France on Gayman and it is not verified.  Some parts of his biography seem curious: “il est décoré de la Croix de guerre en 1917” does not align with the list of Croix de Guerre awardees that are on the web (that doesn’t make it false just needing verification).

Since first publishing this page last year, we have confirmed that Gayman was in a number of photographs in the Tamiment collection and either not identified or misidentified.  This is Vidal Gayman.

Copic, Vidal and Klaus
At Ambite Spain, Vladimir Copic (left), unnamed Russian writer, Vidal (Vital Gayman) and Col. Hans Klaus, approximately June 25, 1937, Tamiment Library, NYU

Vidal was removed from the Brigades over the summer of 1937, returned to France, held responsible positions with Radio Telephone France (RTF) and died in 1985.  The wikipedia article’s assertion of a relationship with Francois Mitterrand cannot be confirmed at this time.  It is known that Vidal was removed in 1937 for alleged financial improprieties with Brigade Funds.¹   After the war, Vidal was quite critical of how the Brigades were used in Spain.

Gayman Memoir
The cover of Vital Gayman’s memoir in the BDIC Library in Nanterre, France

Vidal’s memoir resides at the Université of Paris X’s BDIC Library in Nanterre, France.  Some 480 typed pages, it is unfortunate that it has not been published in the original French and more so that it has not been translated into other languages.  In reading some of the memoir, Vidal’s insight into the formation of the Brigades, the relationships between André Marty and the Internationals, and the relationships between the national volunteers is truly unique.


¹ Antony Beevor, The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939, Penguin Putnam Inc., New York, 2006

² Martin Sugarman,  Against Fascism – Jews who served in The International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/spanjews.pdf‎, Sourced: January 21, 2014.


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