25-26 Enero Starting Training at Villaneuva de la Jara

25-26_Enero

Merriman’s diary of January 25 and 26 shows that he had taken over the training of the Battalion

Settling in at Villaneuva de la Jara included building a new firing range at the edge of town.  Alan Warren sent us a photo of the cupola of the church described by Merriman and says that you still can see bullet holes in the painting inside.

Santa Clara Convent

Villanueva de la Jara. The Santa Clara Convent where the Lincolns were housed. (Credit: Alan Warren)

Ironically, there is now a supermercado (supermarket) in the building and it has a familiar acronym.

ALBA Villaneuva de la Jara

The relatives of Lincoln Vets standing in front of the Santa Clara convent in Villaneuva de la Jara where the Lincolns were housed. It is now a supermarket with an ironic acronym. (Credit: Alan Warren)

The names of the colleagues with Merriman on January 25 were Harris, Stember, Daduk, Kelly, Parker and what looks to be Tenbetti.  After some discussion, it was concluded by Chris Brooks that Parker must have been John William Parks.  We will see that in less than a month, Mr. Parks will be dead in one of the more unfortunate mistakes at the Battle of Jarama.

John William Parks

John William Parks1 (source: VALB-ALBA)

 

Aaron_Harris

Aaron Harris in Placa Catalunya, Barcelona, 1937 (Credit: VALB-ALBA)

Brooks also suggests that Tenbetti may actually be Juan/John Landetta.  Landetta shows up on the list of Lincolns used by Adolph Ross to identify photographs after the war.  John or Juan Landetta was a Cuban American student from New York City who arrived in Spain on January 14, 1937.²  Art Landis says of the Cubans³:

“In the winning of the villager’s goodwill {in Villaneuva}, credit must also be given to a young Cuban named Rodolfo de Armas and his equally young commissar, Landetta.  De Armas and Landetta were in command of a Cuban section of approximately 60 men that had been assigned to the Lincoln Battalion.  They called themselves the Antonio Guiterras Centuria after a revolutionary student, a victim of the Machado terror.  De Armas and Landetta had also fought against the early Machado dictatorship of Cuba….”

Guiterras

Antonia Guiterras Centuria on the march in Barcelona. Landetta and De Armas are the head of this column.  The story behind identifying the men in this photo is given in the Volunteer magazine.

 

———————

¹ John Tisa, Recalling the Good Fight, Bergin & Garvey Publishers, Inc., 1985

² Cadre List, Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

³ Art Landis, The Abraham Lincoln Brigade, ibid. p.31