Extensive field maneuvres were conducted in the countryside surrounding Villanueva de Jara. However, as William Herrick noted:
Two days later I was ordered by Seacord to observe a machine gun squad during maneuvres-without a gun. We were guarding ingress to the village at the narrow point where the road passed the fortress church.…¹
The lack of effective weaponry available is often noted by the brigaders at this time. in their training at nearby Madrigueras, The British often used football rattles to simulate machine gun fire!
John Tisa also remembers:
The numbers of rifles allotted to our infantry was too few for the number of men. Those without rifles used broomsticks or canes to train and march with. It didn’t matter, though, for those outdated and prehistoric rifles were not serviceable anyway. If you had tried to fire one, you would have risked having your head blown off. Fortunately, no ammunition was available.²
Merriman notes on February 3rd the actions of Scott’s No. 1 company on February 3rd. Composed principally of Irish and Cubans, it seemed to have worked fairly well. Herrick comments on the pecadillos of some of the officers, and also the relationship between Merriman and Scott, alias Englishman Inver Marlow:
Several fights broke out. Seacord was drinking more, as was (Gladnick said) Jim Harris, our commander. Adjutant Commander Merriman was partial to the infantry commander, Scott, two WASPs (White Anglo Saxon Protestants) on a hot tin roof. Scott was much liked by his men, as was Seacord by his.³
What the “many tales” were leaves much to the imagination, but George Hendrickson was once in the merchant marine, went over with the first 96 volunteers, and having been a trained radio operator on a ship ended up being attached to Transmissions. He was based in Valencia for the greater part of the war owing to his skills, but not much more is known about him. He returned to the United States on February 9, 1939 with one of the last groups of Internationals to leave Spain.
William Hathaway was from Downen Grove, Illinois. He was killed on February 27th, 1937 at Jarama. The only Hedley named in IB lists is Englishman John F. Hedley from Liverpool, who came over in December 1936, and left sometime in 1937.
“Parker” could possibly be construed as “Parks”. there were no “Parkers” in Spain at this time. It could, however, be John William Parks, who was then commissar of No. 2 company. He was killed on 16th February 1937 after driving two trucks through enemy lines, having got lost.
Merriman’s final line that he had “announced organisation of the Batt(alion)” was to have dramatic repercussions, as will be seen over the next few days…
¹William Herrick, Jumping the Line AK Press, 2001. p. 152
² John Tisa, Recalling the Good Fight, An Autobiography of the Spanish Civil War.1985. p.25
³ William Herrick, ibid. p. 151