9-10 Abril Outfitting and Manning Pozo Rubio

9-10 April
Robert Merriman’s diary for the 9th and 10th of April 1937
John Hagileou
John Hagileou: (Evangelos Hadjilahus) Source: RGASPI Archive F.545, op.6 d:415, Moscow.  (Thanks to Kevin Buyers for locating this photo)

Merriman spends the next two days organizing the Officer’s base at Pozo Rubio and “goes shopping” in Albacete at the Guard Nationale which is the supply depot.  He meets with Lambert and Hagileou.   Hagileou was the Sergeant in the Mess at Albacete.   Lambert we have not met before.  The frustration with interpreting Merriman’s diary is that he notes people who may never have been discussed in texts on the Brigades.  The ALBA biographies which are being revised in 2014 by Christopher Brooks are extremely helpful in identifying Americans.  No similar lists exist for Canadians or British and finding those vets takes some sleuthing.   Even Mr. Lambert here could be French since Lambert is a French name.  However, Tamiment’s extensive microfilm collection of the Brigade archives has treasures everywhere.   This fragment was picked up in a scan of the archives in 2012 and who knew Mr. Lambert would be mentioned in Robert Merriman’s diary?

Salvo Conducto (a safe conduct pass) for Sergeant John Lambert who was in the Tarazona instruction base. This pass, from September 1937, gives him safe conduct to Murcia. Source:  Comintern Archives, Fond 545/Opus 3/Delo 256; Tamiment Library, NYU.

This now becomes our best bet of who Mr. Lambert was.  Jacob Epstein and Walsh (see April 5-6)  were approved to move.  Walsh ended in Company 3 of the Lincolns during the Spring and went to the Artillery later.

Merriman must have found a good mate in Pierre Lamotte who picked up a new mattress (it appears that this is the word) for Merriman’s arm and cast.  Merriman is clearly in a position to move people around and Arthur Olorenshaw had a transfer approved for him.  Olorenshaw is a member of the British Battalion and will by the end of his tour in Spain write reviews many senior members of the Brigade Staff for their “reliability”.

Merriman learned about the “requisitioning” process in Spain.  He says he “stole” a truck to get his materials back to Pozo Rubio. Brigadistas frequently told how they “organized” a truck when they needed one.

Lionel Edwards
Captain Lionel Edwards, Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, Source: Randall Collection ALBA PHOTO 11-1307, Tamiment Library, NYU

Merriman introduces us to Solomon Rose and Al Edwards.  Rose arrived in Spain on March 28, 1937.   Edwards is named by his first name in the diary and he will serve as a mechanic in the Republican Air Force.  There is another likely Edwards in the International Brigades at this point and this is Lionel Edwards, a Canadian who made Captain by 1938.

Merriman mentions James Harris’ “Polish Woman Doctor” again.   That story is difficult to flesh out.  Harris himself was Polish and we have been unable to determine his real name.  Perhaps figuring out this woman doctor (who was said to be in charge of the Pasionaria Hospital in Murcia when Merriman was there in March) will help in finding out more about James Harris.

John "Robbie" Robinson, November 1937.  Source ALBA PHOTO 11-0645, Tamiment Library, NYU.
John “Robbie” Robinson, November 1937. Source ALBA PHOTO 11-0645, Tamiment Library, NYU.
Edward Cecil-Smith
Major Edward Cecil-Smith, Commander of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, 1938, photo at Darmos, Spain. Source: Moscow Archive Photos ALBA PHOTO 177_187053, Tamiment Library, NYU

This diary segment ends with the election of the political commissar for the Pozo Rubio Officer’s School.  Names that Merriman mentions are “Robbie” (perhaps also Robbins), Crooks, and EC Smith.   Robbie is John Quigley Robinson, one of the more popular members of the Brigades, and EC Smith is Canadian Edward Cecil-Smith, who would become commander of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion by the end of the year. Crooks could be Jimmie Crooks of the Lincoln Battalion but Crooks was listed as coming to Spain in August 1937 so this will still need some research.  If the name in yellow were transcribed as “Robbins”, then the likely candidate is Al Robbins who arrived in Spain on March 17 and who would become a Lieutenant in the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion.  Over the next month in the diary, the formation of the new battalions and their naming will become a frequent topic of Merriman’s conversation.