1-2 Junio Back in training, Merriman listens to criticism

June 1-2

Robert Merriman’s diary for the 1st and 2nd of June, 1937

The adjustments in leadership of late May continue and on the 1st of June, Merriman and Marcovics have to learn to work together.  Merriman tells Mirko Marcovics that he will be helping him train the Washingtons until they leave and Marcovics is unhappy with the outcome.  Together they go up to Room 22 in the hotel and meet with Bill Lawrence, Steve Nelson and George Kaye who has just arrived.  Presumably, “Grandfather” (a Russian) is there since it says Russian sends Kaye to work in the supply depot.  In a very confusing word (marked in yellow), the sentence can be read “In general melting…” “In general meeting…” or even “In general Milton”(presumably Milton Herndon).  The squiggle after the mystery  name/word, though, looks like the way Merriman writes “of”.  Also confusing is the phrase “Kay & I all talked Russian decided…”  We are tentatively saying that the period should go after “talked” indicating that the “Russian decided” and this is consistent with the man nicknamed “Grandfather” in the May 31 posting, and who was supposed to be consulted by General Gall on the 1st of June, was in Albacete.  However, equally possible would be the interpretation that  these men “all talked Russian”.   And then “Decided” would start the next sentence.  Either interpretation would make sense.

In a continuation of information given on May 31, what is clear is that Steve Daduk, Edward Flaherty and Sterling Rochester have left Albacete to return to the U.S.  David Mates is still an issue in Tarazona and Marcovics doesn’t not want to “herd him”.  Merriman is nominated to speak to Mates about his work.

Merriman needed to get back to Pozorubio for training and Ribley came to give him a ride back but left Joe Dallet in Albacete.  Machine gun training continues and Merriman has difficulty translating the parts names from Russian to English.  It would be important to have uniformity in the naming of the gun parts since replacements would need to be ordered as weapons broke down.  The day finished with discussions on the relationships between the battalions, especially the English and Americans.

On the second of June, a political meeting was held with the men and Julius Rodriguez tells Merriman to his face that there are men who don’t trust his military ability and feel he is more of a political leader than a military one.   The criticism comes from a “Paula” (believed to be Cuban American Eladio Paula) and a “Swimmerton” (this veteran is not known at this point).  Eladio Paula was from Tampa, also Cuban, and would have known Rodriguez.  It must have been a frank discussion for Merriman to have with the men.  Joe Dallet meets with Paula and Swimmerton and tells Merriman that Rodriguez has it wrong.  Again Merriman says “Galli talked” and repeated use of Galli (rather than Gallo) indicates that he meant Galli.   This is likely to be Humberto Galliani or perhaps an Italian trainer (suggestions welcome).  The criticism of the men was discussed in a “round table” but Merriman does not let us know the conclusion.


Eladio and Aurelio Paula

Eladio Paula (left) and his brother Aurelio Paula. Aurelio would die in the Battle of the Ebro in August 1938. Eladio survived the war. Photo from the Paula family via Ancestry.com



Samual Gonshak, Commissar of the Autopark, May 1938. ALBA Photo 11-0026, Tamiment Library, NYU

Alfred Harvey Litwin is back from hospital and wants to get back to the “Spanish”.  Litwin came in on May 11 so it is not clear if he was injured or ill.  Steven Nelson is preparing to go to Jarama to be Commissar for the Lincolns.  He will stay over until at least the 3rd. In an evening meeting Eladio Paula “bawled out” Samuel Gonshak who was a Sergeant in the Autopark for the questions he asked.