5-6 Julio Mac-Paps on maneuvers

July 5-6
Robert Merriman’s Diary for the 5th and 6th of July, 1937.

Merriman starts the day reviewing field maneuvers by the Mac-Paps.  While Jack Mullinger’s scouts were out at six a.m. ,  the rest of the battalion was slow to move out and when they did, it sounded chaotic.  The battalion overran what looks like a “protector unit” and had to be regrouped to return in Company formation.  When debriefed, now it is Mullinger who was sick, making at least three of the officers down with illness.

Merriman went to meet with the Canadians in the Company to explain why Canadian Bill Skinner from Winnipeg would be the Mac-Pap Commander.  Merriman says that Liversedge chose to give up command but it is clear that “rank and fileism”, i.e. the unwillness to be held above the men, was at the core of the problem.  Joe Dallet also exhibited “rank and fileism” earlier, but Merriman worked on him to accept the status of rank.   This tension between the troops and the officers would continue for more months, at least into October.  Merriman again went over the roles of officers and commissars to the Canadians.   The Mac-Paps would soon have American commanders until the fall when Edward Cecil-Smith would become their first Canadian commander.

Ramón lectured and Merriman had to translate for him.  If this was indeed Ramón Mercader, the translation would have been from Spanish to English.  If it was a Russian with the alias Ramón, it could be Merriman was translating from the Russian.  In any case, Merriman had difficulty understanding Ramón and felt that he did a poor job on the translation.   Merriman attributed his problems to illness.  Bob Thompson and Joe Dallet continued with the disciplinary  aspects of leading this new Battalion.

Tarazona to Villanueva
Tarazona to Villaneuva through Iniesta (at the northeast corner). Source Google Maps.

On the sixth, Merriman goes to Villaneuva de la Jara where they were based in March.  He says that there had been an accident with four officers and a Russian injured.  This may have been the reason for the visit to Villaneuva, as they visited Canadian Eugene Fogerty in the hospital there.   It appears to have been a bit of a sightseeing trip and Marion Merriman and Bob Thompson were joined by two members of the Auto Park, Bill Wheeler and Lou Secundy.   The route they took was through the town of Iniesta and would have taken about twice as long as the more direct route through Quintanar.  No explanation for why they went the long way around (see map at right).

Merriman notes that Villanueva de la Jara is worse for wear and the town seems deserted and the church has lost some of its artwork.  On a good note, Fogerty shows them a 200 bed hospital in Villanueva which will be ready for the push at Brunete and will be in great need within the next few weeks.

Merriman is quite open in his diary about the rest & relaxation aspects of this trip.  They are all offered rooms in Villanueva and Bob Thompson and Bill Wheeler “worked” two nurses from the Hospital.  In a word that is hard to decipher, it appears that they did not get a “handsqueeze”, which can be slang for a number of possible outcomes that the Lincolns were seeking.   Nurses did tend to squeeze the hands of injured soldiers as a way of showing closeness and support, but it is probable that the intent here is to say that Bob and Bill did not get “lucky”.