7-8 Julio “Boys deserted from Lincolns and brought news of Hourihan”

July 7-8
Robert Merriman’s diary for July 7 and July 8, 1937

Merriman’s matter of fact tone throughout the diary rarely gives a view into his real feelings.   The diary oscillates between news about the war and trivia about Marion buying a dress.   Merriman must have still have been on R&R this morning in Villaneuva de la Jara because he woke late at 11 am.   He met with the Mayor and his cousin who was blind and played the mandolin.   Merriman gives  a hint of why they made the loop through Iniesta on the prior days:  Suarez and Delgado got two girls in trouble and he was looking for an accredited doctor who could end the pregnancy.   In Catholic Spain this was no small matter.  Delgado is believed to be Emilio Delgado Mariano.   Suarez is believed to be Julius Ruiz Suarez or Luis Suarez Pineiro.

Merriman says that the officials in Cuenca turned over rifles to him and shells.   Whether this was to reduce the possibility of fifth columnists getting weapons or just to provide more support to the internationals is not known.  The town of Cuenca is some 90 km north of Villaneuva de la Jara.

Merriman says he has a lazy afternoon, playing dominoes.

Oliver Law
Oliver Law

Later on the 7th, Merriman returned to Albacete and met with Lawrence, Schallrock and Briton Robert Traill.  Settling some questions, Merriman gets some news of the offensive that started the day before and says that 30 battalions (about 20000 – 30000 men) had advanced 11-12 miles.   This would have taken them from Valdemorillo to the vicinity of Villanueva de la Cañada where the offensive stalled for a day and the Lincoln and Washington Battalions were taken from reserve and thrown into action to take the town.  In bitter fighting, we find the next day that Marty Hourihan was wounded and is out of the line.   This puts Oliver Law in charge of the Lincoln Battalion.

Merriman finds out that Vidal is on the warpath over some artillery pieces which were taken off by the Spanish Battalions.   Vidal threatens to pull the Americans out of Almansa where the artillery groups trained.   The International Brigades never fielded a significant artillery unit although Canadians and Americans served in batteries such as the John Brown Battery and the 45th Brigade.   Somehow two Colonels did not get absorbed into the new units and went off with the artillery.   Bill Lawrence will have to take the issue up at Brigade Headquarters.     Merriman meets with Bender, Lawrence, Thompson and Traill in the evening.  He misses Vidal and hints that Vidal was trying to round up supplies for the front.  Merriman would keep his grenades.

Merriman goes shopping for telephones and supplies.  Marion looks for a dress.  Merriman again talks with a Russian (“Marsly”) to get “regulations”.  This is not clear as to what these regulations are but they may be orders from Russian advisors.   Merriman obtains a heliograph for communications and some wire to go with his telephones.   The town of La Roda appears to be a headquarters for the Transmiciones unit.

Merriman lets us know that he will go to Madrid on the 9th of July to get shoes for the men.   As mentioned on previous pages, Anna Louise Strong arrived with nearly $10,000 in cash so that the Americans could be outfitted with real boots, instead of Alparagatas (the rope soled sandals).  This would be a shopping trip to get these supplies.  Merriman says that there already is an ambulance in Madrid loaded with supplies.  He will leave Bob Thompson in charge.