In a technical two days in camp, Merriman covers some issues of training and beefing. This page shows that even the most banal appearing entries can have an intriguing story. On the 11th, a delegation of Swinnerton, Harbocian, Benson and Westfield sent a letter to Vidal at Headquarters saying that there was favoritism in the Pozo Rubio training camp. Merriman suspects that Tom Wintringham who was commanding the camp was behind the letter. Bill Lawrence, the American Commissar, assures Merriman that the men (presumably the American instructors) don’t need Merriman to intervene. Merriman doesn’t record (or doesn’t have) the offending letter. George Westfield was identified as a British brigadista in Martin Sugarman’s manuscript.² It appears that the Benson is William Benson of the British Battalion. Kevin Buyers sent along this interesting photo from Albacete¹ with Benson and Westfield in it. John Wainwright identified Swinnerton in yesterday’s diary pages. Alan Warren pointed out that the third name is Canadian Nicolas Harbocian, a Rumanian by origin and coming to Spain from Windsor, Canada. Harbocian was a member of the Canadian Commonwealth Youth federation. Timing on this letter is tragic as Merriman speaks of it on July 11. On July 9th or 10th, Michael Petrou noted that Harbocian was killed in the Battle of Brunete fighting for the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
Merriman talks to Jim Prendergast³ who would have understood the concern in the camp. Merriman said they had to bribe him with cigarettes and chocolates to get him to come out to camp. Merriman says that there is a comrade from the US in camp to write a history of the Brigades. This probably was Sandor Voros who was working on the Book of the XVth Brigade about this time and who had just arrived in Spain on May 7, 1937.
In the evening of the 11th there was a show from the “Cultural Commission” and it was apparently a hit. Merriman says that the dentist is in camp and a ruckus occurred overnight between the Dentist and the guards about noise. It is not clear if the dentist was previously arrested or the guard. At this time, one of the Dentists for the Lincoln Brigade was Arnold Donowa but it is uncertain if this was the doctor in camp.
No new names are mentioned on the 12th of July and it seems to have been an unremarkable day of training.
¹ Maurice Levine: From Cheetam to Cordova “The first organised Manchester group to arrive in Albacete, November 1936.”
² Martin Sugarman, Against Fascism – Jews who served in The International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/spanjews.pdf, Sourced: January 21, 2014.
³ Michael O’Riordan, Connolly Column – The Story of the Irishmen who fought for the Spanish Republic 1936-1939, 1979.