17-18 Julio Field maneuvers start to gel

July 17-18
Robert Merriman’s diary for the 17th and 18th of July 1937

The Mac-Paps spend two more days in the field on exercises.  Things begin to go well and Merriman is very pleased that Company 3 went out on a night patrol and when challenged by a patrol of Bill Wheeler, the Mac-Pap operational commander at the time, and Merriman, they were challenged for passwords.  Company 3 also apparently tried to take “prisoners” and one wonders if that was Merriman and Wheeler.  In any case, the actions of the field group were professional and Merriman was happy.   Except perhaps for sharing sleeping quarters with Joe Dallet and Bill Wheeler who “snored and scared off the enemy”.

Ben Barsky
Benjamin Barsky, photographed in August 1938, just before he was killed in the Sierra Pandols, ALBA Photo 11-0237, Tamiment Library, NYU

Merriman continues to assign men who are not performing to kitchen patrol (KP) duty.  Frederick Cavanaugh (who later became the Cook) and “Copmen” (unknown brigadista)  are two so assigned.  Merriman had to reprimand the Bulgarian-American Gilesco Racheff and New Yorker Ben Barsky (who would go on to be a Commissar in the Mac-Paps).   Carson is probably Jack Kerson or Carson who arrived in Spain on June 4.  Carson requested to be in the unit with William Carroll or with Alfred Litwin.

Jesse Wallach
Jesse Wallach of the Mac-Paps. Photo Credit: RGASPI Archives, Fond 545/Opus 6/Delo 1008, Moscow

The 18th of July maneuvers did not go as well as the advance was prematurely started by a whistle used to warn of overflying aircraft and the whistle was mistaken for the call to go over the top and start and attack.   They tried to make the best of it, but they did not recover from the mistake and the attack was uncoordinated.  Bill Skinner had problems with three soldiers who were unnamed.   Jesse Wallach was in the field during these exercises.  Jesse Wallach would become Battalion clerk.