As the pace of training accelerated, Merriman missed a few days in his diary. On August 3, he just tells an anecdote about maneuvers when he “pulled the leg” of one of Bill Skinner’s scouts. Merriman is obviously in the field with the men and spends time overnight in a trench.
On August 4, Max Bedacht and Phil Bard arrive to lecture the men, a lecture which Merriman says is dry. Bedacht reportedly testified to Congress that he was part of a group of 8 who went to Spain to visit the Brigades. Bedacht is reputed to have recruited American reporter Whitaker Chambers to the Communist Party. However, as in all things Chambers, one must view the stories with a critical eye. Bedacht material is available in the Tamiment Library.
Art Landis captures the event:
The early days of August, 1937, saw Volunteers from both the United States and Canada welcoming a delegation front the United States which had brought over thirty-two tons of soap, cigarettes, chewing gum, and other needed items. This was the first of a steady flow of supplies to be distributed under the dispensation granted by Secretary of State Cordell Hull on June 6, 1937. The visiting group was headed by Phil Bard (Lincoln Veteran), now acting secretary of the Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. It included Frank Mertens, of the National Maritime Union; John P. Hautala, of the Finnish Workers Federation; and Max Bedacht, national secretary of the International Workers Order.²
John Miller and Bill Lawrence are in Tarazona de la Mancha to see the naming ceremony for the Mac-Paps. The Mac-Paps are awarded their Battalion flag. John Miller and Bill Lawrence invite Merriman back to Albacete to get the scoop on upcoming plans of action. In the next three months, the Lincolns, Washingtons, and Mac-Paps will be in almost continuous action. “Ribley” introduces Comrade Bielov to the Mac-Paps and he lectures. Bielov was also called “Popov” according to Hugh Thomas.¹ Thomas alludes to Bielov being responsible for the fortifications at Belchite which were overrun in Spring 1938. Others have mentioned that there were no fortifications at Belchite in the Spring of 1938 and this is why the town was overrun so easily.³
¹ Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, ibid, p. 777.
² Art Landis, The Abraham Lincoln Brigade, ibid, p. 246.
³ Landis, ibid, p. 402.