17-18 Septiembre “Copic no help to English Party”

September 17-18

Robert Merriman’s diary for September 17 and 18, 1937

Robert Merriman or Alfred Harvey Litwin read a letter that should probably have been kept private.   In it, Litwin interpreted Copic as saying that Merriman would be removed as Chief of Staff.   Merriman confronted Copic with this and Copic denied it, but not to Merriman’s satisfaction.  Copic’s willingness to chew through his staff continues.

Klein and Eider

Herman (Gabby) Klein (left) and Louis Eider (right) in Ambite in November 1937. ALBA Photo 11_0988, Tamiment Library, NYU

Merriman is moving the men back from Albalate to Almochuel.  As he said on the 16th, this would be a three day operation by truck since Lou Secundy could only muster a few trucks.   The English are gone and Merriman finally moves up in the last truck.   He meets Marion Merriman on the road and they have a reunion.   Presumably with Marion, he returns to sightsee Albalate.   When the Merrimans make it to Almochuel he finds out the paylists are still not straight and he needs to fix them up.    Merriman accuses Louis Eider of not working out well.   Merriman sends Abe Harris of the Intendencia back to Albacete to bring up supplies.


Ben Richardson, believed to be from Folkestone. Richardson served in Spain from Jan-Nov, 1937. It is possible that he became “Lt. Richardson”. Fond 545/Op 6/Delo 192, RGASPI Archives, Moscow (Thanks to Kevin Buyers for the potential ID)

Merriman is reorganizing the Brigade Staff but everyone is on leave. Vandenberg is away (being sent to Albacete to deal with the Dimitrov Battalion placement) and Sapir is in Valencia dealing with Copic’s letter to the Party.   Jim Bourne is in Almochuel and it falls to him to go back to Albacete to state the Brigade position on repatriation of the British Battalion.   At this point, the British thought they would be following Wally Paynter, George Aitken and Jock Cunningham home.   Merriman implies that Harry Pollitt, head of the British Communist Party, needs help at this point in settling down the British Battalion and supporting his decisions about who will stay and who will go, but instead Copic deals with the issue as he normally does, without tact.  Both Pollitt and Bill Rust from England will arrive in late 1937 to deal with the morale issues amongst the Britons.   Two names arise here… Lieutenant Richardson and a “Dasheff” who may be Morris Dashevsky who was wounded in Belchite.  We are not sure of the relationship of these men to the discussion of the British Battalion.  Richardson may have been promoted within the 57th Battalion.

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