9-10 Marzo “Jesuits”


Continuing with Robert Merriman’s debrief from his time in the hospital. This was probably written around March 25, 1937

Merriman continues to discuss “Bennett” who we have identified as Thomas Edwin Browne Bennett, who left Spain in May 1937.  He must have had suspicions about Bennett since he was writing a report back to the Brigade leadership about having him sent home.

Since last year, the RGASPI archives have made many of the personnel files of the Brigadistas available online.   Merriman’s letter is in Bennett’s file:


Merriman on Bennett

Robert Merriman’s letter to George Brodsky on Thomas Bennett, RGASPI 545/6/862 pg 102-107.

The result was shown in an order by Wally Tapsell at Albacete:

Tapsell on Bennett

Order from Wally Tapsell to have Thomas Browne Bennett arrested  RGASPI 545/6/862 pg 108 

Merriman also notes that Celia Greenspan “knows what he is”.   Bennett reveals in another letter to Brodsky that he is US Army Military Intelligence and his escape by “cruiser” is promoted by a Mr. Davis in the US Consulate in Valencia.


Celia Greenspan clip from promotional materials on “Into the Fire” (Credit: Intothefirefilm.com)

Celia Greenspan was discussed on 15-16 January where Milly Bennett and Greenspan came to see Merriman.   An interesting quote on how Celia Greenspan became a nurse is from an article in the Villager.com:

“We just saw what had to be done and did it,” said one. For example, Celia Greenspan, who was a lab technician at the time, became a nurse “overnight.” “I had never done more than put a band-aid on a cut or took blood,” she said. But she became an adept nurse, overseeing many patients at one of the hospitals in Spain’s countryside.

Marion Greenspand

Notarized photograph of Marion Greenspan (George Marion) from a letter from Daily Worker associate editor Harry Gannes, naming Greenspan as the DW Correspondent in Spain. George Marion Papers ALBA 045, Tamiment Library, New York University Bobst Library.

Anders Greenspan gives some insight to George Marion (who he calls Marion Greenspan) and his wife Celia:

Greenspan’s case also illuminated the situation of couples who were separated as a result of the war. His wife Celia was serving at a hospital in Murcia, and while she wanted to go see her husband in Madrid, she wondered, “what kind of a comrade would I be if I walked out [?] If I had a transfer to a job in Madrid there would at least be some excuse. But here, with a dozen examples of couples broken up by the needs of the war, to leave in order to be with you would be to say that we and our personal happiness come first” (ALBA Col. 45). The war also gave Celia Greenspan a stronger sense of her relationship to the greater political cause that the volunteers were fighting for. As she wrote her husband in June 1937, “the war has changed me . . . all the books and all the lectures and all the unit meetings in the world . . . couldn’t have given me the feeling of personal responsibility to the movement, as being here, working and watching have done” ¹

Bob Thompson also came to visit Merriman and provided some companionship. Dave Springhall made it to Murcia from Columnar hospital and Merriman says that he looks much improved.  George Brodsky came through with some copies of the Daily Worker as reading material.


¹ Anders Greenspan, Sacrifice and Commitment: American Volunteers in the Spanish Civil WarJournal of Arts and Humanities (JAH), Volume  2, No. 5,  pp 31- 32, June, 2013.

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