Robert Merriman will now settle into the routine of being an instructor at the training bases around Albacete (Villaneuva de la Jara, Madrigueras, Tarazona de la Mancha, Quintanar del Rey, Pozo Rubio and others). The diary for April 2 flows over onto this page and he finishes the story of André Marty questioning Marion on where she got her military greatcoat and reminding her of the “dress code”. I am sure from the retort that Marion was impressed by Marty.
Hans Amlie is now Commander of the Lincoln Battalion and Merriman will be working with Amlie until the Fall of 1937, with frequent chafing between their personalities. Hans Amlie was a very interesting character and was the brother of Republican Congressman Tom Amlie of Wisconsin. His biographies¹ say that he was a Socialist when he came to Spain (he arrived on Mar 17, 1937) but when the Eugene V. Debs Column of the American Socialist Party could only draw 25 volunteers, Amlie joined the Communist Party in Spain. In an interesting confluence of personalities, the American reporter Milly Bennett lost her lover, Wallace Burton, in Spain as he was killed at Belchite. Milly had spent some time in China with Wallace’s twin brother Wilbur Burton who wrote for the Baltimore Sun newspaper. When Milly Bennett was the lead reporter for the Chang Mei news bureau in Peking (Beijing), Burton replaced her when she moved down to Hankow to be more in the action. Her biography², “On Her Own” reads like a Dashell Hammett mystery story. In Spain, after Wallace died, Milly became the lover and then married Hans Amlie and when she returned to the US in January 1938, she did so as Amlie’s wife.
Three additional names are added to our cast in this installment: Commandant Clare, Dr. Clyde Donald Taylor and Dave Engels. Dave Engels’ nickname was “Mooch”. We have not posted a picture yet of Wally Tapsell of the British Battalion. Commandant Clare remains a mystery at this point.
¹ Eby, Comrades and Commissars, ibid. pp. 204-206.
² Milly Bennett (Mildred Mitchell), On Her Own:Journalistic Adventures from San Francisco to the Chinese Revolution, 1917-1927, edited by Tom Grunfeld, M. E. Sharpe Publishers, Armonk, NY., 1993.