3-4 Abril Bob Merriman goes to Madrigueras

April 3-4

Robert Merriman’s diary of April 3rd and 4th 1937

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 (right) with David Doran and US Military Attaché Colonel Fuqua, at Quinto, October 1937. Source: ALBA photo 11-0843 of the Randall Collection, Tamiment Library, NYU

Burton, Amlie

Instructors at Tarazona de la Mancha in June 1937. From left to right: Peter Hampkins (British), Edward Cecil-Smith (Canadian), Wallace Burton (American), unknown, Walter Garland (American) and Hans Amlie (American). Photo from the Milly Bennett Collection, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.   Milly Bennett labelled this photo with Allan Johnson as the mystery man in the middle but contributors to this site are leaning to that person being Mirko Marcovics, who will become battalion commander of the second English speaking battalion.

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.


Wally Tapsell, ALBA Photo 11-1292. Tamiment Library, NYU

11_0009s_Clyde Taylor, MacKenzie-Papineau_nov 37

Dr. Clyde Taylor. Photo 11-0009 of the Randall Collection, Tamiment Library, NYU

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.