15-16 Abril Merriman meets men from the “Old Country”

April 15-16
Robert Merriman’s diary for April 15 and 16, 1937

Robert Merriman had taken the men to Albacete for three days to stand guard duty.  When in Albacete, Merriman stayed at the Guard Nacionale which was the supply depot for the Brigades.  The Etat Major (French, in Spanish it will be Estado Mayor) is the name used for the Brigade Headquarters. I The Plaza Mayor would be the Battalion Headquarters and often was near the front lines.  Merriman ate with Marion Merriman and Wallace Burton in Albacete.   Wallace Burton, as we have described, knew Marion through Milly Bennett, for whom his brother, Wilbur, worked in the China News agency Chung-Mei in Beijing in 1927.

Merriman says that instruction on light machine guns was given by someone from the “old country”.  He will refer to Russians as “Mexicans”, “men from the old country” and “others of his kind”…. rather obvious references to Russians without using the word Russians since the Soviet Union was not supposed to have advisors in Spain at this time.   This description of the headquarters of the fliers from Russia who were dropping leaflets at this time is quite illuminating.   A website of the names of Soviet flyers who flew in Spain and their aliases is given here.


Lou Secundy, Commander of the Autopark, ALBA PHOTO 11-1279, Tamiment Library, NYU

Merriman says he had dinner with Kershoff (Lucien Vidal gives the name as Kirtchoff and says he is the Base Commissar at Albacete¹) and Louis Secundy, who would become an important officer in the Battalion.  Secundy was integral in leading the Autopark, and when transportation needed to be mustered, Secundy was the man to see….. clearly and important person for a field commander to know.

Willie Gallacher
William Gallacher, Communist MP from Scotland, Source: Wikipedia, used under Creative Commons License

On the 16th, Merriman introduces new names in the diary.  Donley  cannot be Charley Donnelly who was in Section 3 of Co. 1 of the Lincolns at Jarama and was Irish.  Donnelly fell at Jarama.  Cleaver is not on the American lists.     There is a Canadian named Randolph Cleven who was in Spain and it is possible that this is the name here.   Bill Gallagher was actually Willie Gallacher, Communist MP from Scotland.

Merriman finishes the day by having dinner with Marion, Willie Gallacher and Al Robbins.  He orders twelve men to stand as honor guard for Lieutenant Moreno who was killed.


¹ Memorandum of the Base at Albacete, RGASPI Fond 545/Opis 2/Delo 49 pg 155, April 13, 1937.   This was a report of the Celebration of the founding of the Second Republic and luncheon speakers were provided to each of the training bases.