19-20 Abril Merriman meets with Russian friends and practices his Russian

April 19-20

Robert Merriman’s diary for April 19 and 20, 1937

These two days were rather routine for Merriman.  Instruction continued at the OTS in Pozo Rubio.   He mentions a man name “Cleaver” or it could be “Clewes”.  Neither name is on the Lincoln list so it is likely he is from another English speaking country.   There is a Randolph Cleven in the Mac-Pap lists.¹  However, checking his file in RGASPI, Cleven did not arrive in Spain until September 9, 1937, so it cannot be Cleven.

Merriman is spending considerable time with the Russians who are in the area and is dining with them.  He arranges for them to lecture to the students at Pozorubio and calls one of them by a Russian word.   Merriman’s hand is hard enough to understand in English but in Russian it is really tough.  The nearest we get is “тив”  but that is not a Russian word.

Gabriel Fort of the French Battalion and Miklos Szalway ("Chapayev", right) PHOTO 177_196106 taken at Ambite in June 1937.  Tamiment Library, NYU

Gabriel Fort of the French Battalion and Miklos Szalway (“Chapayev”, right) PHOTO 177_196106 taken at Ambite in June 1937. Tamiment Library, NYU

Vidal has taken an active interest in the “Slav” group and it is likely that this is the 13th Dombrowski Battalion.   A regularly photographed man in that unit got the nickname Chapayev.  He is Miklos Szalway, a Hungarian in the photo on the right.  Szalway and British Commissar Fred Copeman have the same “Marlboro Man” square jaw and can be easily confused in photos.

Merriman says that he finally received word on his “radio talk”.   In a few days, Robert Merriman will be invited to Madrid to make a speech on radio to the American audience.  This speech will become time consuming over the next week of the diary.

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¹ Michael Petrou, Renegades: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War, UBC Press, Vancouver, 2008.   List of names are in a Table at the end.