1-2 Junio Merriman has to listen to criticism from the men

June 1-2
Robert Merriman’s diary for June 1 and 2, 1937

The adjustments in leadership of late May continue and on the 1st of June, Merriman and Marcovics have to learn to work together.  Merriman tells Mirko Marcovics that he will be helping him train the Washingtons until they leave and Marcovics is unhappy with the outcome.  Together they go up to Room 22 in the hotel and meet with Bill Lawrence, Steve Nelson and George Kaye who has just arrived.  Presumably, “Grandfather” (a Russian) is there since they speak Russian and it says Russian sends Kaye to work in the supply depot.

In a continuation of information given on May 31, what is clear is that Steve Daduk, Edward Flaherty and Sterling Rochester have left Albacete to return to the U.S.  David Mates is still an issue in Tarazona and Marcovics doesn’t not want to “herd him”.  Merriman is nominated to speak to Mates about his work.

Merriman needed to get back to Pozorubio for training and Roblet came to give him a ride back but left Joe Dallet in Albacete.  Machine gun training continues and Merriman has difficulty translating the parts names from Russian to English.  It would be important to have uniformity in the naming of the gun parts since replacements would need to be ordered as weapons broke down.  The day finished with discussions on the relationships between the battalions, especially the English and Americans.

11_0786 Sands, Rodriguez and Chesler
Joe Sands (l), Julius Rodriguez, and Frank Chesler, ALBA Photo 11-0786, Tamiment Library, NYU.
Eladio and Aurelio Paula
Eladio Paula (left) and his brother Aurelio Paula. Aurelio would die in the Battle of the Ebro in August 1938. Eladio survived the war. Photo from the Paula family via Ancestry.com

On the second of June, a political meeting was held with the men and Julius Rodriguez tells Merriman to his face that there are men who don’t trust his military ability and feel he is more of a political leader than a military one.   The criticism comes from a “Paula” (believed to be Cuban American Eladio Paula) and a “Swinnerton”. Eladio Paula was from Tampa, also Cuban, and would have known Rodriguez.  Dennis Swinnerton was English and was injured at Jarama.  He probably befriended Paula there. Swinnerton will desert later in the summer of 1937.  It must have been a frank discussion for Merriman to have with the men.  Joe Dallet meets with Paula and Swinnerton and tells Merriman that Rodriguez has it wrong.  Again Merriman says “Galli talked” and repeated use of Galli (rather than Gallo) indicates that he meant Galli.  We found that Luigi Longo (Gallo) sent Honoré Galli to the Training Base at Albacete on May 5.¹  Galli was sent to help develop a political course of training at the training base.  The criticism of the men was discussed in a “round table” but Merriman does not let us know the conclusion.

Samual Gonshak, Commissar of the Autopark, May 1938. ALBA Photo 11-0026, Tamiment Library, NYU

Alfred Harvey Litwin is back from hospital and wants to get back to the “Spanish”.  Litwin came in on May 11 so it is not clear if he was injured or ill.  Steve Nelson is preparing to go to Jarama to be Commissar for the Lincolns.  He will stay over until at least the 3rd. In an evening meeting Eladio Paula “bawled out” Samuel Gonshak who was a Sergeant in the Autopark for the questions he asked.


¹ RGASPI Fond 545/Opis 1/Delo 56, pg 57.