7-8 Junio Merriman goes shopping for a new car (and some trucks)

June 7-8
Robert Merriman’s diary for June 7 and 8, 1937

Schrenzel and Kaufman were to leave for Valencia on the morning of the 7th and they shared Bob Merriman’s quarters in Albacete.  The Dodge vehicle (the Commissar’s car) and the truck Merriman requisitioned on the 6th both had mechanical problems.  Merriman obviously was being given hand-me-down vehicles by the Auto Park, especially since there was a mobilization going on for the Washingtons to leave for Jarama.  Merriman has to come to Albacete to intervene with Bill Lawrence to get two trucks and a car, as the Dodge got “organized” by the Service Sanitar and did not come back.  Merriman and Bill went to see “Gunderlach” in the Auto Park.   Otto Gundelack was a Captain in Murcia in October of 1937 and was responsible for the Intendencia in Murcia in the Spring of 1937.¹ Merriman checks in with Pierre Lamotte about his car.

They leave for Albacete and it says “Joe Dukes and Carroll”.  This is believed to be Joe Dallet, Larry Dukes and William Carroll.  Upon arrival in Tarazona, Merriman speaks with the new men and announces that Larry Dukes will lead Company 2 and Bob Thompson will lead Company 1.  These companies were made up of people left behind by Marcovics and were “tough customers”.   Merriman heard them out.   Marion Merriman is back at Tarazona and Merriman mentions her in passing.  In Albacete, Merriman meets with Canadian Commissar Bob Kerr who was organizing the Canadian comrades who would be in the third battalion.   Merriman blames the hurried nature of the departure of the Washingtons for the disorganization in Tarazona.  He attributes that disorganization to a lack of political preparedness of these men.

Elliot Loomis
Elliott Loomis in Transmissions in 1938. ALBA Photo 11-0876, Tamiment Library, NYU

On the 8th, Elliot Loomis is assigned to be a driver for Merriman.  He takes Merriman out to Pozorubio and must have liked what he saw since he asked to be sent to Officer Training School.  Loomis will be in Transmissions in 1938.

Marion and Robert did some shopping for fruit, presumably for the upcoming fiesta for the departing Washington Battalion.  He marches the battalion to the river for  a picnic.  He pays 35 pesetas for a goat for the fiesta and makes a feeble joke that “I got your goat, by gun”, probably referring to the farmer doing the supplying of the goat.

Merriman sends his car back to Tarazona to pick up Marcovics, Dallet, and Mates.  They join with George Kay and Commandante “Umberto”.   This refers to Commandant Umberto Galliani, who led the Garibaldi Brigade.   It is clear from the formal address of Galliani that he is not the “Galli” who was mentioned on prior pages.

Merriman has time to take a stroll with Marion Merriman along the river and by the hospital.  Recall that Marion just returned from her mission where she had a very difficult time (May 30 diary page).  No indication is given that she let anything on to Merriman about her trip.

Galliani, Parker and Usera
Galliani, Bill Parker and Vincent Usera at Alcorisa in January 1938.
Bernstein, Strauss, Goldbert
Leaders of XVth Brigade Sanidad, Dr. Bernstein (left), Dr. Mark Strauss (center) and Commissar Al Goldberg (right), ALBA Photo 177-189035, Tamiment Library, NYU

The diary sounds like the fiesta is being held on June 9 as there are sports and volleyball with entertainment from George Kaye and David Mates.   Merriman meets Vincent Usera for the first time.  Usera would leave under a cloud in 1938 and there were suspicions that he may have been planted in Spain.  Usera was a US Marine in 1930².    Commandante Umberto and the Pozorubio Camp Doctor {probably Dr. Strauss}  gave speeches.  Alan Knight was “a hit”.

Merriman speaks with Walter Garland and Al Robbins who were in the Washingtons and this led Marcovics to get upset since Merriman was speaking to his officers.  There clearly was no love lost between Merriman and Marcovics.

Marion was to meet Bob in Tarazona before they were to return to Albacete but Marion “lost her way”.  One can only imagine her state of mind during this week.   Merriman, Dallet, Dr. Strauss and Walter Garland waited for her in the center of town and once they found her, they returned to Albacete with a driver named “Alfredo”.  Merriman says he didn’t sleep well because of a strange bed, but one might imagine that he picked up something going on with Marion and her “getting lost”.


¹ RGASPI Fond 545/Opis 6/Delo 376, pp 64-66.

² Ancestry.com