11-12 Junio The Washington Battalion Leaves Albacete for the Front

June 11-12, 1937
Robert Merriman’s diary for June 11 and 12, 1937
Joseph Dougher (Commissar of the Mac-Paps), Albert (Abe) Harris (Intendencia) and Wally Sabatini (Mac-Paps). Harris is shown here without mustache that he carries in other photos. ALBA Photo 11-0728, Tamiment Library, NYU

Merriman picks up the pieces from a failed night exercise at Tarazona with his new Battalion.  He gets Pete Hampkins to come back to the town with him and makes Hampkins the Clerk in the new Battalion.  He left William Carroll in the field who would have had to walk back with the men.  He discusses the drill and placement of the guard with Abe Harris who is his Quartermaster in Tarazona.  After looping through Pozorubio in the afternoon, he returns to Albacete and meets with Schalbroeck who tells him about the imminent departure of the Washington Battalion for Jarama.  Merriman uses the rest of the day to try to adjust who is in the Washington Battalion and who will stay behind for the third (to-be-named Mackenzie-Papineau) Battalion.  He first negotiates with Brigade Personnel Officer Peter Winkler to adjust the rolls and then later meets with Marcovics to add people to Marcovics’ list where he had some remaining holes to fill.  Recall that Marcovics gave Merriman Givney and about 10 other difficult soldiers and apparently Merriman is now trying to give some back.  He gets rid of “one bad one” and since John Givney is wounded at Brunete in July (and the Mackenzie-Papineau battalion was still in training during the Battle of Brunete), it seems likely that the soldier returned to the Washingtons is Givney.

Merriman goes to bed early so he can rise and with Marion, Ed Bender and Joe Dallet, to toast the Washington Battalion as it moves out at exactly 3:08 AM.   Merriman shakes the hands of the men in the Battalion and wishes Marcovics good luck.  He phones the Brigade to let them know that the Battalion is on the move.  Merriman mentions a Perry Pinson in regard to the trucks and this soldier is not known at this point but would probably have been with Transportes.  There was a Percy Hilton who was with the Mac-Paps and was a cook in Tarazona, but Hilton did not arrive from Canada until August 2.  There is a Percy Hilton from Northampton mentioned in the ranks of the British Battalion in the RGASPI files, but no details of him are given other than he was a prisoner at the Base in September 1938.  Leslie Perry was with the Regiment du Tren in June 1937 and boasted that he had formed the Transport Group.¹  Perry was later busted for attacking another soldier with a pistol butt.   He was also attributed to be an intimate with Rose Abramson.¹  If the reference is to Leslie Perry, we are still left with Pinson as the other name.

A Ford 1936 4-door sedan as described by Merriman. This would have been a fine staff car. Photo credit: Ottoswheels.com

The next day was fairly routine training, although he notes that Ruben “Ruby” Kaufman returned with a 1936 (nearly new) Ford V6 4 door sedan (Merriman’s was unlikely to have been in Blue as the one on the right).

Merriman says he sat in on an examination commission for the Slavs and they were trying cases.  These mini-court martials could be for infractions like drinking or more serious cases, such as desertion.

Santiago Carrillo
Grainy photo of Santiago Carrillo from the 1937 Volunteer for Liberty, Vol 1, #13, October 1937

Merriman finishes the evening with a celebration with was given by and for the Juventad Socialistas Unificados.  One of the youth leaders of the JSU was Santiago Carrillo, seen at the right.   Carrillo’s son, José,  was the Rector of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid where the Lincoln Memorial stands.    Merriman was not interested in being at the Fiesta but since they had a place of honor, he could not leave early.


¹ RGASPI Fond 545/Opis 6/Delo 962, pg 42.