9-10 Julio “Winkler wondered why I was in Madrid … and so did I”

July 9-10, 1937
Robert Merriman’s Diary for July 9 and July 10, 1937

In the midst of the Battle of Brunete, Merriman, Bill Lawrence and Anna Louise Strong take off for Madrid, ostensibly to buy supplies for the Battalion.  One wonders if they just could not resist seeing what was happening.    On July 9, Merriman’s day starts with disciplining Tom Hyde in front of the Battalion.   Hyde’s comment was very fatalistic and Merriman apparently had had it.  He sentenced Hyde to 30 days in the brig for “his superior attitude”.  He says Hyde threatened to desert.   This may have been the best thing for Hyde who will become a good soldier at Belchite in September.

IB Headquarters
The current 63 Calle de Velásquez in Madrid. It is for rent. Image: Google Street View


Emanuel Hochberg
Emanuel Hochberg, RGASPI photo Fond 545/Opus 6/ Delo 911, Moscow
Ford and Shirai
James Ford, VP Candidate for President of the US and Jack Shirai, Lincoln Brigade Cook, From the Book of the XVth Brigade.

Merriman goes past Morata de Tejuna and Perales to Madrid.  The International Brigade Headquarters was 63 Calle de Velásquez.  Marion Greenspan (George Marion) worked out of this office.   But Greenspan was too busy to get out of the office and go to the hospital to visit the men from Brunete who had been injured on the first day of fighting: Garland, E. C. Smith, Robert Trail{l}, Givney, Hochberg, and Hourihan.   Bill Lawrence chews Marion Greenspan out about his priorities.  Merriman finds out that Oliver Law, the Battalion Commander, was also killed.   Brunete will decimate the Lincolns and Washington Battalions and within two weeks the ranks will be so small that they battalions must be combined into the Lincoln-Washington Battalion to have a fighting force.   Others killed at Brunete will be for the British: George Nathan, Julian Bell (nephew of  Virginia Woolf), John Alexander of the Anti-tank unit, Arthur Dunbar, Sam Masters,  Alex McDade (who penned the Ballad of the Jarama Valley), Bert Overton (previously commander at Jarama), and many others.  Notable Americans who were killed include the Battalion Cook Jack Shirai, Joe and Sam Stone (brothers), Bernard Entin, Ramond Steele, Jack Weinstein, amongst others.   Merriman gets some details of the battle including the capture of the town of Quijorna by Juan Modesto’s Division.   The fighting for Quijorna is shown in this Spanish TV Documentary (thanks to Jose Alejandro Ortiz-Carrion for the reminder about this documentary).

Copic Wounded
Vladomir Copic, wounded, and lying on a cot. ALBA Photo 177-179003, Tamiment Archive, NYU

Within hours, Merriman was back on the street, shopping.  Merriman meets the reporter Louis Fischer again who has a girl on his arm.  He bumped into Walter Garland and the Canadian Commissar Bob Kerr.  Kerr dissuades Merriman of the idea of going to the front for sightseeing since the going there is obviously tough.  Even the Commander of the Brigade, Vladimir Copic, was injured by shrapnel.

At the end of the 9th of July, Merriman puts a question “Swinnerton lost memory?”  Thanks to John Wainwright (personal communication), we know  Dennis Swinnerton was from Islington, London.  He arrived in Spain 27/1/37.  He was treated at Murcia but it is not known what his injury was.   Swinnerton was a possible deserter and left Spain on 25/2/38.

Robert Merriman
Photograph of Robert Merriman from Volunteer for Liberty, Vol 1 No 18, October 1937

In the morning of the 10th, Merriman meets with Briton Will Paynter, James Prendergast, Dr. Adolph and Anna Louise Strong who lost her ride back to Albacete.  Anna Louise had a disagreement on how to spend the money which was brought over from the States and starts to spend it on personal items, including books.  That was enough for Lawrence who thought they were buying boots and glasses.  He left her in Madrid.  Anna Louise attaches herself to Merriman trying to hitch a ride back with him.  Merriman meets with John Tisa who is writing the Book of the XVth Brigade and Tisa takes one of the famous photographs of Merriman for the book.

Back at the IB HQ, Merriman meets Fein, who we believe is Arnold Fein, who is the Chief now of the Cadres Office in Albacete.  In this position, Fein would have been Marion Merriman boss when she worked there in May.  Fein (a “Mexican”¹) is a 41 year old Yugoslavian  whose trade was a baker.  He also meets Peter Winkler who is the head of Personnel of the Brigades.  Both wonder what Merriman is doing in Madrid.  They ask Merriman a very good question given the context of the battles.  Merriman realizes that sightseeing in Madrid at this time is very bad optics and he works his way back to Albacete hitching a ride on an ambulance, driven by Murray Lerner.   The riders in the Ambulance were Prendergast and Paynter, Bill Lawrence, Canadian Bob Kerr, and Merriman.   They arrived back safely in Albacete, tired.  If that vehicle had been hit by a bomb, there would have been a significant dent placed in the International Brigades.

We have been trying to trace “Winkler” for some time as several photographs in the Tamiment Archives are attributed to Winkler.   It appears that Winkler is the Pole Kazimierz Cichowski.   We still are looking for his photo.


¹ RGASPI Fond 545/Opis 6/ Delo 37, pg 22.


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