25-26 Julio After disciplining men, Howe deserts

July 25-26

Robert Merriman’s diary for 25 and 26 July 1937

The field maneuvers of the Mac-Paps on the Tarazona – La Gineta Road finish up on the 25th or 26th (remember Merriman was catching up his diary from the 28th and did not record dates accurately for this week).   In a hard maneuver, Merriman lagged behind the battalion and lost some scouts and nearly lost contact with the full battalion.  In the field to the right of the Tarazona-La Gineta road bridge, Company 3 was put through a “wheel maneuver” where one end of the line stays pinned and the rest of the company rotates around to gain fire in another direction (presumably 90º to the original lines).   It was a tough workout and Merriman called it “gymnastics”.

Paul White

Paul White in the Lincoln-Washington Battalion in February 1938. ALBA Photo 11-1028, Tamiment Library, NYU

Merriman praises “White” and this is most likely to be Paul White who served with the Mac-Paps at this time.  White had a very exemplary record in 1937 and once disillusioned in 1938, had a sad fall from grace (you can read the result on his ALBA Biography).   Dr. Colin Bradsworth was the doctor with the training battalion at the time and his rustling up of an ambulance would be a serious mistake, especially since Brunete was underway and all ambulances were needed at the front.

Merriman says the “Chesler case is hanging fire”.  The details of why Frank Chesler got in trouble in the Autopark are not known to us at this point.  This story does not show up in Chesler’s personal file.

Merriman says that “Howe” was broken along with Dion.   This is William Edward Howe, one of the Seamen in the Seamen’s Machine Gun Company.  Dion was a discipline case previously and is Joseph Raymond Dion.   Howe has deserted and is being looked for.   Merriman chides himself for letting the Seaman’s company have too much autonomy.   “Robbie” Robinson was also a Seaman and was presumably brought in to keep this unit under control.  Robbie was in hospital early in the maneuver and without being watched, Howe took off.   Merriman says that Robbie complains too much about the food.  But Robbie was just in hospital and probably had a legitimate complaint.  On the 23-24 July diary pages, Merriman said the men applauded the cooks so perhaps that is what he wanted to hear, while some of the men complained about the food.   Supplies for the Mac-Paps were low at this point with almost all available stores having been taken to the front at Brunete.

As mentioned on the 23-24 July diary pages, Ben Barsky is now a political commissar in the Mac-Paps, presumably a company commissar since Joe Dallet was Battalion Commissar.