15-16 Agosto Adjustments in Battalion alignments continue and Americans get split up

August 15-16, 1937
Robert Merriman’s diary for August 15 and 16, 1937

In a very dense hand and in a very newsy mood, Merriman starts the 15th of August by checking on the Intendencia or Brigade Stores.  George Kaye is apparently doing a good job in the Intendencia and Van der Berghe will be going to the Intendencia to help out.   Continuing his audit of the Brigade, he has George Wattis and Bill Skinner, two experienced commanders, taking inventory of the stores and he has his new aide Sidney Shostek and a Goodman looking over the books. The only American named Goodman in Spain at the time was Carroll (Kibby) Goodman but he was listed as working in the Regiment de Tren.  It is possible that he is in Albacete as the Americans would utilize the trains significantly over the next few days.  There also was a Briton named Philip Goodman.  Shostek and Goodman find that people were purchasing items for themselves from the Intendencia.  Otherwise, Merriman is happy with the progress of the stores.   There is a lot of rice, though.

Joe Hinks and George Coyle visit Merriman and complain about the actions of Wally Tapsell (see previous diary pages).   Joe Hinks would return to write a memoir about the early days in Spain.  George Coyle was, according to Richard Baxell, “another Lenin School alumnus who had been in Spain for six months, [but] should not go back into the line” and he as a “disappointment in Spain when he deserted from the front at Jarama and took a few days leave in Madrid without permission for which he was placed in a labour battalion.”¹   The repatriation of Tapsell and not Hinks and Coyle irritated them, who felt they were being punished because they might send the stories of the British Battalion disarray back to England.

Merriman says he settled the issues over lunch.  While Cunningham felt that the British issues were already addressed, apparently a petition had reached the command level.   Wally Tapsell was removed from the line and in trade Merriman got three new cars at the Autopark.  George Wattis pushed for his promotion from Senior Lieutentant to Captain and Merriman agreed.

Samual Gonshak, Commissar of the Autopark, May 1938. ALBA Photo 11-0026, Tamiment Library, NYU
Fred Lutz
Abe Harris, two unknown soldiers, and Frederick Lutz at the Brigade Intendencia at Mondejar, ALBA Photo 11-0993, Tamiment Library, NYU

The Autopark, too, was in disarray with complaints.  Fred Lutz joined to help with propaganda.    A “Martinez” was leaving and this soldier does not appear to be an American.  Samuel Gonshak continues to be a problem and is now accusing Joe Dallet of cowardice. “Horner” could be Arthur Horner, who had been President of the South Wales Miners Federation¹.    Will Paynter also was a Welsh miner.

James Bourne
James Bourne, ALBA Photo 11-0664, Tamiment Library, NYU
Major Crespo of the Brigade Staff in November 1937, ALBA Photo 11-0651, Tamiment Library, NYU

Much of the rest of the two

Leonard Lamb, ALBA Photo 11 – 1306, Tamiment Library, NYU

day diary entries involves adjustment in the balance of the Brigade.   Major Luis Crespo went with Bill Skinner to reorganize positions in Morata de Tajuna. Americans were added at almost Company strength to the British Battalion and the Spanish 24th Battalion.  Merriman notes that Americans going to the British would have to have a proper political outlook as the British were very jaded at this point.  Jim Bourne was added to the British and was downcast by the assignment.  The Americans added Hans Amlie as their commander with Leonard Lamb and Ruby Ryant going along.  They seem to work well together.  John Hagiliou is again causing problems, probably involving his criticisms of the Communist party.  Mike Pappas keeps pushing for repatriation.  He will never get his wish and will be killed in August 1938.

Arthur Olerenshaw and Frank Ryan are mustered to work with the English in an attempt to restore order and morale.   In his round robin checking on Headquarter’s units, Merriman visits the Armoury and finds it wanting.  Only three Colt machine guns and one Lewis Machine gun were in the Armoury and the location of the Armoury was “nasty”.   The Armoury was led by Ronald Rinaldo and he had few organizational skills.

Abad Garcia
Lieutenant Commander Abad Garcia of the 24th Battalion, ALBA Photo 11-1787, Tamiment Library, NYU

At the front at Morata, Garcia buggered off.   There was a Lieutenant Commander Abad Garcia (pictured here who was in the 24th Battalion).  The Americans inherited 60 Spanish soldiers in the effort to balance the Battalions.  Merriman makes a visit to the British with Steve Nelson and George Wattis.  They meet with Frank Ryan, Hercules Avgerhinos, and William Ivy Morrison.   In an attempt to improve morale, they have a sing along.

Finally,  Merriman says that “Popovich” will soon be coming to the Brigade.  This could be Kosha Popovics, a Yugoslavian Communist brigadista, or Vladomir Popovics, a Captain in Spain and a friend of Marshall Tito (Josef Broz).

Merriman finishes reporting on a car accident near Carabaña which is to the northwest of Perales.  Car accidents irritated Merriman since he had so much trouble landing enough transportation.  In the next few days, everyone will be on the move and every vehicle will be needed.


¹ Richard Baxell, Unlikely Warriors, ibid.

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