Category Archives: Almochuel

13-14 Septiembre Moise Sapir enters the fray to settle down the Battalion

September 13-14, 1937

Robert Merriman’s diary of September 13 and 14, 1937

Moise Sapir

Moise Sapir, John Gerlach, Bob Merriman, Rollin Dart, David Doran and Robbie Robinson, Almochuel, September 1937. ALBA PHOTO 11-0755, Tamiment Library, NYU

Merriman starts flowing his diary from page to page.  His last comment on September 12 was that he sat down to talk to Copic and he told him of our mistakes… emphasis “our”.  Copic doesn’t want to hear it.   Merriman repeats that the Americans held a protest meeting and Moise Micha Sapir (aka Majzesz Moshe “Michel” Safir/Sapir) will look into it.  Sapir was described as an Albacete paymaster, but here it looks as if he may be on the Division Staff in a more serious role.  Sapir will become a member of the Botwin Battalion in 1938 and be killed in the retreats.

Ivan Rujevcic (John Gerlach, photo above) was busy taking a census of all the men in the Lincoln and Washington Battalions.  Edwin Bee would be working on a similar list for the British.

Merriman meets with Bob Thompson who has come up with the Mac-Paps.   They have decided that Rollin Dart (also in the photo above) can’t do the job of leading the Mac-Paps and Merriman goes to Walter, presumably to get his agreement to replace Dart with Thompson.   Thompson will become Commander of the Mac-Paps and Joe Dallet will be his commissar.  Robbie Robinson is back from a severe illness and will be helping out in rebuilding the morale of the men.  Recall that Robinson was in the Maritime Sailors Union and would be a help against the railing of Seaman Oliver.

Merriman tells Walter that the Commanders need to think more about the care and feeding of the men.  Walter gave it back to Merriman.  Merriman comes back to tell Thompson what he heard.  The Mac-Paps are underarmed and it doesn’t appear that weapons are coming.

11_0718 Americans in 24th, Almochuel

David Doran, kneeling, Robbie Robinson, to Doran’s right, and Harry Poll, sitting in white camisa, hold a meeting with the Americans of the 24th Battalion in Almochuel in September 1937. ALBA Photo 11_0718 of the Harry Randall Collection, Tamiment Library, NYU.

Merriman gets Dave Doran to rally the troops against the disgruntled elements.  They hold a company meeting to discuss the grievances.  More meetings are held at the company and battalion level.   Merriman is still fighting with the Intendencia and this time it is about the taking of livestock to feed the troops.  Merriman doesn’t want the war to leave the peasants without their stock.

Basha Van Den Berghe complained about “secrets” and Sapir.  Merriman says that Gregorovitch, “Charley” and Van Den Berghe are to go to Albacete to resolve the issue over the Dimitrovs going to the 45th Division.  While Copic says no, Albacete says yes and it will take a Party decision to resolve this.   Gregorovitch is a nom-de-guerre for Gregory Shtern, also known as Sebastian.   Gregorovitch wrote to Colonel Pavel Ivanovich Shpilevsky in late June:

I have begun to worry a great deal about the state of the International Brigades.  There is a lot going on there: the attitude of Spaniards towards them and them toward the Spaniards; the questions about morale; the chauvinism of the nationalities (especially the French, Poles and Italians); the desire for repatriation; the presence of enemies in the ranks of the International Brigades.  It is crucial that a big man be dispatched quickly from the big house especially for the purpose of providing some leadership on this matter.  I talk about this a lot with our agents, go myself to the brigade, work through our people, but this is too little–we need a strong man on this job. ¹

Gregorovitch was with the Brigades as both an advisor and watcher. Merriman notes that Chapayev is on vacation, to get him out of the way from any decision which will be made with the Dimitrovs.

General Walter

General Walter examines a rifle in the XVth Brigade, December 1937

General Walter comes to talk to the Brigade and lays down a firm talk.  In photographs of Walter with the troops he is shown inspecting rifles and training soldiers.  Walter will write in his debrief at the end of the war that the Brigade could not keep their weapons clean, that men just tossed their cleaning rods, that there was only one rag in the whole Brigade and that the weapons were so worn the rifling was gone.   After Walter laid down the law, men still approached him with requests.

On the street, Copic argues with people about Belchite.  Mike Pappas apparently objected to Copic.   Merriman has to arrange an honor guard to go to a funeral in Valencia.   He also is supposed to pay the men but “Goodman” (perhaps Carroll Goodman of the Regiment du Tren) has not returned with the payroll.

Merriman says that the time in Albalate was interesting but short.   After only a couple of days there, the Brigade was moved back to near Almochuel.   Landis² says that this was part of training for the combined brigade but it seems that the Brigade needed rest more than training.   The issues with the British continue to revolve around their promised repatriation and with their previous commanders Aitken and Cunningham going back to England, others must have thought that this was policy.  They refuse to move further.  In a “P.W.” meeting, “Flam” (Emil Flam) and others calmed down.  Within the Lincolns, Seaman Oliver has backed off his protests and this may have been helped by better food.   Merriman feels that the Intendencia is now overfeeding the men.


¹   Radosh et al., Spain Betrayed, Document 48, ibid. page 240.

² Landis, Abraham Lincoln Brigade, ibid.

11-12 Septiembre The Battle of Belchite continues to be fought by the Brigade

September 11-12, 1937

Robert Merriman’s diary for September 11 and 12, 1937

Merriman is told to move the men to Albalate and they move out in a howling windstorm.   The weather is the worst Merriman has seen in Spain.   Rain and wind will make the new camp into a swamp.   Merriman tries to borrow more trucks from the 24th Battalion but is told that they are busy so these worn out troops will be marched miles to get to new quarters.  Merriman needs spots for 900 men and only finds room for 250.    He meets with a “Dennis” who we interpret to be A. Denis who worked as an adjutant to the Chief of the 35th Division under General Walter.  He learns that 5 million litres of gasoline have been destroyed in the rear.  No petrol is available for the trucks.   Discussions are held where it is suggested that maybe they should just stay put in Azaila.   When they arrive at Albalate there is no room for all the troops so the Mac-Pap Battalion is put into the field.  The Mac-Paps have not been in battle so they pull the short straw for accommodation.  The orders of the 35th Battalion reveal that the 11th Brigade have been given accommodation in Albalate proper.

It was late on the afternoon of the 11th that the men had moved from Azaila.  If the men went to Albalate, that would be about a 12 mile march, through Hijar.   If they went to Almochuel, that was a 3 mile march west.  Marion Merriman will note that they toured Albalate together, so it is possible that the Brigade was marched that far south.   The orders of the 35th note that the XVth Brigade was in Almochuel and Vinaceite on the 12th of September.

Copic and wife

Vladimir Copic and Sonia Copic with officers touring Belchite, ALBA PHOTO 177_177045, Tamiment Library, NYU

In the midst of the cold, rain and mud, General Kleber (Manfred Stern) rolled in with Mirko Marcovics and again made his claim for the Dimitrov Battalion to be pulled out of the XVth and sent to the 45th Division.   Copic is not at the Brigade Headquarters as he is touring around with a Czech delegation (and perhaps with his own wife in tow).   Kleber asks Chapayev for his opinion on moving out of the XVth.   The indication here is that Chapayev may have wanted to move but Copic will get him out of the way on leave to Valencia so that he cannot sway the decision.  Copic will not give the Dimitrovs up.

Merriman says that there are previous issues with Kleber and that there have been charges made against him.  At this point, General Walter starts to coin the epithet “Kleberism” which will be equated with Fascism by the end of the war.  Kleber wrote a long epistle on his time in Spain and his judgment of this situation is certainly biased and verges on paranoia about how he continually was defeated in his decisions in Spain.   Kleber describes the attack on Zaragoza which was under the supervision of Comrade Leonidov, a senior Russian advisor.   Kleber’s proposed attack on Zaragoza went through Villamayor de Gallego and Kleber maintained his 13th Brigade made it to that location (although he said Villamayor de Gelaro).   The 12th Brigade of the 45th led by Italian Penchienati went in the opposite direction, turning right, away from the approach to Zaragoza, instead of left and approaching the city from the east.   The 45th Division, thus split, and an open middle with two unprotected flanks put them in a very bad position which stopped their attack.   Kleber maintained that he had gotten to Villamayor when a counterattack of Fascist tanks pushed the Polish troops back out of the town.   At the staff meeting with Walter present, Kleber was told by General Rojo that they never got near Villamayor.   Kleber said that his Dzhuro Dzhakovich Battalion had captured five forts but had to give them up in the counteroffensive.  Kleber said:

Not wanting to belittle the accomplishments of the division that General Walter commanded, I must say that in taking Quinto and Belchite, about fifty guns and an entire group of tanks participated, under cover of our entire air force.  If my group had had even one-third of those forces, we would have held onto the forts that we had captured and Villamayor de Galero [sic].  By the way, we must offer thanks for the taking of Quinto and Belchite primarily to the Dimitrov Battalion, that very battalion which in fact had belonged to my Division.¹

Luigi Longo, “El Gallo” (the Rooster), came from Madrid and heard the accusations against Kleber.  Gallo ensured Penchienati that Kleber would soon be removed.   Kleber’s days were numbered, not because he made enemies of Copic and Walter over the Dimitrov Battalion, but because he disagreed with General Rojo over the dissolution of the XIIIth Dombrowski Brigade and the loss of his battalions to other units.¹

Copic has relayed back to Merriman that Kleber has been removed and they will keep the Dimitrovs.   He tells Merriman that Kleber got to 4km from Zaragoza (the Villamayor de Gallego claim).

Rain Almochuel

Rain in Camp in Almochuel, September 1937. ALBA PHOTO 11_0833, Tamiment Library, NYU

Rain in Camp

Rain in Camp, Almochuel ALBA PHOTO 11_0831, Tamiment Library, NYU

With the men marched out of Azaila, Leonard Lamb wants to get them down and placed and doesn’t want to waste time looking for locations.  A word which is undecipherable is no help in interpreting what happened next.  Philip Detro gets the men placed.   A rebellion amongst the Americans starts over the bivouac, many men just sleep in the field.   An epithet is tossed at Merriman.  Men are revolting against him, Copic, Lamb, and Doran.  The leaders are accused of sending them into the meat grinder of Belchite.   They feel deceived about their orders.   The town is a “mad wild place” and the revolt makes things worse.  Men say they will take no more orders and fight no more.  Men who have been in battle only at Belchite are asking to be let go home.   Two men, Emyl Flam and Seaman Louis Oliver, are again leading the revolt.   They hold a secret meeting without the officers.  Flam will not survive the war and Oliver will be pulled out of the Lincolns by November, ending his tour as the thorn in Merriman’s side.   Ben Findlay‘s review of Seaman Oliver says “Political record is worse.  Organized a rump meeting in Albalate to try and force the removal of battalion leadership.  Admits to organizing of meeting and makes it look like someone else did it”.²   Louis Oliver will continue to drink and while being dried out in Albacete, he fell off the wagon again.   He would end up being assigned to the Labor Battalion of the 45th Division and finally, emprisoned in Casteldefels near Barcelona.   He would come out of Spain, however, with the group on the Ausonia in December 1938.

The main complaints of the men are poor food and the leadership of the Comintern.   Merriman has to agree with the complaints of the men about the food.


¹M. Fred (Manfred Stern or General Kleber) in Radosh et al., Spain Betrayed, ibid, p 357-8.

²  RGASPI Fond 545/Opis 6/Delo 957/page 78.

9-10 Septiembre The XVth Brigade retires from Belchite to rest positions

September 9-10, 1937

Robert Merriman’s diary for September 9 and 10, 1937

Taking of Belchite

Article in La Vanguardia, Barcelona, from September 7, 1937. Source: http://

Merriman holds the fort while Copic goes to the Division Staff meeting and continues the battle of Belchite.  At that meeting, General Walter and Lieutenant Colonel Copic are faced with the claim that the XII Division of the Army of the East (which contained the 24th Brigade which contained the 153rd Battalion) entered Belchite on the 3rd of September and took the city.  They claimed that the XVth Brigade was pulled out of the battle because of looting.    This infuriated Walter and he made it one of his 30 traitorous actions that he documented in his departure assessments.¹  As a result of the meeting, the Chief of Staff of the XIIth Division was removed for claiming the victory in Belchite.  On September 7, Colonel Sanchez Plaza of the XII Division claimed the victory in La Vanguardia newspaper in Barcelona.  On the 5th of September, however, La Vanguardia had a banner headline that Belchite had fallen, quoting General Pozas who held a press conference on the 4th of September.   President Companys of Barcelona released a press release for the September 5th edition congratulating the Army of the East and General Pozas on his victory.  Given the timing of the Propaganda War versus the actual war, Merriman and Copic’s “Party Order” has additional urgency.  While it did force the taking of the town, it did so at the expense of many deaths and as we will see shortly, considerable loss of respect amongst the XVth Brigade troops.

Mac-Paps are sent up

Command Order #156 from Commander Belov in Albacete to the command of the XVth Brigade. RGASPI Fond 545/Opis 2/Delo 57/page 253. RGASPI online archives, Moscow, Russia.

Merriman moves the Brigade to Vinaceite which is on a parallel road from Belchite to Azaila.  A number of small villages are in this area including Almochuel where the Americans will ultimately end up.  Merriman runs into a severe dust storm on the way and puts his car into the ditch.   He finds Rollin Dart who is there to place the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion which has moved up from Tarazona.   Merriman is surprised that they are at the front already as he was not sure they were ready.  He would have also received the Order of the Day from Commander Belov at Albacete to the left.  In French, it says he is sending up the Mac-Paps on September 5 and they should be kept behind the lines because they were not ready.  As an indication:

Belov to Intendencia

Service Note 8242 pursuant to Command Order 156. Belov informs the Intendencia that 100 members of the Mac-Paps don’t have shoes on their feet. He says “It is mandatory that soldiers take shoes to the front”. 545/2/57/255 RGASPI.

Kitchen on a train

Kitchen on a train near Quinto, November 1937. ALBA Photo 11-1770, Tamiment Library, NYU

Van Der Bergh

Cuban Juan Corona (left), Captain Van Den Berghe (center) and Marty Hourihan (right), photo from the Paul Burns Collection and from the International Brigades in Spain website of our colleague, Kevin Buyers.

The 700 men of the Mac-Paps actually got out of Tarazona del la Mancha at noon on September 8 by train. On the 10th, the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion arrives by rail to Azaila and they are met by the Lincoln and British Battalions who have marched back to Azaila.   The men were promised to get new arms.   Merriman gets the men placed, but is ordered to move to Albalate the next day.  Merriman expects “Basha” Van Den Berghe to have done some of the preparatory work but he is “apathetic”.     This is the first time we have seen this name attributed to Amandus or Armand Van Den Berghe.  Van Den Berghe is worried about the appropriation of land and buildings for billets.    They work on a policy on how to deal with the locals.  Merriman discusses the ability of Rollin Dart to lead the Mac-Paps and he, Joe Dallet and Bob Thompson believe he is not a strong enough leader.  The Mac-Pap command will change again before the next battle in October.


¹ Radosh et al., Spain Betrayed, pp 481-482.

29 Septiembre Merriman starts a new diary and a dozen pages pour out of him

On the September 19 and 20 diary page, Merriman ran out of room in his first diary.  He sent the first diary off with Marion to protect it and he started a new diary.  The first date in the new diary is September 29th in Almochuel and Merriman has a lot to get off his chest.   Diary #2 was transcribed by Alan Warren and thanks go to him for the effort in doing so.

We play these 12 pages back as a group and will discuss them below.


Sep 29 2

Sep 29 3

Sep 29 4

Sep 29 5

Sep 29 6

Sep 29 7

Sep 29 8

Sept 29 9

Sep 29 10

Sep 29 11

Sep 29 1

Robert Merriman’s second diary. The first 12 pages noted as September 29, 1937

Merriman starts his replay of the days since September 19 in rather routine order and most of it is self-explanatory.  But as he writes he gets more and more worked up about the events in Belchite and how he did not get the respect that he felt he deserved for that Battle.  He mentions that Bill Lawrence (says S in the transcription which will be corrected) came to Almochuel to encourage more Party work with the Brigade.  Merriman says that he and Dave Doran were already started on that.  He mentions that Company secretaries are to be appointed and that a Brigade Secretary would also be appointed.   The latter role was assigned to Jim Bourne.

Merriman revisits the “English question” which revolved around repatriation of the longest serving comrades.  Vladimir Copic has a different recollection of previous decisions than does Merriman.  Merriman says that many good comrades are being removed for repatriation.  Steve Nelson was one of them.  On the way out, Nelson made a speech in Valencia where he took Hans Amlie to task for his behavior at Belchite and comments he made there.  Robbie Robinson will stay with the Brigade and Merriman says that Carl Bradley is to go.   Bradley returns to the US in November 1937.   Copic does not agree with the repatriation of Nelson but is obviously overruled by Valencia.

Moise Sapir

Moise Sapir, John Gerlach, Bob Merriman, Rollin Dart, David Doran and Robbie Robinson, Almochuel, September 1937. ALBA PHOTO 11-0755, Tamiment Library, NYU

Marion Merriman’s short visit to the Brigade ends and she went back to Albacete (with Merriman’s first diary).  She had news that they were invited to go to Valencia but because of orders, they deferred the visit and sent Jim Bourne instead.   Bourne was to get the pay money for the end of September but by the 29th, he had not returned with the money or Pete Hampkins or the car.  Merriman’s irritation shows through.  Finally, Moises Sapir shows up with 500,000 pesetas to pay the Brigade.  This is clearly the point where the smiling Merriman is seen with Sapir in Almochuel.


Hans Kaltschmidt, Adjutant to the Chief of Brigade (Merriman), September 1937, Almochuel. ALBA PHOTO 11-0643, Tamiment Library, NYU

Sapir tells Merriman “the dope about Schmidt in Madrid”.  We have not tracked down this story at this point.  Interestingly, there is a photo of Hans Kaltschmidt who is listed as being the Adjutant to the Chief of the Brigade (that would be Merriman).  One wonders if Merriman called him Schmidt or if that is the name he went under.  There also will be an upcoming discussion on “Hans” who promotes himself without permission.

Will Paynter, Bob Kerr, and Malcolm Dunbar wrecked their car in a place that looks like Cambronette (although this is not a Spanish location.  It may be the model of a type of car.  A Cambronetta was a type of carriage in the 1800’s.  Camionette is the name used for Citroen and other French small vans).   Paynter discusses the Aitken/Cunningham affair where they were removed and sent back to England.  Paynter seems to now criticize Cunningham, but perhaps because he is in Merriman and Copic’s camp at this point.   Paynter felt that George Aitken did the best he could.  Wally Tapsell, however, has burned his bridges with criticism of the Soviet Union.    Paynter brings in 42 new British comrades and takes out 20.   Vladimir Copic apparently makes no objection now and Merriman and Doran feel that this is the solution that they had originally suggested…. just let them go.   Merriman suggests that this rotation out of troops has greatly helped morale.

Merriman has been slaving over the paylists and the promotion lists and Copic keeps bouncing the suggestions back.  Apparently after six days, Copic agreed with Merriman and Doran’s original suggestions.  Merriman’s blood begins to start boiling at this point and he will work himself up over the next few pages.   He mentions that the policy that 2% of the Battalion should be on leave at any one time has been put into effect and that Jose Amano (or so the name looks) has been made Copic’s Adjutant.  Merriman says that Amano’s prestige has been lifted and this should have been done for more Spanish colleagues.  Merriman says that in the paper shuffling, many opportunities to send the Brigaders on leave were lost.

One wonders about Copic’s leadership style throughout these diaries.  One pictures a manipulative leader who will play groups of his staff off against one another.  He doesn’t seem to concentrate on the day-to-day issues but rather creates make-work while he himself entertains guests and travels about.   During this period, Copic’s wife was seen with him in photos of Codo and Belchite and Copic spent considerable time in his Benicassim villa.   Merriman says that one of these days he will blow his top and tell Copic and Walter what he thinks.  But he doesn’t.  Up until his death in April, 1938, Merriman continued to serve these men.   He mentions again that Walter promised promotions during the fight if Merriman could get people moving, which he did.   The promises of new ratings are not forthcoming.


Brigade Officers: Ambite June 1937: L-R Elias Begelman, Dave Doran, Vladimir Copic, “Max” (Russian, probably Maximoff who was in Ambite), Humberto Galliani, Radomir Smrcka, Malcolm Dunbar, ALBA PHOTO 177-177028, Tamiment Library, NYU

Dart, as a special operations officer, Malcolm Dunbar and Radomir Smrcka are mentioned as coming to the staff of the Brigade.  These men will be with the Brigade leadership until the end of the war.  Two of the three are seen on the right of the photo on the left.  This photo was believed to have been taken in Ambite.

Smrcka and Chapayev

“Four soldiers in combat gear” – (l-r) Unk, Radomir Smrcka, Chapayev and unknown. ALBA PHOTO 177-178022, Tamiment Library, NYU

In a small section of the diary, we realize that the war continues on the Aragon front.  The 11th and 32nd Brigades move up to the second lines, probably in the area of Mediana.  Copic is off showing a Jugoslav delegation the sites and the XVth Brigade is caught with the order that the 11th Dimitrov Battalion is now to move over to the 45th Brigade.   Copic has fought this and he has even written letters to the party central committee to protest, but while he is away, they are moved.   Copic left orders that they have to leave their weapons with the XVth.   Merriman implies here that they cannot be just left defenseless and the weapons will go with them, on the order of the Albacete Base who bawl out Copic.   Merriman says that the men of the 11th don’t want to leave the XVth, except for Chapayev (who Copic sent off to Valencia to get out of the decision-making process for the Dimitrovs).   Given Merriman’s displeasure with Copic, it would be very interesting to find Chapayev’s views on this move and his relationship with Copic.   Copic replaces Chapayev with a Schuster and what looks like Kagan as political commissar.  Paul Schuster was listed as an Australian comrade by Martin Sugarman, but this is unlikely.  He perhaps is an Austrian comrade which would make more sense for him being in the Thaelmann Battalion as listed by Sugarman.¹

Orders come down for promotions of the heroes of Quinto and Belchite and Carl Bradley and Phil Detro  make Captain, Canadian Bill Skinner makes Lieutenant, John Tsanakas (typo in transcription) makes Lieutenant.   Steve Nelson is singled out for great valor and make Lieutenant Colonel.  This would make Nelson equal in rank to Copic and jump him over Merriman who is a  Major. Nelson’s photo on the ALBA page, linked above,  shows him with Lieutenant Colonel stripes.  Three more brigadistas make Captain, an Andre Korbe, J. C. Wattis, and David Kamy.

The next three pages of the diary are a fascinating glimpse into Merriman’s real feelings about Copic.  They can easily be read without comment or interpretation.

Finally, Merriman says that a “Burt” (likely to be Bert Williams) and what looks like “Vorheer” came to talk with Merriman and Doran about what happened in Valencia.   Merriman seems like the last two work well together.


¹  Martin Sugarman, Against Fascism – Jews who served in The International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, ibid., page 17.

19-20 Septiembre Milly Bennett has a successful stay with the Lincoln Battalion

September 19

Robert Merriman’s last pages in his first diary. September 19 was the last entry in this diary, except for notes added in the remaining pages from the fall months.

Merriman finishes his thought from the previous page.   He and Copic have words over Merriman’s plan to send James Bourne to Albacete to deal with the British unrest.   Richard Baxell says “On September 4, 1937,   Will Paynter wrote Harry Pollitt, advising him that yet again the battalion was in a perilous state, with only sixty active volunteers, and complaining that ‘for the last three months there has only been a trickle of volunteers coming in'”.¹     A major policy shakeup will occur on 23 September where the International Brigades are formally integrated into the Spanish Army and where 50% of the soldiers in each Battalion should be Spaniards.  Much of the unrest revolves around the XVth Brigade losing its identity as an English speaking and Anglo-American led unit.   Steve Nelson’s angry letter back to Merriman can also be viewed in that light.    Antony Beevor asserts that volunteers who arrive in Albacete during September could be  literally shanghaied into other units.²   The conspiracy theory of how the Brigades were integrated into the Spanish Army, however, is contradicted by the reality that after September 1, 1937, 320 more Americans would arrive in Spain (including the writer’s father) and would end up in the XVth Brigade. Merriman sends Bourne off to Albacete to argue the case for the XVth.

Chapayev (Yugoslav Commander) and Fred Copeman of the British Battalion.  Source: Moscow Archive Photo 177_177024.  Tamiment Library, NYU

Chapayev (Yugoslav Commander) and Fred Copeman of the British Battalion. Source: Moscow Archive Photo 177_177024. Tamiment Library, NYU

Fred Copeman was quoted by Richard Baxell as actually being in favor of strict militarization of the XVth Brigade.  Copeman said:

I was determined that in future an advance would be under the strict discipline of capable officers.  An officers’ mess was organized, with its own cookhouse and other amenities.  All men, from section leader upwards, had meals with the battalion commander.  Men were expected to salute all officers.  This at first was a knotty problem.  I decided the best way to overcome it was to start saluting every man myself, irrespective of rank, whom I met in the village.  It was surprising how quickly the lads took this up and, with few exceptions, came to make a point of getting their salute in first”.¹

Doran, Merrimans, Gerlach, Stepanovich

David Doran, Marion Merriman, Bob Merriman, John Gerlach (Comrade Ivan), and possibly Stepanovich, ALBA PHOTO 177-177027, Tamiment Library, NYU

Both Merrimans are still in Almochuel and Milly Bennett arrives with “KoKo” (probably Connie de la Mora).   Merriman says that she has been talking with Hans Amlie and Bill Halliwell about the death of her erstwhile lover, Wallace Burton.   Milly Bennett will marry Hans Amlie.

Bradley and Smrcka

Carl Bradley (l) and Radomir Smrcka (r), ALBA PHOTO 11_0730, Tamiment Library, NYU

Milly is working for Ernest Hemingway, getting material on the battles of Quinto and Belchite.  She has interviewed most of the senior staff including Copic, Radomir Smrcka, Carl Bradley, Phil Detro and others.   Merriman says that they drove over to Belchite to see the city and this could be the point described by Marion Merriman (and quoted previously here).   Stepanovich goes along.

Hugh Slater and the British are going to Lerida.

Merriman says that there was an arrest in Moscow in the Foreign Department.   No details are forthcoming.

This page ends Diary #1 and the remaining pages in the diary are notes and fragments from earlier in the year.   Merriman will begin a new Diary #2 on September 29.


¹  Richard Baxell, Unlikely Warriors, ibid., p 313-314.

² Antony Beevor, The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939, ibid.