Find Docs

Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives - vol 23 4 dec 2001 (Page 15)

Wodocs >> Reference : Libraries and Archives >> Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives vol 23 4 dec 2001 Page 15
Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives - vol 23 4 dec 2001
THE VOLUNTEER, December 2001 15
By Len Levenson
or over half a century, I was
unconcerned that I had been
overlooked when most
International Brigade officers were
upgraded after the IB withdrawal
from the lines in August 1938. These
promotions were made while I was in
the Mataro hospital, being treated for
a respiratory infection and scabies.
Throughout the succeeding 60-plus
years I assumed that the adage, "out
of sight, out of mind," was the reason
for my being bypassed. After all, the
Mataro confinement had also kept me
away from the Barcelona celebration
that was a true epiphany for every
IBer who paraded down the Avenida
My long postwar contentment
with the battlefield commission of
lieutenant crashed when Professor
Cary Nelson presented me with pho-
tocopies of the documents in my
"Moscow Archive" file. Among them
was an undated, single-page,
mimeographed questionnaire of the
"Communist Party of Spain, Central
Committee Barcelona, Calle Balmes
205" to be filled out and signed by
TEE." The three spaces for signatures
at the end of the page showed Jim
Bourne, a Lincoln Brigade commissar,
and two names I did not know, A.
Donaldson and an illegible "J. --."
With one exception, responses to ques-
tions dealing with my military record
and competence were laudatory. They
were all answered in a handwriting
that matched the signature "Larry
Cohen" in the top margin. Interspersed
was a query that asked for "the follow-
ing faults:" and, in an unidentified
hand, there was the terse response:
"tendency to childishness? immature."
Even after half a century it wasn't diffi-
cult to reconstruct the story that
underlay this characterization.
After surviving the last-ditch
delaying of the fascist advance down
the Gandesa-Tortosa highway on
April 3, 1938, I was tossed onto one of
the few trucks to cross the Ebro at
Mora de Ebro before the bridge was
blown. Suffering from a fever, I was
left on the road, later picked up by an
ambulance and deposited in the IB
hospital at Santa Colona des Farnes in
the north of Catalonia. After a month
of cure and recovery, I was trucked
south to the IB replacement camp out-
side Tortosa. A week or so later, some
20 to 30 of us, all Lincoln and MacPap
IBers, were transported north to the
village of Villalba de Los Arcos some
10 miles from the Ebro, in the high
eastern range of the Cabals.
Ben Sills, a Lincoln Battalion
Company Commissar, and I were the
officers in the group. We were
informed that we were being incorpo-
rated into an elite formation, El
Batallón Especial de Ametralladoras
del Quince Cuerpo Ejercito, the
Special Machine Gun Battalion of the
newly created 15th Army Corps. It
was commanded by General Manuel
Tagueña who, as a university student
leader, had distinguished himself in
the defense of Madrid two years earli-
er. Our battalion commander was
Major Manuel Navarro, a gnarled,
middle-aged peasant who had been
awarded this elite assignment after, as
a sergeant in the Campesinos, he had
led his machine gun company out of a
fascist encirclement without the loss of
a gun. We Internationals were
informed that the batallion would
function under the military Gaceta of
the Republic and, while in rearguard
training, officers would be bivouacked
with village families to whom we
would turn over our rations, pur-
chased from the battalion's
intendencia. Ben Sills was named
Company 1 Commissar, alongside its
commander, Captain Luis Padros
Roca from the Catalan town of
Manresa. I was given the command of
the 1st platoon and quartered with
Ben in the home of the family
Paramon, where we shared a spacious
bed in a large upper floor room and
savored the madre's home cooking of
the rations procured from the
Quartermaster. Clemente Salas Pica,
another Catalan, commanded Section
2, and Bernardo de Juan, a Madrileño,
the 3rd section. Aside from the sprin-
kling of Internationals, our soldiers
were newly drafted quintas (the nick-
name conferred on the random fifth
names selected from the 18-yea- olds'
draft roster). My enlace (personal
aide/runner) was Juan Delgado
Nunez, a quinta from Andalusia. Our
battalion armament was the best the
Republic could supply--new Soviet
Maxim heavy machine guns and
Dektarov light m.g.'s (supplemented
later by a shipment of factory fresh
Czech Bren guns) The mountainside
location of our village bivouac assured
that all our maneuvers, target practice,
entrenchment training, etc. were per-
formed on an ideal terrain for
preparing the recrossing of the Ebro
and the Sierra Pandols campaign that
loomed ahead. A few weeks before
the trans-Ebro offensive, each compa-
ny was assigned an area of the river's
east bank to police for deserters and
possible fascist spies.
As the day for kicking off the
offensive drew near, the townspeople
of the village prepared a farewell fies-
ta for the Batallón Especial. Its
highlights were a rare sumptuous
Mining the Archives
Continued on page 16

<< Previous       1 .. 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22       Next >>

Other Documents:
beamangle, dkhighdporifice, dkpipepvtdata, Attach, flyer, spray tower, handout 2002, locres 2, release, decipher, photo, westanal, guide, NOVASC, novas c 2 doc, Beam Comp Example, moonpoly 2002, Newcomb, Newcomb Manual, Data Flow Diagrams, participant list, vondrak, zacharias, curvpath, pm AAS poster, Gaussian Distribution, Linear Least Squares, Sensitivity Integral, 3 D plot fits, lyap2, NAO 150, Rotate Vector, lyapcalc, wedges, Scifull, Precession Memo, Precession Maple, Curves 3 D, NOVAS 2004 Overview, NOVAS 2006 Overview, thesis, Ranson,

WODocs | |
All rights reserved.© 2009

New Docs

Documents Category:
Arts (Design, Movies, Music, Radio, Television)
Automotive (Cars, Marine, Motorcycle, ATV, Snowmobiles)
Business (Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals, Chemicals, Construction and Maintenance, Materials, Real Estate, Services)
Electronics (Computers, Motion Control, Power Supply)
Games (Board, Family, Party, Card, Construction, RC Toys)
Health (Animalm, Beauty, Healthcare, Medicine, Pharmacy, Surgery, Weight Loss)
Home (Accessories, Cooking, Decor and Design, Electrical, Family, Pets)
News (Newspapers, Sports, Television)
Recreation (Collecting, Hiking, Scouting, Survival, Travel)
Reference (Education, Libraries and Archives, Museums)
Science (Agriculture, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry)
Shopping (Antiques and Collectibles, Clothing, Flowers, Food, Home and Garden)
Sports (Bicycle, Snowboard, Skiing, Other)