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He settled in Brooklyn with his wife Ines, working as a medical writer and writing technical material for the pharmaceutical industry. He founded the first American chapter of Mensa in New York in , holding early meetings at his Brooklyn apartment. He died in Vienna in From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article includes a list of references , related reading or external links , but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. Bill Bailey wrote to his mother explaining his decision: "You see Mom, there are things that one must do in this life that are a little more than just living.

In Spain there are thousands of mothers like yourself who never had a fair shake in life. They got together and elected a government that really gave meaning to their life. But a bunch of bullies decided to crush this wonderful thing. That's why I went to Spain, Mom, to help these poor people win this battle, then one day it would be easier for you and the mothers of the future. Don't let anyone mislead you by telling you that all this had something to do with Communism.

The Hitlers and Mussolinis of this world are killing Spanish people who don't know the difference between Communism and rheumatism. And it's not to set up some Communist government either.

Blacks in World War II

The only thing the Communists did here was show the people how to fight and try to win what is rightfully theirs. An estimated 3, men fought in the battalion. Of these, over 1, were industrial workers miners, steel workers, longshoremen.

Another were students or teachers. Around 30 per cent were Jewish and 70 per cent were between 21 and 28 years of age. Canute Frankson explained his decision in a letter written on 6th July, "I'm sure that by this time you are still waiting for a detailed explanation of what has this international struggle to do with my being here.

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Since this is a war between whites who for centuries have held us in slavery, and have heaped every kind of insult and abuse upon us, segregated and Jim-Crowed us; why I, a Negro who have fought through these years for the rights of my people, am here in Spain today? Because we are no longer an isolated minority group fighting hopelessly against an immense giant. Because, my dear, we have joined with, and become an active part of, a great progressive force, on whose shoulders rests the responsibility of saving human civilization from the planned destruction of a small group of degenerates gone mad in their lust for power.

Because if we crush Fascism here we'll save our people in America, and in other parts of the world from the vicious persecution, wholesale imprisonment, and slaughter which the Jewish people suffered and are suffering under Hitler's Fascist heels. Robert Merriman , who had spent two years in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps at the University of Nevada, was recruited to train the recently arrived volunteers from America. Working under James Harris, a former sergeant in the United States Army , Merriman taught the men how to fieldstrip rifles and machine-guns.

He also organized a series of lectures on scouting, fortifications and signaling. After failing to take Madrid by frontal assault General Francisco Franco gave orders for the road that linked the city to the rest of Republican Spain to be cut. A Nationalist force of 40, men, including men from the Army of Africa , crossed the Jarama River on 11th February, Led by Robert Merriman , the members of the brigade moved into the trenches on 23rd February.

When the were ordered over the top they were backed by a pair of tanks from the Soviet Union. On the first day 20 men were killed and nearly 60 were wounded. As soon as he left the trenches Merrimen was shot in the shoulder, cracking the bone in five places. Of the men who went into action that day, only survived. One soldier remarked afterwards: "The battalion was named after Abraham Lincoln because he, too, was assassinated. International Brigades suffered heavy casualties at Jarma. When Merriman was wounded in the left shoulder, he was replaced by Oliver Law as battalion commander.

It was the first time in American history that an integrated military force was led by an African-American officer. Edwin Rolfe has argued: "Jarama was a complete success, in a way which none of the Americans who took part in it could then foresee. For the attack on February 27th impressed the insurgents with one inescapable fact: that the Jarama front was too heavily, too perfectly defended. From that day until the very end of the war, the rebels never succeeded in advancing another meter along the line which, they had hoped, would cut the Madrid-Valencia highway, effect the encirclement and the capture of Madrid.

The three men became political commissars and were instructed to restore battalion morale.

Nelson later explained how he tried to do this "The men must learn the basis of the whole struggle - the fundamentals of the whole war. You must be one of the boys, concern yourself directly with their problems. I trusted the men and they trusted me. Oliver Law was one of those killed. After the war, an anti-Communist, William Herrick , claimed that Law had been murdered by his own men who objected to being led by a black man. This claim has been dismissed by Harry Fisher, the battalion runner, who took part in the offensive: "He was the first man over the top.

The Good Fight Continues: World War II letters from yhe Abraham Lincoln Brigade

He was in the furthest position when he was hit by a fascist bullet in the chest. Steve Nelson now took over as commander of the battalion. Casualties were so high at Brunete that on 14th July the two units were merged. Mirko Markovicz, a Yugoslav-American, was appointed as commander of the Lincoln-Washington Battalion and Nelson became his political commissar. Soon afterwards, Markovicz was ordered by Colonel Klaus of the International Brigades to move his men to protect a company of Spanish marines. Markovicz refused, explaining: "I will not order the American battalion to carry out this order because it will result in a disaster, like the one in Jarama.

The next morning the order was cancelled and Markovicz was released. In August the American forces were reorganized. Steve Nelson was promoted to brigade commissar and Robert Merriman became brigade chief of staff. Hans Amlie , who had now recovered from the wounds suffered at Brunete , became commander of the Lincoln-Washington Battalion. The campaign began with an attack on the town of Quinto. This involved dangerous street fighting against snipers that were within the walls of the local church.

After two days the Americans were able to clear the town of Nationalist forces. This included the capture of nearly a thousand prisoners.


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The Lincoln-Washington Battalion then headed towards the fortified town of Belchite. Once again the Americans had to endure sniper fire. Robert Merriman ordered the men to take the church. In the first assault involving 22 men, only two survived.

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When Merriman ordered a second attack, Hans Amlie at first refused saying the task of taking the church was impossible. He help Amlie, Steve Nelson led a diversionary attack. This enabled the Lincoln-Washington Battalion to enter the town. Milton Wolff now assumed command of the battalion and John Gates became battalion commissar.

The following month the Nationalist Army broke through the Republican defences and reached the sea. General Francisco Franco now moved his troops towards Valencia with the objective of encircling Madrid and the central front.