Spanish Civil War: 1936-39
The war against fascism drew Washington, D.C. and surrounding area residents to join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a volunteer army, to fight the forces of right wing leader Francisco Franco in Spain beginning in 1937and ending late in 1938.

The Spanish Civil War was in some respects a trial run for the larger conflict of World War II. Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany backed Franco’s efforts to overthrow the left wing elected government of Spain backed by the Soviet Union.

Western countries imposed an arms embargo on both sides that meant the only arms flowing to the democratic government were those coming a circuitous route from the Soviet Union.

As the war began to turn against the Republicans, the International Brigades were withdrawn in late 1938.

After three brutal years of war 1936-39, the Republicans were defeated. Democracy was not restored to the country until after Franco’s death in 1975.

Washington, DC residents who joined the Abraham Lincoln Brigade:

Battle, Thaddeus Arrington. (Battle, T. Harrington); African American; Attended Howard University; Single; Driver and Student; CP 1936 and YCL 1937 (1936); received passport# 442807 on June 14, 1937 which listed his address as 1401 12th Street, Washington, DC, 21 years old; Sailed June 18, 1937 aboard the Alaunia; Arrived in Spain on July 9, 1937; Served with the 1st Regt. de Tren; Returned to the US on November 5, 1938 aboard the President Roosevelt.

Bennett, Thomas Edwin Browne. (Benites, Thomas Brown); 2 years prior military service; Clerk; No party affiliation; received passport# 360101 on January 7, 1937 which listed his address as 1819 M Street NW, and 933 C Street, both Washington, DC, 29 years old; Sailed January 16, 1937 aboard the Paris; Arrived in Spain on January 30, 1937.

Bready, Robert G. (Bready); Prior military training attending Citizens Military Training; Accountant; received passport# 382906 on April 2, 1937 which listed his address as 1474 Harvard Street NW, Washington, DC, 30 years old; Sailed April 5, 1937; Served with the XV BDE, Washington BN, never in action; Deserted with James Doyle, Vachel Lindsay Blair and Hamilton Alden Tayler.; Killed father in a fight after his return, sent to prison.

Brisker, Luba. b. June 17, 1903, Gomel Russia; Russian American; AMB; Single; Physiotherapist and Nurse; received passport# 490233 on December 27, 1937 which listed her address as 106 Peabody Street North West, Washington, DC, and NYC; Spent a month in Paris before crossing into Spain; Arrived in Spain on February 2, 1938; Served with the Republican Medical Services as a Physiotherapist, Mataro hospital; Returned to the US on December 31, 1938 aboard the President Harding; d. March 17, 1998, Russia.

Cavanaugh, Frederick. b. January 8 (1), 1904 (or August 1, 1904), Penarth, Wales; Welsh, naturalized District Court of Baltimore, Maryland, November 1935; Education through the 8th grade; Single (widowed); Seaman; received passport# 431129 on June 2, 1937 which listed address as 1308 Meridian Avenue South East, Washington, DC, and 7128 Broadway, Baltimore, Maryland; Sailed June 2, 1937 aboard the Aquitania; Arrived in Spain on June 26, 1937; Served with the XV BDE, Mackenzie-Papineau BN, Co. 1, cook; last unit Mackenzie Papienau BN, Co. 1, rank Soldado; Returned to the US on December 20, 1938 aboard the Ausonia, d. Apri 6, 1971, Jefferson, Texas.

Crowley, John. b. September 13, 1900, NYC; Single; received passport# 366181 on February 9, 1937 which listed his address as 933 G Street Northwest, Washington, DC, and 32 Joy Street, Boston, Massachusetts; Returned to the US on September 24, 1938 aboard the President Harding.

Duncan, Norman. 7 months prior military service; Single; Seaman (NMU); CP 1934; Arrived in Spain on January 6, 1937; Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln BN, MG Co.; Jarama; d. 1970s. Records indicate he may have lived in Washington, D.C.

Fahy, Jack Bradley. (William Fahey), b. November 5, 1908, Washington, District of Columbia, 2 yrs. Black Mountain College, North Carolina; Reporter, Socialist Party 1931 and CP September 1931 Spanish CP September 1937, received passport# 4919 New York series on February 21, 1936 which listed his address as 311 East 21st Street, NYC, Arrived in Spain on May 15, 1937; Served with the XV BDE, Auto Park; 24th/59th BN Company Commissar and BN Commissar (?), d. July 1, 1947, Noted as having quit the Socialist Party after the May days in Barcelona.

Forsythe, Thomas Benton. Killed in Action. b. November 19, 1893, received passport# 464512 on July 23, 1937 which listed his address as 1740 New Hampshire Avenue, Washington, District of Columbia, and Baltimore, Maryland, Sailed July 28, 1937 aboard the Queen Mary, Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln-Washington BN, rank Soldado, KIA April 1938, Belchite, during the Retreats.

Greenleaf, Robert Webster. Killed in Action. b. Washington, District of Columbia, Maritime worker member of the Marine Firemen, Oilers, Watertenders and Wipers Association (MFOW); CP, received passport# 559680 on January 5, 1937 which listed his address as 431 Kenyon Street North West, Washington, District of Columbia, 24 yrs. old, Sailed January 9, 1937, Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln BN, Driver, Jarama; was killed during the BN's first action on 23 February 1937, an abortive night attack, he was shot through the head while assisting in the evacuation of John Scott.

Gresham, William L. (William Lindsay Rafferty, William Rafferty), b. August 20, 1909, Baltimore, Maryland, Married, Writer and Folk singer, CP November 1936, received passport# 477249 on September 21, 1937 which listed his address as 1707 H Street North West, Washington, District of Columbia, and 7826 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, New York (14 Christopher Street, NYC); Sailed October 9, 1937 aboard the Vollendam, Arrived in Spain on November 3, 1937, XV BDE Base of Instruction; than to 35th Battery, 4th Group Artillery, and remained with the unit when it was turned into and Anti-Aircraft/Anti-Tank Battery attached to the 129th BDE, Reconnaissance and Topography, rank Soldado; Returned to the US on February 4, 1938 aboard the President Harding; d. September 14, 1962, New York New York, suicide.

Katz, Hyman Jacob. Killed in Action. b. January 3, 1914, NYC; Single; Rabbi and Teacher; CP 1934, unit financial secretary; received passport# 455459 on July 2, 1937 which listed his address as 2011 1st Street North West; Washington; DC (1550 55th Street, Brooklyn, New York); Sailed July 7, 1937 aboard the Queen Mary; Arrived in Spain on July 24, 1937; Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln-Washington BN, rank Soldado, Killed in action March 3, 1938, Belchite, during the Retreats.

Klerlein, Joseph Carroll. (Klerlick), b. February 6, 1915, Baltimore, Maryland; Single; Seaman; CP; received passport# 431124 on June 2, 1937 which listed his address as 508 Kenyon Street NW, Washington, DC, and 10 South Cary Street, Baltimore, Maryland; Sailed June 4, 1937 aboard the Statendam; Arrived in Spain on June 26, 1937; Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln-Washington BN; last unit XV BDE, Deposito; Returned to the US on December 20, 1938 aboard the Ausonia.

Levenson, Leonard Bertram. (Ebing, Lyn), b. July 2, 1913, New York; City College of New York, 2 years followed by Graduation from New York University Law School, LLB; Single; Lawyer with the FBI; CP July 15, 1935 (1932); received passport# 421927 on May 24, 1937 which listed his address as 38 Sutton Place, NYC, and 1402 15th Street NW, Washington, DC; Sailed May 29, 1937 aboard the Britannic; Arrived in Spain on June 20, 1937; served with the XV BDE, Mackenzie-Papineau BN, Estado Mayor, Sniper and Observer; Later Company Commander and Adjutant BN Commander; XV Corps, Special MG BN, Co. 1, Section Leader and Acting Company Commander; Served at Fuentes del Ebro, Teruel, Retreats and Ebro Offensive; WIA three times October 13 and 15, 1937 and January 15, 1938; Returned to the US on December 15, 1938 aboard the Paris;

Mail, John George. (Jack), b. April 8, 1909, San Francisco, California, Jewish, POW, Single, Commercial Artist; CP 1935, education director; received passport# 476205 on September 14, 1937 which listed his address as 2114 N Street, Washington, District of Columbia and 410 (110) Madison Avenue, NYC, Sailed October 2, 1937 aboard the Georgic; Arrived in Spain on October 21, 1937; Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln-Washington BN, rank Soldado, reported MIA Retreats, Captured April 3, 1938, Gandesa, during the Retreats, Exchanged April 22, 1939, Returned to the US on May 10, 1939 aboard the Ile de France, WWII Merchant Marines, was part of the “Undercrust” at San Pedro de Cardenas, homosexual.

Molnar, Julius. (Louis Molner), South Slav (?), Jewish, received passport# 475162 on September 8, 1937 which listed his address as 12 F Street North West, Washington, District of Columbia, and 1361 Ellis Street, San Francisco, California, Sailed September 11, 1937 aboard the Berengaria, Returned to the US on December 20, 1938 aboard the Ausonia.

Mouton, Roy Leonard. (“Red”), b. June 7, 1910, Lafayette, Louisiana, Completed 8th grade then attended the Merchant Marine Academy in Connecticut, Single, Seaman, CP 1934 and YCL 1933, received passport# 427713 on May 28, 1937 which listed his address as 3118 Warder Street North West, Washington, District of Columbia, and New Orleans, Louisiana (St. Mortonville, LA); Sailed May 29, 1937 aboard the Britannic, Arrived in Spain on June 14, 1937, Served with the XV BDE, Mackenzie-Papineau BN, Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln-Washington BN, Ebro Offensive, Returned to the US on December 20, 1938 aboard the Ausonia, WWII Merchant Marine, d. February 16, 1999, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Pape, Andrew George. Missing in Action. (Johnston, Andrew), b. August 8, 1914, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Single; Mechanic and Student; CP October (November) 1936 (1934); received passport# 359676 on January 5, 1937 which listed his address as 1121 Orin Street North East, Washington, DC (517 Brouton Avenue, Trafford, Pennsylvania); Sailed January 9, 1937 aboard the Lafayette; Arrived in Spain on January 20, 1937; Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln & Lincoln-Washington BN, rank Soldado, Jarama, Brunete (WIA July 17, 1937 shrapnel in hospital for next six months), reported MIA April 1, 1938, Gandesa, during the Retreats.

Pistone, Rosario. Italian American; received passport# 362809 on January 22, 1937 which listed his address as 1330 Fairmount Street North West; Washington, DC, 23 years old; Sailed January 28, 1937 aboard the Aquitania.

Pringle, Claude. b. January 22, 1894, Halifax County, Virginia; African American; POW; Grammar school education; Prior military service in WW I, US Army 10 months; Single; Miner; CP 1931; received passport# 392813 on April 19, 1937 which listed his address as 637 L Street, Washington, DC, and Bellaire, Ohio (1506 Market, Wheeling, West Virginia); Sailed May 1, 1937 aboard the Britannic; Arrrived in Spain on June 2, 1937; Served with the XV BDE, Mackenzie-Papineau BN in training possibly with Washington BN before going to Mackenzie-Papineau. Captured March 10, 1938 Belchite, the Retreats. Exchanged April 22, 1939; Returned to the US on May 6, 1939 aboard the President Harding;

Rizzo, Anthony Michael. (Michael Anthony), b. December 27, 1913, NYC, Italian American, Attended university, Single, Seaman, CP of Spain, received passport# 465306 on July 26, 1937 which listed his address as 512 Park Road, Washington, District of Columbia, and 831 West 34th Street, Baltimore, Maryland, Sailed July 28, 1937 aboard the Washington, Arrived in Spain on August 7, 1937, Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln-Washington BN; BDE Auto Park. Served at Teruel, Seguro de lost Baños, the Retreats, and Ebro Offensive, Returned to the US on December 31, 1938 aboard the President Harding.

Rouen, Jean Pierre. Killed in Action. (Roven), b. May 19, 1916, Attended Fortier High School in New Orleans, Single; Seaman, CP October 1937, received passport# 480692 on October 15, 1937 which listed his address as 200 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, District of Columbia (1032 Robert Street, New Orleans, Louisiana); Arrived in Spain on November 5, 1937, Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln-Washington BN, rank Soldado, was involved in a desertion plot prior to being assigned to the Brigade in January 1938, KIA March 10, 1938, Caspe, during the Retreats, State Department notes that he was actually born in 1918.

Rudnisky, William. (Besante, James; Rudnick, Wasel; Rodniski), Single, Actor and Seaman, YCL 1936, No Passport issued, Domicile 212 H Street North West, Washington, District of Columbia, and 1089 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York, Sailed October 28, 1937 aboard the City of Hamburg, Arrived in Spain on November 11, 1937, Served with the John Brown Artillery 2nd Group, 14th Battery.

Sanborn, Charles William. (“Blacky”), b. March 7, 1902, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Native American, Jewish (?), 5 yrs. US Navy, Single, Seaman, CP 1937, received passport# 471502 on August 19, 1937 which listed his address as 1014 10th Street NW, Washington, District of Columbia and 2533 South 15th Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2533 S. 13th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 37 yrs. old, Sailed August 28, 1937 aboard the Lafayette, Arrived in Spain on September 18, 1937, Served with the XV BDE, WIA or ill, Returned to the US on August 4, 1938 aboard the Manhattan.

Shostek, Sidney. Killed in Action. (Shostack), Jewish, Single, CP Functionary and Teamster, CP and YCL, received passport# 358508 on December 23, 1936 which listed his address as 1121 Orren Street NE, Washington, District of Columbia, 25 yrs. old, Sailed May 1, 1937 aboard the Statendam, Served with the XV BDE, Estado Mayor, aide to MAJ Robert Merriman, KIA September 6, 1937, Belchite.

Snow, Vernon. Killed in Action. b. May 27, 1907 Burton’s Creek, Virginia, 1 yr. High school, 1 yr. National Guard and Naval Reserve, Single, Electrical Communications, CP 1935, received passport# 401361 on April 30, 1937 which listed his address as 204 2nd Street SE, Washington, District of Columbia and Natural Bridge, Virginia, Sailed May 4, 1937 aboard the Berengaria, Served with the XV BDE, Mackenzie-Papineau BN in training, replacement to the Transmissions Lincoln-Washington BN, KIA October 18, 1937, Fuentes de Ebro, during an air raid.

Tanz, Alfred Leo. Jewish, b. March 15, 1906, NYC, Graduated from the City College of New York and NY Law school, Separated, Lawyer, American Labor Party, received passport# 357374 on December 15, 1936 which listed his address as 1436 R Street NW, Washington, District of Columbia, Sailed December 26, 1936 aboard the Normandie, Arrived in Spain on December 31, 1936, Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln BN and Lincoln-Washington BN, Quartermaster for BN, February 14-August 1937, Jarama and Brunete, Returned to the US in Spring 1938, Returned to Spain June 1938, XV BDE, Lincoln-Washington BN, Machine gun Company, rank Teniente, WIA in wrist during the Ebro Offensive, Returned to the US on December 20, 1938 aboard the Ausonia, WWII US Army 1942, Promoted to Lieutenant in 1943, Attached to Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Received Airborne Training, Served in European Theater of Operations, Northern France and Rhineland, Parachuted into France prior to D-Day, Stayed in a farm near St. Mere Inglese, Attached to EngineerS, served at the Battle of the Bulge, Promoted to Captain, Discharged 1947, Decorated with European, African, Middle Eastern Theater Campaign Ribbon, American Theater Campaign Ribbon, WWII Campaign Ribbon, d. November 29, 2000, Oakland, California, One of seven volunteers who completed a second tour in Spain.

Usera, Vincent. b. December 10, 1908 Ponce, Puerto Rico; Prior service as a Marine officer in Nicaragua, Single, Insurance Salesman; No political affiliation; received passport# 380055 on March 29, 1937 which listed his 280 Riverside Drive, NYC; Sailed April 28, 1937 aboard the Normandie; Arrived in Spain on May 30, 1937, Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln BN, Adjutant, Brunete; relieved he was assigned to the Training Base as an instructor; Returned to the US on June 5, 1938 aboard the Blackhawk, WWII US Army [?]; d. January 1982, Washington, DC.

Wallace, Levin Smith, Jr. Jewish, Seaman, CP 1933, Domicile Washington, DC, 34 yrs. old, Sailed January 20, 1937 aboard the Berengaria, Arrived in Spain on February 5, 1937, Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln BN, WIA February 27, 1937 Jarama, After hospital attached to the Garde Nacionale.
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