Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Oliver Law, extreme left, with other Brigade Commanders of the Internationals. On extreme right future leader of Yugoslavia, Josip Tito .... I've had a bit of a day, so I will let wikipedia tell his story.

Oliver Law (1899-July 9, 1937) was an African American communist, labor organizer, and social activist, who fought in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.
Born in
Texas, he served in the army in World War I, then moved to Chicago, where he worked at various jobs. He joined the Communist Party in 1929, during the Great Depression, and became a prominent activist.
Strongly opposed to
Fascism, he led demonstrations against Italy's occupation of Ethiopia (Second Italo-Abyssinian War), and in 1936 he travelled to Spain to join the forces fighting against Francisco Franco and the Nationalists. An outstanding soldier with considerable military experience, he served in a machine gun company and soon became the commander of the battalion. It was the first time that an African American commanded white American troops.
In 1936 Law joined the
Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a unit that volunteered to fight for the Popular Front government during the Spanish Civil War. Law arrived in Spain in January 1937 and joined the other International Brigades at Albacete.
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 40,000 men, including men from the Army of Africa, crossed the Jarama River on February 11 1937.
José Miaja sent three International Brigades to the Jarama Valley to block the advance. Law first saw action on February 27. He performed so well in the battle he was promoted to commander of the machine-gun company. A few weeks later he became battalion commander.
July 6, the Popular Front government launched a major offensive in an attempt to relieve the threat to Madrid. General Vicente Rojo Lluch sent the Republican Army to Brunete, challenging Nationalist control of the western approaches to the capital. The 80,000 Republican soldiers made good early progress but they were brought to a halt when General Francisco Franco brought up his reserves.
Fighting in hot summer weather, the Internationals suffered heavy losses. Oliver Law was killed on 9th July when he was leading his men in an attack against Mosquito Ridge.
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. He was in the furthest position when he was hit by a Fascist bullet in the chest.
David Smith, the medic who attempted to staunch the bleeding with a coagulant, also confirmed that he had been killed by the Nationalists.


Blogger KidKawartha said...

To clear up your confusion, check the exact spelling of the site in question at my site. Failing that, just click on JD's handle in the comments. ;)

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Joad On Martin, GoW said...

I finally understand where Michael Jackson gets his looks. I hadn't realized that brother Tito was such a paleface. Hmm. Yugoslavia, you say? Why would anyone want to be the Marshal of a nation named after a car. A fine vehicle, most assuredly, a veritable stallion of personal transportation, but... a whole country named in it's honour?

9:13 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

Hey, Joe Tom,

I think he pigmented in the hot Analusian sun; and it was there he came up with the concept of the Yugoslavia, after seeing a burned out Seat....

9:31 PM  
Blogger durrati said...

And Joe,

Congrats on the blog, gimme sum....

9:32 PM  

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