Biographies/Edward Albin Dunos

Tags: Brunete Offensive Oliver Law Ebro Army Teruel Catalonia Moe Fishman Manuel Tagüeña 35th International Division Mosquito Ridge Battle of Jarama Lincoln-Washington Battalion Commander Pedro Mateo Merino Ebro Offensive Sierra de Cavalls 15th Army Corps Segura de los Baños Villanueva de la Cañada New Jersey Battle of Ebro KIA

Researcher: Nandika Mukherjee, Stuyvesant '23

Edward Albin Dunos was born in New Jersey on February 10th, 1910, the year future president Woodrow Wilson became governor of the state. During his childhood, the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage, Wilson was elected President of the United States, and World War I began and ended. At some point between his birth and his departure to Spain in 1938, he moved to New York City.

When the Spanish Civil War began in 1936, Dunos may have already moved to New York City. However, he could not have joined the war until he received his passport in July of 1938, which marks his address as NYC. In 1938, the city was in the midst of recovery from the Great Depression, just having suffered a year-long recession but slowly benefiting from Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, which funded public works and employed thousands in NYC. By 1938, New York state was also home to 38,000 Communist party members, hundreds of Young Communist League members, and thousands of students across various Communist groups. It was in this political and economic climate that, only months before the withdrawal of the International Brigades from battle, Dunos became part of the Lincoln-Washington Battalion of the 15th International Brigade (a.k.a. the Abraham Lincoln Brigade).

Dunos’ integrated battalion of 3,015 men was a combination of the original Lincoln Battalion plus the newly trained Washington Battalion. The battalion had already had a hard run of things, with only two months of training, heavy losses in 1937’s Battle of Jarama and the offensive at “Mosquito Ridge,” and losing Teruel to Nationalist forces in 1938. They did have a few victories, however, such as in the Brunete Offensive of 1937 in which they took a municipality northwest of Madrid called Villanueva de la Cañada, and when they successfully attacked Nationalist fortifications at Segura de los Baños, a province of Teruel. Before Dunos’ time, the battalion had contained notable figures like Moe Fishman—a Young Communist League member, anti-Fascist, WWII veteran, and volunteer who provided aid to refugees of Spain under Franco—and Oliver Law—one of the earliest volunteers, the first African American in U.S. history to lead an integrated military force, a captain during the Brunete Offensive, and a casualty of “Mosquito Ridge.”

In March of 1938, when the battalion was meant to be resting in Aragon, they were instead divided and reunited repeatedly as Nationalist forces cut the Republic in half. Most of the battalion’s members were killed, captured, or missing. Slowly, the battalion rebuilt with limited international volunteers and many Spanish troops. This is likely when Dunos joined the war as one of the few American volunteers to arrive after September 1937; he received his passport on July 18th, 1938, mere days before the Ebro Offensive began on July 25th.

The Battle of Ebro was the longest and largest battle of the war, fought mostly in lower Catalonia and Aragon. Dunos was part of the Ebro Army’s 35th International Division (led by Commander Pedro Mateo Merino) of the 15th Army Corps (led by officer Manuel Tagüeña). He probably had received only days of training before being placed into the Army Corps.

Early on July 25th, led by a Hungarian battalion, Dunos and his division crept towards the Ebro River near the Catalonian village of Ascó, then boated across it to the muddy banks on the other side. After the successful crossing, they mostly fell victim to the Nationalists’ superior forces. However, the Republicans managed for a while to hold on to their position in Sierra de Cavalls, a mountain chain in Catalonia where Dunos ended up after crossing the Ebro. Unfortunately, in early September, the Nationalists resumed an attack that allowed them a breakthrough in Sierra de Cavalls; though they were pushed back with Republican reinforcements, this is probably when Dunos died.

Most likely, on September 7th, 1938, at age 28, he was captured and killed by Nationalist forces, yet another young American soldier struck down in the noble fight against Fascism. It is possible that, based on Comintern documents, he was wounded or fell ill around August 4th, 1938, put in a medical facility, then discharged and sent back into battle (the documents, which are in handwritten, partly legible French, contain words like “scar,” “bubonic,” and “slightly enlarged liver”). Two weeks after his death, Spanish prime minister Juan Negrín announced that the International Brigades were being withdrawn from battle.

Note: In 1973, a large fire at the National Personnel Records Center in Missouri destroyed 80% of the records of Army personnel discharged from November 1, 1912 to January 1, 1960. It is uncertain whether any information on Dunos would be in these records because he may have illegally gone to Spain to fight (as many American volunteers did since the American government did not support their efforts) and/or because he was killed rather than discharged. However, if the Records Center did have any information on Dunos, it was likely destroyed.


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COMINTERN / Ф.545 - Fund 545. International Brigades of the Republican Army of Spain /
Ф.545,оп.6 - Inventory 6. Lists, personal files of soldiers and commanders of international brigades / Ф.545,оп.6,д.884 - Case 884. Personal Files of American Volunteers (Du-Dw)

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