George Sidney Hendrickson was born on December 21st, 1906. He was born to father George Hendrickson and mother Mary Carberry. His father worked many trades, from carpenter, to motorman, to hospital attendant. His mother was initially a saleswoman, but later became a public school teacher. Just as both of his parents had, Hendrickson grew up in Brooklyn, alongside siblings Elizabeth, Albert, Marietta, Margaret, and Monetta.
Hendrickson never graduated from high school, completing only his first year. After high school he served in the US Army. He also held various other jobs, such as manning train signals, and working as a radio operator. At the time of his volunteering for the war effort, he was single and living in the Bronx, working as a mechanic. Hendrickson became a member of the Communist Party, and the International Workers Order, in 1936. He went over to Spain with the first 96 volunteers aboard the Normandie on December 26, 1936, and arrived in Spain on January 11th, 1937.
In Spain, Hendrickson worked with transmissions, because he had been trained as a radio operator during his time in the Merchant Marines. He then went on to work as a wireless radio operator due to his particular skill. He served in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade until May 1937, but spent the greater part of the war as a radio operator out of Valencia. He’s recorded as having worked under volunteer Óscar Hernández Rodríguez in Valencia. It’s also described, in Sidney Kaufman’s telling of the war, that he and Kaufman set up a radio while staying at a woman named Maria’s house, and listened to broadcasts announcing the arrival of the British consul in Cerbere.
In late 1937, the Lincoln Brigade was deployed to defend the walled mountain town of Teruel against the anticipated Nationalist counterattack. That winter, from 1937 to 1938, is noted as having been one of the coldest on record. Many soldiers suffered frostbite. It was in these conditions that Hendrickson found himself working alone, on Christmas, out of an outpost in La Muela, Teruel.
Like many others, Hendrickson lost friends and peers in the war effort. Communication regarding these losses was limited on the warfront. Hendrickson wrote a letter to a fellow “comrade,” asking them to verify the reported death of Jim Ambers, an American who to his knowledge had never joined the battalion, at his current address in Spain. According to the letter, Hendrickson “knew [Ambers] well.”
Hendrickson returned to the United States on February 9th, 1939, with one of the final groups to leave Spain. He went on to serve during World War II, continuing his work as a radio operator for the Merchant Marines, and joined the Seven Seas Club in 1943, made primarily up of seamen who were also card-carrying Communists. On April 2nd, 1949, Hendrickson married Rosalind (Beatrice) Tvenstup. Rosalind herself had never completed her high school education, due to her family’s poverty and her mother’s illness, but instead worked many jobs. The Great Depression and Spanish Civil War were also formative for her, and she was a political activist and Communist like her husband.
In 1957, the Department of Defense notified George Hendrickson that his previous military clearance, from his many years of service, had been suspended. The notice listed the various reasons for this suspension, the primary ones being that Hendrickson was or had been a member of the Communist Party, International Workers Order, and served in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. The letter explained that all three organizations had been “designated by the Attorney General… as organizations whose interests are in conflict with those of the United States.”
George Hendrickson died in Ossipee, New Hampshire, on October 30th, 1976, and was buried in Tewksbury, Massachusetts.
Crain, Caleb, et al. “The American Soldiers of the Spanish Civil War.” The New Yorker, 2016, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/04/18/the-americans-soldiers-of-the-spanish-civil-war.
Fenton, Jerome D. “Notice of Suspension of Clearance.” Received by George Sidney Hendrickson, 8 Feb. 1957.
“The Flight by Sidney Kaufman.” The Volunteer, 2 May 2020, albavolunteer.org/2020/04/the-flight-by-sidney-kaufman/.
“George Sidney Hendrickson.” Archives, www.archives.com.
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Ink, Social. “Hendrickson, George Sidney.” The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, 5 Aug. 2020, alba-valb.org/volunteers/george-sidney-hendrickson/.
Legacy.com, and Legacy. “Rosalind Hendrickson Obituary (2009) - Newark, NJ - The Star-Ledger.” Legacy.com, Legacy, 8 Jan. 2009, www.legacy.com/obituaries/starledger/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=122336735.
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