Biographies/Solomon Davis

Tags: Brunete Offensive Jewish Deserter Young Communist League

Researcher: Michael Huang, Stuyvesant '24

Solomon Davis was born on November 15th, 1915, was the son of Israel Davis. Davis was a Jewish volunteer and was a member of the Young Communist League, since 1934, that volunteered after Franco threatened to "turn Spain back to 1493", a time where persecution of Jewish people was widespread in the Iberian peninsula. Solomon's first name also means peace in Hebrew and his surname Davis derives from the Jewish figure David. Davis secured passport #391335 on April 15, 1937. Davis' passport listed his age as 23 at the time of receiving the passport. His home address was also listed as 924 Stone Ave, Brooklyn, NY. Davis lived around the Ocean Hill area of Bedford-Stuyvesant which had a predominant Jewish population. Davis departed from New York to Holland on the SS Volendam and soon travelled to the city of Marseille, France. At Marseille, Davis boarded the ocean liner Ciudad de Barcelona which had been transporting volunteers and supplies to Spain. During the trip, the Ciudad de Barcelona was intercepted by torpedoes from Nationalist Submarines and subsequently sunk off the coast of Malgrat de Mar. The ciudad de Barcelona had been carrying 200-250 volunteers of the International Brigade with 60-65 crew members perishing, 12 of which were American volunteers. Davis finally arrived to Spain on June 2nd. During training, Davis broke his arm and served with the XV BDE. During his first mission at the battle of Bruente, Davis was shell shocked and eventually deserted from the frontlines. The battle of Brunete was well planned and prepared as a diversion of Nationalist troops who were pressuring the capital of Madrid. The battle of Brunete saw initial success until devastating casualties forced the Republican troops to retreat. Despite Republican officers discussing the plans openly in cafes located at Republican controlled cities for three months, the Nationalists were caught off guard. However, the hilly terrain and ridges proved to be a challenging factor in the difficult mission to break the Nationalist lines. Combined with the slow and obsolete Republican air force against the Condor Legion and Republican heavy bombardment having little to no effect, Davis would soon desert from the battlefield after Nationalist reinforcements arrived and an African American commander, Oliver Law, was found KIA in the battle for Mosquito Ridge. The combination of extreme heat, lack of water, a concussion, massive numbers of Nationalist air support and heavy casualties led to a shell shocked Davis. Soon after, Davis returned and was repatriated under medical reasons and was sent back to the US on September 12th, 1937, aboard the RMS Ausonia. Republican documents state that Davis had little to no contributions to the brigade and had already broken his arm prior to his training in Spain. Another member of the Washington brigade, John Hunter, provided unfavorable reports on Davis during his time in Spain. Davis returned to Brooklyn through Montreal, Canada and was soon drafted into the US Army in 1942-45 and fought in the European theatre. Davis passed away on June 27, 1980.


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