Biographical Project: Raleigh Frohman

May 21, 2017
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ALBA LogoSaul Friedberg’s short piece on Raleigh Frohman provides crucial information regarding his fate.  It figures prominently in Charles Antin’s search to understand his cousin’s disappearance. Together the two articles shed light on Frohman’s service in Spain.

Chris Brooks, Notes from the Biographical Dictionary Project, 2017.

 

Raleigh Frohman,

by Saul Friedberg April 22, 1996

I was at OTS in Pozorubio and I gather from the reverse that Frohman was also there, though I don’t actually remember, so I must have known and become friendly with him at OTS.*  We both were in the MacPaps at Teruel. The front line the MacPaps occupied took a sharp bend to the right, and after this bend there was a solitary hill, the summit of which was entrenched and occupied by our third company of which Frohman was a part. The fascists had driven back our forces to the right of our third company so that they enveloped our third company from the rear and a murderous attack on our third company was expected momentarily. The day before this attack actually started I was sent by our battalion command to the third company hill on a mission the purpose of which I don’t remember and while there I encountered Frohman in the trench where he was stationed. He had dug a sort of cave in the front wall of the trench where he would be able to lie and be protected from missiles coming from overhead. He knew that an attack was imminent. The next day the attack started. Wave after wave of bombers and strafers came over attacking the hill, and continuously artillery bombardment accompanied the aerial attack; as a result, the top of the hill was shrouded in a great cloud of dust and dirt so that it couldn’t be seen. This was interspersed with infantry attacks across the wide valley in front of the hill which separated the two lines; despite the bombardment, the third company continuously repulsed these attacks with machine guns and rifle fire. (It can’t be repeated too often that the fascist attack was made possible by the fact that we had no air or artillery support since the US government, with the govts of England and France, intent on preventing the defeat of fascism in Spain in order not to weaken its planned later attack on the SU [Soviet Union], prevented us from obtaining any armaments through the fascist blockade of the international waters surrounding Spain.) The next day the bombardment of Frohman’s company’s position continued unabated and it was evident since the top of the hill had to have been blown into the air that there were no trenches left protecting Frohman and his comrades. On the third day I was sent with a few others by out command to go up the third company hill; I don’t remember what it was we were supposed to do.  We got as far as the bottom of the hill where a little creek ran under a little stone bridge, where we were pinned down by interdicting shrapnel fire bursting in the air above us. We took refuge in some small shepherd’s stone huts; and while we lay there watching, the remnants of the third company – 5 or 6 comrades – came straggling down the hill. As they attempted to cross the creek, they were cut down by machine gun fire which after passing through them bounced off the stone bridge behind them. As far as I know, Frohman was killed by fascist fire on that hill, which was then occupied by fascist troops, which of course made our occupation of the rest of our line at Teruel very iffy.

*Reference to the Charles Antin’s article “The Quest for a Missing American Volunteer“.

 

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