Gunnar Ebb by Unattributed

February 14, 2019
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Gunnar Ebb in Spain.

Gunnar Ebb in Spain.

The Volunteer for Liberty, v. 2, No. 33, October 6, 1938

When Major E. Cecil-Smith Commander of the Mac-Paps was wounded at Hill 565, Teniente Gunnar Ebb, Finnish commander of Company 5 of the Battalion became what the Spanish Army calls an “accidental” commander of the Battalion. But there is nothing accidental about Comrade Ebb; everything about the man –though he speaks no word of English and little enough Spanish—points to determination, integrity and purposefulness. His record at home in Finland, as will as here in Spain, would raise hair on a billiard-ball. Oiga!

A mason by trade, Ebb had just completed four years in a Finnish prison for political activity, when he came to Spain 17 months ago. That bare fact speaks for the firmness of his working-class convictions, his antifascist determination. The responsables here knew their man; his first job was in a special battalion. At Brunete when the boys were taking everything the fascists could manage to throw at them. Ebb was behind the fascist lines blowing up tanks, bridges and troop and ammunition convoys! Let your imagination work on the job and see if that hair doesn’t begin to sprout.

Joining the Mac-Paps, at Teruel, he has seen every action since. At Caspe, when Makela, commander of the machine-gun company, was killed, Ebb took over. He was cited after the Batea action for his part in organizing the Battalion’s resistance during the retreat. When asked exactly why he had been cited-what he had done, he said, with a wry smile, “Well the Brigade’s forces were low at time and weren’t many men to cite.” Emerging on the banks of the Ebro at a point about 12 kilometers from Tortosa, he found a boat and rowed across just in time to be fired at by the pursuing enemy.

The man’s modesty and shyness are the talk of the Battalion. Legendary too, in the short time he has had command, is the spirit of enthusiasm his personality and presence raises in the men. They regarded him as a leader and they are eager to follow him.

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