Bill Bailey (Spanish Civil War veteran)

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Bill Bailey (1911–1995) was an Irish-American, CPUSA labor activist, fought in the Republican forces of the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939).[1]


As a merchant seaman, Bailey stole the swastika that flew from the bow of the German ship Bremen docked in Manhattan in 1935. The Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels issued an angry statement, so New York's mayor, La Guardia, sent ten detectives to the German consulate. These were all Jewish detectives - with names the like of Goldfarb and Ginsburg. Goebbels thought this was the biggest insult. He said, "We don't want these inferior bastards to guard any of our people."

Bailey, who was a Communist Party member from the working-class neighborhoods of Hoboken and Hell's Kitchen, went on to fight fascism during the Spanish Civil War. He joined the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the American contingent of the International Brigades.[2]

During World War II, he served as a business agent for the Marine Firemen, Oilers and Watertenders Union (MFOW), before he himself joined the war effort during the invasion of the Philippines. He was expelled from the MFOW during the McCarthy era, and briefly edited The Black Gang News before moving to longshore work.[3]

Bailey later lived in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Personal and death[edit]

On February 27, 1995, he died of a long-lasting pulmonary condition caused by asbestos exposure during his work as a seaman.[3]


His autobiography, The Kid from Hoboken, was written with Lynn Damme and published in San Francisco by Circus Lithographic Prepress in 1993.[4] Its full text is available online.[5]

Bill Bailey was featured in the film documentaries Seeing Red (1983) and The Good Fight: The Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War (1984).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peter N Carroll The Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, pages 180-183 and passim, Stanford University Press (1994) ISBN 0-8047-2277-3
  2. ^ "Alternative America" (Ed Rampell interview of Studs Terkel), Socialist Review, April 2006
  3. ^ a b "Bill Bailey (1911-1995)". Ireland and the Spanish Civil War. 28 Feb 2007. Archived from the original on October 28, 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2014. 
  4. ^ The Kid from Hoboken
  5. ^ Bailey, Bill (1993). Damme, Lynne, ed. "The Kid from Hoboken". Larkspring Productions. Retrieved January 6, 2016. 

External links[edit]