Email | Share | Print

Clifton Holman Amsbury


Amsbury, Clifton Holman. (“Sunshine”); b. July 16 (26), 1910, Longton, Kansas; Graduated from the University of California in 1932 with a BA in Anthropology; Prior military service in the US Army Air Corps ROTC; Single; Case Aide worker for State Relief Administration (seasonal); YCL 1937; received passport# 30969 San Francisco series on August 7, 1937 which listed his address as 186 (185) Hillcrest, Berkeley, California; Sailed August 18, 1937 aboard the Aquitania; Arrived in Spain on August 27, 1937 and entered the IB on September 1, 1937; Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln-Washington BN, Fuentes de Ebro; Transferred to XV BDE Special MG Co. Retreats. WIA spent remainder of time in Spain in Hospitals; Returned to the US on December 20, 1938 aboard the Ausonia; WWII US Army enlisted February 1941, stateside and Prince Rupert, Canada; d. May 28, 2007, Richmond, Contra Costa, California.

Source: Sail, SACB, Cadre, XV BDE, RA, ALBA 260 – Clifton Amsbury Papers, Harriman, ARP Survey response; (obituary) R. H. Bartley, “Clifton Holmon Amsbury, 1910-2007,” The Volunteer, Volume 24, No. 3, September 2007, pp. 20-21; Ancestry.



Clifton Amsbury was born on July 16, 1910, in Longton, Kansas, the second of four brothers. From earliest childhood he exhibited an insatiable curiosity about the world around him, together with a marked independence of mind and a wit to match. It is no surprise that he developed a keen interest in the burning social and political issues of his day, heightened by the insights gained from academic training in anthropology at UC-Berkeley and the University of Nebraska.

Clifton understood the menace of fascism in the 1930s and, with the Falangist uprising against Spain’s Republican Government, he joined the international brigades fighting to defend Spanish democracy. He arrived in Spain at the end of August 1937, received his basic training in Tarrazona de la Mancha, served with the Lincolns on the Ebro front, and was wounded in March 1938 and evacuated to a succession of hospitals. By the time he had healed sufficiently to rejoin his unit, the international brigades were being sent home. He was repatriated at the end of 1938. 

Like other surviving Lincoln vets, the remainder of Clifton’s long life was shaped, defined and inspired by his experience in Spain. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, married and, together with his wife Shirley, raised four children. He worked for the California State Employment Office until 1971, when he retired to pursue a second career in anthropology, which he taught at Contra Costa Community College for another 20 years until he retired at age 80.

All the while he remained steadfast in his support of progressive causes, especially opposition to U.S. interventionism around the world. In 1987 Clifton traveled to Nicaragua with a VALB contingent to deliver Toyota ambulances for the victims of the U.S.-proxy war against the Sandinista Government. To the very end Clifton remained unwaveringly committed to the ultimate good fight. He remains an inspiration to all of us who have been fortunate enough to know him and who strive to continue that noble struggle.

On May 28, 2007, VALB’s San Francisco Bay Area Post lost yet another stalwart from its all too rapidly thinning ranks.  Clifton had mustered the strength to attend the 2007 annual VALB reunion in Oakland and fully intended to be present for the unveiling of San Francisco’s waterfront monument to Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteers.—R. H. Bartley


ALB Archival Materials

Search the Tamiment Archives

Full Database Record

Last Name Amsbury
First/Middle Name Clifton Holman
Ethnicity Note
Immigration Status
AKA Last Name 1
AKA First / Middle 1
AKA Last Name 2
AKA First / Middle 2
Foreign Nation
Foreign Nation City
Alt Pob State, City
Family: Name
Family: Relationship
Family: Begin Date
Family: End Date
Family: Comments
Education HS
Education College / Univ 1
Education College/Univ Notes
Education College/Univ 2
Graduate or Doctoral Work
Graduate or Doctoral Work Notes
Prior Military Service
Passport #
Passport Series
Passport Reported Lost in Spain
Passport Age
Passport Date
PP or Known Address Street
PP or Known Address City
PP or Known Address State
ALT City
Alt State
Sail Date
Marital Status
Marital Notes
Vocation 1
Vocation 2
Vocation 3
Party Affiliation
Date Affiliation
ALT Affiliation
ALT date
ALT affiliation 2
Arrival (in Spain) Date
Units served with
Battle action
Returned Date
Returned other
WWII Service
Place Died City
KIA/MIA/Died other
KIA/MIA/Died other Date
KIA/MIA/Died other Location
KIA/MIA/Died other Battle
Additional Notes