Roach was born in Provincetown, Massachusetts in 1900. He completed high school in Provincetown and later attended the Massachusetts Agricultural College at Amherst. There, although barely five feet tall, he achieved notice as a star wrestler. Roach joined the Communist Party in 1932. Upon completion of his studies, Roach became a part-time organizer and supported himself by working occasionally as a professional wrestler. Roach departed for Europe, aboard the SS Paris, on January 6, 1937. In Spain, Roach was assigned to the Lincoln Battalion and served in a machine gun company. Roach fought with the battalion at Jarama and during the Brunete Offensive and attained the rank of Gun Commander. Late in the Brunete Campaign Roach received a severe shoulder wound. In the fall of 1937, unable to continue fighting, he was sent back to the United States, where he went to work organizing for the seamen's union. Returning veterans formed the VALB late in 1937 and at their first convention they elected Roach as National Adjutant Commander. He held the post briefly before he contracted pneumonia and was hospitalized at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Although it appeared initially that Roach would fully recuperate, he took a sudden turn for the worse and died on July 13, 1938. His funeral was held at the Mother A. M. E. Zion Church in New York, with the Reverend Benjamin Robeson (Paul Robeson's brother) presiding. His body was sent home to Provincetown, accompanied by fellow Lincoln Brigade veterans Paul Bums and Walter Garland.
ALB Archival Materials
Doug Roach (left) and Steve Nelson (right), Summer 1937. (Peter Carroll Collection)
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