Email | Share | Print

Walter Garland


Walter Garland


Garland, Walter Benjamin. b. November 27, 1913, Brooklyn, New York, African American, High school education, Prior Service US Army, rank PFC, Single, Studio Musician working on the Lucky Strike Program in the Orchestration Department, CP (Spanish?) October 1937, received passport# 6907 New York series on January 5, 1937 which listed his address as 511 Herkimer Street, Brooklyn, New York, Sailed January 5, 1937 aboard the Champlain, Arrived in Spain on January 10, 1937, Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln BN, WIA Jarama, attended first OTS class, Washington BN, Commander MG Co., WIA Brunete. Became temporary commander of the MacKenzie-Papineau BN while it was in training, Returned to US on propaganda tour, Returned to the US on November 9, 1937 aboard the Aquitania, WWII US Army, 731st Military Police BN, d. January 1974. 

Sources: Sail, SACB, RA, FBI.

Photograph: Garland with members of the Irish Section of the Lincoln BN prior to Jarama, 1937; Seated right John Hunt; Standing left to right Peter O’Connor, P. McEvoy, & Johnnie Power four days prior to the Nationalist offensive at Jarama, February 1937. Photograph History Ireland..



Walter Benjamin Garland was born in New York on November 27, 1913. At the age of eighteen he joined the U. S. Army and served for two years attaining the rank of Private First Class. Discharged he returned to New York where he studied mathematics at Brooklyn College for three years. From 1934-1936, he worked as an arranger and copying in the Orchestration Department of NBC on the Lucky Strike Radio Show. Garland joined the Communist Party in 1935 and was active in the National Negro Congress. An early volunteer for the International Brigades, he sailed for France aboard the Champlain on January 5, 1937. Because of his previous military experience, Garland was appointed Section Commander in the 17th International Column. Garland was wounded on February 27, 1937 during the battle of Jarama. Once recovered, Garland was selected to attend Officer Training School and then placed in command of a machine-gun company in the newly formed Washington Battalion. After he recovered from another wound, received during the Brunete campaign, Garland took command of the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion. In August 1937 Garland joined Langston Hughes and Harry Haywood in a radio broadcast back to the United States from Madrid. Two months later he was ordered home to tour and help raise funds for the Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the American Medical Bureau and other organizations. He also traveled to Washington, D.C. in 1938 to lobby the State Department to lift the embargo on Spain. Garland worked in the Communist Party's Workers Book Shop in New York. In 1938 he ran as the Communist Party candidate for representative of the Sixth Congressional District of New York. Garland was also Communist Party candidate for the New York State Assembly from the 17th Assembly District, Kings County, Brooklyn, in 1940. In 1941 the FBI classified Garland among "individuals believed to be the most dangerous and who in all probability should be interned in event of war." Garland reenlisted in the U.S. Army in World War II. In 1942 he was assigned to the 731st Military Police Battalion stationed at Fort Wadsworth, on Staten Island. There he was invited to give a presentation to a class of officers on the Brunete campaign. Garland taught mapmaking and scout car classes, mortar school, and machine-gun training. He also developed a new machine-gun sighting device for use on guns mounted on scout cars. Garland rose to the rank of First Sergeant but, despite repeated requests, was never allowed to go overseas. After the war Garland, along with fellow Spanish Civil War veteran, Bert Jackson, was instrumental in forming the United Negro Allied Veterans Association (UNAVA). He remained active in the Communist Party's Ben Davis Club in Harlem and worked as a national organizer for the International Workers Order. He also traveled with Paul Robeson in 1949, probably as a bodyguard. According to Garland's FBI File he was expelled from the Communist Party in 1952 and moved to Columbus, Ohio. He died near there in January 1974. ~ Chris Brooks

ALB Archival Materials

Search the Tamiment Archives


Officer Training School, Inspecting Officer is Peter Hamkins. Left to right: Edward Cecil Smith, unidentified, Wallace Burton, Walter Garland, Hans Amlie. (Courtesy of the Peter Carroll Collection).

Walter Garland seated left and Irish Volunteers. Seated right John Hunt; Standing left to right Peter O’Connor, P. McEvoy, & Johnnie Power four days prior to the Nationalist offensive at Jarama, February 1937. Photograph History Ireland.

Full Database Record

Last Name Garland
First/Middle Name Walter
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