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The Train to Spain ====== Mainly on the Plain

26 Mar


“Beautiful spring day, warm sunshine, country beautiful. How can people fight a war in this lovely weather? Four hours train journey from here the most savage cruel patricidal war is being waged.”
First entry in Errol’s Spanish Civil War Diary- March 26, 1937 (83 years ago today)

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Excerpts from Robin de los Bosques in the Spanish War

See, also: Lincoln Douglas Hurst: The True Adventures of a Real-Life Rogue

“In 1935, Flynn married French-American actress Lili Damita (divorcing in 1942), with whom he had a very stormy relationship, with frequent physical fights. They were called the “Fighting Flynns,” and he called his wife “Tiger Lili.” When his friend Dr. Herman F. Erben (1897-1985) proposed that he and Errol travel to Spain in 1937, Flynn jumped at the opportunity.”

So, in early 1937, Flynn decided to go to Spain as a war correspondent with a commission from Hearst Press, to get away from it all (some say to, literally, escape from his wife) or perhaps just for the adventure. “Arriving in Spain, I felt I was right back in ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’” (Errol Flynn, “What Really Happened to Me in Spain” Photoplay, July 1937: 12-15). Flynn and his enigmatic traveling companion, Dr. Erben, left on the Queen Mary on February 24, 1937, arriving in Southhampton, England on March 1.

On March 5, 1937, they arrived in London. From there they went to Paris where, Lili, to Flynn’s chagrin, was waiting for them at the plush Plaza Athenée Hotel. They had so many fights, were so loud, smashed so much crockery, and caused so much mayhem that they were told never to return.

Hotel Plaza Athenee

No Suite et Errol & Tiger Lil, nor even one photo of the “The Fighting Flynns” in the bar or lobby? Scandaleux!

On the 21st of March Flynn attended a memorial service for the Clichy victims, who had died during a March 16 demonstration when the police fired into the crowd, killing six and wounding two hundred.

After enduring Lili’s company for a few more days, Flynn and Erben left for Spain on March 26th.

Flynn carried a notebook with him during his visit in Spain. Unfortunately, the 74-page handwritten diary has never been published. Flynn’s daughter Dierdre sold the diary at an auction by Christie’s in 2000, and only a few excerpts were made public before the auction. The first entry in the diary is from March 26 as Flynn and Erben prepare to leave for Spain. Riding in a train, Flynn writes: “Beautiful spring day, warm sunshine, country beautiful. How can people fight a war in this lovely weather? Four hours train journey from here the most savage cruel patricidal war is being waged.”

— Gentleman Tim

 

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  1. David DeWitt

    March 28, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    Excellent posting, Gentleman Tim!

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