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William James Bailey


Bailey, William James


Bailey, William James. (Bailey,Michael); b. January 23, 1910 Jersey City, New Jersey; Irish American, education through the 4th grade, Single, Seaman and organizer for the CP, CP March 1934,organizer in Hawaii for 8 months; received passport# 29017 San Francisco series on June 4, 1937 which listed his address as 191 (198) 11th Avenue, NYC, Sailed June 16, 1937 aboard the Aquitania, Arrived in Spain on June 31, 1937, Served with the XV BDE, MacKenzie-Papineau BN in training, transferred to the Lincoln-Washington BN, Machine gun company, rose to rank of Company Commissar, later to the Auto Park, last unit was Lincoln-Washington BN, MG Co.; rank Cabo; Returned to the US on December 20, 1938 aboard the Ausonia, WWII served in the Merchant Marine; d. February 27, 1995, San Francisco, California; gained notoriety for having ripped the Nazi flag from the Bremen.

Source: Sail, SACB, Cadre, XV BDE, RA, Good Fight B, C, E, F, H, & G; Harriman, (obituary) The Volunteer, Volume 17, No. 1, Spring 1995, p. 4; William Bailey, The Kid From Hobboken; Ancestry.

Photograph: Bill Bailey RA Fond 545, Opis 6, Delo 860.



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Last Name Bailey
First/Middle Name William James
Ethnicity Note
Immigration Status
AKA Last Name 1
AKA First / Middle 1
AKA Last Name 2
AKA First / Middle 2
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Family: Comments
Education HS
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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
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Party Affiliation
Date Affiliation
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ALT date
ALT affiliation 2
Arrival (in Spain) Date
Units served with
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Returned Date
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WWII Service
Place Died City
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KIA/MIA/Died other Date
KIA/MIA/Died other Location
KIA/MIA/Died other Battle
Additional Notes Bill Bailey, described by Harry Hakam "as the biggest guy in the battalion," was renowned before his involvement in the Spanish Civil War for removing the Nazi flag, in 1935, from the S.S. Bremen while it was in port in New York City. Bill Bailey, the son of Irish immigrants, was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1909. He became a sailor and the bad conditions he endured encouraged him to join the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). In 1930 he joined the Marine Workers' Industrial Union and the American Communist Party. In 1934 Bailey became an organizer of the longshoreman for the party but became bored and in 1935 returned to work as a sailor. While in Italy he observed the reality of fascism and returned to the United States with a desire to become more actively involved in the struggle against what he believed was an evil philosophy. In July 1935 Bailey was arrested and beaten after he boarded the German ship Bremen and attempted to destroy the swastika flag that was flying. With the support of the radical congressmen Vito Marcantonio, Bailey was acquitted of all charges. On the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Bailey joined the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, a unit that volunteered to defend the Popular Front government against the Nationalist Army. Bailey fought at Belchite where he managed to capture a red and yellow fascist banner that he sent to the Maritime Federation of the Pacific in San Francisco. By the time he began his correspondence with Marjorie Polon, a New York City teenager, he had been in Spain nearly a year as a member of the seamen's machine-gun company. Bailey met Polon, and continued to correspond with her after his return from Spain. After the outbreak of the Korean War, Bailey, as a member of the American Communist Party, was blacklisted and unable to work as a seaman. In 1953 he began work as a longshoreman, retiring in 1975. Bailey featured in several documentary films including Seeing Red, The Good Fight, Growing Up in the Depression, Between the Wars, The Spanish Civil War and The UnAmericans. He eventually became disillusioned with the policies of Joseph Stalin and left the party. He remained a socialist. Bailey wrote his autobiography, The Kid From Hoboken in 1993. He died in San Francisco on 22nd February 1995. - Biography courtesy of Tamiment Library, NYU and Spartacus Educational. To view the finding aid to the Marjorie Polon papers which include letters from Bill Bailey, click here. Also see the ALBA Digital Library.