Biographyk-Willis, Samuel Conway b. September 26, 1914, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; African American; 5th grade education; Single; Laborer; YCL 1929; Received Passport# 424420 on May 20, 1937 which listed his address as 2033 Camac Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2124 N. 21st, Philadelphia, PA); Sailed June 5, 1937 aboard the Lancastria; Arrived in Spain via Espolla on June 20, 1937; Served with the XV BDE, Mackenzie-Papineau BN, initially as a Scout late as a Runner; KIA March 17, 1938, Belchite-Caspe Sector, during the Retreats.
Short sketch by R-- Sam Willis: likes to sleep late in the morning even if it means missing his cornflakes. He comes from Philadelphia, the cradle of American liberty. Some of his ancestors met the Mayflower. You’re likely to hear him whistling Tchaikovsky most anytime, day or night. He hopes that Spain will make a man of him. Willis is quite popular among the Spanish señoritas.
Sources: Scope of Soviet Activity; Cadre; Figueras List; Mac-Pap; RGASPI Fond 545, Opis 6, Delo 1013, ll. 35 (humorous description); African Americans. Code A.
Biography: Samuel Conway Willis was born in Philadelphia on September 26, 1914. He joined the YCL in 1929 and worked as a party organizer. Willis departed for Europe aboard the Lancastria on June 5, 1937. In Spain Willis served first as a scout and later as a runner in the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion. He was reported missing in action in the Belchite-Caspe sector on March 17, 1938. ~ Chris Brooks
Photograph: Samuel Willis, MacKenzie-Papineau Scout, November 1937. The 15th International Brigade Photographic Unit Photograph Collection; ALBA Photo 11; ALBA Photo number 11-1280. Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.