The Japanese man who died on the Spanish front – Miyamoto Masao – To the far horizon he gave a final salute to both the American and Japanese comrades he had made in New York, and in his heart cried !No Pasaran!, the only Spanish words he knew before embarking on his journey. This limited knowledge of Spanish was shared by many of the volunteers from around the world making their way to Spain. Through La Havre, across the Pyrenees, and through Barcelona and Valencia, the volunteers ended their trek on the 6th of January in the city of Albacete, the base of the International Brigade. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade began conducting exercises there and absorbed Jack Sirai and his comrades. Although the Abraham Lincoln Brigade was by that time a very large force most of its recruits were totally inexperienced. They did have some veterans of WWI in their ranks including officers. The more well known Robert Merrimen who had been a member of his universities Reserve Officers Training Corps and the Thälman brigades Ludoviko Renn also became brigade officers.
After training Sirai was given the post of unit cook, a decision he was most displeased with. He had come to Spain to kill Fascists not cook meals. Despite the posting he would soon see combat.
The Battalion’s baptism of fire was the battle of Jarama, on the banks of river near Madrid. The battalion did not meet with much success but the fierce fighting meant Sirai spent most of his time as a rifleman and not as a cook.
A large formation of German bombers covered the Romanillos heights with a carpet-bombing of Republican positions. The Republicans would be at an air power disadvantage, one estimate had 5 planes against 20. The bombing was so severe that the stretcher carrying of the wounded was restricted to twilight hours, to provide cover for the removal of the wounded.