About now 1914, George Calderon went again to see his golfing acquaintance Coote Hedley. He turned up at his house at 9.30 in the evening, wearing his O.T.C. ‘reach-me-down’. However, as Hedley told Mrs Hedley, ‘even in that awful old Inns of Court private’s uniform […] he managed to look such a soldier.’
It seems very likely that Calderon did not know how high in the war machine Coote Hedley really stood. Hedley was made a General Staff Officer, Grade 1, at the War Office in 1911 and was in command of the Geographical Section, which had to provide the British Army with the best possible maps of every area of the world other than the UK. (In 1916 this Section became part of Military Intelligence.)
As Hedley wrote in 1920, Calderon made it clear that his ‘heart’s desire’ was to ‘get to the front as soon as possible’. Applying his intimate knowledge of the military mind, Hedley now advised George that at his age ‘the most feasible way of doing this appeared to be to go as an interpreter, for he was an accomplished linguist’. Calderon took this on board. He then asked if there was anything else he could do to ‘get out’.
I said, ‘An interpreter should be able to ride. Can you ride?’ ‘Not very well,’ he said, ‘but I can learn.’ I said, ‘Have you any riding breeches?’ He said, ‘No.’ I lent him a pair of these necessary articles and he was in the riding school of the ‘Blues’ at 7.30 a.m. the next morning.
Between themselves, George and Kittie dubbed Hedley ‘The Godfather in War’.
Next entry: Confusion, or subtlety?