Confusion, or subtlety?

From a hundred years on, it is difficult to make sense of Calderon’s new situation.

If he was taking Hedley’s advice that the quickest way of getting to the Front was as a military interpreter, why was he continuing his officer training course with the Inns of Court Regiment?  British Army interpreters in France, of whom there were not many because the French had organised them in advance, seem to have come from a variety of non-commissioned ranks.  Calderon wanted to become combatant, but during combat interpreters were usually put in a safe place. Conversely, if he had decided to stay with the Inns of Court Regiment, why couldn’t he improve his riding skills with them?  Did he tell the Colonel at the Inns of Court O.T.C. that he was aiming to become a military interpreter as soon as possible?  If so, what was the Colonel’s reaction? In the fullness of time the Colonel could get him a commission — the I.C.O.T.C. trained 11,000 officer cadets in the First World War who were then commissioned into regular regiments — but could he get him a job as a military interpreter with a regiment that was about to be sent into action? Or was Calderon relying on Hedley and his other military contacts to pull that off?

The facts seem to be that after Haldane’s military reform of 1908 the Inns of Court Regiment became basically an officer training unit and Reserve infantry regiment.  There were probably no facilities, therefore, for intensive equestrian training, so for that Calderon had to go to the Royal Horse Guards’ riding school.  At forty-five he found it hard work. Yes, interpreters were non-combatant, but in Kittie’s words:

This non-combatant commission did not for one moment take me in — I knew it was only regarded as a stepping-stone to a combatant one.  He felt sure if he could only get out there the combatant one would soon come along and no fuss about age.

But for that to happen, of course, Calderon had to have qualified as an officer; hence he had to stay the course with the Inns of Court Regiment.  His contradictory-looking actions were more likely, then, to be deep strategy of the kind that his mind relished!

It still did not solve the problem of how he was going to find a combatant regiment that would take him on as an interpreter once he had finished his advanced riding lessons, interpreter preparation, and officer-training…

Next entry: Interpreter preparation

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About Patrick Miles

I am a writer who specialises in Anton Chekhov and is writing a biography of George Calderon.
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