9 September 1914

On this day the B.E.F. began to cross the Marne.  Momentously, an emissary from Moltke had arrived the day before and now persuaded both von Kluck and von Bülow that they must retreat northeastwards or be encircled by the Allies and destroyed.  The Battle of the Marne, which had been on a knife edge for four days, was now, at the cost of more casualties per day than any Western Front battle ever, becoming a victory for Joffre.  The great Schlieffen Plan for defeating France was running into the ground.  Some said it was the turning point of the war.  Moltke had a nervous breakdown.

It was about now that George Calderon’s strategy for becoming combatant came to sudden and unexpected fruition.

He had been continuing his officer training with the Inns of Court Regiment, attending the Royal Horse Guards (‘The Blues’) riding school every day for a fortnight, and preparing himself for military interpreting in French, Flemish and German, when he was approached by the Blues themselves about accompanying them as an interpreter to the Front.  George had evidently caught the eye of Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Chesney Wilson, commanding officer of the Blues, Old Etonian, and himself in his fiftieth year.

Kittie takes up the story:

 He had a great respect and gratitude for Colonel Wilson — gratitude because he took him on as interpreter and also because of the way he encouraged him to come and learn all he could at camp.  The other interpreters only turned up just before they sailed.  This made me think Colonel Wilson recognised the stuff this man was made of who came to him at the age of 45 in a private’s uniform of the Inns of Court — on the recommendation of the Corporal Major of the riding school!  [Wilson] heard more about him from others later but George always said it was the Corporal Major who got him the job.

Calderon had by now received a testimonial to his knowledge of French and Russian from A.R. Dryhurst, Assistant Secretary at the British Museum, and he presumably produced this and his Oxford M.A. certificate as proof of competence, since both were found together among his papers.

Next entry: Things


About Patrick Miles

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