Pause and enigma

The Calderon quotations that feature in my preceding two posts come from a letter George wrote to Kittie today, 11 October 1914, which was a Sunday. This was now the pattern: every few days he would write her a long letter (the next one was over 2500 words) that filled in events up to that date, i.e. joined up with the previous letter. He wrote with a sharp blue indelible pencil that would survive the elements. These letters are detailed about his own experiences, but understandably contain few references to the ‘big picture’ of the Battle of Ypres that was gathering around him. Clearly he intended to use them as he had his letters sent home from Tahiti in 1906 — to write a book one day.

The châtelaine up all night, and this morning at 6 a long table set for breakfast with excellent coffee & bread & jam. […] We are having an easy morning, still with no orders.

They eventually received orders to move off at noon, but remained saddled up until four, then unsaddled and stayed a further night at this billet.  There was great uncertainty about the Germans’ movements. In fact their Fourth Army, under Duke Albrecht of Württemberg, was streaming westwards to take the Belgian Channel ports, and units of Prince Rupprecht’s Sixth Army were heading for Ypres from the south.

Meanwhile, followers of the blog may be interested to hear that I have received from the General Register Office birth and death certificates for Edwin Anthony Calderon (see ‘A Lacuna’, 27 September). This was the only child surnamed Calderon and born in Britain between 1897 and 1915 who might have shed some light on George’s much older brother Henry. Had Henry gone off on his own, married someone socially inferior, or even not married her, had a son by her, and become the black sheep of the Calderon family?

Er…we still can’t be certain. The mother of Edwin Anthony Calderon is recorded as ‘Saba Calderon, formerly Vecerro’. She would hardly have given ‘Calderon’ as her surname if she was not married to someone called Calderon. Her Christian name and maiden name suggest she was Spanish. Does this suggest that her husband was also Spanish? As I have stressed before, George’s family were thoroughly assimilated and considered English by themselves and everyone who knew them. But Calderon is a common Spanish name, so Mrs Saba Calderon’s husband could well have been a Spaniard.

However, not only was Saba Calderon’s son registered as ‘Edwin Anthony’, that is given as his father’s name too! This is perhaps not that odd, but it seems unusual if the father was Spanish. Enigmatic? When a biographer is trying to finish his last chapter, he needs this kind of distraction like the proverbial bullet. But I think we must establish who Edwin Anthony senior was, by finding his own birth and death particulars… Sadly, his son died of pneumonia aged seventeen months.

Next entry: 12 October 1914


About Patrick Miles

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