15 October 1914

On this day George wrote his next long letter to Kittie, ‘from a low estaminet by a muddy village wayside’.

During the night Captain Fitzgerald of B Squadron had ‘dropped something heavy on his foot in the dark stables and broken a toe’. He had to go ‘on the sick list’ and George decided to join him for ‘a few days rest’.

My illness is haematuria or blood in the urine, the result of a cold in the backside and riding for many hours a day. I am told that I shall be well in a few days. So will Fitzgerald. It is a pity; we were just getting to business. Now we have to be sent back a little way.

The men were taken to the ‘estaminet’ (public house) at nine in the morning in an ‘ambulance waggon’.  As the ambulance was leaving, an orderly from the Blues rode up and gave George ‘two petites lettres touchantes de Keety; my first post’.

Calderon and Fitzgerald were to be ‘evacuated’ from the estaminet, where they were surrounded by officer doctors, to a ‘base’, but nothing happened all day and they found they had to spend the night ‘on the lousy floor of the taproom (“lousy” is literal)’. From George’s next letter, we learn that this evening

3 German wounded prisoners were brought in and added to those lying on the floor in the taproom.  One merely a hole in the hand.  An elderly reservist dying, with his bowels ripped open by a bullet that struck a button.  A splendid young Prussian officer, a big muscular superman, with a square jawed cleanshaved eagle face, and scars of student duels on his shaven head and on his face.  I felt no dislike or anger for them, but great pity.  Everybody treated them tenderly, caressingly; I talked with the dying reservist, told him why they could not give him water, though he was thirsty.  The officer’s arm was splintered and swollen like a football; it had to be cut off.

George concludes the letter today by telling Kittie that he and Fitzgerald were ‘apparently destined for Dunkirk’ and ‘my interpreting, so far as it is useful, is usually for food and hot water’.  It is very possible that Kittie did not keep other letters, in which George may have referred to his being depressed.

On this day the Germans took Ostend and Zeebrugge.

Next entry: Nuns fall for the Calderonian charm

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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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