Under distinguished protection

Probably this evening, Sunday 18 October 1914, at eight o’clock, Calderon, Fitzgerald and other sick and wounded left Ypres in another juddering ‘motor lorry’. They drove for four hours. For the last two Calderon had to ‘sit outside to help find the way’, which presumably meant speaking French or Flemish.

Their destination was another transit camp, ‘this time a monkish seminary, dedicated to St. F. of Assisi, the family friend.’ George is referring here to the opening words of the 1753 Description, Arms, Origin and Descent of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Calderón de la Barca and its Descendants, as translated by his father P.H. Calderon: ‘So ancient and tender is the devotion, O Great Saint!, in which the family of Calderon hold your memory — that even before they took their present name, and ever since, journeying through Galicia, you honoured their House by resting under its roof, they have looked upon you as their tutelar Saint and Patron.’

Here in the ward I found the German officer from the wayside inn [i.e. the ‘estaminet’ of 15 October], sitting up, pretty cheerful, with one of his long strong arms cut off. Everybody treated him charmingly; he was a prisoner, but among brothers in the Officers’ Ward.

The phrase ‘among brothers’ is interesting. Truly, this was a ‘class’ War — not in any Leninist sense, but in the sense that when each class recognised itself in the enemy it treated him with impeccable manners as ‘one of us’.

Next entry: The TLS link


About Patrick Miles

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