The ‘Godfather in War’ visits

As Kittie put it, Calderon’s ‘great wish on getting back was to see Colonel Hedley and triumph over him’. (For Coote Hedley, see my post of 26 August.) The reason for this was that, in Kittie’s words, ‘on some occasion when George was being especially importunate about some way of becoming a combatant, Colonel Hedley had summed the matter up definitely thus: “My dear fellow, unless it comes to a nation in arms you’ll never be accepted as a combatant”.’

It seems likely that Hedley went to visit George in hospital about now.

Great therefore was [George’s] triumph to be able to tell him that within two months of that speech he had been given a combatant commission on the Field with the 2nd Royal Warwicks.

Also he wanted badly to tell him all about ‘his battle’ (the 1st battle of Ypres) and it was a blow to both of them that the doctor said he must not be encouraged to talk about the battle — it was too exciting.

I was able to show the X-ray of George’s leg to my GP yesterday. His opinion was that the bullet went clean through; the X-ray (‘high quality’) was not made on 30 October but probably in London; and the most likely immediate problem was infection. There would be a lot of bed-rest and George would walk with a slight limp for some time after.

After shelling British and French positions in Zwarteleen woods for several days, the Germans made a massive attempt to break the line there today, 6 November 1914, and bring themselves within 3000 yards of Ypres. The area was about a mile from where George was wounded. It was a comparable crisis to that at Gheluvelt on 1 November. Kavanagh, at Sanctuary Wood, ordered units of the 7th Cavalry Brigade to counterattack, including the Blues. The Germans were driven back through the woods, but in a mêlée at dusk a German machine gun opened up in advance of their line and Colonel Gordon Wilson was killed instantly, together with his Interpreter, Alexis de Gunzburg. They are both buried at Zillebeke Churchyard Cemetery.

Next entry: Remembrance


About Patrick Miles

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