Kittie’s therapy

‘So as to help him pass the day in hospital’, Kittie taught George to knit. He ‘at once grasped the possibilities offered by plain and pearl’ and started to knit a muffler, which became ‘a network of intricate patterns that he invented as he went along’. In the middle of the muffler he knitted a short piece of plain with ‘a little pot or “cauldron” in the centre, as his signature’. The link between ‘Calderon’ and ‘cauldron’ is in the Calderon coat of arms. As Kittie explained, it contains ‘five little cauldrons with flags in them — which signified that in some very early wars of Spain the Calderon of that day brought five companies of men each a hundred strong and victualled them’.

Calderon Crest

Basic form of the Calderon coat of arms

Because ‘Calderon’ is such a common Spanish name (some claim it is the equivalent of ‘Pot’, or ‘Tinker’, i.e. cauldron-maker), there are numerous forms of the family escutcheon. The above is the core design, described in the 1753 family history as (in George’s father’s translation): ‘Five Calderons (cauldrons) sable on field or (others say argent) and for bordure eight St Andrew’s Crosses on field gules […] with five standards gules above the handles of the Cauldrons.’

It may be recalled that on 18 October 1914 George had referred to an ancestor’s friendship with St Francis of Assisi. But such mentions of his lineage are extremely rare, as George considered himself an Englishman through and through. The sudden appearance of the cauldron on the muffler is therefore interesting. It may be the origin of what can only be called the posthumous ‘mythology’ of George’s self-sacrifice — a mythology that was, however, a real comfort to those whom he left behind.

Today, 11 November 1914, the Germans launched attacks all along the Ypres front. This was in fact the climax of the First Battle of Ypres. They broke through the British line in numerous places and the situation became critical again. However, desperate counterattacks, notably at Nonnebosschen Wood, restored the front by nightfall.

Next entry: 14 November 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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