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If my dating of George’s letter to Riette and Dan Sturge Moore is correct, he returned home on or around Tuesday 24 November 1914.

There he met the three Belgian refugees whom Kittie had taken in after the fall of Antwerp. One was living in George’s study, another in his dressing room. ‘But that all was accepted and fell into line’, Kittie writes. The young men were lively and he greatly enjoyed talking with them, especially about the Belgian Revival, which he had become interested in whilst on a walk through the Ardennes with the Coptic scholar Walter Crum in 1910. He presumably kept his suspicions about Flemish francs tireurs and Belgian peasants’ resentment of the British presence to himself.

One of the Belgian refugees, whose name is unknown, soon got a job in England and left the Calderons’. The other two were called Raymond Dereume and Jean Ryckaert. It seems that they were bank clerks from Antwerp or Charleroi. They became extremely fond of George, Kittie, and the Pym family, and probably continued to live at 42 Well Walk until May 1915. Dereume then emigrated to America, became a successful businessman and Belgian Consul, and in 1940 invited the Pym family and Kittie to take refuge with him in Pittsburgh until the Second World War was over (they graciously declined). He also sent Kittie food parcels throughout that war.

Jean Ryckaert, May 1916.

Jean Ryckaert, May 1916.

Ryckaert appears to have returned to Belgium during or after the First World War. In addition to the above portrait, there is in the Calderon Papers a photograph of his wife bending over a cradle.

Needless to say, it was a huge relief to Kittie to have George back at home:

There followed a short blessed time. He began working hard on his military books, but the remaining picture of him at that time is sitting on a long low chair in the corner of the drawing room with his legs up — knitting, this time a wonderful white and pale blue quilt of elaborate patterns for his God-daughter Elizabeth Pym, aged a few months — talking to his friends who flocked up to see him — or at the piano.

However, the fact that George was ‘working hard on his military books’ sounds ominous and worrying for her…

Next entry: The sexiest couple in Europe

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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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