The military situation (2)

The military situation in the Calderon household had worsened, from Kittie’s point of view.

She could see that George’s wound was not fully closed, but he had managed to get down with her to Brasted and back on 29 November, exactly a month after he had been shot, and now he made it clear that he intended to ‘get back to soldiering’, as she put it, the moment he was ‘fit for anything’. ‘He felt sure his former Commission in the Field, his wound and Sir Coote Hedley [see posts of  20 and 26 August 2014] between them would this time get him over all difficulties.’

About now he completed Form M.T. 393, intended ‘for a candidate who is neither a cadet or ex-cadet of the Senior Division, Officers Training Corps, nor a member of a University’. This constituted an APPLICATION FOR APPOINTMENT TO A TEMPORARY COMMISSION IN THE REGULAR ARMY FOR THE PERIOD OF THE WAR.

A number of things must have jumped out at whoever read George Calderon’s completed form. First, there was his year of birth (see my post for 2 December). Second, box number 10, ‘Whether now serving, or previously served, in any branch of His Majesty’s Naval or Military Forces, or in the Officers Training Corps’, contained an impressive amount of information, starting with ‘3 years in Artists’ Volunteers, 2 years in Inns of Court Volunteers (1900-01)’. These years were significant, as they implied he had been patriotically responding to the shortfall of troops for the Second Boer War. Third, ‘Appointed Interpreter with Royal Horse Guards, Sept. 1914’ had a caret after the word ‘Interpreter’ and ‘(2nd Lieut.)’ was written above it.

In my experience, no detail of a Calderon text is ever fortuitous. The casual-looking parenthesis (‘afterthought’) is sure to be intentional. As Percy Lubbock wrote of George, ‘there was nothing he loved like outwitting a difficulty’ — the ‘appeal to his ingenuity’ was a ‘most characteristic enjoyment’ for him. We can be pretty sure, then, that ‘(2nd lieut.)’ is pushing out a boat. So would the recruiting officer give it a following wind?

Next entry: Chronotopia cured, or ‘a biographer…writes’


About Patrick Miles

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