‘We are not bamboozled’

About now George Calderon was informed by letter, or told to his face, that his ‘real status’ was ‘that of interpreter’, i.e. not ‘second lieutenant’ as he had disingenuously interpolated in Form M.T. 393, APPLICATION FOR A TEMPORARY COMMISSION IN THE REGULAR ARMY FOR THE PERIOD OF THE WAR (see my post of 6 December).

It must have been a bit of a blow to him. However, as we shall see on 17 December, it did not deter him for one moment from pressing his case. Rather, he probably relished the fact that the ‘game’ was ‘afoot’ — his wrestle with the British military machine. He had honed his skills at dealing with bureaucrats when he was in Russia 1895-97.

But in fact the military paper-men had got it wrong. As we saw (post of 20 September), in recognition of George’s military training Colonel Gordon Wilson of the Blues had made him 2nd Lieutenant when they were at Windmill Hill Camp. Similarly, there can be no doubt that the 2nd Battalion Royal Warwickshires had designated him 2nd Lieutenant ‘in the field’ at Ypres on 29 October.

The trouble, I suspect, was with the indeterminacy (flimsiness) of the rank ‘2nd Lieutenant’. When I mentioned it recently to a Falklands veteran who was interested, he simply guffawed. In 1914 it possibly conveyed the following message where George was concerned: ‘good egg, over age, toff, can’t be called plain private’.

Next entry: Total war comes closer

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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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