As I have said before, none of George and Kittie’s letters to each other written whilst he was at Fort Brockhurst has survived (there is an envelope addressed to her by George and postmarked Gosport 3 May, but no letter inside it). In fact no letters written by her are known from the middle of April till the middle of June 1915.
This makes it difficult to picture what Kittie was doing at this time, and one would like to.
The Belgian refugees Jean Ryckaert and Raymond Dereume were still living with the Calderons at 42 Well Walk, and we know from George’s letter to William Rothenstein of 1 January (see post) that this was quite a strain for her.
Although she had not been able to go straight to her friend Nina Astley (Corbet) after she received news on 17 April of Jim Corbet’s death on 15th, it is possible that she attended a service for him at St Bartholomew’s Church, Moreton Corbet, about now. Moreton Corbet is the ancient seat of the Corbet family (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moreton_Corbet) and St Bartholomew’s contains many superb monuments to them, including a plaque commemorating Jim (Sir Roland James Corbet). Jim’s elder brother Vincent, and their father Sir Walter Orlando Corbet, are buried in the churchyard and Kittie had attended both of their funerals.
As we know from various third persons, Kittie was constantly fighting off (unnamed) illness at this time. It must have debilitated her. One wonders whether, on top of managing the large house, refugees, and her numerous friends and George’s relations who were worried for them both, she was able to work very often as a V.A.D. nurse.
The deadly underlying stress for her was, of course, knowing that now George was in a Reserve Battalion he could be sent to a front at any time. The first news of the Gallipoli landings had hit the British newspapers on 27 April, but very little still was divulged about them. It probably did not occur to Kittie, or even George, that he might be sent there; but what was happening at Ypres now was bad enough. Kittie’s friends had tried diplomatically to steer George away from active service abroad. Her own attempts may well have ended in tears. But recall what she said in her memoirs about her ‘suggestions’ to George for work on the home front: ‘They were worth Nothing.’
Next entry: The Turkish counter-attack