Letter from a concerned friend

Today, Saturday 12 June, at Brinsop Court (q.v.), Constance Astley wrote Kittie a four-side letter. We do not know when Kittie received it, as Constance herself says she knows Kittie is ‘in the country now’, but not where, and therefore is sending the letter to her sister-in-law, Nina Astley (Corbet by her first marriage), Kittie’s closest friend.

Constance, neé Corbet, was equally close to Kittie and Nina when they were all young women. In particular, after the sudden death of Constance’s first husband, Sir Richard Sutton, in 1891, it was Kittie whose unpretentious religious faith saved Lady Constance Sutton from near-suicidal depression. Constance never forgot this.

Whether, as I suggested yesterday, Kittie had telephoned or written to Nina with the news that George was wounded, we do not know, but Constance was writing today without knowing that George had been wounded. She was replying to a letter from Kittie that she had left ‘so long unanswered’, but since Constance knows that George is at Gallipoli, Kittie’s letter to her could hardly have been written before 8 June 1915 (unless Kittie had heard previously on the Ox & Bucks grapevine, or from Coote Hedley, where George was).

The reason she had not replied earlier, Constance writes, is that she had spent ‘every minute of my 3 weeks at Benham [Valence]’ with her son Dick Sutton (see my post of 25 October 2014 ), who was recovering from a wound received at Ypres on 13 May 1915. His wound had ‘healed nicely’ and he seemed ‘not at all upset, but he still suffers from headaches at times’. Then she continues:

I am thinking of you so often, Kitty darling, and with such real sympathy for I know the awful state of anxiety in which you must be living — and the Dardanelles being so far away makes it worse — but how proud you must feel of George taking part in such a wonderful piece of work — I think it is perfectly splendid of him at his age, and with no previous military training, to give up everything to go and fight for his country — and splendid of you too, because I know you will have sent him without a word — except of encouragement and approval — and God knows it is harder for the rest left at home, than for those who go.

Dick Sutton had been a professional soldier with the Life Guards since 1910. His mother visited him at Windmill Camp, Salisbury Plain, for the King’s review of the 3rd Cavalry Division, and saw George there (see my post of 28 September 2014). The reason she spells Kittie with a ‘y’ is that that was the intimate ‘cat’ form (see my post of 2 November 2014).

Next entry: Action


About Patrick Miles

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