21 July 1915

On or about this day, Gertrude Bell, administrator of the Enquiry Department for Wounded and Missing at the London office of the Red Cross and Order of St John, received the witness statement that a volunteer in a hospital in Alexandria had taken from Sergeant-Major Allan of the 1st KOSB, who had been in B Company with George Calderon on 4 June. (See my post of 13 July.)

The VAD, Mrs Ludolf, may have sent a handwritten statement to London and the top-copy typescript that is in George’s War Office file could have been made for the WO in Bell’s office. One may assume, therefore, that Gertrude Bell had at least the manuscript and a carbon copy in her possession. But there is no sign of a copy among Kittie’s papers.

Did Bell perhaps speak to Kittie over the phone about it? Did she ask Kittie to call at the office in Arlington Street, and cautiously told her? Or did Bell decide it would be too stressful for Kittie to learn about it at this stage? It was, after all, the first reliable statement from someone who went over the top with George in the same Company, that he was probably ‘killed outright, and the body left on the open ground’, and not a prisoner as Hogan, a captain in the last Company over the top, seems to have told her.

Back in Alexandria, Percy Lubbock obviously knew now from Mrs Ludolf about the ‘real’ SM Allan’s statement and that it had been sent to Gertrude Bell. Percy actually ended his 1921 George Calderon: A Sketch from Memory with a paraphrase of it. But it is simply impossible to say at what point Kittie read it or was told its contents. As we shall see, Gertrude Bell’s letter in two days time makes no mention of it or of SM Allan.

Next entry: 22 July 1915

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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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