28 July 1915

Brit. Red Cross
St Mark’s Buildings

July 20.1915

Kitty dear

One of our workers found another Sgt Major Allan, B Company, 1st K.O.S.B. in hospital here. The report that this man gave was sent to London last week, and you will have had it from Miss Bell. I can’t in the least understand from it how anyone should have been reported missing after such an action — i.e. where the ground taken was never lost again. It is where a charge has gone beyond what it finally holds, that those who drop in front cannot be got in. Otherwise all would be got in, in time. This makes me want to hear more about the nature of the action. (I think it was June 4, and that the man saw was wrong.) But there is no doubt that it was G. that the man remembered before the action. He volunteered the fact that the officer he meant had been an Interpreter in Belgium, and was elderly for a Lieut. (Our worker, Mrs Ludolf, who saw the man, told me this.) I was in Cairo when she found the man, and only heard of it when I got back three days later. I went to the hosp. to see the man myself, but found he had been sent home to England (by the hosp. ship ‘Gurkha’, I believe). You could get at his whereabouts in England by writing to the K.O.S.B. Depôt, Berwick-on-Tweed.

We have also heard of a man, said to be in hosp. at Malta, who might be able to tell more. We have cabled to Malta for him to be interviewed.

Kitty, I just write this and must leave it (eyes not good). I am with you all the time, and you know what more I say [sic]. You know many wounded are now sent straight home, without stopping here or at Malta. No doubt Miss Bell has arranged to catch these and have them questioned as to G.

Kittie received this letter from Percy Lubbock on or around this day, Wednesday 28 July 1915. Note that Percy says she should have received SM Allan’s account (see my post of 13 July) from Gertrude Bell by now. Whether he meant by the date on his letter, implying it took a week for letters to get from Alexandria to England, or by the time Kittie has received the present letter from him, we cannot tell. Either way, as I have stressed in my recent posts, there is no evidence that Bell had yet shown her SM Allan’s account as taken down by Mrs Ludolf on 13 July 1915.

The above is the complete text of Percy’s letter. It seems odd that he did not sign it. Similarly, he says that Mrs Ludolf had found ‘another’ SM Allan in hospital, but the whole point about the one he interviewed on 12 July was that his name was Allen; Percy had got the wrong sergeant-major. Moreover, Mrs Ludolf actually found SM Allan, and interviewed him, when Percy was still in Alexandria on 13 July.

When Percy says that he cannot ‘in the least understand’ from SM Allan’s account ‘how anyone should have been reported missing after such an action’ etc, it is not clear to me whether he is implying that George must therefore have been killed, or that he is on a hospital ship on his way back to Britain. If Kittie understood him to be saying the latter, she must have thought him naive, as she would certainly have heard George was on a hospital ship by now, six weeks after the Third Battle of Krithia.

Presumably the other possible witness, ‘said to be in hosp. in Malta’, is the ‘6424 Sergt. Smith’ he had cabled Gertrude Bell about, and of whom Bell had informed Kittie on 23 July (see my post of that date). As with SM Allan, there is no documentary evidence that Kittie ever met Smith when he arrived back in Britain. This is the paradoxical thing, though: perhaps the fact that she never referred to them implies that she did meet them, but was in denial about their opinions concerning George’s death.

Next entry: 29 July 1915


About Patrick Miles

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