Hemingway first befriended British Army soldier, Eric 'Chink' Dorman-Smith -- who later became godfather to the Hemingways' son -- in Italy in 1918.
In his book, Hemingway, Kenneth Schuyler Lynn elaborates that the meeting took place 'on the night of Armistice Day at the Officers' Club' (p. 90), and, at twenty-three, Chink had already ascended to the eminent rank of major in the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers. The trip that Hemingway recalls occurred in May 1922 when the three friends followed the trail over the Great St Bernard Pass into Italy. However, Chink's memories of events seem slightly different to the Hemingways' fond musings:
Hem developed a form of mountain sickness and Hadley had to help him on. I took both their packs. The journey became something of a nightmare, with Hem sick, Hadley worried and myself carrying two packs forward at a time and returning for the odd one. (Michael Reynolds, Hemingway the Paris Years, p. 53).
Hadley and Hemingway had already spent a good deal of the morning arguing, whilst Hadley -- wearing low-cut Oxfords -- could hardly walk by the time they reached their destination of Aosta. The three then took the train to Milan, Hemingway keen to show Hadley the places that had become familiar while he recovered from his war-wounds, and Chink returning to his military post in Germany. It is thought that Chink was the model upon which Ernest built the character of Colonel Richard Cantwell in his 1950 novel, Across the River and into the Trees.