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  • Claire Jordan

A Small Dog & A Big Adventure

Paper can be hard to find with a War on. Recently, I came across a re-used sheet among a Canadian soldier’s service papers.

In the spring of 1917, a clerk had run out of papers for the soldier’s notes, and pinched a random page from someone else’s desk, I think.

On the back was the original type, mundane stuff about delivery trucks coming and going at the huge Canadian army camp at Shorncliffe, above Folkestone on the Channel coast.

But among the humdrum was this notice, which rather got to me.

“LOST. From London Train, leaving Charing Cross 7.15pm for Folkestone, Sunday 29th April 1917, an IRISH TERRIER, 14 months old, green leather collar and leather leash. Finder will be rewarded on return to Captain Newbold Jones, West Cliff Hospital.”

So Captain Jones, a physician with the Canadian Army Medical Corps, stationed at the big hospital at Shorncliffe, had lost his dog on the train back from London and was clearly very anxious to get her back.

I went looking for the good doctor and his puppy... did she fetch up ok, or did she accidentally alight at Westenhanger because she saw someone on the platform with a sausage roll when the carriage door was opened, and became overtaken by events?

When he volunteered to be a doctor for the Army in autumn 1916, 40 year old Newbold Coursolles Jones had been practising medicine for some years in Toronto.

He was married to a lady with the marvellous name Zippie Millicent, and they had a baby girl named Rebecca, not quite a year old.

He’d arrived in England just before Christmas 1916 and been posted to the West Cliff Hospital, where he’d serve for the next two years.

When he lost his dog on the train that Sunday evening, he’d only been in England for a couple of months; perhaps, missing his wife and baby, he’d decided to adopt someone furry to keep him company.

After the War, he would return to Canada and to Zippie and leave medicine after a few years to establish a successful firm of stockbrokers in Toronto; he died suddenly in 1945 of his heart attack aged 69 at their summer home with Zippie at his side.

But where was his Irish Terrier?

I’ve scoured the newspapers and Newbold’s service records, but the fate of his young dog doesn’t feature anywhere.

So, in the absence of any solid info and because it’s Christmas, I think we need to assume a happy ending to this one.

Let’s decide that the lady with the sausage roll on Westenhangar station that spring evening realised what had happened as the train pulled away, took the Irish Terrier – let’s call her Maudie - home with her, found Dr Jones’ details on Maudie’s nice green leather collar, and the next day, took Maudie (who’d had a splendid time being spoiled rotten overnight) back to West Cliff Hospital the next day where Dr Jones was overjoyed to have her back with him.

He insisted on trying to recompense Sausage Roll Lady for her trouble, so she gracefully donated her finder’s fee to the Blue Cross Society.

And let’s hope eventually Dr Jones took Maudie home to Toronto with him after the War, and Zippie and their small daughter fell in love with her immediately too.

Good-oh, glad we’ve got that sorted.

Merry Christmas to all.

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