Tubby’s Dogs

After the last epic blog, it’s time for a shorter simpler exploration of a facet of Toc H’s past. Hopefully an interesting one just the same as we take a peek at Tubby’s faithful canine companions over the years.

We start off with an enigma though. In his biography of Tubby, Harcourt says that Tubby’s earliest dog was one called Hephzi-Bah who, along with her Bull-Terrier friend, died by a butcher’s knife in Brighton. I find no evidence elsewhere of this and wonder where Harcourt got this gory nugget from. Perhaps Tubby himself? And if so, how much is truth and how much elaboration? If it’s one of Tubby’s woven tales, what allegory was he trying to conjure up?

We get to much firmer ground with Kemmel. Kemmel was a Collie Tubby owned in the early twenties. He was the Regimental dog at Knutsford (Hopefully got on well with Sam Pickles Bulldog) and must have moved to London with Tubby as it was later said that:

Foundation members will still remember his fine collie Kemmel who flourished exceedingly in the early 20s.

Certainly he was with Tubby at a Staff Conference in August 1927 as he is listed on the roll call.

Tubby with Smuts early 1939

Tubby with Smuts in early 1939

Next up, though I don’t know exactly when but probably in the mid-thirties, was Smuts, a black Cocker Spaniel. Once again, Tubby’s retelling of events is probably embellished. In later years he said

a much wider circle of members knew Smuts, the black spaniel who upheld on Tower Hill the reputation of his previous master, the South African General of the same name

The General in question was of course Jan Smuts, the South African statesman and military leader, who was known to Tubby. However, the dog more probably belonged to Lord Hugh Beresford, the naval aide de camp to Lord Clarendon who was Governor General of South Africa from 1931-1937. The dog was acquired in South Africa and was named for Smuts with his permission. When Beresford went to sea (Sometime after 1935 as we know he was still stationed in SA until then) he gave Smuts to Tubby. Beresford sadly was killed when his ship, HMS Kelly, was sunk during the evacuation of Crete in 1941.

Smuts was a dog with special talents. Tubby described him as the master of fifteen tricks including playing the opening three notes of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude. This trick was allegedly performed to the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret – who adored Smuts – at their parent’s house in Piccadilly. Whilst this might have some embellishment about it, we know it to be at least partly true as we have photographic evidence of Smuts performing tricks during a party for RAF personnel at 42 Trinity Square in late 1937.

Smuts at an RAF Members party at 42 Trinity Square late 1937 or early 1938

Smuts up to tricks for a party of RAF personnel at 42 Trinity Square

With the outbreak of war Tubby and others in Toc H established themselves in the Orkneys and Smuts went along too. Sadly his holiday in the country didn’t last long as in December 1939, during the blackout in Kirkwall, Smuts went under the wheels of an army lorry and was killed. Tubby was heartbroken.

However, on his next leave, he was summoned to Badminton, home of the Duke of Beaufort, where Queen Mary was living during the war and she presented him with Billy of Badminton, a beautiful brown pedigree spaniel. Billy returned to Orkney with Tubby – he appears in a photo there in August 1940 – but was looked after a lot of the time by Alison Macfie at Woodwick House. Macfie also had her own dog there, a mixed Shetland Collie bitch with the strangely masculine name of Magnus.

Aug 1940 Billy

Poor quality picture but shows Billy in the Orkneys

Billy features in the Arnold Mason sketch and oil painting of Tubby made in 1947. I don’t know when Billy died but the last evidence I have of him still being around is in photos of him lounging on the stage in September 1947 whilst the painting is presented to Tubby. Certainly two years later, in a photo of Tubby with the Winant Clayton volunteers, the dog under his arm is the much better known Chippie, a Cairn terrier.

The problem we now have is that from then until his death Tubby only had Cairn terriers and they were all called Chippie. There would be four in all but differentiating between them is tricky. What we do know is that the first of them was again given to Tubby by Queen Mary to replace Billy and was the son of Splinters of Balmoral. Queen Mary was fond of Cairns. Her husband George V had two (Snip and later Bob). Whilst her son and daughter-in-law, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor had one called Slipper who went into ‘exile’ with them. The most famous Cairn of all though is perhaps Terry, who played Toto in the Wizard of Oz. Although Queen Mary died in 1953, all future Chippies were said to have come from the royal kennels.

Holding Chippie

Whilst Queen Mary was still alive, Tubby was a frequent visitor to Marlborough House and always took Chippie – presumably Chippie Mk I – with him. It’s said that Queen Mary had her curtains covered with plastic as Chippie always liked to leave his mark.

For the next couple of decades Chippie would be an almost constant companion of Tubby when he was on Tower Hill. His sometime ADC John Burgess, says that Tubby used the dogs as a way of getting through to people, after all everyone loves a dog. Less believably Tubby said that Chippie could spell using his ears – twisting his left ear for consonants and his right ear for vowels!! If that were true and he’d gone on the stage, Toc H never would have been short of funds.

Chippie on parade

Chippie on parade

In common with all of Tubby’s ADCs of the time, one of John’s jobs was to walk Chippie in the moat of the Tower of London. The dog even had his own pass to allow him access to the Tower. John says that as soon as he arrived on a Friday night his first job was to take the terrier into the fortress. The moat has a wonderful acoustic so Chippie would bark and get the echo back and so bark again. Then they would go back to the vicarage, go upstairs, drink a bowl of water and Chippie would want to go out again.

WIth Fred Tucker Tubby ADC query

Being walked by Fred Tucker, one of Tubby’s many ADCs

Another of Tubby’s ADCs, Ray Geise, similarly recounts:

One of my first tasks on the day that I arrived in London was to go and have afternoon tea with a Brigadier Weiler, who was the Resident Governor and Major of The Tower of London, and to receive from him a Special Pass to this most historic place. The wording on this Pass, which I have kept to this day, reads as follows:

“Mr Raymond Geise has permission to exercise Dr Clayton’s dog – ‘Chippy’ – in the moat during the hours of daylight.”

Jean Harris, who lived and worked at Mark VII in Fitzroy Square remembers that when Tubby came to speak at a Guest Night he would let Chippie run amok amongst the audience barking his head off whilst Tubby would just carry on and ignore him.

Chippie 1960ish Tubby Teasing with Squeaky toy Photo Frederick Mott Evening STandard

Tubby’s nephew Tom Clayton also has a Chippie tale to tell:

on one occasion driving from York to London in a van, Chippie was standing at an open window with his head stuck out as usual. When arrived in London, no Chippie. Must have been thrown out when cornering. Had to ring Chief Superintendent at Scotland Yard to get all police on lookout for Chippie. Two anxious days then heard that a lady driving down the A1 found him and picked him up. Tubby said I never particularly wanted to get married but if I had done surely that would have been the lady I married.

As well as being Tubby’ ice-breaker, Chippie earned his keep in other ways. Mk I was used in the late forties on a fundraising postcard that was widely circulated to raise money to build Queen Mary’s Organ in All Hallows. Later Chippies also had their own money-raising postcards produced.

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Thankfully, facts are a little more forthcoming on the final Chippie – Mk IV. We know he was born in 1968 and Tubby acquired him soon after. He was a light wheaten breed bred by Mrs M. Hadden of Fyvie, Aberdeenshire. Tubby got the dog from the breeder in July 1968 (so perhaps the story of them always coming from the Royal Kennels is exaggerated?) though he never sent the transfer form off to the Kennel Club.

Tubby of course died in December 1972 and Chippie was taken by a Mrs P. R. Moore who kept him until he died in late 1980 aged 12½.

Effigy of Chippie Mk IV Christ Church Cathedral Newcastle Australia

Cecil Thomas’ effigy of Chippie Mk IV

Chippie Mk IV has been much immortalised, being the dog that Tubby had when he died in December 1972. Peter Jardine, who served as Tubby’s final ADC and dog-walker, worked with the sculptor Cecil Thomas, creating the life-size effigy of Tubby that lies recumbent in All Hallows. At Tubby’s feet is a likeness of Chippie. The memorial was unveiled by Cuthbert Bardsley, Bishop of Coventry on the 11th December 1976 – on the eve of what would have been Tubby’s 91st birthday.

In 1985 Jardine presented Geelong Grammar school in Australia, where he taught for 33 years, with a replica of the Chippie sculpture. He presented further replicas to the town of Maryborough, Australia (Where Tubby was born), in May 1998; the city of Dunedin, New Zealand where Cecil Thomas’ last sculpture (Learning To Fly) stands in March 1999; and Adelaide to mark the 75th anniversary of Toc H Southern Australia in 2000.

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Interestingly, the plaque on the side of the Maryborough memorial says Chippie Mk I was given to replace ‘Bill of Badinton’ [sic], ‘who was accidentally killed’. I think this must be getting things mixed up with Smuts as, as far as I’m aware, Billy died a natural death unlike his predecessor.

In November 2002 another replica was unveiled in Christchurch Cathedral, Newcastle, Australia by Ray Geise. Here the information of the plaque has got even more twisted, like some weird Chinese whisper, to read ‘Chippie Mk I was a gift from Queen Mary, Consort to King George V, after Tubby’s dog , Bill of Badinton was accidentally killed by Field Marshall Smut`s A.D.C.’ Quite a mash-up of the facts there.

More recently, Chippie has appeared on the mural by Akos Juhasz painted on the wall of the Colonial and Military Museum in Maryborough.

Maryborough Mural

And so, Chippie lies recumbent in different places around the world as a reminder, not only of his own existence, but of all those before him who were Tubby’s dogs!

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Acknowledgements

Jeff Sedley

Ray Geise

Peter Russell

John Burgess

An Impudent Dreamer – Harcourt

The Journal and Point 3

 

 

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