O U T O F S T E P :
Events in the Two Lives of an Anti-Jewish Camel-Doctor.
ARNOLD SPENCER LEESE, M.R.C.V.S.
ARNOLD SPENCER LEESE, M.R.C.V.S.
This autobiographical effort is in two parts: the first deals with my experiences until I retired from the Veterinary Profession in 1928; the second, with events in the political pioneering career that I carried on after that year by opposing the secret Jewish Power. It was not until 1946 that I thought seriously of publishing it. On reading one of the numerous "smearing" articles about myself in the political columns of newspapers, I learned that my career, "told in full, would read like an Oppenheim thriller", and then it struck me that although there was much doubt as to whether it was as bad as all that, there were possibly some rather unusual events in it which might interest the small proportion of the public that reads.
For political reasons I have not mentioned in this book the names of most of my friends; and I hope my readers will not, therefore, attribute the fact that the word "I" too frequently occurs in the text to any want of modesty on my part; a man who has been in prison, with or without trial, for well over four years isn't likely to overestimate his own importance! I think that there will be many lovers of animals, veterinary surgeons amongst them, who may find something new to them, particularly in the first ten Chapters; whilst anyone concerned with political realism can learn a little from the experiences related in the second part of the book, since those experiences are rather unique. This, however, is neither a veterinary textbook nor a political treatise; it is simply an account of some of the things that happened to Your Humble Servant,
I thank the Editor of Wide World Magazine for permission to use my article Bill of the Desert; and for kindly supplying the block for the photograph reproduced on Plate III (1).
The Root of the Trouble.
Surely, everyone who attempts to write an autobiography should give his readers an adequate ancestral background against which to judge him.
Heredity always seemed to me to be a far more important factor in the basic character-formation of the individual than mere environment; it is one's forebears who hand down instinct, and what is instinct but hereditary memory born of fundamental experiences of past generations?
I have been able, thanks to the collaboration of many distant relations, to trace my ancestry through many generations. But, of the Leese family itself, I have no knowledge beyond that of a great-grandfather, Joseph Leese, of Richmond Hill, Bowdon, whose dates were 1783 to 1861: he married the daughter of a John Harrison, of Burton, and had a considerable family of which my grandfather, Joseph, was the youngest and the only son. I knew my grandfather when I was a boy and stood in great awe of him, although he was kindness itself: the rather formal interviews which I had with him seldom ended without a silver coin being passed by him into one of my pockets and no doubt my shy reaction amused him a lot. He had a grand head out of which many improvements in machinery for cotton-mills had developed, and he had owned mills in Preston. He was a Liberal in politics, but a Liberal of very different calibre to that of the ones I see when I look around me now. He married the daughter of "Honest John Scurr", a Brazil merchant, and well I remember this gentle old lady who never could do enough for her grandchildren. My father, Spencer Leese, was the eldest son of their numerous family.
The Leese family runs to a type which evidently has a strong prepotency: both sexes are generally tall, fair, blue-eyed, with heads broader than the typical Nordic average: any Mediterranean mixture by marriage soon seems to lose any trace; the general run of the family is of good intelligence with a strong sporting trend.
The Scurr family derived from one of William the Conqueror's Knights who was given Beeston Castle, near Morley, Leeds; that is the only claim I have on the aristocracy! But I am perhaps unreasonably proud of being distantly connected to RICHARD OASTLER (1789-1861), the Factory King, the man who did the pioneering and rough street work in stopping the atrocious conditions under which child labour was then employed in the northern mills, a cause in which the Parliamentary activity was done by the Earl of Shaftesbury; Oastler's political enemies silenced him for a time by foreclosing on him for debt, and he was imprisoned in the Fleet for over three years; then his friends bought him out, and his return to Bradford was in the van of a procession a mile long. After his death, a bronze statue was erected in that town, with the simple inscription "Oastler", in which he is portrayed with two ragged children at his feet. Oastler was the grandson of the brother of my great-great-grandfather, Robert Scurr. I hope I may be excused for boasting such a slender relationship to so grand a man. Mr. Cecil Driver wrote a very fine biography of Oastler, naming it Tory Radical (Oxford University Press, New York, 1946).
My mother was daughter of Charles Hudson, Coroner of Stockport, and of a sound Unitarian stock of Lancashire and Cheshire. In the Unitarian community, I always found a high standard of citizenship and sense of public duty.
My uncle, Joseph Leese, was made a Baronet, having been Recorder of Manchester and Member of Parliament (Liberal) for Accrington; he and his brother, Ernest, played as amateurs in the Lancashire County Cricket Team and two of his sons were captains of the Winchester School cricket team. His grandson was Sir Oliver Leese, veteran of two world wars.
A Slow Starter.
My father was an artist, but he had a modest independent income on which he reared a large family. As a young man, he was of immense muscular strength and I still possess copies of photographs of him "in the raw", the most striking of which is a back view showing a physique of broad sloping shoulders and narrow waist which reminds me of nothing so much as a section of the Cantilever Bridge across the Firth of Forth. He could lift, with one hand, a dumb-bell weighing 160 lbs. and raise it at arm's length above his head. I remember how, when the family removed from Southport after his death, my mother gave this relic away to a local circus. I never could lift the thing even off the floor with one hand; it just forced my fingers open if I tried. On several occasions, my father had accepted challenges by professional weight-lifters, and had beaten them, with lucky results for local hospitals. But with all this strength, of which I seldom really was forced to feel the weight myself, he was of the most gentle disposition and a good family man. In his early married life, he took a keen interest in horses and his honeymoon was spent in the Lakes where he drove his own very smart four-in-hand. Later, he owned the well-known harness cob Rattler which won many prizes at shows all over the country. But these horsey days were all before my time, as I was a late arrival in a very large family.
My mother was a very beautiful woman, a fact which I usually have to keep to myself, otherwise people are apt to crack the old joke, leaning forward, looking interestedly into my face to say: "Then it was your father who was not good-looking?" Her life was devoted entirely to the family and she taught us all to be civilised. Her eyes were blue and her hair was dark. I don't think any of us really knew what we owed to her until after she was dead. My parents lived in several places in the north, and before I was born there were already one son and five daughters. My eldest brother, Joe, was not a typical Leese; he was a strange mixture of scientist and musician and, as he was 13 years older than I was, we were never of much use to one another. Later in life, I found him so different in temperament and outlook to myself, that I decided the best policy to avoid a quarrel was to avoid him, which I did; and thank God, we never did quarrel. After him, every year or two there came a sister, until five had appeared on the scene. Being thus so close together in age, they tended not to look outside the family for companionship and I believe they were very happy together. Then came a gap of four years and, at Lytham, in Lancashire, I was born in 1878. Four years later, we moved to Southport, where my early youth was spent. I was, perhaps, a lonely child and it is not an ideal condition for a small boy to have a large number of elder sisters and to be separated by more than four years from the youngest of them. I grew up in a very sheltered atmosphere, rather spoiled, selfish and with few attractive qualities as I can see them now! Remembering what I was myself as a child, I have never really been very fond of children ever since! I suppose I must have had redeeming features or all the others would not have always been so kind to me; but the only one I can recognise at this distance was a great and sympathetic love of animals which has been my joy throughout life. My first canine love was Gyp, a large white terrier and we grew up together. He wasn't really my dog, but my brother's: what Gyp didn't know about life in general wasn't really worth knowing; a wise dog, with a temper like an angel, and when his time came (a shattered leg) I knew tragedy. It has always been like that with me when my dogs have died.
I was sent first to a dame school, where I kicked a girl on the ankle and was "kept in" for an hour, bellowing the whole time: later to a boys' day-school which bored me stiff. Finally, I was sent to Giggleswick School, Settle, Yorkshire, in which I spent five years receiving an apology for an education, but at least losing some of the worst effects of a too sheltered life at home. My father died just before my last term, and the family fortunes declined with a bang. I remember quite well how, even in these early days, I felt that my time at this school was really being wasted and that I was growing up in an atmosphere remote from the realities of ordinary existence. I felt acutely my own want of experience, but had not then the initiative to take matters into my own hands.
My mother had to do the best she could; I was, myself, very slow to mature. It was unusual for a lad not to know the facts of life at the age of fifteen; I was a very innocent lad. Thinking it all for the best, she had me articled to a chartered accountant where I spent nearly three rather miserable years in the City. Then I woke up, decided that the totting up of the profits of others was not for me and, with the help of my dear old grandfather, overcame my mother's doubts and went into the Royal Veterinary College, Camden Town, to live my life with my beloved animals. I got scholarships three years out of the four, lifted thirteen first medals and spent my vacation with practising veterinary surgeons first as pupil, then as "improver" and, after that, as assistant. I had found my vocation, but had wasted three years. Well, perhaps they were not altogether to be written off as a loss; at least I got a fine training in two things: firstly, in sticking out a monotonous job; secondly, rapid and accurate casting up of figures. Both these, especially the first, have been of great use to me in after-life. To think that I once passed the Intermediate Examination for Chartered Accountants with Honours!
Whilst I was at the accountants' office (Messrs. Craggs, Turketine & Co.), my mother and the rest of the family were without a permanent home and I went to live as paying guest with Mr. W. H. King, in Hampstead; he was an ex-Public Works engineer pensioned from India and he was a fine man for me to be with in those days. There I met my ultimate fate in his youngest daughter, May Winifred, but she was only 12 years' old then! I think the only exciting experience I had in the City was when I got inside the police cordon during the great fire at London Wall; but great fires in London have since become common-place.
About this time, I became aware of the fact that I had been suffering from astigmatism (with short sight) for many years. It is impossible now to make any estimate of the extent of this handicap; it meant that I had gone about without seeing a number of things which were within the range of normal sight, but beyond mine. However, I have much to thank my parents for in possessing a healthy body and an active brain. I had grown up well fed and had never known real hardship, and during my holidays had covered a large area of England and Wales; but I still felt that I had been sheltered too much and that I knew my country a great deal better than I knew my countrymen. However, from the time I began to go out "to see practice" in my vacations at the Veterinary College, I made up for lost time in that respect, because veterinary practice involves the treatment of owners as well as their animals! I always selected country practitioners with whom to serve, so as to obtain as much contact as possible with farm practice, and had many rough experiences which included concussion of the brain following a fall from a horse, with total obliteration from memory of about four days of my life. I also had the interesting experience of veterinary work with coal-pit ponies when I did "locum tenens" for a veterinary surgeon at Seaham Harbour; I used to descend the Seaham and Silksworth pits daily; each pit contained 400 ponies. They were, of course, shod cold, and there were more injuries than sickness.
I had a younger brother, John Scurr Leese, born ten years later than myself with no other children in between, my parents having increased the population over a period covering twenty-five years! He, of course, was even more isolated from the others than I had been; he grew up a typical Leese, broke the high-jump record at his school and vanished for ever at Krithia, Gallipoli, where he was serving in the first World War as a private in the 6th Manchesters. When I look back, I realise that I hardly knew him: circumstances and difference in age prevented it.
When I was a small boy I had made a bet with my sister, Nora, that I would neither drink nor smoke until I was of age: on my 21st birthday I claimed the sum and was duly paid. These so-called abstemious habits were retained throughout my life; during adolescence 1 was free from a drain on scanty pocket-money for one thing and I grew up with sound heart and lungs, and never missed a single Rugby Football match when at the Veterinary College, always being able to play as hard in the last five minutes as I did in the first. During these early days, I was quite unconscious of any feeling that I was missing anything by abstention; I abstained because I could not see why I should drug myself just because other people did, and I did not make a virtue of it; if I had, at any time of my life, seen any tangible advantage in mild indulgence both in tobacco or alcoholic "refreshment", I would have resorted to these things; but to this day I have never been able to discover that anyone was ever a whit happier or better for them, and, to put it bluntly, I think both habits are just "damned silly" where ordinary healthy men and women are concerned. I don't think I could ever have really afforded them, as I had to make my own way from the time I was able to write the letters M.R.C.V.S. after my name. What I have often resented were gratuitous hints from the drugged that I must not consider myself morally superior to them because I was a non-smoker and an abstainer, because I never did, at least on that account! I wasn't morally superior, at all; I was just undrugged. I represented the normal; they represented the abnormal, and whose fault was that? Surely, not mine? That is how it seemed to me. To them, I was abnormal and they were normal! I think history records that England was at its best when it knew nothing of tobacco . . . and had no Jews. Whilst I am on this subject, I will finish with it. If I had my time to come over again, I would still leave both drugs alone. The only disadvantage in so doing is that one has sometimes to face impudent remarks from strangers who hint that if you neither drink nor smoke, you must have some horrible hidden vice. This is hard to bear, and I found that the best way of dealing with the nuisance was not to attempt to hide my resentment. In India, I was told I would be dead in three months if I didn't drink: what rubbish! My six years spent in that country were more filled with real physical hardship, I think, than any other European there had to endure, and I came away better in health than when I arrived! I belong to no society of any kind for reform in the matter of drink or smoking: let everyone decide for himself as he thinks best on the subjects, but I think that the bovine complacency with which John Bull allowed himself to be reduced to a second-class Power by engaging in a wholly unnecessary war in 1939 is partly explicable by these drug habits, which I think are superlatively silly.
Into the Hard Cold World.
The two assistants took on the night-work on alternate nights, and there was plenty of it, too. Those were the days when people drove to theatres in broughams and on cold nights horses would catch colds waiting for their owners to emerge from places of entertainment. I had a telephone just over my bed, and seldom it was when it did not ring at least once on my duty nights. But I kept a spirit lamp and kettle ready, and could always make myself tea whilst dressing to go out to a case. When the off-duty nights came, I could leave work at 5 p.m. which enabled me, living as I did just off Berkeley Square, to see everything worth seeing that was going on in London.
I often wonder how the modern veterinary student can ever become a good horse clinician in the absence of the huge equine population that gave us of the old school such experience. A good equine practitioner was rather like a specialised Sherlock Holmes, who could take in all sorts of observations whilst hardly knowing he did it, and come swiftly to a correct diagnosis or prognosis. It was always the clinical work that interested me more than the scientific side; I liked to be with the animals and to study them so that no detail escaped me: veterinary patients seldom tell lies, but it takes close detective training to appreciate fully and quickly the meaning of their various signals of distress. I believe I was a good horse clinician; I was also strong on what I called "acrobatic surgery", which consisted of performing some slight surgical operation and springing out of reach before the animal had time to realise that anything had been done to him. I was only caught twice in my whole life: once when a horse kicked me just above the knee and once when a cow nearly tore my ear off with a hind foot. I always liked practice with dogs and cats, chiefly because I loved the animals themselves. Nowadays, a practice like Batt's then was, is simply unknown anywhere: so much have times changed!
After nearly a year of this, I was offered a much better job in the East End of London, managing a practice for a deceased veterinary surgeon's executors in West Ham, with a branch at Chingford, in Essex. This was worked with two horses and the long journey of seven miles between the two practices had to he done without any payment from clients. I was there for three years: there was a lot of night work, because I used to be night-man for many of Tillings' horses worked by Oil Companies at the East India docks. I remember how I used to cross Plaistow marsh in my trap at night with a twitch-stick handy at my side, for policemen went about in pairs in these parts. One of my ponies had been imported as a polo pony, but would not play; it was a grey mare and her peculiarity was a form of jibbing which as liable to take place if she was suddenly pulled up sharp for any cause, as behind waiting traffic at a crossroads. On these occasions, the pony would lose all control, backing for a number of yards, then rearing up and even coming over backwards which, of course, always smashed a shaft. After one or two such hair-raising adventures, I developed such tact in quietly pulling up behind traffic that she never gave me any more trouble; but I used to go away once a year for a Holiday and whenever I came back, I found the "locum" had had one of these shaft-smashing experiences in spite of my warnings. Another thing which upset this pony and started a jibbing exhibition was my holding a conversation with some patient's owner by the side of the trap just before jumping in to drive off so I developed a system which cut all that out. Although this jibbing was a "vice" in the horsey sense of the word, I am convinced that it was nothing but "nerves", a habit probably formed as the result of fright or ill-treatment when being broken in. Anyhow, tact eliminated it. The pony was so valuable in other ways that an occasional. new shaft was a detail: you could not tire her, even with thirty-five miles, and in Walthamstow and Leyton, when coming back from Chingford, we often overtook and passed the electric trams of that day, and we must have been a remarkable sight "going hell for leather", with the trap full of dog-patients for our infirmary at West Ham.
In the East End of London, the chief event of life in some classes of the inhabitants seemed, to use an Irishism, to be one's funeral. Big Flemish black horses were imported for use in these: they came in as three-year-olds and went straight to their work at that age; they could stand it, because, of course, they never really did any hard work at all. Sometimes I had to examine these new purchases as to soundness and the only way to test their wind was to drive them up a long hill in a hearse! These animals are very soft-hearted in sickness; the same remark applies to the popular Percheron horse; these continental horses definitely have a different sort of courage as compared with our native breeds. As an equine clinician. I found this interesting; I do not understand why it should be, but I know that when I am dealing with a Flemish horse or a Percheron, I can discount certain signals of distress which would be sinister signs in a Shire. For instance, after a bout of colic, the foreign horses will anticipate another attack by betraying certain symptoms of pain when no pain exists and no further attack is coming, moreover. The equine practitioner can always tell these cases by a brief examination of the pulse. The English horse goes back to the manger soon after the pain leaves him, nuzzling about for food.
In those days, London used to have frightful dense yellow fogs in the winter. I well remember finding myself driving up the West Ham Free Library steps in one of these. Another time I was called out in a particularly dense fog to a horse which had fallen, waggon and all, into a tidal dyke in the West Ham Gas Works: his head was just above water and the tide was coming in. Quickly we lit flares on the banks of the dyke, so that we could see; the animal was freed of its harness in the icy cold water; a rope was passed in a fixed loop over the head so that the knot was under the jaw; two quiet horses were used for traction on this and out of the water and up the bank came our patient, still on his side and with his legs sticking out stiffly as though frozen. Brisk massage, a good dose of rum, and the usual manipulation of the body in such cases, got the animal to his feet and he was slowly walked home with three men on each side to keep him on his legs. He made a quick recovery . . . but probably would not have done if his value had exceeded ten pounds!
I then decided that the motor-car would oust the horse within my professional life-time and that the prospects in horse-practice were not good enough for a man who had a competence to make. I had about £400 saved and I determined to take a post-graduate course at the Veterinary College to make myself quite up-to-date on the scientific side of the work. This took two months and then I obtained a post in the Indian Civil Veterinary Department. Prior to sailing, I had about six weeks to put in, which I did as manager of the Brown Animal Institute, where the sick animals of the poor were treated free and which was situated just south of the Thames, near Vauxhall.
I had brought away from West Ham a bull-terrier pup named Bill; he was destined to be my closest companion for several strange years and deserves a chapter to himself.
Bill of the Desert.
Reprinted from "The Wide Wide World", February 1949,
by kind permission.
He grew into a formidable, but sweet-tempered dog, active and strong, with plenty of bone, well furnished with muscle. As from the first he lived with me day and night, he became—well, just what a dog of that sort naturally becomes to a man who had yet no other love.
The first year of his life was realty uneventful, except that when we moved from West Ham to Vauxhall, he broke out next morning and disappeared. He came back in the evening; but we found he had actually been as far as Waterloo Bridge, all through a busy part of London entirely strange to him, so it was clear that he wasn't a dog that would easily get lost!
After two months of Vauxhall, I went out East to investigate camel diseases for the Indian Government and, of course, Bill came, too. We went out in the hot weather, an unusual season in which to send newcomers out to India and our ship was almost empty of passengers. Bill travelled in a special kennel on the poop, and the Captain allowed me to exercise him on the well-deck. Bill was keenly interested in the North African coast and was never sea-sick, even when the Monsoon, in the Indian Ocean, sent spray and even at times a wave over his kennel. In the Red Sea, we had the uncommon sea-experience of a flight of locusts over the ship, and their pink bodies hopping about the deck were a source of great excitement to Bill, who killed and ate a large number.
There followed a punishing train journey from Bombay to Lahore in June, and then I was sent straight up into the hills for a preliminary study. On my arrival in the Himalayas, and knowing nothing of the ways of natives, I got a sweeper to wash Bill clean after the stifling days of dirty travel by rail and road through the mid-summer hell of the Indian plains. The man did that all right but left him in the sun and cold wind to dry. The result was that Bill went down with rheumatic fever. I and a fellow-veterinary friend worked night and day for ten days on a patient who could not move without a squeal of agony and who could do nothing for himself. Somehow, we got him through, but it was a very weak bull-terrier that went down to the plains with me and then back into the hills to the Veterinary Research Laboratories, 7,500 feet up in the Himalayas.
Here I was calmly informed that dogs were not allowed it our living quarters to which I replied, with some heat, that I had not come from civilisation to mid-Asia to be separated from my dog, and the matter dropped.
Soon after, I got carte blanche to get on with my job, so down we went into the plains, which we rarely left again. My work was field research in the most empty parts of North-West India and had to get particularly busy at the worst season of the year, when luckier men could go into the hills. We travelled almost constantly my mounts being horse or camel according to the nature of jungle or desert through which we were passing. Bill, now in vigorous health, travelled on his sturdy limbs, accompanying the baggage camels that move at 2½ miles per hour. When possible, to avoid the heat, we moved at night and in the early morning. It was hard life with brief intervals of comparative comfort when we reached a rest-house.
Bill and I suffered about equally from the dry heat, but it was he who rushed out into the first downpour of the Monsoon racing and splashing through the puddles uttering squeaks of joy in the sensation of being cool at last.
Bill's travelling life was full of incident. One nuisance was experienced in the habits of pariah dogs. These ownerless curs, of all sizes, have regular beats like policemen in the villages they infest. No stranger dog can encroach upon another pariah's beat, which usually provides offal for the bare existence of one dog only. If a stranger dog is sighted, the pariahs of a village unite to liquidate him. Thus, when Bill, rolling along by the side of the baggage-camels, with tongue lolling, approached a village, one might see converging upon him a number of streaks of dust, indicating the rapid advent and onslaught of the pariahs of the place. Bill hardy ever started a fight, but was good at finishing one. Not for Bill the tactics of the pariah and the wolf—slash and break away! Singling out the most formidable opponent, he took hold and stayed where he held, using his weight as perhaps his mother had taught him.
His tactics defeated dogs twice his size, like the big Pathan sheep-dogs of the North-West Frontier. It was the foot of his opponent to which he attached himself as soon as he could. Then he would worry and pull away with his compact weight so that his antagonist could never close with him. It was wicked to see, but it is passing strange how he learned this trick; did he discover it by accident, or did he think it out? Occasionally, when he had a number of opponents, he got badly gashed, and I was always on my guard for the first signs of Rabies which happily never arrived.
Sometimes, when we crossed rivers, I would take Bill up on the saddle with me, but more often he swam them himself alter we had crossed.
Bill was a fearless, but tactful guard. The presence of Bill in my tent allowed me to sleep soundly in lonely places along the North-West Frontier which he and I travelled from Shabkadar to Dera Ghazi Khan.
Once he was lost in the desert. I had gone ahead on a riding-camel and arrived at a well (our destination) several hours before the baggage-camels with which were my servants in charge of Bill. My bearer, greatly agitated, reported that Bill had disappeared ten miles back where there was thick scrub in the desert: "chasing a pig," he said. It looked black for Bill. Fortunately, I had a good map; after considering the position, I found there were two other wells within twenty miles from the approximate place where Bill had gone off. With a sinking heart, but somehow banking on the dog's intelligence and instinct in making for water, I sent a camel-man to each of those wells with instructions to wait all night and start back at 9 a.m. to report. In those parts, a dog lost for 24 hours is a dog lost for ever. But, sure enough, next day one of the men returned leading his camel with one hand, and a weary, hungry Bill with the other. Somehow, he had found his way to the water. Ours was a rapturous meeting.
Bill's relations with camels were always friendly, though sometimes wanting in delicacy. On rare occasions, at the eastern end of our immense "beat", he met with elephants; unfamiliarity with these monsters made him aggressive and noisy, so, as he was quite without fear, it was considered a wise prophylactic measure to remove him as early as possible from their vicinity.
My bearer had a monkey; a quaint fellow who would jump from any reasonable height, say, the top of a bungalow, into my arms where he liked to sit, peering expectantly, from time to time, up my nostrils. Sometimes, after I had been cooling myself in the bath-tub, the monkey would take my place, swimming round and round under water and coming up occasionally to breathe. When he came out, with his hair plastered down over his skull, he reminded me irresistably of a certain old acquaintance called—well, never mind! After the first tactful introduction, Bill accepted the monkey as "one of us"; he treated it as he would a human child, which he probably thought it was. He liked to feel the busy investigating fingers in his coat, and only mildly remonstrated when they pressed open his eyelids when he wanted to sleep.
In that half-wild life, even Bill's dinner wasn't always safe. Once he was discussing a bone in front of the tent, but had not observed the presence of two crows in a tree close by. One of these alighted a yard in front of Bill's nose, inviting inevitable attack, which Bill at once jumped forward to make, dropping his bone. In a flash, Crow No. 2 swooped on the bone, and the two cunning villains went off to share it together. One could not help admiring them for their sporting co-operation, so exquisitely timed.
Mahomedans are taught by their religion to regard dogs as unclean animals. However, my chief Veterinary Assistant, Ata Mahomed, a devout Mussalman and a kindly and observant lover of animals, saw something in Bill that wasn't written in the Koran. He loved him and would sometimes squat on the verandah with his arm round him, talking to him.
After about two years of this sort of life, I woke up one night with a start, feeling something was wrong. It was. Bill was not on the bed. I lit the lantern and found him under the bed, hardly conscious; he died five minutes later. I expect it was valvular trouble, a legacy of the rheumatic fever. He took a bit of me with him, I think. It was Ata Mahomed who arranged his burial, and even photographed it for me to see afterwards; it was Ata Mahomed who had a grave dug which was so engineered with stones that the most clever jackal could never penetrate it. There we left Bill of the Desert with a stone to mark the place—"for ever England"—where his bones certainly still lie.
And I went on, alone.
Six Years of India.
Then I was sent to Kathgodam, at the foot of the hills below Naini Tal, to study Surra which affected the tonga (fast horse transport) service between the two places named. This was in early October and I was not long in making my first discovery of importance. It was known that the big horse-flies called Tabanus were capable of transmitting the disease from one animal to another, and part of my job was to make a fly-survey of the road. The instructions I had been given were that the disease was spread only at one season of the year, namely October to December. I soon found, however, that any ponies infected with Surra at this time had been ill for weeks and even months and that no fresh cases were now appearing; I found, too, that Tabanus was conspicuous by its absence, whilst the other common biting-fly, Stomoxys, which was also under suspicion, was still very prevalent. My conclusion was that I was starting work too late in the season, and I reported to my seniors that f thought it would be found that it was in July, August and September that the disease was spread, and that investigation would probably show that this season, not the later one, would coincide with the presence of large numbers of Tabanus flies. This was later proved to be the case and, of course, revolutionised the whole of the routine preventive measures. I also showed that in spite of its prevalence, the biting-fly, Stomoxys, had not apparently been able to maintain the plague beyond the Tabanus season which was much the shorter.
After a brief stay in the Muktesar Imperial Laboratory, magnificently situated 7,500 feet above sea-level right opposite the first great wall formed by the mass of the Himalayan mountains, I left for the Punjab plains to work at first with the eight Silledar Camel Corps which were distributed all over the province. Whilst working there in the jungle I got my first bout of malaria. My experience with this complaint was short and swift: I took 30 grains of Quinine immediately, and continued until I deafened myself with the drug; then I stopped. It is a fact that from that day to this I never had another attack of malarial fever, in spite of unavoidable and frequent exposure to the Anopheles mosquito during the next eight years. Whether the malarial organism is particularly vulnerable to Quinine at its very first onset, I do not know, but it certainly seems like it.
I spent the cold weather getting all the experience I could with my strange new patients and decided that my most active days would have to be between the months of June and October, just when the plains were most unbearable; the reason was that Surra spreads only during that season in most parts of the Indian camel-country, although the sick animals may carry the disease from one season to the next, thus acting as reservoirs for the Tabanus to tap at the beginning of its season. This was not altogether a pleasant prospect, and was complicated by the fact that most camels go far into the desert at that season and are all the more difficult to get at. But my teeth were in the job, and I was immensely interested.
Postmortem work on camels which had died from unrecognised causes was, of course, a fruitful source of information, but there were great practical difficulties to be overcome, and sometimes when an outbreak of some camel-disease had occurred, I would travel even hundreds of miles (by rail and in the saddle) to arrive at the scene before the fierce sun had made conditions impossible. Often, after we had finished an autopsy, we would look round to find seemingly the whole population of North-West India's vultures in a circle of which we were the centre, waiting on the ground for us to leave the carcase to them. When they got to work, one could not see the carcase for vultures and often in the midst of them, tearing away at the meat for dear life, would be a number of pariah dogs; neither vulture nor dog seemed to have any animosity towards one another. Sometimes, rather than lose a chance of discovering something by a postmortem, we would tackle it far from a water-supply and that was grisly work.
It was often necessary to examine the blood of as many as a hundred camels at a sitting under the most appalling conditions; the blood was easily obtained by squeezing a drop out of a very slight nick in the ear of the animal on to a slide. The microscope had, sometimes, to be on the ground and I am surprised that no great injury appears to have resulted to my eyesight in this trying work in the blinding glare of an Indian sun.
I soon took a dislike to the social conventions which ruled station life in India, but as all my work was in the jungle and desert, I rarely stayed more than a couple of nights in a city, staying just long enough to take in a fresh stock of stores for another long trip in the "out back". Travelling was by horse or camel, and I soon reduced my baggage to a minimum which surprised some of the other officers I met on tour. I had two assistants, graduates of the Lahore Veterinary College: one of these was a Mahommedan, Ata Mahommed, the other a Sikh, Kahan Singh; they were splendid workers, with their hearts in the business at hand. Ata Mahommed, particularly, was a most determined character who resolutely refused to let our difficulties beat us. I was lucky also in my servant, a Mahommedan who stuck to me throughout my six years in the country; and he certainly saw a great deal of it during the time. I was very happy in my relations with my superior officer, the Inspector-General of the Civil Veterinary Department, and I had the advantage of being an Imperial and not a Provincial official. Colonel Pease (for that was his name) never said "No" to me once he was satisfied that I meant business: I used to propose to him what I thought the next step should be and he would just say "Carry on". This was lucky, as I have always been impatient of discipline. It is often said that unless you can stand discipline yourself, you can't discipline others; I do not believe a word of it! I am not speaking of army and navy service, of course, but I am sure it is not true in the rough life of the pioneer.
I arranged that the next Surra season should be spent in a known zone of the disease and that the principal work should be done with the use of ponies; ultimately the road from Saharanpur to Dehra Dun was chosen and I secured the use of a forest bungalow at Mohand, just where the highway entered the Siwalik hills. This place was known to be pretty certain death for tongs-ponies at that season. I arrived some time before the monsoon would bring out the flies, partly so that I could make a proper comparison between the fly conditions in the dry heat and those in the damp, but partly so that I could buy some ponies, build a stable and prepare mosquito nets on a large scale to protect certain of the ponies. We took several camels with us, which had chronic Surra; this to make sure that a source of infection would be present; and we had a number of white rats and white mice on which to investigate the various kinds of biting-flies' transmitting powers. As the place was very malarial, being surrounded by thick jungle full of all sorts of wild beasts, including elephant and tiger, I arranged a bamboo cubicle which, when covered with mosquito netting, enabled me to have my meals and evenings in peace. I did no shooting: I dislike killing animals except for food, and my business there was to do work. I used to keep fit by long walks with my bull-terrier companion.
To cut a long story short, we proved that ponies protected through the whole Surra season by mosquito netting, yet otherwise in close contact with Surra-infected animals, remained free from the disease, whilst all the unprotected ponies contracted it. We also obtained a lot of information as to the relative capacity of the different genera of biting-flies to transmit Surra from one animal to another.
Armed with this definite knowledge, I returned to the Punjab to spend the next five years entirely on camel problems. It was a hard life, but I had a free hand, travelled widely all over North-West India, because it is the relative weakness of the monsoon rains in that area which makes it possible for an animal like the camel to exist there as a servant to man. I ranged over the North-West Frontier, Sind, Baluchistan, Bahawalpur, Bikanir and all the Punjab, and I had friendly arrangements with all the Camel Corps Commanders who notified me by telegram of anything that happened within their ken which they considered might yield information with investigation.
Everything pertaining to the proper management of the camel, his breeding and feeding, down to the identity and seasonal value of the bushes he grazed upon, was my business. In the first few Surra seasons, I was travelling light through the monsoon in the steaming plains when men who considered themselves luckier were recuperating in the hills. I had to cover as much ground as possible so as to detect the different areas which were reasonably safe from Tabanus so that Camel Corps men could use them for grazing their animals in the Surra season. This work took me very far afield and there are few of the desert areas in North India that I am not familiar with. But whilst doing this work and everything else which cropped up, I noticed that the areas most infested with this fly were characterised by the presence or predominance of certain species of vegetation, which seemed to require for their development the same conditions of heat and moisture as the fly. This enabled me to use winter months in which to detect the worst Surra zones: this was done by checking up the grazing bushes, trees and plants which associated themselves with Tabanus country; one could thus detect in the winter season an area which, in the rains, would be a Surra zone. Meanwhile, the practicability of specific curative treatment of camels with trypanosomiasis had to be investigated and this work required some sort of headquarters. I established the centre first at Sohawa, just north of the Salt Range, in the Punjab; it was not a Surra zone; it was on the railway and Grand Trunk Road. and so was handy for communications and a sufficiency of camel-grazing was available. But for several years we could not get the Government to build suitable quarters for this centre and I had to live in tents until, at last, they did. It was known at this time that certain arsenical drugs were capable of banishing the trypanosomes from the blood of animals, although after a few days' absence they would return: in some species of animal there had been occasional cures. With such drugs as were then available, it was almost a case of finding out how much and by what method the trypanosome could be finally killed without damaging the animal patient.
This monotonous work, however, was tackled and in 1910, by a fairly long treatment, we had 50 per cent. cured by certain treatments; similar results were being obtained in Egypt. These treatments were gradually improved upon until by some methods majority cures could be obtained, and after I left India the methods were developed until one could rely on a 90 per cent. cure. Meanwhile, in the laboratories of Europe, organic area compounds were being investigated and ultimately one was found, called "Naganol", which, in suitable dose, will give 100 per cent. cures of uncomplicated cases in the camel. The whole problem of Surra in the camel has been revolutionised by means of this easy and certain cure. In the early days of my work at Sohawa, there was no recognised length of time after treatment at which an animal could be pronounced certainly cured, so we had to examine our camels' blood daily for periods up to one year before we could properly announce our first successes.
Needless to say, when I became entitled to some leave, I was very ready for it. By this time, I had decided that I would not stay in India for a pension; Indianisation of the services was obviously coming, and I had no time for that. Having no ties at home, it seemed a good opportunity to see something of Australia, so I spent this three months' leave in the sophisticated parts of Victoria and New South Wales. On this trip, I did not go "out back" as I had had my fill of that in India and wanted a change; I gave two lectures on the Camel at the Melbourne Veterinary College; otherwise, I just "enjoyed myself". My second leave was taken lust before I gave notice to the Government of India that I had decided to leave its service. This was also spent in Australasia and. during it, I travelled right into the heart of Western Australia and also as far as Port Augusta in South Australia, to see for myself the conditions under which camels lived and worked there. I had thought of taking up land in the back-blocks and breeding camels there when I had finished with India; but I decided that the future of gold-mining was too precarious for such a long-term venture. On this trip I also visited New Zealand, chiefly for sight-seeing, and had a grand time in that exciting country; I worked down from Auckland through the volcanic districts to the Wanganui River and Wellington: then, in the South Island, I went to Christchurch and contacted the Government Veterinary Surgeons there to my great professional advantage; I left New Zealand at Invergordon, regretting that I had not enough time to go over the passes to Milford Sound. Thence I went to Tasmania, and through that island back to Melbourne and to India. Soon after arrival in Sohawa, I gave my three months' notice and, in due course, in February, 1912, I left for home, from which I had been absent six years.
The Indian Government had been ready to employ me in investigation work on elephants, a job which I might have found attractive had I been fresh from some temperate climate. But I felt that it would be difficult to become expert on such a subject unless I could live on the job for at least three hundred years, and as this wasn't likely, and I had no desire to leave a job on which I really was expert to take on one at which I could not see how an ordinary lifetime could provide enough experience to get one out of an amateur status, I decided I would stick to camels. I foresaw intense interest in comparing the camel conditions in other countries with those of India. On the way home, I stayed two weeks in Egypt, sight-seeing and looking for jobs; two of the latter were available, but they were not what I wanted, and I went on home to see the family once more.
On the Equator.
Before sailing, I visited the King family who were then at Southsea, and became engaged to my old friend, May Winifred King; and it was intended that as soon as I had found my feet in Africa, she should join me there.
However, God disposes and things turned out differently. When I arrived at Nairobi, the capital, I found that ivory poachers from Abyssinia had murdered a District Commissioner not far from Marsabit, and the Government did not regard that place as safe for me to use as intended. I was side-tracked to Jubaland instead, which is the desert country west of the River Juba which comes down from Abyssinia and flows into the Indian Ocean ten miles north of Kismayu. To get there, I had to go down from Nairobi to Mombasa and take a small coasting vessel.
Jubaland is truly Godforsaken, and the equator itself runs through it close to the mouth of the River. It is hot at all seasons and low-lying; it is malarial wherever desert conditions do not obtain. Most of it is desert, but the track to the north is never far from the river. It was no place for a white woman. Up-country life had to be lived in ramshackle wooden huts, and the only produce of the desert was livestock. On the other hand, there was game in plenty and on tour one shot one's own meat-supply. The menu could be dik-dik (a small antelope about the size of a whippet), guineafowl, junglefowl, bustard, partridge, duck (where there were lakes from the river-overflow in the rains), and sandgrouse, which could be got at 6 a.m. by waiting at any waterhole at that time. Owing to the prevalence of the acacia known as the "wait-a-bit" thorn, through which it was impossible to force oneself without having one's few clothes ripped off, it was not good stalking country and it was only seldom that the bigger game, such as gerenuk, lesser kudu and oryx could be bagged. Lion abounded and were often heard grunting around the thorn-bush camp protection (sariba) at night. Stores had to be well calculated, for nothing of that sort could be obtained up-country. The Somali population away from the river was all nomad and the only villages, often inhabited by the descendants of run-away slaves, were by the river-bank. Mails were slow and scarce, coming by native runner (if one lived at Serenli) 200 miles as the crow flies.
The frontier was patrolled and guarded by the King's African Rifles, and there was a mounted unit on camels about 100 strong, the men being Sudanese chiefly, recruited from the defeated enemy at Omdurman (and therefore getting a little long in the tooth) and the camels imported from Arabia, for Jubaland does not produce riding-camels. All heavy transport work was done by the native baggage-camel, which was on the small side; the load was only about 250 lbs. and as the camels are chiefly kept for food, there are no large numbers of trained baggagers and many of the animals used by the military were rather wild from lack of handling.
The riverbank was infested with tse-tse flies for a stretch of about 300 miles between Yonte and Selagli and all camel-transport had to be hurried through this part of the route north, often doing 30 miles at night between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. during which time the tse-tse is considerably less active than in the morning after dawn or the evening before dark. The sun rose at 6 a.m. and set at 6 p.m. nearly all the year round. In twelve hours, camels under loads can just do the 30 miles at their normal pace. When they reach camp, that camp has to be situated at a spot far enough from the river to be out of reach of tse-tse and Tabanus.
I was never very happy during the 18 months I spent in this country; I had not "clicked" with my superior, at Nairobi, the Chief Veterinary Officer; I think we both heartily disliked one another at sight. Of course, I was very independent of him in Jubaland, but the conditions in that country were pretty impossible in those days for any sort of research. My job was mainly to survey camel-routes for flies so that commanding-officers could be instructed how and where and when to march their animals. The camel had to take first place, and the necessary night-marching was very hard on the human element. I did so much turning night into day myself that when I left Jubaland, at the end of 1914, I slept very badly at night nearly all through the First World War. This work was preventive and not of enormous interest, but I derived a good deal of professional information from the many opportunities I had in comparing the conditions I observed with the Indian ones I had left behind.
On one occasion I was travelling up the right bank of the Juba river when I got lost in the bush. I was walking about a quarter of a mile ahead of the baggage-camel convoy and just after sunrise. I had shot some game for the day's food, and left the victims in the middle of the track for the first camelman to pick up and load on to his animal. How on earth I got off the track I do not know, except that it was only the width of a camel's foot, but suddenly I found the sun on my left front instead of where it ought to have been, definitely on my right. I must have turned an almost complete circle. I felt the panic that seems to affect all men lost in the bush, but instead of running about wildly as the urge was, I said to myself: "Sit down, you fool!" and did so, on a stone, until the panic passed. Then it was only a matter of simple calculation which direction to take to get to the river. It was 6.15 a.m. and we were practically on the Equator and I knew I was on the right bank of the Juba. The Juba flows roughly North to South, although with many bends. It was clear that all I had to do was to walk straight into the sun. I remember seriously arguing with myself as to whether the sun really rose in the East! You see, perhaps my life depended on making no mistake! Then I got up and struck out across the scrub with the sun in my face; before long, I detected a downward slant in the desert ahead, and soon got to the river. I found the tracks of the ration-goats which had been driven along behind the convoy and having had a drink in the river, with due precautions against crocodiles, hurried along the track and got into camp just before a search-party was starting out to look for me.
I spent several months at a forsaken spot called Serenli, 400 miles from the coast when you travelled on the river, and joined the expedition of Brigadier-General Hoskins when he went right on into the Marehan country to try and talk the natives there out of the necessity for a military expedition to make them behave. Whilst Hoskins did the talking, I was quietly surveying the routes for the future expedition if it were found unavoidable. Thus, the expedition could take place with the minimum camel-loss from Surra.
However, Hoskins made no great impression upon the Mare-han, and the expedition was decided upon. I was sent right down to the coast where I had to arrange the landing on an open beach, at Kismayu, of 350 camels of an Indian Camel Corps which was to take part. The Commanding Officer, the Native Officers and many of the men in this Camel Corps had known me well in India and were astonished to see me coming up the side of the ship in Kismayu harbour. We had to sling the camels from the hold of the ship into flat-bottomed river steamers which, when full of animals, were taken inshore and then the camels were slung out of these into the sea and had to swim the last bit. Kismayu harbour, although almost on the equator, is entirely free of sharks owing to its very narrow entrance through a gap in the coral-reef which closes it; and it was quite good fun taking headers into the luke-warm sea from the decks of these boats to try and get a little respite from the intense heat. Once landed, the camels had to be acclimatised to the strange new grazing plants of the country, but only three weeks was available for this and when the expedition moved off up-country, some of the animals had only just recovered from diarrhoea and indigestion due to the change in their diet.
I had a row with the Government at this time, having received peremptory orders from my Chief to join the expedition as Veterinary Officer. My status being Civilian, with no provision for the possibility of my becoming a casualty, nor any definition of my rank in a Military Expedition, nor any certainty of my status as to discipline, I refused this order unless it was first agreed on all sides that I was a civilian and nothing but a civilian and would take no orders from anyone as to my work, but only as to my movements. There was a lot of bobbery about this, but I got my way; I was always anxious to accompany the expedition because of my friends from India taking part in it, but I had no intention of being ordered into duties which rightly belonged to the Army Veterinary Corps, and that without proper serious consultation. I took the long convoy through the tse-tse country, and all camps, marches and arrangements for watering the camels at places infested by fly were carried out according to my advice. On arrival at Serenli, I was thanked by the Officer Commanding for "playing the game", but I often wondered what other game he thought I might have played! Some weeks later I returned to the coast, half the journey being performed by river, in a native canoe; I was accompanied by a British Officer who had "gone funny in the head" and the long journey wasn't easy on that account. After a few days, I was returning with a big convoy of camels with supplies for the troops up-country. But the long marches had told upon me; I had had sciatica very badly from overmarching before I left Serenli for the last time and I had also suffered from inflammation of the outer passage of the ears due to using, for washing purposes, the only water available at one camp, that from a pool in which a dead ostrich had been lying. These things had told on my strength in such a climate as Jubaland, and I became very feverish on the march about 100 miles from the coast and had to be left behind; my face was so swollen that my eyes were almost closed; I do not know what the condition was: I had to be carried back to the coast on a stretcher by natives where, under an Indian doctor, I made a slow, but complete, recovery. This was at a place called Gobwen on the sandy banks of the Juba near its mouth, with the wireless mast of Jumbu, in Italian Somaliland, just in view on the opposite bank. Then we learned that war had broken out with Germany. This was particularly disquieting for the few white men at Gobwen, because, of course, Italy was then nominally one of the Triple Alliance Powers. In Italian Somaliland, Abyssinian soldiers were often enlisted, and their reputation is not of the mildest. However, Italian officers came across the river and assured us that they would not be fighting on the side of Germany. I used their wireless to offer my services, in Europe, to the War Office, but was requested by the Jubaland Provincial Commissioner to take the Camel Corps camels south to Mombasa in the absence of their Commanding Officer. We loaded the camels into boats with the aid of a ricketty crane on a ricketty jetty, and from the boats on to a steamship. The voyage was unescorted and took three days and two nights and as the German cruiser, Konigsberg, was known to be roaming about the Indian Ocean, we got up very early in the mornings to scan the horizon. We landed the camels at Mombasa where, of course, they were as much a curiosity as they would have been in London, and got them up to Voi by train; there we met their Commanding Officer and all rode off to the south towards the Germans, who had invaded the country from Tanganyka and were in Taveta.
On landing at Mombasa, I accepted a commission as Captain in the East Africa Veterinary Corps on the understanding that I was to be allowed to resign in the event of the camels being dispensed with. I suspected we were going straight into tse-tse country, where they could hardly serve for long with success and I had no intention of placing myself under military discipline for long under a man I detested. The only military uniform 1 had was a hastily cut red band around my solar topee, an E.A.V.C. badge and a captain's stars; the rest of my apparel was civilian khaki. I found tse-tse wherever we went and the camels hardly earned their keep by patrolling in thick bush country where they were such conspicuous targets for a machine-gunner. They began to sicken with Ngana. the form a Trypanosomiasis which is carried by the tse-tse and I did my best to treat them with the clumsy methods then known. We lost very few of them, but I notified the Commanding Officer that he would certainly ultimately lose the lot if they were not removed from the tse-tse country, where they really had no business to be. After two months' service in the Serengetti "desert" (not really desert as we camelmen knew deserts) I received instructions to take the camels back to Jubaland. This I did, returning on the same ship and demanding my release according to the agreement made. After some humming and hawing, I received my discharge, and took the first available ship, a French one, to Marseilles. On the way, I wirelessed the Egyptian Government offering to disembark in Egypt for war service there, but got no reply.
But the War Office, in England, had accepted my previous offer; I crossed France by rail and was about the only civilian passenger in the boat that brought us across the Channel from Havre to Southampton.
The First Great Slaughter.
After a few weeks, we moved off, one night, down to the neighbourhood of Bethune, and the following day we heard that our last position had been laid flat by shelling. Here we stayed a long time; the batteries were, of course, up nearer the line; ammunition was very short at this time and our heavy horses were sometimes called upon, in pairs, to take up four rounds at a fast trot, which did them no good. At this place I remember seeing the (then) Prince of Wales marching with his regiment; and the Canadians would come down from the fighting line bringing their customary one white-faced prisoner to show where they had been. I had a lot of Units to vet at this time, and my professional rounds took me over a lot of ground. I spent Christmas Eve in the trenches with the Officers of one of our Batteries at Annequin and it was from an observer's post that I first saw the Germans with whom we were at war.
Veterinary work at the front in war-time is not very satisfying to the clinician, because prevention is his job, and he has to send all trouble to the rear to be dealt with by others. Detection of trouble at an early stage is the chief duty, but I used to treat some cases myself if I thought the delay in sending them back would prejudice their recovery.
Our Medical Officer at that time was a Harley Street specialist and I had to sympathise with him when he told me how he had, as a Lieutenant, to sit back and say nothing when some young and inexperienced man who was his senior in rank was botching a job or doing the wrong thing. We "temporary blighters" had our trials!
After one year of service, I got leave and went home to be married. On my return to France, I found I was posted to a Veterinary Hospital at Abbeville under Major Hobday, who was, in civil life, Chief of the Camden Town Veterinary College and whom I knew well. I was second-in-command. Here, nine months were spent and I became the operating surgeon for major jobs which were done under chloroform and although this work is not really my bent, I was trained by the Major, who was a specialist in these major operations, until I could be trusted to do them alone. Very few veterinary surgeons have had such an opportunity: the general run of the work was in removing the testicles of cryptorchids or "rigs" in those abnormal cases where one testicle had been retained in the abdomen; spaying vicious mares; the "roaring" operation; removal of the lateral cartilage of the foot in "quittor" cases; removing deeply situated shell splinters or shrapnel bullets; and the radical operation for "poll evil". There was a lot of general practice, too, which was what I loved, with diagnosis of lameness (which is a fine-art), whilst frequently we had to use the mallein test for glanders in preventive work; this test was done by injecting the mallein into the horse's eyelid, and with proper organisation one could do 100 in an hour.
During my long stay in this Hospital, I was skilful enough to evade every Church Parade; there was always a sick horse to be attended to, just at the right moment! I always felt that Church Christianity was quite incredible; I am the son of a Unitarian mother and I believe that different races require different religions.
On one occasion Major Hobday, who was a high-grade Freemason, announced that a Freemasonic meeting was going to take place in the Unit and I realised that I was the only officer there who was not a Freemason. Now although I was not a regular army man, I had been long enough in contact with regulars in India and Africa to know that it was an unwritten law that in a Mess there must be no cliques. I therefore went to my Commanding Officer and pointed this out, backing my statement with the intimation that I should ask for a transfer if the proposed meeting was held. As a result, it was cancelled.
Meanwhile, the British attack on Palestine had failed, and the Army found that it needed a large fresh supply of Baggage Camels. I was ordered to proceed to Port Said on purchase duty. I requested that I might be allowed to go first to England for a few day to pick up my tropical kit, as I had nothing of the sort with me. However, this was denied me and I went off to Marseilles where I spent those few days, which might have been used to better advantage, in waiting for a boat. On arrival at Port Said, I was directed by the Transport Officer to return to my ship and disembark at Aden for re-shipment to Somaliland. As the ship's first stop was Bombay, I pointed out that all this might take a long time and was then directed to board a ship that was going to stop at Aden. I had three days in that port and then got across the Gulf of Aden in a small steamer, landing at Berbera to report. The nucleus of a Remount Commission was here in the person of a Major Herring-Cooper, an officer of the Remount Department; he had no camel experience and was not a veterinary man, but we got on very well together and I told him all the things I thought it was most easy for him to learn about camel-buying. Two veterinary surgeons arrived on the same duty, neither of whom had had any camel experience. I went first to a place on the plateau where camels were grazing which had been already bought by the Government, but I found that it had been a shocking bit of unskilled work, and I only passed about one-third of them for shipment, taking the lowest possible standard at that. The others I arranged to exchange with natives for good camels, generally two crocks to one sound one, but towards the end of the time I gave three, four or five for one. The natives, who never have much need of money, for their wealth is in animals, had done a splendid deal for themselves against the amateur ignoramuses who had bought these animals.
I was instructed to proceed to Hargeisa, not far from the Abyssinian border, and buy camels there. I had with me an Arab interpreter whose loyalty I had reason to doubt. At Hargeisa, I found that no camels were coming in for purchase, so I called a meeting of akhils or headmen. Sitting on a chair, I told these people to gather around in a semi-circle so that they could hear the King's Message. I explained the need for camels in the war against the Turks in Palestine and drew, with a stick, a rough map in the sand which, of course, they only half understood, showing how the different camel-countries had contributed camels for the campaign. I marked Somaliland in this map as a very insignificant country. I told them that the King had called me to him and had asked me where he could get more camels and that I had replied "In Somaliland". "Where is that?" said the King. I told him, and asked him what to do if the Somalis would not sell? His reply (as I invented it) was "Tell them that I am training many young soldiers at home and that I want to accustom them to the sight of blood".
That ended the "ring". From that moment, I was able to buy an average of 30 good camels a day for over three months; occasionally a feeble attempt was made to form a fresh "ring" to send up the price, but I broke these by saying I was well paid for my job and the longer they delayed me in selling their camels, the longer I should be away from the carnage in Europe. In the East, it is safe to appeal to the baser instincts of man. I bought 3,500 animals at Hargeisa and Mandera, whilst the other three officers had collected 1,500 between them. Towards the end of the time, Major Herring-Cooper returned to Egypt and I was left in command, although one of the other Veterinary Officers was a regular and my senior by service. We had an extremely useful Australian officer sent to us called Hayward, whom I put in charge of the camel concentration camp some miles out of Berbera.
By the time the last transport arrived to take us up the Red Sea, we had just about combed Somaliland of all the camels it could spare. In loading up the camels at Berbera, I got a touch of the sun and was in a poor state during the voyage; when I got to Suez, I was sent straight to hospital where my blood was frequently examined for malaria although nothing was ever found. Thence I was transferred to Alexandria, where I recuperated in an Officers' hospital and was completely forgotten by the authorities and I dare-say I could have stayed there throughout the war if I had so desired! The only incident worth recording here was the arrival of a man suffering from exhaustion and exposure from being torpedoed in the Aegean. His discription of his experiences has always stayed in my mind; when the torpedo struck the ship, he was in his cabin; he just had time to run up to the deck and jump over the side as ordered. But the ship was carrying mules and, as she went down, some of these got loose and into the water. Remember it was at night. The instinct of mules in the direction of self-preservation is very strong: when suddenly dumped into deep water, they will try and climb upon anything that is afloat. There was not much afloat except men, so the mules tried to climb on them! My narrator said: "The night was dark and yet the water seemed to be all ears and teeth". A vivid description! Yet he went on, with tears in his eyes, "When a destroyer at last picked me up, one fellow rode up to the ladder on a swimming mule and when we moved off several mules were streaking after us trying to catch us up."
War is a beastly thing for animals as well as men.
When I felt like it, I reported my hitherto forgotten presence, and was told to join a transport for Marseilles, which I did, the only adventure on the journey being the appearance of a submarine, upon which our two escorting destroyers quickly enclosed us in a smoke-screen within which we changed our course and took temporary refuge in the bay where St. Paul was said to have been wrecked in Malta.
On returning to Abbeville, I applied for a spot of leave, but I was not one of the General's "grey-haired boys" and was directed to take up special duty at Brest, where my job was to prevent the Portuguese Army, which was landing there, from bringing in useless animals or contagious equine diseases, particularly glanders. For some reason, I was not allowed to test them with Mallein and could only stop "open" cases. My London experiences had familiarised me with glanders in its many different aspects, which was perhaps lucky for many people, because the disease had been stamped out of Britain in recent years and the new veterinary graduates were not accustomed to it. Owing to the fact that only one ship was then employed in transporting horses from Lisbon, this was a very soft job for me and I discovered that officers could get permission for their wives to join them if they wished; I did wish, and met mine at St. Malo and we spent a very happy time together, at Brest, for six or seven months. The town of Brest was then full of American, Portuguese, and even Russian soldiers, but I never could understand why the Portuguese were ever used.
One incident there might interest horsey men. My inspections of the horses, as they landed, was carried out in the old moat around the ancient walls of Brest. Often, horses and mules would break loose from their escorts because of rotten halters or complete absence of anything to control them by; some, had strands of haybale-wire round their necks, and the men were supposed to hang on to that. Well, one horse got loose outside the moat and ran along the top of the outer moatwall until he stopped, gazing down at his fellows below. I could see what he intended to do and that nothing could stop him from doing it. I shouted to the men who were after him not to frighten or hustle him, and I got close to the spot where he would land, for he was looking down, snorting and fidgetting for a foot-hold. The height was about 25 feet, but the lauding was grassy and favourable. Then he jumped, and what interested me was to see quite plainly that although a horse taking an ordinary jump lands on his forelegs, this fellow, jumping from a great height, dropped his hind-quarters whilst in the air so that he landed on his hindfeet, thus breaking the shock. He was quite unhurt.
When this duty was done, I got leave and my wife and I went home together.
On my return to France, I was posted as Veterinary Officer to the Advanced Horse Transport Depot which was situated. just outside Abbeville. Here, there was a floating population of horses and mules varying from about 3,000 to 7,000 and my time was well filled. I was engaged in this unit until I got my discharge at the end of the war. One night, the depot suffered an intense bombing, 320 horses being hit, of which about 180 were killed outright or had to be slaughtered. I was on continuous duty for 48 hours; in some sections, the dead horses were piled one on top of the other to the height of one's shoulders; perhaps the ones at the bottom of the heap were still breathing, some with their legs blown right off. I had to get at them how I could, and my revolver got almost too hot to hold. One poor fellow, I remember, had both hind legs blown off at the hock and was standing on the stumps, looking like a bewildered rocking-horse; I could not get his head down for the usual brain shot, and I shot him just in front of the ear and leapt quickly to one side as he came crashing down dead, nearly on top of me. All that first night I was doing this grisly work, shooting the hopeless cases and extricating the others. All next day I was doing first-aid on the wounded ones, getting the milder cases off on the one-mile march to hospital before they had time to get too stiff to move off under their own power, and loading the worst cases into ambulances. Right into the second night I was still extracting splinters from wounded horses where the missiles had not penetrated deeply enough to require special facilities for their removal. I knew the beastliness of war, that night.
The officers of the Unit itself were Royal Army Service Corps men, all selected for their jobs because of familiarity with horses, and they were very pleasant people for a veterinary surgeon to work with. On slack afternoons, which were rare, we would have an imaginary fox-hunt over the downs around Abbeville, with an imaginary fox and imaginary hounds. The purpose of the unit was to replace casualties from the front, our horses being conditioned, trained and paired as requisite, ready for supply.
One day, a bright young red-hat from the Veterinary Staff came over to inspect my work. He asked me whether I saw to it that crushed oats were used so that the horses could get the most benefit from their corn. I said: "No, Sir" and he waxed eloquent on my oversight. When he had finished his tirade, I said, "Excuse me, Sir, but no horse leaves this depot unless he himself carries in his mouth the most efficient corn-crushing armament; trained men inspect every animal's grinders and if there is anything wrong with them, it is at once put right; further, if you will excuse me, Sir, these animals will not get crushed oats at the front and if they got used to eating them here, they would fall away quickly when they got up to the front where their work was hard and the corn fed whole." After that, I was left alone to do my job without interference.
There was a tense moment when the huge unit, which had been for years at Abbeville, got orders to get ready to move to the coast at two hours' notice. The Germans were in Rouen! However, the order was cancelled and we never moved at all as long as the war lasted.
Camels: Fiction and Fact.
Reprinted from "Country Life", 13th April, 1945, by kind
permission of the proprietors.
Man's chief interest in the camel is in the work he can do. The structure of the camel's foot is specialised for sand; it has a flat horny under-surface with an elastic spread, but offers no grip on a slippery medium like mud. If a loaded camel is taken carelessly over a patch of slimy ground, the legs are liable to slip apart, and he does "the splits"; he may, if lucky, get off with a bad sprain; if unlucky, he will dislocate a joint. So he is useless in a country like ours, although he could stand the cold well enough.
Exaggerated notions exist of the camel's capacity to resist thirst; it is great, but the camel, even if he doesn't look it, is, after all, flesh and blood. There are certain antelopes which exist throughout the year without access to spring or river water, but they don't have to do work under those conditions. The working camel always thrives best when he can drink as often as he wishes, but if the necessity arises, he can keep going and remain fit on intervals between drinks of two to five days, according to the breed of camel. He can endure and survive privation of water for a much longer period, but will then suffer and will need plenty of time for recuperation.
Perhaps the tallest of travellers' yarns about the camel is the one which alleges that when lost in the desert and in danger of dying of thirst, a man may find relief by killing his camel and finding the bag of water which he is supposed to carry in his stomach. It would be much better to spend the time and energy in trying to find water somewhere else. There is no such supply maintained in the stomach; there is an excess of mucus in parts of the first stomach, but to suck some of that would act as an emetic and you would lose more water than you gained. The camel's specialised apparatus against thirst consists of an excess of mucus-secreting surface in the throat and in the first stomach, which enables him to moisten his food in chewing the cud, even if he hasn't had a drink for a week or so.
The camel's hump is a store of superfluous fat which is drawn upon when food is scarce; it is relatively bigger and more efficient than the hump of the Zebu ox, or the "spread" of a middle-aged man which may be a similar provision of Nature so that he can tide over the longer intervals between successful hunts as his activity declines; a pleasant thought, even if it may not be accurate! The sheep in some countries similarly store fat in their tails and I have seen a Doomba sheep, in India, carrying its heavy tail with a sort of rough two-wheeled go-cart behind to take the weight of it. (This is positively the only yarn about sheep I know, but it is strictly true.) The camel's spine does not run up into his hump. When he is starved the hump will, in time, disappear.
The camel's supercilious expression is accounted for by the Arabs who say that, while they know only 99 names of God, the camel knows the hundredth!
Sometimes it is stated that a camel-bite will give syphilis to man, but this is untrue. The only disease which can be transmitted in this way is Rabies; a keeper in Formosa once got hydrophobia from the bite of a camel which had been bitten by a rabid dog. Camels on the Seistan Boundary Commission Expedition were lost from Rabies when they were bitten by mad wolves and jackals, and I once had a narrow squeak when examining inside the mouth of a baby camel which I afterwards found was rabid; the saliva contains the virus! But the camel is no more liable to Rabies than a buffalo, ox, or any other animal that can be attacked by a mad dog.
The dental armament of a male camel is terrific, because his four canine teeth are developed as fully as those of a lion, and he has been known to take the top of a man's head right off. The bite is always serious, and generally septic.
Camels are supposed to curl up and die out of sheer cussedness. Of this they are never guilty; they are full of a passive sort of pluck. The source of this tale lay in the unrecognised existence of a widespread disease due to a trypanosoma which causes a very slow decline with a remittent fever, which many camelmen were unable to diagnose or understand. The camel "curled up and died" from it because of his refusal to give in to it before expending the last ounce of his strength. It is pleasant to record that a hundred per cent. cure of this disease can now be effected by a single injection into the jugular vein costing (before the war) about 3s. 6d.
Another yarn is that a camel cannot swim. He can, and does, although he is slow in the water. I have landed hundreds of camels on an open beach by having them lowered into the water in slings by a crane, releasing the slings and making the camels swim ashore. Camels are much heavier in front than they are behind, and so the hind-quarters ride near the surface of the water. Therefore, as they approach a shelving beach and get their forefeet once more on terra firma, they bob about in a most absurd fashion for many yards before they can resume their normal dignified gait, as they cannot at first get their hind feet down.
In the Delta country of the Indus, there are camels which graze in the mangrove swamps and live a most uncamel-like and amphibious existence, swimming from one part of their water-logged grazing-ground to another; fresh water has to be brought to them from up-stream in boats!
Then, it is said that camel-riding makes people sea-sick. At the walking pace, it might, but one does not use riding-camels at the walk. With horses, the best travelling is done by alternate walk and canter, except when they are "pacers" or "ramblers"; but riding-camels are used at the jog or amble, and are never walked except on steep slopes or slippery mud. With riding-camels, you plug along all the time, with halts at intervals. The camel has a wonderful arrangement of elastic ligament which takes a good deal of the strain away from the muscles at the normal paces.
It is rather a depressing thought that, although the camel is now understood so much better than he used to be, and his potential economic value is thereby enormously increased, the advantage has been cancelled out by the internal combustion engine almost as soon as the knowledge was acquired and spread. Whatever happens to camel-transport, there is some future for camel-breeders in the meat-trade, although few have recognised it yet. Camel meat from animals reared for food is excellent. A world scarcity of meat must favour the production of an animal which can fatten in country so arid that other animals would perish in it.
Perhaps the camel may, some day, exchange his present arduous life for one of pastoral ease. How thoroughly that ease has been earned!
Published in "Country Life", 24th November, 1944, and reprinted
here by kind permission of the Editor.
The fact is that mules have much in common with cats, far more than they have with horses, and infinitely more than cats have with dogs.
The mule gets his brains and his temperament from his father, who is an ass only in the zoological sense, being anything but stupid. It is not stupidity which causes the family donkey to need so much urging and encouragement on the outward journey when he is taking the children for a drive; nor is it stupidity that makes it almost impossible to train a mule to jump a hurdle when ridden. In both cases, the action which is being forced upon the animal is one which, he feels, profits him not at all., in the first case the donkey knows quite well that the stick will never be applied with enough vigour to hurt him in the second case, the folly of jumping a hurdle when you can go round it seems, from the mule's standpoint, so stupendous that it is worth any amount of thrashing rather than to submit to it. The attitude may be, in both cases, somewhat spoil-sport, but it is certainly not stupidity.
Mules, like cats, have a very fair share of brains, but they do not usually expend their talents with any generous object. By nature they are self-centred and cautious, anything but "sportsmen"; and if you want to see the better side of mule or cat, you have to work for it; the confidence of these animals can be won, particularly if the attempt is begun during colthood or kittenhood. Once your mule or cat associates your presence with complete safety, everything else is easy and you will find he has affection to spare. A dog gives his affection generously and a horse his services, often to unworthy masters, but a mule never. He must be sure that he is in good hands and can only be persuaded of it by experience; once he becomes satisfied about it you can do anything with him that is reasonable, but nothing which seems stupid to him, like jumping hurdles.
Personally, I find it attractive to gain the affection and confidence of an animal which is naturally suspicious and cautious.
The genius of a mule or a cat, if genius it can be called, is spent upon the serious business of self-preservation, and the well-being of "Number One". But if the cat has nine lives, the mule must have at least ten.
Compare the behaviour of a tired mule with that of a weary horse when a return to the stable is made after a hard journey. As soon as the harness is off, the mule is lying down, sometimes even before there has been time to get a good bed of straw under him; a horse will fidget and wait until all the men have gone away and the stable is quiet before he, in his turn, will get down to it and take his rest.
And mules think. A mule once played a trick on me that in a life-time's experience with animals I have never once known a horse resort to. Liquid medicine had to be administered and the usual procedure was adopted of throwing a rope over a beam, making a fixed loop in the end of the rope, passing it under the noseband of the headcollar and then into the mouth, and then pulling on the rope until the mouth was raised a little above the level of the "swallow". The medicine was then carefully poured into the side of the mouth from a bottle. The only horses which cannot be "drenched" in this way are those which really fight. But this mule used his brains and did not get excited. He found the medicine not altogether pleasant to the palate and so, mule-like, distrusted heartily both it and everybody connected with it. He could not get his head down so as to let the stuff run out of his mouth. So he deliberately stood up on his hind legs like a circus-horse every time he received a mouthful, which position, of course, enabled him to get his throat at a higher level than his mouth, so that the stuff ran out on to the, floor. In the end he defeated us until we made a counter attack by giving him a "ball" (pill) instead.
The difference in temperament and outlook between horse and mule is well illustrated by their relative behaviour when being chloroformed for an operation. The chloroform is administered on a sponge inside a special cylindrical-shaped muzzle which covers nose and mouth, the animal of course having been thrown down with his legs tied. Horses always react the same way; mules also react the same way, but not like horses. The horse, as soon as he smells the chloroform, loses his nerve and begins to struggle violently; the very struggling increases also the rate of breathing and so, of course, the rate at which he takes in the fumes; with the proper dose, he goes under, unconscious for any surgical operation, in ten minutes.
Not so our mule. He does not get excited at all. He seems to say to himself "Great Oats! What's this funny smell? I dislike it and think it evil. Darned if I will breathe it." So he stops breathing for as long a time as he can hold his breath. When he can stand it no longer, he gives a great gasp and stops again and so on. The result is that it takes much longer to get a mule "under" than it does a horse, and you have to use a bigger dose into the bargain.
During the latter part of the last War, I was Veterinary Officer to a big R.A.S.C. depot which had the job of replacing horses-casualties in transport units at the front. This work involved trying out strange horses so that they could be properly paired for issue. Of course, it was not uncommon for animals to run away on their trials. When that happened, word was sent to me and I would ride to the scene to do first-aid on any injured animals. With horses, it was usual to find the animals hurt more or less severely. But with runaway mules it was quite a different picture. The waggon might be in splinters; the driver might be badly injured or even killed, but invariably the mules would be found grazing peacefully by the side of the road without a mark on them. After a number of fruitless journeys after runaway mules, which did not provide me with work, I stopped going where mules were concerned. I concluded that when mules run away, it is not because they are frightened, but because they think it fun.
In the Army, in the last War, we had a number of totally blind horses and mules for which work was to be found at the bases. The blind horses, with absolute confidence in their drivers, thrived so well that you could recognise them at a distance because of their fatness. But it was asking too much of mule-nature to expect blind mules to be a success. They were not, because they would place no confidence in strange drivers or, indeed, anything but seeing for themselves; and as they could not see, they would not work.
It so happens that most mule breeding (by a jackass out of a mare) is carried on in "Dago" countries where the treatment the animals get, particularly in the process of breaking-in, is, to say the least, rough and ready. This is enough to destroy the chance of getting the wary mule to put his trust in Man. So they grow up thinking they know a lot better than their masters and that is why there are so many biters and kickers among them. When a British soldier has to take charge of them, he has, therefore, every reason to be nervous of them; a mule standing in a stall has a big advantage over a man who approaches it from behind and a mule can "cow-kick" with a long reach forward and sideways as well as backwards. This very nervousness on the part of the soldier makes it more and more difficult for the mule, which senses it, to learn to rely upon his judgment. He remains a rebel, a kicker and a biter. Only by long service under a really animal-sensed and sympathetic man can mule-nature be overcome.
Even during the period of my own life-time, cats in this country have been more and more adopted as real pets instead of being regarded as mere mouse-catching chattels unworthy of much notice, especially by men. Already, as a result, they have a greatly diminished fear of strangers; they have become emancipated and being better understood; their suspicious, cautious outlook on life is becoming modified.
If the British Army bred and reared all its own mules, the animals would soon lose the evil reputation that has been thrust upon them by men who did not understand them; both mule or cat which has never known ill-treatment lives its life believing in Man, using its mule- or cat-sense on the basis that MAN is SAFE and TRUSTWORTHY.
Meanwhile, I had visited London with the intention of purchasing my old mount which I had had at Abbeville, but was distressed to find that the little grey mare had developed stringhalt since I saw her last, and I had to return to Stamford empty-handed.
In those post-war times, I was unable even to buy a man's bicycle; and my first journeys as a veterinary practitioner in Stamford were made on a lady's bicycle or sometimes on a man's bicycle kindly lent me by a sympathetic tradesman. Veterinary equipment for horse and cattle cases is apt to be bulky and I must, on some of these journeys, have reminded spectators of a Christmas Tree or a One-Man Band, particularly when I was going out to a calving case. My troubles, however, had been mitigated considerably by the fact that I had not been in the town three weeks before the largest horse-owner, a timber merchant on a large scale, had decided that I was his veterinary surgeon.
When, at last, I secured my house in 20, St. George's Square, I "never looked behind me", and soon developed a sound practice and got most of the work in the district inside a radius of about eight miles. The house was an old one, and far too big for us; there was a nice garden with fruit trees and (most important from the professional standpoint) good stabling and coach-house, including four loose-boxes and two stalls, in one of which a horse could be slung if necessary.
As soon as I saw the horse I wanted, I bought it; a roan mare which we called Methel after two friends of ours named Maud and Ethel: I looked after her myself, and I was never so fit as during the time when her early-morning toilet demanded my regular services. She became very fond of me and had her own gentle snickering language in which to tell me so. When I drove out with her, it was two pals going out into the world together. I bought a governess car at an almost prohibitive price, and with that we worked up the practice. She was never sick or sorry, and I had a system of stable management which fitted the irregular hours we had to keep.
We generally had at least one spare loose-box, and her "bedroom" was another. The first thing I did in the morning was to take her out of her bedroom into her "sitting-room" where her feed was awaiting her. There was no bedding in the sitting-room, and I groomed her there, leaving the mucking-out of the bedroom until such time as was convenient on any particular day. That reduced the unavoidable before-breakfast stable routine to a minimum. I developed a large canine and feline practice in addition to the ordinary horse and farm work and sometimes I would have as many as twenty dogs on the place and I was both vet. and kennelman and did all the work myself. There were three separate enclosures where dogs could exercise themselves and when there was a crowd of them, it took some scheming to reduce the time occupied in this process by exercising compatibles together. The dogs seemed to appreciate my hospital, as a rule, and often we opened our front door to find an ex-patient, recently discharged, sitting on the doorstep. One old terrier of fifteen years walked in twelve miles from his country home on several occasions, a testimonial which we accepted with mixed feelings, because somehow, he had to be got home again. I remember one tight-skinned fox-terrier which was a great favourite with us, bursting in through a window curtain. He still remained a favourite! Our large house was able to supply us with spare rooms for cat patients; these rooms were closed to all traffic, and the chimneys had to be stuffed with bags of straw, because cats in a strange place will stick at nothing to make an exit if they can. I considered it disgraceful for a veterinary surgeon to allow any animal placed in his charge to take French leave; all the time at Stamford this only happened once, and we got the cat back all right before the owner got to know about it! We had not been in Stamford two years before we seemed to know everyone in the town from the Marquess of Exeter down to the local gypsies. In the years before 1926 I was so busy that it sometimes seemed as though it was only at meal-times that I saw my wife. Fees were customarily rather small in Stamford District and by working hard all day one got very little more than a competence; but, looking back, I know how I enjoyed the life, although it meant seven days a week with night-work thrown in. Working so hard, I resented particularly the rising income tax; it seemed hard to turn out in the middle of the night, drive out say seven miles, strip to the waist in a cow-shed and work like ten niggers on a calving case, wait for your money, say, six months and then pay some of it to the Government as a kind of fine for having had the energy to earn it! However, I trained my clients not to knock me up at night unless it was unavoidable; in other words, I got them to send for me before bedtime when trouble appeared to be brewing in stable or cow-house.
When I had had my mare, Methel, one year, I sold her to a farmer friend who, I knew, would use her right and I bought a Morris Cowley car. But what a price I had to pay, so soon after the war! But, once I had got used to the car, I found it fully justified by the time and trouble saved; one got to one's cases sooner, which is always an advantage, and night-work lost most of its terrors.
For years afterwards, my mare, if standing by the kerb, would be able to detect my footsteps even if I was walking in a crowded street, and turn her head and snicker in welcome. Finally, she was sold again, this time to a dairyman and she was still working his milk-float when she was thirty-three, always with a clean bill of health!
Then came the deflation of 1926 and the great strike; it was the farming industry that was hit most severely by the falling prices and my practice suffered a blow from which it never recovered. The farmers drew in their horns and kept less stock and that of less value. People began to get short of money and the tendency was to let sick animals rip until they were too far gone for successful treatment. Of course, in addition to this, horses were rapidly being replaced by mechanical traction; the long and short of it was that I began to have some spare time in my practice.
One thing that I did with this spare time was to write a textbook on the camel in health and in disease; I had long intended to do it, indeed I considered that the opportunities I had had in the past and the salary and allowances I had drawn from my camel-work made this an obligation. When this interesting job was done, I snatched time off to see a London printer of veterinary works; but his ideas were fixed and could not be shifted; he wanted to produce an imposing volume about 3½ inches thick which would cost a purchaser 26/-. Now I hadn't been a camelman for nothing, and I knew that every ounce of weight that could be saved in my treatise would mean a few more sardines in the chop-box for someone! I said I did not want my work to be in the form of a large tome, but a compact book in rather small print. He just could not see it. So back to Stamford I went and there I arranged with the printer of one of the local newspapers to print my book, and I made my own arrangements about the illustrations for it; finally, I got an account-book binder, in Kettering, to do the simple cover for the book, and turned out the article I aimed at for a cost to purchaser of 16/-. I expected to lose £100 on this venture, but actually, in time, I made a profit of nearly that amount! The book is the accepted camel text-book, and I wrote two supplements to it containing information which brings the book up-to-date. The Governments of India and of Somaliland helped me greatly by ordering a large number of my books before it was published. I sold out my last copy in 1951.
In 1928, I retired from practice, having had nine years of it without a holiday; I handed it over to an ex-serviceman who had been under the weather. I am glad I retired when I did; and I do not think I should like the life a modern veterinary surgeon leads in the country, with so much stress placed upon rather uninteresting preventive work with cattle, involving frequent rectal examinations and with that dear creature, the horse, taking such an insignificant amount of his attention.
Before I leave Stamford, I will relate a few anecdotes about our own pets we had there. We had three cats, one of which was a tortoiseshell female, which had a litter of kittens in our dining-room cupboard. That very morning, I was called out to a terrier bitch which could not pup; after the removal of a dead puppy and the birth of several live ones, the bitch was found too weak to rear all the litter, and yet the owner wanted to save the pups. I bethought myself of Binkle, the aforesaid cat. So I said: "Let me take a long chance and see if our cat can help". I took the superfluous pups home, got Binkle out of earshot, removed the litter of kittens and destroyed them, and put the pups in the place where the kittens had been. Then we brought Binkle back and stood by ready for action, for normally she hated dogs. As she stepped into the cupboard, she stopped as though she had seen a ghost, and her tail became twice its proper size. For a tense half-minute, she remained thus, then climbed in among the pups and there was no more trouble; but she never licked them and at first was frankly puzzled by the noises they made. She brought them up, small as she was, although one was taken from her at the fourth week because it was clearly beyond her strength to continue to suckle the lot; this pup was taken back to its legitimate mother, who, after being prevented from killing it, suckled it until weaning time.
Two of our cats mastered the art of opening latched doors; for this reason we had to use a hook and staple to prevent the larder door being at their service. They would spring up and hang on to the handle of the door with one paw and pull the latch down with the other paw; and if there were two working together, the other cat would shove the door at the right time. How they ever learned this trick, I cannot tell. It may sound incredible, but I once saw Nandy, our yellow cat, sitting on the back-door mat with his mother and the latter got up and evidently wanted to go into the house, the back door being shut; Nandy got up, opened the door for his mother in the way I have described and then went back and sat down on the mat again. I record this, not as a case of chivalry or filial sense in cats, but as a remarkable bit of co-operation.
Animals like that, I always feel, are not so far removed from us. I always regarded Christianity as a religion alien to white men's instincts, because it takes no note of man's best friends who share his hearth. It is in the East where dogs are pariahs. I think it a pity that Christianity has not been adjusted better to the spiritual needs of Nordic men, who do not need to be told not to murder and steal; a white man's religion would begin on a higher plane and teach him to be straight-forward, to be kind to animals, to be courageous, loyal and chivalrous.
One of my patients had been a St. Bernard dog, born in Switzerland, belonging to a titled lady. I had had him under treatment on two occasions and was called to him once more on a third. The owner said: "Mr. Leese, you seem to be able to keep this dog fit and well, yet, with me, he is always ailing; would you like to have him?" As this great dog was 10½ stone in weight and as high as a table, I felt it incumbent upon me to consult the mistress of my house before coming to any decision; but she knew the dog and said "Yes" at once. So Barry came to us, although we always called him Knob, because he had one on his head (anatomists call it the "occipital tuberosity"). It was always more like having a guest in the house rather than a dog, except when we had to follow him around with a "gob-cloth" to wipe away the slobber which he could not help depositing in places where no slobber should be. He was our magnificent friend for some years and went with us to Guildford when I retired; he was the biggest dog in the district and the gentlest. He passed over when we were away in Norway for a holiday; when we heard the sad tidings, it spoiled the rest of that holiday for us both. He collected for the hospitals in Stamford, for the Fascists in Trafalgar Square, and on many other occasions. He had a way of wandering down our hill into the High Street of Guildford and sitting at a corner of the street to watch the traffic go by; but the crowds he collected on those occasions were so large that the habit became a nuisance and we discouraged it. When he wanted to go out by himself, we headed him in the opposite direction on to the downs where he could sit and watch the landscape without doing any harm.
One thing had been worrying me for some time. I could not understand how it was that, although we had won the war, we seemed to be losing every yard of the peace which followed. Something, I felt, must be acting like a spanner in the works.
Then I heard the late Mr. Arthur Kitson speak at one or two political meetings of various complexions. Kitson had worked about 35 years for Monetary Reform, a subject of which I knew nothing; he owned a factory in Stamford for the manufacture of "Kitson's Lights" which were used for illuminating lighthouses and large railway stations. He was not popular in the town, but I felt that he knew something, goodness knows what, which others didn't, including myself, and I asked him one day to drop in and tell me what it was all about. That started our friendship which lasted until his death. He was a short man with thick white hair, and very musical; he used to play piano duets with my wife. He had a contempt for all politicians and political parties because of their stupid and silent acquiescence in the fraud of the Gold Standard. Although, at that date, his strenuous efforts, which included several books, had made no great progress in altering "Public opinion" on the vital question of control over the issue of money, he is now known to all monetary reformers as the Pioneer of their cause. I was not a very quick student, finding the subject required a considerable mental effort to master, and never being really attracted to it; but I gradually came to understand that here was something affecting the lives of men, women and children everywhere, and which existed as an unrecognised evil manipulated in secret by a few people greedy for Power. In fact, I saw that control of the issue of Money was Power.
Apart altogether from Kitson's influence, I had watched with interest the bloodless revolution of Mussolini, who by sheer determination had ended the chaos into which Liberalism (disguised) had brought his country; it appeared to me that here was a movement which might end political humbug, and his declaration "My Aim is Reality" appealed to me strongly. I wrote a little pamphlet Fascism for Old England, suggesting that only those should have a vote who were willing to pay for the privilege; every man would pay a sum equal to, say, one day's income, according to his means, before he would receive the suffrage; it seemed to me good realism that what a man had to pay for, he would value and that the electors would become a body of people who would vote for the country instead of for their own selfish interests. I also joined an organisation called the British Fascists, and I made a special journey to town to implore them to change their name, as I thought the initials were just asking for it! To my surprise, I failed to gain this obvious reform! After a while, I found that there was no Fascism, as I understood it, in the organisation which was merely Conservatism with Knobs On; it was justified by the Red attempts to smash up meetings of the Right, but it should never have been misnamed. Failing to get anything altered, I left the "B.F."
I have often heard people say that you cannot define Fascism; I always said I could: a revolt against democracy and a return to statesmanship. In 1924, there had been a General Election a few days before the local Borough Council elections took place. The Conservatives had announced their intention of "fighting socialism". When the Borough election approached, we found that quite contrary to this declaration, Socialist Councillors were going to be allowed to return without a fight; so my friend, Harry Simpson, and I put ourselves forward as Fascist candidates. Every effort was made by the local Freemasons to dissuade us, and we were told that no fresh blood ever got on to the Borough Council in Stamford at the first attempt; but we put in a lot of hard and sickening work canvassing our wards and the result was we both got in, beating the two principal camouflaged Bolsheviks, pillars of their Party, to the astonishment of the town. I was a Councillor, of course, for three years, but found it dull work. Simpson served his three years and then put up again as Fascist and was re-elected; I did not try again as I knew I was leaving the town. We were the first constitutionally elected Fascists in England.
When canvassing for this election, it was impressed upon me what utter humbug the democratic vote really is; many people, I knew, voted for me because I had cured their pigs or pets and without the slightest idea what I stood for, beyond that. (Talking of pigs, I went once to see an Irishman's pig which had developed ugly blotches on its skin; I found on examining the animal, that these were bruises, not disease, and traced them to mischievous stoning by small boys. The Irishman remarked "I don't like cruelty to animals, especially dumb animals!" What is it that makes the Irish say these funny things? I have never heard the answer to this question.)
I had about 80 so-called Fascists organised in the town, but very few of these meant business. I often ask myself what was the bravest act I ever did? Well, it was to turn out into the streets of a town (in which everyone knew me) in the black shirt uniform. I had never done any public speaking before and almost literally shook with nerves at first when going through the soap-box stage; but I stuck at it until I had no nerves at all.
When I retired from professional work and left the town, I started with four others to found the Imperial Fascist League in London. I lived at Guildford; and our first headquarters was a poky little room in Chandos House, near St. James' Park Tube Station. After six months or so, I was made Director-General of the organisation and remained in that position until the first day of the second world war when we closed down.
Arthur Kitson had introduced me to the Jewish Menace, of which hitherto I had no real knowledge. (I was 45 before I knew anything about what was going on behind the political scenery). He was very nervous of the Jews because of threats and injuries received, and would never speak of them at his meetings, but he knew all about them. He introduced me to a little Society called "The Britons", in Great Ormond Street, W.C.1, founded by the now well-known anti-Jewish pioneer, the late H. H. Beamish. From them I got a copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, in which is concentrated the main outline of the Jewish Plot for World Domination. Everything in this little book rang true; I simply could not put it down until I had finished it. When I came to investigate further, I realised how little information was really available for detailed study of the subject; want of knowledge among the public was the result of a deliberate conspiracy of Jewish silence; I determined to break that silence and to make the knowledge public property. Beamish lost no time; he appeared outside my door at Stamford on a motor-cycle side?car within two days of my application to "The Britons" for information.
I have been conducting a research on the Jew Menace ever since, and I wish here to emphasise that I have done it in the same scientific spirit as when I was investigating camel diseases in the world's deserts. I have been after truth, not propaganda; in fact, I investigated the diseases of the body politic!
My hands were full; research required time and concentration; running an organisation also required time and was apt to interfere with concentration. Progress was painfully slow, because although I myself could produce the means to prevent collapse, I could get no funds to splash about for publicity. However, after about a year, we were able to move to bigger offices, first at 16, Craven Street, Strand; later at No. 30. All help was purely volunteer and unpaid. There was nothing to pay anyone with. During the first year, a lot of political crooks and most of the cranks went through my hands, but as my policy was to entrust no new member with anything important until we had had the chance to try him out, they were never able to do us any harm and were all slung out in due course. We ran a monthly paper The Fascist, and published our pamphlets as funds permitted. It was my rule that no liability should be incurred until we had the funds to cover it. This may have helped to make progress slow, but it gave us a good name and our credit was never in doubt with anyone who dealt with us. We could seldom afford the expense of hiring halls for meetings, and it is my opinion that meetings of any kind, except at election time, have one use only, that is, to make your own members think something is going on. That was too expensive a hobby for me. Sometimes, when financed, we would have these meetings and then we began to find that the Jewish power would often step in and get the letting of the hall cancelled a few days before the advertised time of the meeting. We found that the League of Nations Union could be used for our purposes, often without expense to ourselves; that futile body had constant need to thrash up the flagging enthusiasm of its own members, and we found them often willing to have public debates with us, on some such motion that "The League of Nations, as a means of preserving peace, is not to be trusted". As we knew that the League of Nations was entirely sponsored by the Jews to ensure future wars, we used their platform to get wide publicity for exposure of the organised Jewish Money Power or Sanhedrin. The reactions of our highly religious opponents often astonished me; they seemed to think that because we opposed the League of Nations, we must want wars; their Christian charity seemed lacking! We opposed it because it was an utter fraud, and for no other reason. We told the people who was behind the fraud. Sometimes a local branch of the League of Nations Union would send to their Headquarters in London for speakers to deal with us; and we began to know all their arguments. Mr. Alec Wilson used to liken the League to the gear-box of a motor-car; to which we replied that we should hate to drive a motor-car with 56 gears in it, and that the only part of a motor-car which we could think of to compare it with was the back-fire from the exhaust!
About three years after we had been in existence as the Imperial Fascist League, we found that Sir Oswald Mosley was muscling in to the Fascist field of politics.
He had the money and we had not, and as he was a well-known figure in democratic politics and did not attempt to face the Jewish issue (how could he with his first wife the grand-daughter of Levi Leiter, the flour-cornerer of Chicago?) he took what little wind there was out of our sails for a time. But in his case, the political crooks and cranks aforesaid did not get slung out; they stayed in! In the end, there remained Mosley "fans" and nothing else. Mosley's advent was a disaster to Fascist development in Britain, for it prevented the best elements in the country from associating themselves with any Fascist movement for some years; Mosley's Kosher Fascism got newspaper publicity, and the special support of the Daily Mail, whilst the Imperial Fascist League was left in a position of comparative obscurity. Mosley's supporters appeared in strength to oppose us whenever we held a public meeting; the President of the Oxford University Jewish Society correctly summed up the position in writing to the Jewish Chronicle (29th September, 1933): "Our greatest supporters in the fight against the Imperial Fascists are the Mosley Fascists themselves". It was a case of Quantity versus Quality. On one occasion in November, 1933, a meeting of ours at Trinity Hall, Great Portland Street, was attacked on a pre-arranged signal by a large body of Mosleyites which greatly outnumbered our men and General Blakeney and other speakers were badly hurt; in my own case, I was attacked by 26 men, thrown to the ground, half-stripped of my clothes, struck on the face with a leaden "kosh" and much bruised by kicks. The object of this attack was to finish and silence the Imperial Fascist League, but it had the opposite effect. Why do Jews and Mosleyites always judge us by themselves? The "kosh", aforesaid, was meant to break my jaw, but it landed on the soft part between cheek-bone and upper jaw, so nothing "gave". Newspapers, describing this battle, said it was the biggest fight that had ever been seen at a London meeting; our enemies deliberately smashed as many chairs as they could, knowing that we, who had no large fund behind us, would have to pay the owners of the hall for them.
This Mosley business was as big a nuisance to the Imperial Fascist League as it was to the London Police, but in a different way. Whenever we of the Imperial Fascist League held a meeting, we would have to waste time by explaining to the audience the difference between the Mosley "Fascists" and ourselves. We needed all our time on these occasions to cover our constructive programme and the reasons which made that programme necessary; the clock was always our worst enemy; there was so much to say. It is interesting to record that William Joyce, who was at the time a Mosleyite, said that the B.U.F. (the Mosley organisation) was not anti-semitic, and expressed "great sympathy for the Jews all over the world for the unhappy plight of their brethren in Germany" (report by S. H. Herinsky, Jewish Chronicle, October, 1933). Well, we were always about 15 years ahead of Mosley & Co! On another occasion, I had to get ready to defend myself for libel after pointing out in my paper that Mosley's right-hand man of the time, a well-known General, had been one of Aleister Crowley's greatest admirers and was hardly to be considered a suitable Gauleiter for the youth of Britain! However, the Mosleyite in question found that I had so much ammunition concerning him that the action threatened did not materialise. Now let me leave Mosley and his merry men; they always were a tiresome nuisance to us "Racialists."
We used to hold a lecture-meeting on some aspect of Fascist policy every Wednesday evening at our G.H.Q. and as our offices were open until late in the evening, I would often not reach home until one o'clock in the morning. Progress, if measured by recruiting figures, was painfully slow. I had imagined, when I started, that it only needed the initiative of a few pioneers to get the support of influential people, but I had underestimated the power of Jewish money; the fact was that influential people would at once lose their influence as soon as it was known that they were anti-Jewish. We found that there was a great gulf fixed between the acquiring of knowledge on the Jew, Menace and the taking of any action about it. The "gulf" meant Ruin to business people, the Sack and Unemployment to wage-earners. Our best support came from the most independent sections of the community, professional men, unmarried people and those with no families. These would not be afraid of publicity and would give time and money to the cause.
For years, I went out every Friday evening, for 2½ hours, to sell The Fascist on the kerb of Coventry Street; sometimes alone, sometimes with as many as five others; the more sellers, the greater number of papers sold per individual seller. We were sometimes attacked, and once a blow over the eye paralysed one of my eyelids for a week.
In 1936, the Public Prosecutor was persuaded to charge me with seditious libel and public mischief on account of the July issue of The Fascist, which was outstanding in the information it gave. In due course, I, together with my printer, Mr. Whitehead, who was also a member of my organisation, appeared in the dock at Old Bailey. We conducted our own defence; this, because experience shows that few counsel can be trusted to face the threats or refuse bribes at the hands of the Jewish Power before the case comes to Court; employing counsel to defend a man charged with anti-Jewish offences is too often simply paying to be betrayed. I consulted a good solicitor, but would not allow myself to be represented in Court. The trial received great newspaper publicity and resulted in our acquittal so far as the seditious libel charge was concerned; this was because I was able to show that no such charge could be upheld where the object of the language used had been to get altered a "matter of state established", i.e., the naturalisation of Jews as British citizens. But there is no real defence to a Public Mischief charge and this had been tacked on to the major charge in order to get a conviction. We were found "Guilty" of Public Mischief, but "Not Guilty" of Seditious Libel; and, refusing, on principle, to pay any fine, I was savagely sentenced to six months' imprisonment. Whitehead was fined £20. Here are some of the peculiar features of this trial.
The Judge was a 31st degree Scottish Rite Freemason, the late Sir W. Greaves-Lord. The indictment had six counts: four of seditious libel, two of public mischief. The first seditious libel count was for intent to promote ill-will against Jews; the second for intent to cause hostility against them; the third for intent to cause discontent between Jew and Gentile; the fourth for intent to cause disaffection between Jew and Gentile. The idea was to get me convicted on four charges instead of one, although the charges were really exactly the same. The two charges of Public Mischief were for making scandalous and libellous statements about Jews to the injury, prejudice and disturbance of the lawful free and customary intercourse between Jew and Gentile and to the endangerment of peaceful relations between them; the second of these counts had added to this the words:—"thereby rendering His Majesty's subjects of Jewish faith liable to suspicion, affront and boycott." But anyone who writes his political views in a newspaper is sure to "affront" some reader! He is also sure to make his political opponents "liable to suspicion" on the part of his readers: if a writer advocates Trade Unionism, he will at once make NonUnionists liable to "boycott"! No political writer could adequately defend himself against such charges; that is why they were brought against me. Yet, the Public Prosecutor never uses the count of Public Mischief to deal with Trade Unionists who indulge in unofficial strikes causing incalculable harm to other citizens. As to the practice of making multiple charges against a defendant, Alderman Sir Phene Neal had, only a fortnight before my case, severely criticised the Police at the Mansion House Justice Room for bringing two counts against a motorist (1) for driving in a manner dangerous to the public; (2) for driving without care and attention. Sir Phene said: "You cannot prosecute a man twice for the same offence" and warned the Police that if he, in any future such case, convicted a man on one only of the counts, he would give costs against the Police on the other count. All this shows how the law was stretched almost to bursting point to stop my writings in The Fascist.
I was not so foolish as to appeal against the sentence; it would have been a waste of time as the order had obviously gone out: "Stop this man at all costs".
I was taken in a Black Maria to Wormwood Scrubs, an "uplift" prison for first offenders chiefly. The uplifting process was then to try and cow the spirit of a prisoner for the first two months until he became an automaton, and after that to give him association with all sorts of criminals at meal-times. I worked a treadle sewing-machine in the tailors' shop, repairing prison underclothes which had come from the laundry. Here I met Mr. H. W. Wicks, author of The Prisoner Speaks, in which book the conditions of prison-life at the time are so well described, that it would be of little interest for me to describe them here. One incident, however, is worthy of record. The prisoners had a debating society, at which I was asked to lead a debate on "Democracy is a failure". I consented to this, but two days before the date fixed, I was visited in my cell by the Schoolmaster, who told me that the Governor decreed that I must not mention the Jewish question in my speech! Of course, I refused to speak at all under such a condition. On Christmas Day, 1936, hundreds of cards arrived for me, and these I was allowed to look through in the Principal Officer's office. Most of these cards were distinctly anti-Jewish, and served to educate some of the warders!
I earned the full remission for good conduct, which docked 1½ months from my sentence, so I was released in February, 1937. My friends had sent a car for me, and I made a "triumphal" exit through a cheering crowd of Fascists who had got up very early to be present at the gate.
When I had had time to get into my stride again, I wrote a book on the subject of Jewish Ritual Murder, the subject most strongly objected to by the prosecution at my trial. I have sold thousands of this book without further prosecution. It was a great moral victory over a corrupt pro-Jewish regime; long afterwards (12th March, 1946) Lord Vansittart, in the House of Lords, said that I "should have been prosecuted again and gaoled for considerably longer"; he refused my invitation to repeat this libellous statement in an unprivileged place.
Commenting on my conviction, the New Statesman said "the calling in aid of a criminal charge of 'effecting a Public Mischief' to cope with anti-semitism, has commanded little enthusiasm among lawyers; it is far too vague. Public Mischiefs which are to be restrained by the criminal law must be defined with proper precision if justice is to be done".
It is plain that this hostile weekly knew that justice had not been done!
As Rabbi Leon Spitz wrote in the American Hebrew of 1st March, 1946:— "We must fill our jails with anti-semitic gangsters . . . we must harass and prosecute our Jew baiters to the extreme limits of the laws".
All that is strictly in accordance with Protocol 19 of the Elders of Zion:—"In order to destroy the prestige of heroism for political crime, we shall send it for trial in the category of thieving, murder, and every abominable and filthy crime. Public opinion will then confuse in its conception this category of crime with the disgrace attaching to every other and will brand it with the same contempt."
But, perhaps nothing shows better the bad faith and humbug of this prosecution than the fact that no attempt was made to prohibit further sale of the offending issue of The Fascist; that is, the issue for July, 1936. I have sold hundreds of them since, apparently earning six months' imprisonment (or more?) every time a sale was made!
The strain of conducting the Imperial Fascist League with hardly any funds and against savage opposition was very great; I insisted on taking two or three weeks' holiday every year. My wife and I once went on a conventional trip to Norway and Spitzbergen and, on another occasion, a very unconventional one to Iceland, where we visited very remote villages; sometimes we would take our holidays apart, and then I used to tour around the British Islands using my car as an hotel and carrying with me my bedding and enough food and cooking utensils to make my own breakfasts and teas. Living this independent life, one was able to see every part of the country; one rises early, and it is far from comfortable, but I argued that as I was comfortable all the rest of the year, what did it matter if I was not comfortable on a holiday? I have been on the top of some of our highest mountains whilst other people were starting their breakfasts! I never had anything stolen from my car, although I often left it for hours and it had no lock. But I doubt if that risk could be wisely taken in these days. I used to carry a large syrup-tin which I would fill with good drinking water late in the afternoon, so that I was independent of water-supply and could camp anywhere. Another "tip" for anyone who wants to take a holiday-trip of this sort is: Before deciding on a spot on which to park for the night, have a good look at it before it gets too dark; see that it has a good enough approach for a car; many delectable-looking spots for camping are found to be inaccessible because of a ditch or some other obstruction; make sure that the site will not become difficult with an unwelcome shower of rain; if you are in country where mosquitoes or gnats are troublesome, aim for high altitudes and test the place by sitting for 10 minutes on the running-board; if the flies don't find you in 10 minutes, you are high enough to get a good night's rest; this is particularly important in Scotland. Needless to say, I always left the place in the morning without a trace of litter. Once you have found your camping-ground, clear out for half-a-mile or so until it gets dark, for that, in some parts of the country, is the only way to avoid the nuisance of nosey parkers or village idiots! Avoid sandy waste ground containing the remains of tramps' fires; the tramps leave livestock behind.
On one trip of this kind, I had an adventure with a bull which was perhaps worthy of record; I reproduce this account of it by the courtesy of Country Life, which published it under the caption Toreador in Teesdale in their issue of 15th June, 1945.
By Arnold Leese.
Published in "Country Life", 15th June, 1945, and reprinted by
Then my Mistake was made; the trouble should have been seen to at once; it wasn't my first experience with a slipping clutch, but my mind was made up to get across the watershed over into Alston before camping for the night, and I drove on. It was silly, but having broken the back of my journey in one day's driving, I was perhaps unduly exalted in spirit. The slipping went through all the usual stages from slight to bad and from bad to worse, until, several miles before the divide, my car only surmounted a sharp ascent after a desperate struggle, so I decided that it was impossible to "make" Alston and that it was better to camp at once and settle my troubles in the morning. It was now 10.30 p.m., but still fairly light. I always carried my food, water and bedding and was quite independent of hotels, so there was no worry at all on that score. By this time the car would not move under its own power and had to be man-handled off the road; I brought it to a standstill across the entry of a gate into a grass field. I began to make things ship-shape for the night; a few adjustments converted my car into a comfortable bedroom.
Then the bellowing began, getting louder every second as a Shorthorn bull quickly approached the gate on the field side to see who and what it was that dared to invade his privacy. He was a fine fellow, a roan, and he stood there bellowing and pawing up the ground with his foot.
Now it is a queer enough coincidence that my car should have been immovably fixed opposite the gate of a field with a loose bull in it; there couldn't have been many such fields adjoining a main road in the whole of the north of England! The bull had the run of two or three fields and had not been in sight when I was scouting around. gut perhaps it was almost as much a coincidence that I, to whom this incident occurred, was no stranger to bulls and was, in fact, accustomed to them, which, of course, meant that I had acquired a respect for them without that petrifying fear of the unfamiliar which would have been felt by 999 motorists out of every thousand on the road that night if it had happened to them.
My respect for bulls is due not only to their strength and activity, and their uncertain attitude towards strangers, owing to their limited scope for human acquaintance, but also to the fact that the bull has the brains of the herd, as any cowboy from the ranges would confirm.
The bull and I looked at one another, and I, for my part, did some rapid thinking, which however, resulted in no conclusion more satisfactory than wishing I was safe at home. The bull came to a more definite decision; he took a pace forward, down went his head with his horns under the second bar of the gate, from the bottom, and in a trice the gate was off its hinges, although still across the entry. I clung desperately to the end next the hinges and managed to re-hang it on to the top-hinge and then rushed to the other end, where leverage to some extent cancelled out the bull's vastly superior strength. All I could do against such power was to try and keep the gate across the entry, no matter at what angle. Time after time, the bull tried to lift the gate out of his way, on his horns, but I was able, with great exertion, to frustrate him. The effort was considerable and I was already tired after my long drive.
There was only one house in sight, for we were near the head of the Tees valley, the road was lonely and we were in bleak sheep country, with a few fields lining the river. Night was falling.
If I could have stepped back to the car, I could have reached some rope, none too strong, with which to slip clove-hitches on the gate-ends; if the rope did not break, it might have puzzled the bull. But I could not leave the gate for a second; the bull's movements were quick and he was persevering. Had I let go of the gate, he would have been through it in no time.
Quite early in the struggle, as we stood panting and regarding one another, I recognised that he was not objecting to my own presence, but that of the car. I could even turn down his lip to see his age, which was three years; I could scratch his head and rub it behind his horns, which he seemed to like. If it had merely been necessary to save my skin, I could have done it easily enough by hopping over a wall into another field. But he was angry, angry with the car for standing there and if he got through that gateway my holiday in Scotland would be postponed until the next year, as he would have broken up the car, particularly its top-hamper and windscreen, and, with the strength he had in his mighty neck, he might have directed that gate-lifting gift of his towards over-turning the car. So it was necessary to stay, nearly deafened with his bellowing at close quarters.
We struggled on and often the gate was hanging on his horns, loose at both ends, but I was always able to drag it back across the entry before he could disentangle himself from it and get through.
It was borne in upon me that this was the first evening of a holiday much overdue as a rest from overwork, and I had to laugh, though without mirth.
By now, it was 11 p.m. and dark; tired as I was, the pace was too hot to last. The bull was tolerant enough of my presence, but viciously anxious to liquidate the car. We wrestled on until about a quarter before midnight.
At last came a slow footstep up the hill—a farm labourer returning home from the fleshpots of Middleton or some lesser place. He quickly took in the situation as I explained to him, and trudged off to get help. Before he left, I got him to hand me the ropes out of the car, with which I fixed both ends of the gate to the posts. As soon as he had gone, the bull burst one of these ropes with a powerful jerk, but the prospect of early relief to my troubles encouraged me to hang on.
Another half-hour or so and the owner, with a couple of men with heavy sticks and three dogs, arrived and drove the bull into a distant field where I could hear him bellowing through the night.
When they had gone, I dossed down in the car, dead beat. In the morning, a postman, passing on a bicycle, took a message from me to a garage in Middleton and, before three o'clock in the afternoon, I was again on the road north. It was my first real holiday in Scotland, and well worth the trouble of getting there.
The Jewish War.
Then came Munich, and a year afterwards, the War itself. It was unfortunate that I was actually on the sick list recovering from a gastric ulcer when the war broke out. Knowing that to carry on in the London office in war-time would not be possible, I closed down our G.H.Q. at once; the branches that could not pay their own way closed down, too. Two months of milk dieting, followed by a further period of restriction cured my complaint; which never gave me any more trouble; it was brought on undoubtedly by worry and by rushing into activity, habitually, too soon after meals.
In May, 1940, the Government put into practice its infamous regulation known as 18B, which allowed the Home Secretary to cause the arrest of anyone for indefinite periods of detention if he had "reasonable cause to believe" they had been recently concerned in acts prejudicial to the public safety or the defence of the realm or in the preparation or instigation of such acts and that by reason thereof it is necessary to exercise control over them. As the Government and the War were both Jewish, this regulation was construed as being applicable to anyone anti-Jewish. There was no trial; you were just arrested and taken away. There was a humbugging affair called an "advisory committee", to which the detained people could appeal, but it was composed of people appointed by the Home Secretary himself; no evidence on oath was taken and the decisions could be reversed by the Home Secretary if he liked. It was a disappointment to me that so very few of the detained people refrained from using this Committee; if everyone had refused to recognise it, something more akin to justice might have been forced upon the Government.
About the 24th May, 1940, a large number of arrests were made under this regulation, including those of Capt. A. M. Ramsay, M.P. and Sir Oswald Mosley and his staff. I was not interfered with at this time, but I did not trust the look of things, and I began to picnic out in the country during the day-time, it being summer, only returning home at night. Getting tired of this, I went to the seaside to stay with friends for a fortnight and then, as nothing had happened at home, I returned to live there openly and normally. But I took certain precautions and arranged hide-outs for use if necessary at the homes of friends and provided for a certain signal to be made visible from the road, to prevent my returning from a walk to find detectives waiting for me inside my own home. I also wrote a letter to be delivered to any detective calling to arrest me when I was out, in which I explained that I would resist arrest, knowing 18B to be unconstitutional and illegal.
I was returning from a visit to the library in Guildford when I became aware that the signal was against me. I turned in my tracks, left the town with what I stood up in, and retired to a rural hideout. Next day, I asked my wife to join me, as I was afraid that she might be taken herself as a method of getting me. She told me what had happened.
My house had been surrounded by Police before the detective knocked; my wife went to the door and was told that the house was to be searched; this did not prevent the signal being made! My letter was given to the detective and seemed to annoy him, as I am not polite to those who take pay to do dirty work for the Jews. The Police spent 1½ hours in my house and took away a bundle of papers; on being challenged by my wife on their right (?) to remove my property, they promised to return everything in a fortnight; this promise they carried out, and asked for me again, without response. I expect that after this the house was watched, and one month later, two stupid-seeming policemen called late one evening and asked my wife, who by this time had returned home, where I was; they left unenlightened.
Meanwhile I had, at first, lived quietly at Hide-out No. 1, but detectives came one day to visit my host, who was a Fascist; they had no idea that I was there and I listened to their examination of him although, so far as distance is concerned, I was within arm's length of them, but I remained undiscovered and unscathed! After they had left, I left, too, fearing to involve my kind host in trouble if it was found out later that they had been sheltering me. I travelled up to London and established myself in Hide-out No. 2. Here, I was again with friends, and I used to absent myself from about 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. visiting various parts of London, where I could find instruction or amusement. I was able, now and then, to meet my wife and spend the day with her.
In the autumn of 1940 came the invasion scare; I felt I had better take a few extra risks to be at home to offer what protection I could to my wife. I reached home safely and lived there three weeks, during which one of the rare bombings of Guildford occurred; I slept and worked during the day and exercised in the garden at night. The invasion-scare was now over, so I again made myself scarce, returning to my London Hide-out. Four weeks later, I made another stay at home, but I fear I must have been careless enough to allow someone to see me at a window or in the garden, because, on 9th November, I was doing some indexing in my bedroom about noon, when my wife came running in to tell me that detectives had burst into the house and were halfway up the stairs! I seized a thick stick, which I always had close to me throughout the time I had been "on the run", and crept out on to the landing. There I saw a plain-clothes detective looking into the linen cupboard; I crept up behind him and could have brained him, but I simply said: "What the hell are you doing in my house?" He turned round quickly with his hand in his pocket and just then a uniformed man came along the passage behind me, so I backed into a corner and then there followed a sort of parley. I told them the facts and pointed out the dirty work they were doing for pay. They replied that they were ignorant men who had been ordered to make this arrest and if anything happened to them, others would follow to do it. Reasonable enough, that, for morons! Eventually they rushed me and a long struggle ensued; I did what I could, but there were two of them, each as strong as I was, and twenty years' younger. My wife tried to help me and was, afterwards, fined £20 for it! At last they got me to the head of the stairs and then uniformed men came rushing up the staircase, the first one waving a revolver. This made the force against me overwhelming, which I took to be the only excuse for calling off resistance. Then I was taken down to Guildford Police Station, where, after searching, I was placed in a filthy cell, below ground, with stinking W.C. complete; I smashed everything breakable and tore the noisome blankets into strips and stuffed them down the W.C. This I did because I did not intend to be spirited away into detention without the people of Guildford, at least, getting to know. The Superintendent charged me at the Police Court with the damage, for which I was fined, but, of course, would not pay; and I was given one month's imprisonment instead. Handcuffed to a policeman, I was taken in a police-van to Wandsworth prison where I served the month without incident worth mentioning; after that, I was handcuffed to a conscientious objector and then removed to Brixton prison as an 18B detainee.
Here, of course, I met many friends and some Mosleyite enemies. For the first fortnight, the imprisonment amounted to solitary confinement excepting for about four hours a day, when we mixed together. The men who had taken no precautions to get "on the run" had mostly been already in detention for six months, and at first they had had a scandalously bad treatment, but gradually, as the prison staff began to realise that their prisoners were not quite what the Home Secretary had intimated they were, i.e., traitors to their country and potential saboteurs, the detainees got improved conditions. Within a fortnight of my arrival, we had our cell-doors opened all day until 8 p.m. and we had about five hours in the winter and more in the summer in which we could be out-of-doors in the prison yard. Needless to say, we wore our own clothes, and absolutely refused when it was suggested to do work. Our friends could bring us food-parcels once a week. Otherwise we got prison-diet, although those who could afford it could have meals sent in from a restaurant outside.
I was disappointed to find how little fight there was in the average detainee; there was no chance of "starting anything"; there was no lack of wretched lick-spittles ready to betray anyone who organised combined action for escape or revolt; worse, I found that nearly all had already been before the Advisory Committee, and although I never would, my example came too late to have any effect.
After about a month of this, I went to the Governor, a wretched nervous wreck of a man, frightened of his own shadow, and complained of certain penal conditions I found myself under, contrary to law. His reply was: "My good man, don't you know that there are a lot of people outside who would like to have you all shot and that you may consider yourself lucky to be alive?" That gives an idea of what the Mug-in-the-Street had been told about us detainees!
My wife came every week, loaded with food-parcels, and although the official length of the visits was supposed to be only 15 minutes, this was such an obvious scandal that they become in practice about 40 minutes. I endeavoured to get this increased to an hour, but was always told that there was neither staff nor accommodation sufficient to lengthen the period; this was utter nonsense, but we could do nothing about it. By the way, in the detention camps run by the military, two-hour visits were allowed.
On 30th December, 1940, I became aware that I had been grossly libelled in an article in the Empire News for 27th October, 1940. Under the caption "Ribbentrop's Spy-Net", ex-Detective-Sergeant East had written that I had often attended German Nazi meetings in Westbourne Terrace and at Cleveland Terrace, Bayswater and at Porchester Hall, and that I had been to Nuremberg where I contacted the Fichter-Bund of Hamburg. As I had never attended any German meeting anywhere, and had never set foot in Germany, I wrote to the Editor requesting him to withdraw this libel, but the only result was that he published my denial of its truth, without withdrawing it. This man East was a detective who used to visit our G.H.Q. before the war, and whom we had always treated with courtesy as a policeman concerning whom there was nothing to hide. There was no remedy against this kind of libellous outrage; the Mug-in-the-Street was far beyond any ability to make an unbiassed judgment, and Juries are generally composed of such Mugs. By the way, I have often been grossly libelled, but have so little faith in the law under the Jewish-Masonic regime that I have always let it go rather than take action in the Courts. Anything seemed better than resorting to the law courts for redress. I was rather inclined to regard being libelled by the Jewish Press as an honour which did me no harm and often did me good. Perhaps the limit was reached when the American Daily Worker said that I had been convicted of rape and sodomy! Surely that is a record in "smear"!
At my request, my wife sent my war-medals to H.M. the King, saying that it did not seem proper to retain medals commemorative of services which had evidently been forgotten.
On 24th January, thirty of us were transferred to a camp at Ascot, where we were confined with many others within barbed wire and guarded by military; six weeks later, we were entrained and taken to a similar camp at Huyton, Liverpool. I then began a hunger-strike, partly to prevent being taken on to the Isle of Man, partly to try and break the whole abominable system. I did not try and get the participation of others as I knew that the strength of a chain is only that of its weakest link and the first man who broke down in a collective hunger-strike would be in danger of breaking the resolution of the rest. Actually one or two men did start hungerstriking at the same time, but they soon broke down. I was living with old comrades of the Imperial Fascist League, and kept my hunger-strike secret for the first ten days or so, as I thought that if the authorities got to know about it too soon, they might make my conditions unpleasant in other respects. On 13th March, I allowed the news to drift "across the wire" and I was sent for by a Captain Petrie, a Jew whose real name was Steinthal, who threatened me with proceedings for conduct prejudicial to good discipline! I laughed in his face, which he buried in his hands. I was thoroughly examined by two doctors whose report was sent to the Home-Office. 'During the past fortnight the only food I had had was an occasional teaspoon of sugar to correct acidity (this works like a charm) and two doughbuns on one occasion on which I was unable to resist this rare treat! On 18th March, I was escorted by two soldiers to Brixton prison again. I was too weak to try and make a break. The first afternoon, I was allowed to mix with my fellow-detainees, but thereafter I was kept in solitary confinement in the hospital of the prison. The Chief Medical Officer informed me that he had instructions to feed me when he thought it was necessary; I bluffed him to it (I not knowing exactly how the law stood) that if he did, I should take action against him for assault.
I had meanwhile informed my wife by code what was going on, and asked her to try and gain publicity for my hunger-strike, which she did. I asked a certain lawyer to come and see me, but he let me down by saying in front of a "screw" (warder) that he could do nothing. I also sent for a doctor I knew to come and examine me once a week to prevent any dirty work in the Prison Hospital. Owing to interference, the publicity I needed was not developing quickly enough; I had been relying on a certain lawyer visiting me, but my letters to him never got to him. I realised that as I was now getting weak, having had no food for 25 days except a small slice of bread once a week to prevent my alimentary arrangements from ceasing to function, I should not get publicity in time before my condition got dangerous, and I knew that Mr. R. R. Stokes, M.P. was going to ask a question about me in the House of Commons. That would be a long time ahead; so for the next 10 days I took a slice of bread, sometimes with margerine, twice a day, doing this secretly from the rations of friendly co-prisoners; no doubt, as I was weighed every day, the authorities began to smell a rat before the end of this time. By 8th April, I found out the date of Mr. Stokes's question, which would be 23rd April, so I went back on to all-out hunger-strike again. Frequent threats of forcible feeding were offered to me during this time. As they could not break me down that way, and knowing quite well about Mr. Stokes's pending question, they did actually twice forcibly feed me the day before! It was very unpleasant, as it was done with a probang pushed down the gullet, but as a veterinary surgeon I am familiar with the process and sustained no hurt except for a soreness in the throat. I was far too weak to resist. As soon as I knew the question could not be stopped, I ended my hunger-strike (50 days, less 10 days in the middle on minimal food) on evening of 22nd April.
Mr. Stokes, M.P., had asked whether the Home Secretary knew I was on hunger-strike against wrongful detention; and whether he would give an assurance that I was not being detained because of my well-known anti-Freemason and anti-semitic views. To the latter part of the question, Mr. Peake, Under-Secretary to Home Office, said it would not be proper for him to state the reason for my detention except that it came under Regulation 18B.
So I achieved little of public importance by my strike; but I prevented my export to Isle of Man, and my wife was able to see me every week almost throughout my detention. I have every reason to believe that from the health standpoint, I gained enormously from this unpleasant experience; I recovered from the effects of starvation without any trouble at all; and should any reader ever be in the unfortunate position of having to undergo a hunger-strike, I can assure him that the acidity of the first few days vanishes at once if a teaspoonful of sugar is taken; and that a small slice of bread once a week, which has little food value, prevents paralysis of the digestive process through non-use. Throughout my strike, I had no anxiety as to my own condition; but I caused it in others, and I understand, helped to send the Governor in a breakdown to a Home! I had no intention of killing myself, but I knew from former prison experience how nervous the Home Office is when prisoners who should not be in prison are taken, ill there, and there was always a reasonable chance of getting such publicity against 18B that the whole thing might break down. Well, it didn't, but if others had tried as hard as I did to smash it, it might have broken down.
On 30th May, 1941, I wrote the Home Office for the precise reasons of my detention, but the reply gave me no more information than I already had. I waited one year (!) and wrote again, on 12th June, 1942. This time, no reply whatever was vouchsafed. So on 28th August, 1942, I employed a lawyer to ask for the information. (This was nearly two years after my arrest!) This elicited the information that the said A. S. Leese was Director-General of the Imperial Fascist League, "a pro-German and Fascist organisation, and in that capacity was responsible for the propaganda produced and disseminated by the League against the prosecution of the War and the Allied cause." I got my solicitor to demand what specifically was objected to in the "propaganda" mentioned. It took six weeks to get a reply to this from the Home Office. Then it appeared that it was pretended that the items which had caused my detention were: (1) publications made since the war by Angles News Service for which I had no responsibility (although I thoroughly agreed with everything that the Service did); (2) a leaflet which I published called Leese for Peace, in which I advocated peace and quoted Lord Halifax's statements as to Why we were at war, criticised them piece-meal and pointed out we were simply fighting for the Jews. (This leaflet's wording is reproduced in Appendix); (3) a printed poem—ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS, which I did not write and did not disseminate, nor do I know to this day who the author was! As to being pro-German, I made it quite clear that I was against the return of former German colonies captured in the first World War; I admitted that I was anti-Jewish, and that I considered Hitler was right in the main, as I do now.
That seemed to be construed by the Home Office as being hostile to my own country! I repeat that the only thing that I felt could be usefully done was to get the war stopped, so that neither Britain nor Germany would be reduced to the level of minor powers, over which the Jews would easily preside, as has happened.
In February, 1943, the Home Secretary made it clear by his evasive replies to my lawyer's letters that it would be a waste of time to pursue the matter further.
In the middle of December of this year, an enlarged prostate gland, of which I had been aware for some years, became obstructive and a few days later, the Home Office sent a surgeon to examine me. This resulted in my removal from Brixton Prison to Horton Emergency Hospital, where I was operated upon with great success, although still "in detention"; at last, when I was ready to leave hospital, I was released from detention on 2nd February, 1944, after three years and four months' imprisonment without trial and for committing no crime! I was then in an extremely weak state and it took all my wife's best efforts to provide food enough to allow me to recover strength and health.
This is not a political treatise, but before leaving the subject of Regulation 18B, I would like to quote one or two items of information concerning it which have had little publicity. One is a statement in the Sunday Times, 22nd June, 1947, that when war came, Lord Rothschild "joined the Security Branch and was active in carrying out the Government's internment policy". The other concerns the test case taken up to the house of Lords by a Jew calling himself Robert W. Liversidge, as to the validity of Detention under 18B. Judgment was given against this Jew and in favour of the Home Secretary, but there was a dissenting Judge, Lord Atkin, who likened the decision of the other Judges to a conversation in Alice through the Looking Glass, for they had maintained that the words "If a man has" meant "If a man thinks he has"! Thus was "Justice" in war-time!
Finally, I quote from my book The Jewish War of Survival, Chapter II:—"In our past wars, when we were not under full Jewish control as we are now, individuals who disagreed with the supposed righteousness of their country's cause were allowed to say so publicly, so long as they did not actually interfere with the war itself. History records the following instances among many." Here follow the names of Pitt, Chas. Jas. Fox, John Bright, Lloyd George, Ramsay Macdonald and Herbert Morrison.
In Chapter XVII of the same book, Mr. Herbert Morrison's exact words are quoted from the Labour Leader, 3rd September, 1914, when he attempted to prevent people from joining the forces in the first World War.
And Morrison was the Home Secretary to whom the working of 18B was entrusted in the second World War!
Together with my old friend, H. H. Beamish, I offered to give evidence on the Jewish issue in defence of the Nuremberg accused; with the help of other good friends, I had managed to publish my book The Jewish War of Survival in typescript, the production of which was carried out under the greatest difficulties, as it was impossible to find a publisher who could print it without fear of reprisals, legal or illegal. At least it had a printed cover! A copy of this book was offered through the International Military Tribunal to Herman Goering's counsel and accepted by him. Probably that fact saved me from "persecution" by the Public Prosecutor, who was, at that time, being egged on against me. I may mention here that ultimately I managed, thanks to good friends in South Africa and in the U.S.A., to get this book properly printed in two editions.
In 1944, I began to publish, as an occasional report at irregular intervals, a typescript effort, Gothic Ripples, which was intended to keep already Jew-wise people up-to-date in recent developments. This soon became well-known in anti-Jewish circles all over the world. I was thereby exposed to frequent abuse from the Jew-controlled press and it was often the subject of questions in the House to the Home Secretary.
In 1946, the Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords revealed that there were five people in this country who would not be allowed passports if they applied for them; although I did not want a passport, I applied for one and was refused! I suppose I might be expected to annoy the Jews wherever I went? Well, I hope so!
Two Dutch prisoners-of-war who had been fighting in the German Army and had been captured, caused me a lot of trouble. They escaped from Kempton Park prison-camp in British uniforms, and having seen my address in one of the "smearing" articles about me, published from time to time in the papers, made straight for my house in Guildford where they arrived on 13th June, 1946. As I had always opposed the practice of keeping prisoners-of-war illegally confined long after the time when there was any possibility of war being resumed, which is contrary to the Hague War Regulations, I was willing to assist them to avoid re-arrest. I kept them in my house for two nights and found out for them that the Argentine Embassy was in charge of a man likely to be sympathetic to escaped prisoners-of-war. Then I passed them on to friends in the East End of London. I heard afterwards that they had interviewed the First Counsellor at the Argentine Embassy with a view to obtaining passages on a ship to South America, but that he had said he could not risk it, although he did not give them away. The two Dutchmen had agreed with me that if they failed at the Embassy, they would surrender, but, unfortunately for me, they changed their minds and stayed on with my friends. Eventually they were arrested on 15th December, 1946, at Worthing; upon which they seem to have immediately given all their protectors away, including myself, presumably under what is politely called "pressure", for they were not the type of men to betray us, a crime which seems, to me, worse than murder. However, the seven of us who had assisted them were duly charged with conspiracy to assist them and we all got the same sentence of twelve months' imprisonment. As I had had previous convictions, I was treated like an "old lag" and confined at Pentonville, the worst prison in the country. However, I survived this and after earning, with some difficulty, all my remission marks, I was released after eight months and returned home on 17th November, 1947, although in a poor state.
An item of note about this trial was that one of the Dutchmen refused to answer a question put to him as to what had happened to him after his arrest to induce him so dishonorably to give away his benefactors (it was possible to ask this question without admitting guilt because four of the defendants had pleaded guilty). The Judge ultimately allowed the witness, who had, of course, sworn to speak "the whole truth", to answer the question by writing something on a piece of paper which was then handed to the judge. The Judge did not divulge what was thereon written, so the case continued with this important question unanswered as far as jury, Defendants and the Public were concerned. In this way, the defendants were prevented from completely discrediting the statements made to the authorities in writing by the prisoners-of-war; those statements may have been made under threats or under torture.
Some people thought that the whole case was a "frame-up" to entrap me; but a consideration of all the circumstances, which are not, of course, detailed here, does not bear out the possibility of this. I had cheerfully broken a rotten law, took a risk, and abided by the result.
Shortly after my release, a Jewish Veterinary Surgeon tried to get my name struck off the roll of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons on account of my conviction. I did not bother to attend the meeting of the Council, as I cared little whether I was on the roll or not; I had finished with that part of my life and, indeed, was getting out-of-date professionally, but I defended myself by letter. To cut the matter short, the attempt to get me off the register received no support.
One thing which requires reform seems to have completely escaped the notice of Prison Authorities. It is this. It is the custom to treat prisoners more severely when they have been "inside" before. They are put under a much more burdensome regime than first offenders, with whom they do not mix. But offenders who have been convicted of offences and have paid fines, so saving themselves from prison are when later for other offences sent to prison, treated as first offenders! It cannot be right to make some men suffer and allow others to escape the consequences of having previous convictions, just because the former have gone to prison rather than pay fines, as I did myself in 1936.
The prisoners with whom I found myself in Pentonville were often men with many previous convictions, generally criminals of the meaner type. I found it almost impossible to converse with them; they are generally entirely self-centred; they could not understand why I had helped escaped prisoners-of-war to evade re-arrest; their attitude was:—What did you make out of it? What did you get out of it? I believe that most of these habitual criminals have had bad mothers or no mothering at all, and that some might be reformed by changing their attitude from one of pure self-centredness to one of consideration for other people, by argument free from religious dogma. Prisoners of this kind hate being locked up in their cells for long hours by themselves: they have no interests to fall back on, and their thoughts must all be unhappy ones; they would much prefer to be working in the shop with other men around them. The reverse is the case when cultured men find themselves in Prison; these are only too glad to get away from their fellow-prisoners and to feel themselves in privacy.
My old friend and colleague, the anti-Jewish pioneer, Henry Hamilton Beamish, died suddenly in Rhodesia, on 27th March, 1948. About two years before this, he had informed me of his intention to leave me what money he could, if anything happened to him. Eventually I received it and paid it into my anti-Jewish funds, for the understanding was that it should be used as I thought fit in the fight against the Jewish Menace. This has strengthened my position as regards assisting younger men and promising movements, and in many other ways. One does not have to make everything pay for itself, as of yore!
I wish Beamish might have known of my legal victory of 1951! Well, perhaps he does! In this case, Rex versus Leese, I was charged with a defamatory libel against the Chief of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Harold Scott; I conducted my own case, the prosecuting counsel being a half-alien Buddhist, Mr. Christmas Humphreys; although I never thought that the Crown had a case, I was every apprehensive of the result, for by that time I had had experience of how British Courts could twist the law against anti-Jew "offenders". Anyhow, I won, and the importance of the victory can best be measured by the loudness of the silence in the Press about it. As soon as the result was known, the Jewish iron curtain came crashing down, and it was with some difficulty that many people deeply interested in the case could find out what had really happened. Some enthusiasts thought that it registered a turn in the tide. I trust they will not prove to have been too optimistic!
The alleged "defamatory libel" was in an article in Gothic Ripples, dated 14th August, 1950, viz:—"Police in the East End of London appear to be instructed by their Jewish Chief to knock off any street-corner orator who dares to mention the word Jew in any derogatory sense. I take a hard view of Police Officers who, to earn pay, carry out such vile orders". My defence was that neither of the two ingredients necessary for an indictment for defamatory libel were present in this case, viz:—reasonable cause to believe that a breach of the peace might be caused by the words used, and anything amounting to defamation. I made it clear that I charged Sir Harold Scott with Jewish prejudice and Jewish bias, but argued that as prejudice and bias were not held consciously, there was no attack on the Jew's character. If a Jew holds an appointment, he will have the prejudices and bias of a Jew, and any journalist has the right (and duty, in my case) to point it out in the public interest.
The judge was Mr. Justice Dodson, Recorder of London, who had sentenced me to twelve months' imprisonment in the same Court in 1947! The jury were only nine minutes considering the verdict, which was Not Guilty. Thus, a deliberate attempt on the part of the Jews to use the Public Prosecutor to silence my anti-Jewish voice, was crushingly defeated, and I received congratulatory messages from anti-Jewish friends all over the world.
I was stimulated by this victory to complete this Autobiography which was begun many years ago! I am 72 years' old now, and perhaps my political adventures may not yet be finished!
Let me close this record, however, on an animal note. After the loss of my St. Bernard, and after my first anti-Jewish conviction in 1936, I decided not to acquire another dog. I foresaw that the Jews would try and get me back into prison, in which case I felt that to have a dog at home would add to my own distress in prison, and would not be fair on the dog. But, in 1935, we adopted a ginger male kitten, and Nandy II has been a constant source of entertainment to us for over 15 years; it was through him that I became aware of a sense which some animals (of species not too far removed from the feral) possess which gives them some sort of radar-like warning, presumably vague, of coming calamity. It may be that some humans of primitive type may share this sense with them. As has been narrated, I was arrested in 1940 under 18B and taken away for over three years; and in 1947, I was imprisoned for eight months. During the two days before these events, Nandy would hardly leave me; he followed me about all over the house and garden, and it was so marked that on the second of these occasions, my wife became convinced that I was in for a stiff term of imprisonment. Nandy was right both times! It is all the more interesting to record that in 1950, when the Government tried to silence me by a criminal libel charge, Nandy took no special notice of me when I departed for the Old Bailey; and this actually gave us some encouragement! And he was right again, because I was acquitted; he was about the only one who expected that result!
As I write, he sleeps, soundly, beside me; in his 16th year, not just a Cat, but One of Us!