Bruce – The Airdale

BRUCE THE CHANDOS BRUCE,

The Chandos, St. Martin’s Lane, W.C.2

 

To the Londoner, at any rate, Trafalgar Square is the square. It
is notorious that the Londoner has very little time for his own
particular borough which (as often as not) is simply a “dormitory”.
And as for the London County Council, it is less than the dust
to him, quite apart from politics~”0f which he considers he gets
more than enough from another building.

But there is always Trafalgar Square. The heart of the Londoner,
and indeed of the true-born Englishmen, will ever beat a little
faster as he makes his way through this magnificent thoroughfare.
Why Trafalgar Square should have become a shrine for our
naval heroes is just a little difficult to understand.

 

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It is worth remembering that London is not a naval port,
despite the presence of a ceremonial pop-gun where ,

A naval shrine would (it is often felt) be much more fitly
sited at Portsmouth, Devonport or The Nore. Here, it must be
regarded as the master irrelevance.

It started, of course, with the Nelson column”the attached
lightning conductor overhead affording an intelligent French
observer a good deal of quiet fun. Nelson’s connection with London
was but slight. On one of his rare visits to the capital he was seen
to his coach by Mr. Pitt””an unusual honour.

But then Nelson was off to the wars; and when that happened victory was apt to follow
The Victory, just as it had followed The Agamemnon and The Captain.
Nelson was, in short, the countryman~the occasional visitor
to that capital which had so often denied him employment in his
rank of Post-Captain when he knew that he was capable of great
things for the country he loved so deeply.

The Chandos

He was the Norfolk man who welded and brought to fruition the lessons of Hood, the stern
unbending discipline of Jervis, and the boldness of Rodney.
And into this square, dedicated to naval heroism and political
hot air, we like to think that Bruce of The Chandor walked as of
right. If there is nothing English about the name of Bruce, it does
conjure up the spirit of gallantry against heavy odds.
Let us step into what was Bruce’s home, which is adjacent to
the Church of St. Martins-in-the-Fields. For many long years
is The Chandos has been known for the excellence of the food and
drink it has to offer the traveller, whether the traveller be heroic
or just an ordinary man~ready at the word to drop the umbrella
and grasp the rifle.

Bruce – The Airdale

Bruce was an Airedale, one of the grandest dogs who ever
walked the earth. He died from wounds”honourable war wounds.
When I knew him he was a little over five years of age, but
he looked much older; already the finger of Fate had touched
him, nor did he have long to live after that. He was crippled with
paralysis of the hind legs; but nothing could cripple that uncon-
querable heart. He went when he was ready; and there will be a
place for him in the Valhalla dedicated to our rervant. That is as
sure as life and death are sure.

Not that Bruce would have thought his deeds so very wonderful.
There was duty to perform”a master to serve, warn and protect;
that was all.

Bruce was hit during the doodle-bug period of the war by
falling debris. Five specialists kept him in life, but (as we all knew
in our hearts) he passed on.

By his master and mistress Bruce was certainly looked upon
as their best friend in life. Quite apart from his endearing qualities,
they felt that they might owe him their lives. Bruce had an
uncanny instinct. He seemed to be able to sense a raid long before
a warning siren, and that spoke for itself in the awful days of storm
and stress.

.

Bruce’s war service was not confined to that. During and after
the war years, Bruce would go forth like the warrior of old to dig
among the rubble and debris of the blitzcd homes, searching for
the toys of his friends, the children of the district. The rescued
toys he would bear proudly to his master, gripped in his capable
jaw. The toys would then be restored to the original owner”if
still alive. If not, a child was made happy, and so was Bruce.
As will be patent, Bruce was the very precious friend of the
children; in the hearts of some the memory of Bruce will last as
long as life itself.

He was the proud possessor of many collars, more than one
awarded by the police~who held this dog in high esteem and
affection for his devoted services. Often Bruce would find a wallet
among the ruins. There were other, more tragic finds, but this is
the story of an essentially happy dog, so we will draw the veil of
kindly oblivion.

The charwomen, the old ladies, the porters at Covent Garden

.

all had a kindly word for Bruce as he limped along of a morning
to collect his morning vegetable. So fond did he become of vege-
tables in the quiet, companionable evening of his life that he
became almost a vegetarian; of ,esh and blood perhaps he had
seen enough? Who knows what is in the heart of a dog?

Yet as he walked sedately on his way there did at times seem to
be life in the old dog. Among his admirers he counted the ladies
of the Chorus of the Coliseum. And on more than one occasion
lipstick was found on his countenance; and if a tear was dropped,
why, there have been less honourable tears.

There was another Bruce who died too soon because he had
worn himself out by his exertions for others. Our Bruce was of
that gallant company.

When he passed on it was on March 14th, 1949 many people
knew that a hero had gone from their midst.

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