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Tale of a tenacious terrier

19 April, 2018 — By John Gulliver

Eric and Scrunchball – as terrier Tim is called in the children’s book – reunited after the war

THIS is a heartwarming story about a little terrier called Tim who waited nearly four years at the gate for his master to come home.

His master, a priest, Eric Cordingly, had been made a prisoner of war by the Japanese in the Second World War.

But Tim, who had come into the family home as a pup, couldn’t wait for him to come home. So, every day he’d run to the gate – and wait and wait.

Eventually, Mr Cordingly returned – and, in fact, I wrote three years ago in this column about a haunting book his daughter, Louise Reynolds, published about her father’s life as an army chaplain in the Changi POW camp in Singapore.

Eric Cordingly with his loyal terrier Tim

Now her son James and her daughter Alice have published an illustrated children’s book about Tim the terrier and their grandfather, entitled Eric and Scrunchball.

It came about when Alice had a baby boy, William. Both she and her brother thought this would be a wonderful chance not only to tell the story about Tim the terrier – in the book Tim is called Scrunchball – but also pass on to the next generation the history of the terrible plight suffered by more than 50,000 prisoners in Singapore.

“The generation of those who suffered so much is, sadly, dying out,” Louise Reynolds told me at her Hampstead home. “The other day I attended the funeral of a 90-year-old man who had been a prisoner. But since the family published this book orders have begun to come in from families of the prisoners who want to keep their memories alive.”

It is an uplifting book, beautifully written and illustrated by Mrs Reynolds’ children and I am more than delighted to publicise it.

What could be a greater cause? On the surface, it is of course simply a book for young children, but in telling the story of Tim’s wait at the family gate it drops a hint about the life of the prisoners-of-war which later in life the toddlers may want to more about.

That is how, anecdotal­ly, history is passed on. That part of history – pinpointed in the book – is often forgotten. How many of today’s generation know about it? This book, if anything, will point the way.

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