Sometimes Bletchley Park throws up the most fascinating little stories. Here’s one sent to me by Min Cornelius, part-owner of the Holly/Cornelius Toy and Memorabilia Collection, based at the Park…
The story of DOG, the soft toy made by Harry Molloy for his sister Edith’s little son Brian, on display in the WW2 toys and memorabilia collection at Bletchley Park
Harry Molloy joined the Navy in 1940, and after various ‘adventures’, he was serving as a gunner aboard R.N.A tanker El Ciervo.
Off Hamburg, his ship was attacked within the convoy. He was very badly wounded, and transferred to a destroyer and then a speed boat which carried him to safety and eventually to Devonport Naval Hospital.
After initial treatment, he was sent to Sherbourne R.N Hospital in Dorset. Six months of treatment there was followed by a collapse caused by peritonitis. After this set-back, Harry and other recovering patients were helped in their recover by periods of occupational therapy.
They were shown several crafts to enable them to learn to re-use their hands and wasted muscles. Harry got on very well with sewing, and as a result, DOG was made from a piece of patterned linen fabric which was then stuffed.
The toy has had a very special place within Harry’s family, as Harry gave it to Edith’s little son, Brian who, sadly, later passed away in childhood.
Some years ago, Harry and Edith donated DOG to be on permanent display in The Holley/Cornelius Collection at Bletchley Park, home of the Codebreakers in WW2.
In 2011, Harry gave permission for DOG to be part of a very special exhibition in The Redoubt Museum at Eastbourne called Stitch for Victory. To Harry’s surprise and delight, Dog had a prominent place in the exhibition in a showcase all by himself, and was featured on the front of the leaflet promoting the exhibition. Harry and his wife Frances travelled down to see DOG, and were very proud of him.
Harry was unfit to return to active service, being 60% war-disabled, and awarded £7. 10. 0d (£7.50p) by the insurer’s of the tanker. Equivalent to about £195 in today’s money.
Some years after the war, Harry’s Grandson and wife brought a plastic ‘half dog’ to Harare in Rhodesia where Harry was living at the time. This ‘half-dog’ was named Arthur (harfer dog) and put on half watch in the garden.
Later Harrry and his wife Frances also moved to Australia taking Arthur half-dog with them.
After some time, Harry and Frances returned to England leaving family and Arthur behind.
Now comes the twist!!
Jane, the daughter in Australia is having a new house built in Bletchley Park, which is a new housing estate in Perth. So Dog on display in Bletchley Park England will have a half brother also living in a place called Bletchley Park, but in Australia.