A long-lost children’s book about ‘The Bravest Little Dog In The War’ has just been published for the first time, seventy-five years after it was written.
Now It Can Be Told was written by Arthur Stiby on his return home after his release as a Japanese PoW. It is a light-hearted story written for his eight-year-old son, Robert, about the adventures of a little dachshund called Vicky who is involved in a secret wartime mission never revealed before.
Arthur Stiby was a Major in the RA when he was captured by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore in 1942. He survived incarceration, starvation and humiliation, as well as the horrors of the Burma Railway. He was a talented writer who wrote plays and sketches to be performed as entertainment for fellow PoWs.
Now It Can Be Told was written when he was back home recovering from his wartime ordeal. He sent it to his son Robert who was at boarding school, in easy-to-read weekly instalments. However, that was seventy-five years ago and over time the original manuscript was forgotten and disappeared.
But amazingly it has just been rediscovered. Robert Stiby takes up the story:
‘My father died long ago, but recently I have had time to sort out a lot of family stuff and there in a dusty old box, I found this tattered, dog-eared copy of the original, but incomplete, manuscript.
‘I was overjoyed. Although I am no longer eight – I am now in my eighties – reading it again was such fun that I decided to publish it. I persuaded my very talented nephew Jamie Stiby-Harris to do the illustrations and between us, we completed the missing pages.
‘It bought back so many memories. I was only eight years old when my father came home and we met, not as father and son, but as strangers to each other. Writing ‘Now It can Be Told’ was his way of bringing us together. ‘
Although it is published privately as a limited edition, Robert Stiby wanted all proceeds from the sale of the book to go to the Salisbury Hospice.
Robert Stiby, who lives in Downton, near Salisbury, said,
“ I hope this little book will bring as bring as much enjoyment to others as it did to the grubby little schoolboy for whom it was originally written. I am delighted to support the Salisbury Hospice in any way I can.”
The book can be ordered through the hospice shop here – http://www.salisburyhospiceshop.co.uk/now-it-can-be-told-the-story-of-the-bravest-little-dog-in-the-war/