Soldiers and adventurers in profession - Veterinary Practice
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Soldiers and adventurers in profession

Bruce Vivash Jones continues his occasional series looking back at some of the characters in the profession in the 19th and 20th centuries, this time concerned with three remarkable men of their time.

A MOST remarkable man, who
really had two lives, was Adrian
Jones (1845-1938).

Graduating from the Royal
Veterinary College in 1865, he was
gazetted to the Royal Horse Artillery
in India, later seeing active service in
the Transvaal War (1881) and the
Nile Expedition (1884-85).

His most adventurous episode,
however, was in the Abyssinian War
(1868) as one of eight veterinary
officers caring for the animals
required to transport the army across
the country from the Red Sea to the
capital at Magdala.

Emperor Theodore had taken
some British subjects
hostage and
the army was
to both free
them and
While the
was short, the journey was a
topographical and logistical

Almost unbelievable now, but the
transport required 17,000 mules,
3,000 bullocks, 2,500 horses, 8,000
camels and 45 elephants!

This menagerie plus 13,000
troops had been shipped from India:
the losses were horrendous and only
7,500 animals in total returned to

When they did reach the capital
resistance collapsed, Adrian Jones
was one of the first into the hut
where Theodore had shot himself
with a revolver presented to him by
Queen Victoria.

Jones, who lived to be 92, went
on to become an outstanding
sculptor and painter (of which
maybe more in a later article) but
throughout his life, for the next 68
years he kept and wore his campaign
cloak; as he said, “I always wear it when I go along to the Club.”

Obsessed by horses

Another memorable man is Horace
Hayes (1842-1904): he served in the
Army in India for 14 years but
resigned in 1879, attended the New
Veterinary College, Edinburgh, and
gained his MRCVS in 1883.

Hayes was obsessed by horses, he
was a competent horseman, breaker
and dealer as well as being a prolific
author. In 1884, with Mrs Hayes, he
embarked on a lengthy tour to India,
Ceylon, China, South Africa and
elsewhere; they earned their keep by
holding classes of instruction in horse-breaking. He remarked that
their shows were enhanced by the
way, “my wife rode all the bad

Spending three years in Calcutta
(now Kolkata), he started Hayes’
Sporting News
, wrote books and
trained and dealt in horses. They
then returned to England to live the
hunting life, which was what he
really enjoyed; at that time (late
1800s) it was possible to hunt six
days a week.

Hayes was much impressed by
Lord Lonsdale, then Master of the
Quorn, because he kept excellent
field discipline. When one reads of a
field of 500-600 horses following the
pack and his Lordship running a bill
of about £1,000 a month for special
trains to transport himself and
friends, plus hounds, horses and hunt
servants, one gets a picture of the
heyday of hunting: a sport that gave
Hayes a reason for living.

While riding with the Pytchley he
received an invitation to go to Russia
as an ècuyer or “rough rider” to
break in horses for the Chevalier
Gardes in St. Petersburg. He not
only went but also shipped horses
for sale and for some years travelled
widely, giving lessons and advice to
many branches of the Tsar’s army.

With dealing and shipping horses
from Britain he made a good
income. When his mission ended, the
Grand Duke Nicholas presented him
with a silver cigarette case
emblazoned with the Imperial
monogram set with diamonds and

After returning to England he was planning to visit Australia when
he died suddenly, aged 62 years. He
was a most prolific writer, mostly on
horses; several of his books remain
in print, in particular Veterinary Notes
for Horse Owners

Colonial stalwart

An early stalwart of the Colonial
Service was Robert Stordy (1873-
1943). Graduating from the Royal
(Dick) College in 1894, he joined the
Service and was sent to the British
East African Protectorate (now
Kenya) in 1898.

He was the sole veterinary officer
for the territory when settlers were
moving in: in a few years he
surveyed the country for disease
problems, established movement
controls and built a staff team and

The disease implications arising
from the traditional flow of cattle
southward from Abyssinia (now
Ethiopia) concerned Stordy. Being
due home leave in 1911 he obtained
consent from the Governor to start
his journey using the land route
across Abyssinia to the Red Sea.

With a colleague, Lord
Cranworth, plus animals and porters,
they walked almost the whole way,
over 1,400 miles, to the coast,
crossed the Red Sea and boarded a
P&O liner home. A remarkable trip
that was and, due to his record
keeping, of significant value.

When the 1914 war started he
enrolled in the Army in Kenya and
organised veterinary services for
both national and military needs: on
the southern border was German
Tangyanika (now Tanzania). The
British forces had many grey horses
that provided good targets for
German snipers. Stordy found he
could camouflage them by painting
zebra stripes and leopard spots with
silver nitrate!

Later he moved to Europe, saw
active service in France but was
invalided home by shell wounds.

In 1919 the Peruvian government
recruited him to establish model
farms on the Andean plateau until
this terminated in the 1930s during a
national revolution. He was next
appointed by the RSPCA in 1936 to
take a veterinary relief unit to
Abyssinia in the Italo-Abyssinian

His organising capabilities
resulted in him also being made
British Refugee Commandant and
Quartermaster, turning the consulate
garden into, “a haven of organized

War in 1939 again called for his
expertise. As Chief of the National Air Raid Precautions Animal
Committee (NARPAC), he enrolled
1,500 veterinary surgeons plus 8,000
animal stewards in rural areas and
40,000 animal guards in towns – all
voluntary and without government
funding. In the war years they aided
over 5,000 livestock and 10,000
urban animals.

Stordy remained on active duty
during the London blitz. Known as a
“wonderful raconteur”, no doubt
with a fund of stories, he was
awarded both the CBE and DSO.

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