How many living creatures have experienced the horrors of the battlefields in Gallipoli during WW1 and are still alive today?
Let me introduce you to Toby the tortoise who, incredibly, did just this. And he is still with us today. Now, at the ripe old age of 106, he is very much alive and thriving, and has an eye for the ladies too. Sadly, most of the men from the royal estate who were posted to Gallipoli with the Sandringham Company in 1915 did not share Toby’s good fortune and return home.
I learnt about Toby’s extraordinary exploits from a Facebook post in 2018 when the former BBC journalist Sally Chidzoy wrote: “This is Toby, he’s at least 103 years old and has been in my friend’s family since 1915. Toby survived the Battle of Gallipoli and was given as a gift to a soldier relative. Toby came back in great, great uncle George’s pocket.”
I so loved the story and made a mental note of it in case I could include it in a story line. So when you read about Ted the tortoise’s similar adventures in The Royal Station Master’s Daughters, you will appreciate how the incredible can be true, and that fact is really stranger than fiction.
How is Toby today? Sally tells me he is still frisky, and shows no sign of slowing down. Now if tortoises could talk, imagine the yarns that Toby could tell us…..