World War Zoo Gardens project spreads to other zoos and gardens

July 23, 2014

I was very pleased to see that our World War Zoo Gardens idea of celebrating and commemorating your site’s history and the role of zoos and animals in wartime has spread to other collections, just as I had hoped it would. I wrote an article about this last year for the BGEN botanic gardens website.

Whipsnade elephants ploughing for victory (Animal and Zoo magazine Sept.1940)

Whipsnade elephants ploughing for victory (Animal and Zoo magazine Sept.1940)

World War Zoo  - Port Lympne Reserve, Kent  

25 Aug 2014 – 31 Aug 2014

“Mark 100 years since the outbreak of World War I, 75 years since World War II and 70 years since D-Day by celebrating the role of animals throughout the war at Port Lympne.

Enjoy a special week of events and talks at Port Lympne as the park looks back on the extraordinary and untold stories of the animals during the war.  From pigeons carrying top secret messages to elephants helping local farmers in country void of horses, discover how animals helped to change the course of history.

Enjoy special talks at Port Lympne about how animals were cared for and look after during the war.  Learn about The Dickin Medal, a special award that honoured the vital work of animals during war from pigeons to horses serving on the frontline!

Port Lympne has enjoyed a long and rich military history since its construction in 1912 by the Rt Hon Sir Phillip Sassoon. He was Field Marshall Haig’s personal secretary during WW1 and went on to be an avid aviator at the nearby Lympne air field.  With Sassoon’s death in 1939 the MOD took charge of Port Lympne and RAF officers were stationed there from RAF Lympne and RAF Westenhanger. The mansion was now in the front line of the Battle of Britain. With special re-enactors at Port Lympne, you will be able to see how the soldiers and airmen involved in these events looked and lived …and you may even discover Port Lympne’s top secret plot to kidnap Adolf Hitler!”

See more at: http://www.visitkent.co.uk/events/171084/#sthash.hX05K8L4.dpuf  and World War Zoo Port Lympne Events

It’s a nice early summer birthday present for us, as this is what I was hoping would happen when I launched the World War Zoo gardens project in August 2009 six years ago. The WW1 centenary has brought us into contact with many different groups from London Zoo to Kew Gardens, small botanic gardens, re-enactors, garden history societies  and many others.

Over the next week, I’ll be changing our permanent display case over to some WW1 material amongst the WW2 Dig for Victory material, to show how the experiences of WW1 prepared zoo and gardens staff for surviving WW2 – what was similar and what was very different?

Display case of wartime memorabilia, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

More on zoos, gardeners and gardens and WW1 commemoration

As we begin the WW1 centenary, many historic houses and gardens are marking their WW1 contribution. Some of these houses eventually became or diversified into becoming zoos and safari parks with the decline, demolition or diversification of the country house postwar after WW1 / WW2. Port Lympne was one such estate, Woburn, Knowsley and Longleat amongst others. Along with Heligan, other places such as Woburn Abbey are celebrating their contribution.

You can also read more about Kew Gardens in WW1 and garden editor Herbert Cowley’s wartime career on our past blog posts.

The UK National Inventory of War Memorials has an excellent project blog post by Frances Casey on Lost Gardeners of World War 1 with many interesting links.

Exhibitions at the Museum of Garden History on Gardeners in WW1 and at Kew Gardens with wartime garden tours and exhibitions.

I look forward to talking on 20th October at Kew Gardens about our wartime gardens research at the KMIS talks – see www.kew.org and www.kewguild.org.uk for its events and 2014/15 talks list.

I’ve also been researching a local Cornish village war memorial and writing recently about food and farming in WW1 Britain.

Celebration bunting, cabbages and mascot Blitz Bear out in the World War Zoo gardens at Newquay Zoo, Summer 2011

Celebration bunting, cabbages and mascot Blitz Bear out in the World War Zoo gardens at Newquay Zoo, Summer 2011

Happy gardening, and happy National Allotment Week 4 to 10 August!

Mark Norris, World War Zoo

 

Lost Gardeners of World War One – 1914 and 1915

June 29, 2014

“It is to be hoped that we shall not have too many deaths to record among horticulturalists …”

wrote  a Versailles nurseryman in the October 24th 1914 edition of the Gardener’s Chronicle. It was to prove a false hope.

Reading through First World war period copies of The Garden, My Garden Illustrated and The Gardener’s Chronicle, it is possible to get some idea of the effects of the “Great War” on gardeners, their families and the parks or estates where many of them worked.

I’ve been researching since 2009 for the World War Zoo Gardens project based at Newquay Zoo how zoos and botanic gardens survived wartime and increasingly we’re asked about what happened in WW1.

The Garden 1917, edited by Herbert Cowley.

The Garden 1917, edited by Herbert Cowley.

The Gardener’s Chronicle is now available online in several places including at the Biodiversity Heritage Library www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/83840# Library online at the University of Amherst and other websites. The Garden Illustrated edited by Kew gardener and injured soldier Herbert Cowley is also available online at this and other sites.

In August 1914 within weeks of war being declared, already some estate owners had published or publicised the patriotic response of their gardens staff; Welbeck Abbey was one such estate which soon  became a military hospital and later army staff college. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, assassinated at Sarajevo in June 1914, one of the flashpoint triggers of WW1, was injured in a hunting accident there before the war.

At Rotherfield Park, Hampshire, Head Gardener Wilmot H. Yates joined the National Reserve, one of whose tasks was to guard Prisoners of War (Gardener’s Chronicle, 19 September 1914). POWs by the end of the war would be working on the land to replace the men killed or on active service.

G.B.Blackwell of Woodgreen Park Estate, Cheshunt, Herts proudly sent a photograph of 6 unnamed Woodgreen Park gardeners who had enlisted.

J.L. Veitch of the famous Nursery family was swiftly gazetted a Captain in the 7th Cyclists’ Battalion, Devonshire Regiment and saw action in France by Christmas 1914. He was one of many Kew Gardens trained men to be killed later in the war on 21 May 1918, an obituary being posted in the Gardener’s Chronicle on 1 June 1918. Later in the same month in 1914, 40 Kew Gardens men were noted as volunteered (see our Kew WW1 blogpost).

Baron de Worms of Milton Park was noted as having “sent 6 servants” or estate staff, along with a former South African / Boer War veteran Head Gardener William Gent on the National Reserve (see above), who was also liable for call up.

Notable was also the sons of older nurserymen being called up and for the professional soldiers and reservists amongst them, quickly being killed in the early battles of the war. This loss of heirs “and sons” would have an ongoing effect on historic houses and estate gardens, as well as nursery businesses for many years after WW1. It was to be part of the death and decline of many such gardens.

One correspondent ‘A.C.’ in The Gardener’s Chronicle of September, 19th 1914 notes that some gardens staff were leaving their gardens posts not only to enlist but also to avoid “coercion on the part of employers is to be deprecated.”

 

WW1 soldiers gardening

WW1 soldiers gardening

War, Lord Derby and Knowsley
Interestingly for someone researching the effect of the war on zoos, Knowsley Hall (now home of Knowsley Safari Park) had extensive parkland and an exotic menagerie, once painted in Victorian times by Edward Lear. Many of its gardens staff joined up, supported by Knowsley’s owner the Earl of / Lord  Derby:

Gardeners respond to the Call
Eight young men from the fruit and plant departments of Knowsley [Park], the seat of the Earl of Derby, have volunteered or active service … Lord Derby will keep the places of the men open until the end of the war … Gardener’s Chronicle, 29 August 1914.

Lord Derby went on to set up the Derby Scheme to encourage more volunteers for the Army, but eventually conscription was introduced in 1916. Lord Derby served as Secretary of State for War from 1916 to 1918.

In the Second World War, parts of the grounds of Knowsley Park near Prescot were used as tank and army training. The craters were still visible when the Safari Park was created in 1971. There was also a No 49 SLG (Satellite Landing Ground) RAF Knowsley Park from May 1942 to November 1944, staffed by No. 37 and 48 MU Maintenance Units. Remnants of a P51 fighter were excavated from a crash site recently.

Knowsley Esate Prescot (now Safari Park) Tank Training 1940/1 IWM image collection English: The British Army in the United Kingdom 1939-45  Matilda II and Light Mk VI tanks of the Royal Tank Regiment on exercise in Knowsley Park, Prescot, near Liverpool, England, 25 July 1940. This training operation formed part of British preparations to repel the threatened German invasion of 1940.  Image source : IWM H2529/ Wikipedia

Tanks on the Lawn! Knowsley Estate Prescot (now Safari Park) IWM image collection The British Army in the United Kingdom 1939-45
Matilda II and Light Mk VI tanks of the Royal Tank Regiment on exercise in Knowsley Park, Prescot, near Liverpool, England, 25 July 1940. This training operation formed part of British preparations to repel the threatened German invasion of 1940. Image source : IWM H2529/ Wikipedia

‘Disruption of the Horticultural Trades’ 1914
The war beginning in the August 1914 harvest season caused much disruption to the horticultural trades. In The Gardener’s Chronicle of the 19th September 1914, boy scouts are noted as harvesting flower and vegetable seeds – in Germany!

Show and exhibition halls became drill halls, being quickly requisitioned for mobilisation and the wave of eager recruits enlisting as volunteers. Many flower and produce shows were cancelled, including wartime Chelsea Flower Shows, the proceeds of others gone towards “the relief of distress caused by the war“. Other nurseries offloaded stocks of flowers and produce patritiocally to hospitals.

The Gardener’s Chronicle featured news in French and Belgian for the many refugee Belgians who had fled to Britain to escape the fighting. Very quickly French and Belgian horticulture was affected as fighting swept through the countryside, destroying vulnerable areas like glasshouses and nurseries. News of casualties of notable gardens and gardeners were carried in these journals and a Societe Francaise d’ Horticulture de Londres continued to meet on the 1st Saturday of each month in London from 1915. The equivalent publication in France Le Jardin shut down at the start of the war by October 1914 as so many of its staff had been mobilised into the war effort.

Much the same happened in Britain in some nurseries and businesses like the Cheddar Nursery of George B. Mallett, who had enlisted in the Bristol Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment when the rest of his eligible staff had enlisted; his nursery business was ‘suspended’ (Gardener’s Chronicle, 26 September 1914).

WW1, Ireland and The Easter Rising 1916

George B Mallett appears to have survived the war, unlike Alan Livingstone Ramsay, a partner in his father’s Charles Ramsay & Son, Royal Nurseries, Ballsbridge Road, Dublin:

“volunteered for service on the outbreak of war and has been gazetted a lieutenancy in the Royal Irish Regiment. He left Dublin on Christmas Eve 1914 to join the second battalion of his Regiment at the front and was last heard of at Rouen” (GC, 9 January 1915).

Although he served in France, Ramsay was to die aged 26 on active service on 24 April 1916 fighting in his home town of Dublin. He was the first Dublin-born British Army officer to die fighting the Irish rebels in the Easter Rising for Irish independence of 1916. According to his CWGC records, he is buried in Mount Jerome cemetery in Dublin. Catherine de Courcy’s excellent history of Dublin Zoo describes more about how the city and its Anglo-Irish institutions like the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland’s zoo fared during the uprising. You can read more about Ramsay and his family on a JSTor archive article from the Dublin Historical Record. 

There is more about how WW1 affected Anglo -Irish estates and gardeners in the WW1 Kew gardens blog post entries about Charlie Beswick and C.F. Ball, along with my ‘garden ghosts’ article on the BGEN website, mentioning lost gardeners from Glasnevin, Kilmacurragh and Fota Gardens in Ireland.  

Other gardens affected in 1914 / 1915

Glasgow Parks and Gardens Department records 5 young gardeners gone from the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. Overall 29 of its men volunteered for the Kitchener’s New Army of volunteers. Kew Gardens, Birmingham and RBGE Edinburgh Botanic Gardens would also lose staff to the war.
5 staff and 3 students had left Wisley to enlist (Gardener’s Chronicle, 12 September 1914) – a memorial exists for their fallen staff.

Messrs. Sanders and Sons notes from their orchid houses 12 out of 27 staff joined up including 3 Belgians, leaving behind a staff of “nearly all married and elderly” whilst at Chivers & Sons 40 joined the colours, many Reservists or Kitchener volunteers (Gardener’s Chronicle, 5 September 1914). Other presumably smaller nurseries note single staff leaving such as P.C. Bridge, the travelling salesman from J. Cheal’s Lowfield Nursery joining the 25th County of London Regiment Motorcycle Section (GC, 12 September 1914).

Bridge appears to have survived the war, unlike another Cheal’s man, Private Richard Hubert Holton, the son of Richard Henry and Sarah Holton,

“foreman at J. Cheal and Son’s Nursery, Crawley, Sussex to whom the deepest sympathy will be extended by his numerous friends in the horticultural world …” (Gardener’s Chronicle, 31 August 1918)

Private R.H. Holton, 201034, 1/4 Royal Sussex Regiment died in the closing months of the war aged 25, on 29 July 1918 and is buried at Jonchery-sur-Vesle British Cemetery, Marne, France.

Jonchery sur Vesle cemetery, France a post war concentration cemetery where Holton lies buried. Image CWGC website

Jonchery sur Vesle cemetery, France a post war concentration cemetery where Holton lies buried. Image CWGC website

Sutton’s Seeds and WW1

9 staff went from Suttons Seeds of Reading into the Territorial Force, along with several of Arthur Sutton’s sons, Eric and Noel quickly gazetted as officers. Arthur Sutton established a rifle range for his staff at Bucklebury Place.

Sutton was to lose most of his sons in the war, “of his five sons who have joined HM Forces, four have laid down their lives for their country” (Gardener’s Chronicle, 6 April 1918). His other son Leonard Noel Sutton was badly wounded. A fuller account of this is given in Richard Van Emden’s recent book, The Quick and the Dead. A memorial (UKNIWM#1940) survives to his sons and the staff of the Royal Seed Establishment (Sutton’s), listing 23 names, worthy of a separate blog post in future.

Several articles in 1914/5 and even adverts by Clay’s Fertiliser notes the bizarre development of trials by Sutton’s of using radioactive uranium to encourage lettuce growth! This substance would be put to an even deadlier and less optimistically constructive use at the end of the next war.

1916 onwards

After the Somme battles beginning 1st July 1916, I thought that long casualty lists would appear in the pages of Gardener’s  Chronicle and other journals in the weeks after July 1916 as  many of  Kitchener’s 1914 and 1915 volunteers, Derby scheme men and Pals battalions saw action. However surprisingly few obituary entries appear in the second half of 1916 and into 1917, although I’m sure the deaths and wounds of many ordinary gardens staff went unnoticed in the garden journals. We shall describe the effect on gardeners and the horticultural world after 1915 in the second part of this article in a future blog post.

Gardening, allotments and food production was soon to change gear with the unrestricted U-Boat warfare of 1917, loss of men, disastrous harvests and the spread of patriotic allotments along with food rationing in 1917 and 1918. Herbert Cowley’s editorials in The Garden Illustrated increasingly reflected this.

ww1 ration book

ww1 ration book

Gardening was also suggested as horticultural therapy during and after the war for recovering physical and mental health of returning veterans, something that has reoccurred recently through Gardening Leave with links to Chelsea Physic Garden and Royal Chelsea Hospital and other groups, again another blog story here for the future, illustrated with contemporary WW1 gardening journal links.

 

Inside a ww1 ration book

Inside a ww1 ration book

More on gardeners and gardens in WW1
You can also read more about Kew Gardens in WW1 and garden editor Herbert Cowley’s wartime career on our past blog posts.
The UK National Inventory of War Memorials has an excellent project blog post by Frances Casey on Lost Gardeners of World War 1 with many interesting links.

As we begin the WW1 centenary, many historic houses and gardens are marking their WW1 contribution. Some of these houses eventually became or diversified into becoming zoos and safari parks with the decline of the country house postwar after WW1 / WW2. Along with Heligan, other places such as Woburn Abbey are celebrating their contribution.

Exhibitions at the Museum of Garden History on Gardeners in WW1 and at Kew Gardens with wartime garden tours and exhibitions.

I look forward to talking in October at Kew Gardens about our wartime gardens  research at the KMIS talks -see www.kew.org and www.kewguild.org.uk for its events and 2014/15 talks list.

I’ve also been researching a local Cornish village war memorial and writing recently  about food and farming in WW1 Britain.

Meanwhile its forward in time and back out onto the WW2 Dig For Victory allotment at Newquay Zoo to tidy up after some delicious and much needed days of rain and clearing all that has bolted in the recent hot weather, some to the animals at the Zoo, some to the compost heap.

Happy gardening,

Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project , Newquay Zoo, 29 June 2014

D-Day and a curious 1944 matchbox diary

June 1, 2014

Amongst my World War Zoo Gardens project collection of original civilian diaries and letters from WW2 is a recently acquired  1944 HMSO No. S3 Diary, its military date stamp [Jan?] 1944, crossed out with childish writing: “Matchbox Album”

Front cover of Bernie Walker's curious 1944 diary. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Front cover of Bernie Walker’s curious 1944 diary. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Inside along with adverts to buy 3% Defence Bonds from the National Savings Committee is the pencilled inscription S/Sgt Bernie Walker US Army for ‘Sammy‘, amidst lists in childish writing [by Sammy?] of countries where the matchbooks and matchbox covers pasted on the pages have come from.

'For Sammy' title page 1944 diary. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

‘For Sammy’ title page 1944 diary. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

January to March 1944 pages are covered with matchbox covers some of which have overprinted “War Quality 2 Pices” on Indian made matchboxes, a few possibly postwar ones (marked 1947) from almost every country in Europe and many countries of the Empire (India, Burma, S.Africa) as well as Canada, USA, Japan, Lebanon and others.

Wartime propaganda matchbooks  & matchbox labels, 1944 diary WWZG collection  Image:  Mark Norris, WWZG.

Wartime propaganda matchbooks & matchbox labels, 1944 diary WWZG collection Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

The matchbox labels themselves are interesting as wartime propaganda, with lots of patriotic slogans:
- “Waste in wartime is a crime”
- “Save food, save metal, save bags, save paper”
- “Save coal gas electricity paraffin, save fuel for battle!”
- a football picture with the words “Back up your side, and help the war effort”.
- “Don’t talk about your work, get on with it!”
- “We must win! Buy more war bonds stamps” and other similar
- “Invest in America, Buy War Bonds” (Maryland USA match co.) and “Keep ‘Em Flying Buy War Bonds” (Jersey USA match co.)
- Canadian YMCA War Services Along with a big “V for Victory” (Canadian matches)

More wartime propaganda matchbooks  & matchbox labels, 1944 diary WWZG collection  Image:  Mark Norris, WWZG.

More wartime propaganda matchbooks & matchbox labels, 1944 diary WWZG collection Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

A colourful childhood collection given to & continued by Sammy?

However on the first blank pages in late March 1944 is written:

Wednesday 29 March 1944: Surgeon Commander Visit to Unit with General Bradley and General Gerhardt and [?] HQ.

1944 diary WWZG collection  Image:  Mark Norris, WWZG.

1944 diary WWZG collection Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Charles Gerhardt (June 6, 1895 – October 9, 1976) commanded the U.S. 29th Infantry Division from 1943 throughout its training in Cornwall and Devon and D-Day until the end of World War 2.  Omar Bradley was chosen to command the US First Army throughout D-Day. I’m not sure who the Surgeon Commander was, it may well have been US Army Surgeon General Norman Kirk

More wartime propaganda matchbooks  & matchbox labels, 1944 diary WWZG collection  Image:  Mark Norris, WWZG.

May 1944 diary entries, Walker diary WWZG collection Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Monday 24 April 1944: Intensive Training Category B Exercise (Amphibious) (B)

Ditto for Tuesday 25 to Thursday 27 April 1944.

Friday 28 April 1944 – Training Live Category A ocean and beach Assault (A)
Enemy shipping in Area (U/T) some units engaged. Some of our boats lost.

Saturday 29 April 1944: All information heavily censored and restricted.

The following first week of May the diary is ruled across and the words “Censored” written in, no other entries recorded throughout the rest of May. It is interesting to see contemporary references to Exercise Tiger, where hundreds of US servicemen were lost off Slapton Sands in Devon on 28/29 April 1944.

Friday 2 June 1944: large movement of forces and equipment

Saturday 3 June 1944: ditto

Sunday 4 June 1944: boarding for Exercise Category A

Monday 5 June 1944: En boarding for Exercise. Weather heavy swell / Storm

More wartime propaganda matchbooks  & matchbox labels, 1944 diary WWZG collection  Image:  Mark Norris, WWZG.

More wartime propaganda matchbooks & matchbox labels, 1944 diary WWZG collection Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

No further entries are recorded for the day after, 6th June 1944, which was of course D-Day.

There are only a couple more scrawled entries:

Tuesday 18 July 1944:  St Lo France Falls.

Thursday 26 August 1944:  Brest France Offensive

Monday 18 September 1944:  Brest France Falls

Thursday 7 December 1944 page lists River Elbe 4/19/45
River Roer 2/23/45. Bremen Germany 1945

The remaining pages are full of matchbox and matchbook covers, some from wartime, others from the 1950s (for example Festival of Britain 1951, Ascent of Everest 1953).

More Research Needed?

I’m not sure at the moment about the full story behind the diary / album and it demands more research. If you have any other thoughts or insights on this unusual diary, please contact me through the comments page.

  • Who was ‘Sammy’ for whom the diary or album was a gift?
  • Who was Staff Sergeant Bernie Walker who gave the album & presumably wrote the diary?
  • When and how were the matchbooks and matchboxes collected?

Looking at these places and dates, it seems likely that this album is from someone connected with the 29th Infantry Division. In May 1943 the division moved to the Devon–Cornwall peninsula and started conducting simulated attacks against fortified positions. At this time it was assigned to V Corps of the First United States Army. After training in England for two years, the 29th took part in D-Day or Operation Overlord, the landings in Normandy. The division was among the first wave of troops to the shore at Omaha Beach, suffering massive casualties in the process. It then advanced to Saint-Lô, and eventually through France and into Germany itself. All this tallies with entries in the diary.

Hopefully the 29th Infantry Division Historical Society or Regimental Association may have a record of Staff Sergeant Bernie Walker. There is an excellent autobiographical article by PFC Mills H. Hobbs in the recent 29th Association newsletter. The 29th have several related reenactment groups which you can find online, no doubt very busy with June 1944 commemorations.

Previous related blog posts
I have written several times about D-Day stories uncovered during World War Zoo Gardens research, and our Cornwall and Devon links, through Newquay Zoo, Paignton Zoo and Slapton Ley (all run by the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust).
http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/06/23/d-day-1944-and-the-disappearing-peacocks-and-ducks-of-wartime-paignton-zoo/

http://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/over-here-70th-anniversary-of-first-us-troops-arriving-in-britain/

TRebah and LC USA links 014

So this week on the 70th anniversary of the 6th June 1944 landings I will be thinking of S/Sgt Bernie Walker, among  the many V Corps / 29th division troops that embarked from our local Cornwall & Devon beaches, hards & harbours like Brixham & Trebah, those that trained at Slapton Sands, as well as the US IVth Infantry Division  GIs (the “Ivy Boys”) camped at Paignton Zoo not to mention some missing & delicious peacocks & wildfowl …

Over Here, then off to D-Day beaches 1944: wreath at Trebah Gardens war memorial, Cornwall

29 Lets Go –  Over Here, then off to D-Day beaches 1944: wreath at Trebah Gardens war memorial, Cornwall

 

I’ll also be thinking of one of my neighbours whose late father went in with the British 48th Royal Marine Commandos at Juno Beach (pictured in the IWM image B5218  & survived the Normandy Landings on 6 June 1944, but that’s another story for another blog post …

Thanks to Nigel & Tony at http://www.militarytrader.co.uk for their sourcing & assistance with the item.

Trengwainton Garden’s “Hurrah for the Home Front” 1940s event 2014 in pictures

May 12, 2014

A few pictures to say thanks to the many re-enactors, visitors and National Trust staff and volunteers at Trengwainton Gardens whom I met during  their “spirit of the 1940s” event, an enjoyable and outing away from Newquay Zoo for our own Wartime Garden project display.

Myself pictured with trusty 'weapon of war' on the garden front outside our World War Zoo gardens exhibition tent.  Image: WWZG

Myself pictured with trusty ‘weapon of war’ on the garden front outside our World War Zoo gardens exhibition tent. Image: WWZG

We had two exhibition areas staffed by myself and family and National Trust staff and volunteers, who helped us lug, load and put up the display (thanks to Marina, Abi, Gareth, Phil and many others). It was lovely to meet so many (of you) interesting people in a very busy but enjoyable 1940s day on Sunday 11 May 2014 at Trengwainton Gardens near Penzance, celebrating their wartime allotment project.

We spent a whole day chatting about recreating our own wartime garden as part of our research into how zoos and botanic gardens survived the shortages of the 1940s, partly through ‘Dig for Victory’ gardens to feed the animals. Many people asked about our First World War research into this area and also about its potential solutions for the future. We  spoke to teachers about our schools workshops, handed out lots of free wartime recipe sheets to visitors and listened (over plentiful cups of tea) to many interesting wartime family stories. All to a great 1940s sound track.

A few of our travelling display items, WWZG project, Trengwainton May 2014.  Image: WWZG

A few of our travelling display items, WWZG project, Trengwainton May 2014. Image: WWZG

More vintage gardening kit and our Gnome Guard mascot at Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG

More vintage gardening kit and our Gnome Guard mascot at Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the many visitors in costume with vintage vehicles, Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG

Some of the many visitors in costume with vintage vehicles, Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG

Visitors and re-enactors turned up in period costume to join in with the event, which had 1940s music, vintage  vehicles and some great cakes too!

Colourful vintage costume, Trengwainton 2014 Image: WWZG

Colourful vintage costume, Trengwainton 2014 Image: WWZG

More period costume,  Trengwainton 2014. Image: WWZG

More period costume, Trengwainton 2014. Image: WWZG

Another fabulous vintage costume effort outside the recreated Anderson shelter, Trengwainton Gardens "dig for victory allotment", Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG.

Another fabulous vintage costume effort outside the recreated Anderson shelter, Trengwainton Gardens “dig for victory allotment”, Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG.

For an event like Trengwainton’s 1940s day celebrating the spirit and ingenuity of the austere but stylish 1940s, it was wonderful to see the ingenious and spirited costumes summoned up by re-enactors and visitors alike.

A nice cup of tea and a sit down, listening to the 1940s singalong, complete with period picnic basket, Trengwainton, 2014. Image WWZG

A nice cup of tea and a stylish sit down, listening to the 1940s singalong, complete with period picnic basket, Trengwainton, 2014. Image WWZG

More stylish visitors to Trengwainton's 1940s day, 2014. Image WWZG

More stylish visitors to Trengwainton’s 1940s day, 2014. Image WWZG

Trengwainton's 1940s singalong and lively dancing by re-enactors. Or is it unarmed combat training? Image - WWZG

Trengwainton’s 1940s singalong and lively dancing by re-enactors. Or is it unarmed combat training? Image – WWZG

In our wartime garden display tent, we heard many stories from visitors who were evacuated as children to the local area which we wish we could have recorded many of them. Not all the stories were happy ones, some were moved several times, others made friendships of a lifetime with their host families.

A happy evacuee! Trengwainton 1940s day, 2014.

A happy evacuee! Trengwainton 1940s day, 2014.

Along with costumed visitors and gardens staff, there were many re-enactors from the WW2  Re-enactment SouthWest group representing the British and American troops, Home Guard and Land Army girls who would have been at Trengwainton or stationed in the area.

'Event security' - American GI Military Police (MP) style, Trengwainton 1940s day, 2014. Image -WWZG.

‘Event security’ – American GI Military Police (MP) style, Trengwainton 1940s day, 2014. Not the only re-enactor animal, there were re-enactor chickens too! Image -WWZG.

 

Not your usual National Trust gardener's  uniform - Gareth (left) who is researching Trengwainton's wartime past and his family links to the local Home Guard, as well as running the Wartime allotment. Image - WWZG.

Not your usual National Trust gardener’s uniform – Gareth (left) who is researching Trengwainton’s wartime past and his family links to the local Home Guard, as well as running their wartime allotment. Image – WWZG.

Home Guard re-enactor, Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG

Home Guard re-enactor, Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG

Drilling  some young visitors in Home Guard drill, Trengwainton, 2014. Image - WWZG.

Drilling some young visitors in Home Guard drill, Trengwainton, 2014. Image – WWZG.

Many of the re-enactors had pitched camp the night before and put together evocative collections of artefacts, from motorbikes to simple camp stoves and even a mini farm yard! Hopefully they were all awakened by bugle call!

Re-enactor's wake up call! Trengwainton, 2014. Image - WWZG

Re-enactor’s wake up call! Trengwainton, 2014. Image – WWZG

 

Trengwainton, 2014. Image - WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014. Image – WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014. Image - WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014. Image – WWZG.

A few famous Home Guard names on the patrol list board! Trengwainton, 2014. Image - WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014. Image – WWZG.

A few famous Home Guard names on the patrol list board! Trengwainton, 2014. Image- WWZG.

A few famous Home Guard names on the patrol list board! Trengwainton, 2014. Image- WWZG.

Ladies in Khaki, Trengwainton, 2014.  Image - WWZG.

Ladies in Khaki, Trengwainton, 2014.
Image – WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014.  Image - WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014.
Image – WWZG.

Re-enactors with a much admired vintage motor bike, Trengwainton, 2014.  Image - WWZG.

Re-enactors with a much admired vintage motor bike, Trengwainton, 2014.
Image – WWZG.

Warden's tent, Trengwainton, 2014.  Image - WWZG.

Warden’s tent, Trengwainton, 2014.
Image – WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014.  Image - WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014.
Image – WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014. Image - WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014. Image – WWZG.

Smoky and atmospheric Trengwainton, 2014.  Image - WWZG.

Smoky and atmospheric Trengwainton, 2014.
Image – WWZG.

Smoky and atmospheric Trengwainton, 2014.  Image - WWZG.

Smoky and atmospheric Trengwainton, 2014.
Image – WWZG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A chat with the Warden. One in every six wardens was a woman.  Trengwainton 2014. Image -   WWZG.

A chat with the Warden. One in every six wardens was a woman. Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG.

A knit and natter and vintage crafts in costume, Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG.

A knit and natter and vintage crafts in costume, Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG.

Visitors, vintage crafts and costumes, National Trust Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG.

Visitors, vintage crafts and costumes, National Trust Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG.

 

Chatting with visitors outside our wartime garden tent exhibition, Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG.

Chatting with visitors outside our wartime garden tent exhibition, Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG.

Vintage vehicles and costumes on the drive at Trengwainton, 2014. Image - WWZG.

Vintage vehicles and costumes on the drive at Trengwainton, 2014. Image – WWZG.

 

Trengwainton, 2014. Image- WWZG.

Trengwainton, 2014. Image- WWZG.

Many of the re-enactors I spoke to were very busy with the forthcoming 70th anniversary commemorations of D -Day not only here in the South West but also in Normandy, paying tribute in their own way, sharing their interest with the next generation and showing that these remarkable and troubling times are not forgotten.

Time for a cup of tea and a chat,  outside our wartime garden exhibition.  Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG.

Time for a cup of tea and a chat, outside our wartime garden exhibition. Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG.

Part of Newquay Zoo's World War Zoo Gardens schools wartime zoo workshop materials - helmets and uniforms - to try on, Trengwainton 2014. Image WWZG

Part of Newquay Zoo’s World War Zoo Gardens schools wartime zoo workshop materials – helmets and uniforms – to try on, Trengwainton 2014. Image WWZG

Part of Newquay Zoo's World War Zoo Gardens schools wartime garden materials - recipe and gardening books, Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG.

Part of Newquay Zoo’s World War Zoo Gardens  wartime garden materials – recipe and gardening books, Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG.

Following up our previous blog post, it was lovely to see the Wartime Garden project at Trengwainton full of visitors and growing away well. This was our connection to the day, a similar wartime garden recreation at Newquay Zoo, born around the same time in 2009 and with some shared research into crop varieties and period features. There’s also one at Occombe Farm in Devon!

The Trengwainton wartime garden Potting Shed open for  display, 2014. Image - WWZG.

The Trengwainton wartime garden Potting Shed open for display, 2014. Image – WWZG.

Everyday 1940s items in the Trengwainton wartime garden Anderson shelter  open for  display, 2014. Image - WWZG.

Everyday 1940s items in the Trengwainton wartime garden Anderson shelter open for display, 2014. Image – WWZG.

It was the many chats with visitors that made the day a special event. Land Girls in the wartime garden, Trengwainton, 2014. Image - WWZG.

It was the many chats with visitors that made the day a special event. Land Girls back in the wartime garden, Trengwainton, 2014. Image – WWZG.

Land Girls back in the wartime garden at Trengwainton, 2014. Image - WWZG.

Land Girls back in the wartime garden at Trengwainton, 2014. Image – WWZG.

Trengwainton Garden Dig for Victory allotment May 2014. Image - WWZG.

Trengwainton Garden Dig for Victory allotment, May 2014. Image – WWZG.

Thanks to Claire for the  pictures and thanks to all the people who took part, chatted to us and shared their stories  and had their photos taken.  If you don’t like your photo, please contact me via the comments and I can remove it. Hopefully this selection of photos  gives you a feel of the event in 2014. If you’re not featured, sadly not all of the pictures came out. We look forward to next year (or whenever we next meet!)

Sadly after a day of 1940s singalong when I got home and unpacked our display materails, it was to find that David Lowe from BBC Radio Devon – almost the sound track of our wartime garden for many years – is now off air on Sunday evenings. We will not be alone across many generations  in missing his programme greatly.

Mark Norris, WWZG World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall.

Trengwainton’s Wartime Garden Project, Cornwall

May 2, 2014

I was really pleased to finally make it to Trengwainton Gardens at Penzance in Cornwall to see their wartime garden project this week. I was scouting out locations for our possible World War Zoo Gardens wartime garden display at Trengwainton’s 1940s wartime garden weekend “Hoorah for the Home Front” on Sunday 11th May 2014.

The entry in the walled garden through to Trengwainton's wartime garden in the orchard May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

The entry in the walled garden through to Trengwainton’s wartime garden in the orchard May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

I came across this project several years ago when I was researching our own Wartime garden at Newquay Zoo and exchanged 1940s plant variety notes with one of the Project consultants, Paul Bonnington.

Trengwainton NT wartime garden May 2014.  Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Trengwainton NT wartime garden May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Trengwainton have recreated an Anderson shelter, something I wanted to do in the first plans for the Newquay Zoo version of a wartime allotment in 2009. Many months later trawling eBay for original ‘heritage rust’ available from as little as 99p (if you travel to the other side of the country to dig up and dismantle it for the owners), I decided against the idea.
Instead I sent Paul the shelter plans and dimensions from original 1940s ARP publications and woodworking magazines. Trengwainton have recreated one in full shiny glory, not yet covered in a protective and productive coating of soil and produce. People at the time were worried that the shiny metal would be too easily visible from the air, hence the edible camouflage that soon appeared on top.

Land girls back at Trengwainton wartime garden NT, Cornwall May 2014  Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Land girls back at Trengwainton wartime garden NT, Cornwall May 2014
Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

In several Land Girl autobiographies and histories (such as the oral history account produced by the Penzance / West Cornwall based Hypatia Trust) Trengwainton is mentioned. Land Girls from all over Britain trained, lived and worked at gardens like Trengwainton.

Project signage, Dig for Victory Wartime garden, Trengwainton, NT, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Project signage, Dig for Victory Wartime garden, Trengwainton, NT, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Propaganda posters of WLA Land Girls aside, the less glamorous side of wartime gardening has been ‘recreated’ in this working garden such as compost heaps. Just as we use produce from the Newquay Zoo version to feed our animals (and occasionally in the cafe), Trengwainton uses produce from its several sections of walled gardens (built apparently, no one knows why, to the dimensions of Noah’s Ark) in its tearooms.

Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, May 2014. Image Mark Norris, WWZG.

Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, May 2014. Image Mark Norris, WWZG.

I look forward to joining the events and gardens team there and other re-enactors from the Southwest WW2 reenactment society in celebrating “the spirit and ingenuity” of the 1940s on the 11th May 2014, with a small display of our wartime garden materials that we use with schools (see previous blog post). You can find out more about the Trengwainton garden and events: Www.nationaltrust.org.uk/trengwainton-garden  There are photos of past 40s weekends there in local news coverage. 

Hooray for the Home Front poster 11 May 2014, Trengwainton, NT, Cornwall.

Hooray for the Home Front poster 11 May 2014, Trengwainton, NT, Cornwall.

Our Wartime garden project co-opts Newquay Zoo’s free-ranging chickens as and when required for displays. Trengwainton has built coops in the orchard for several beautiful Buff Orpington hens and chicks, a great sound effect background noise to the garden project.

Salvage bins marked up WVS, a nice touch in the chicken coop, Trengwainton NT, Cornwall wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Salvage bins marked up WVS, a nice touch in the chicken coop, Trengwainton NT, Cornwall wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

 

Buff Orpington chickens, Trengwainton wartime garden project, Cornwall. May 2014 Image: Mark Norris: WWZG.

Buff Orpington chickens, Trengwainton wartime garden project, Cornwall. May 2014 Image: Mark Norris: WWZG.

Trengwainton's orchard with walled garden backdrop, wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Trengwainton’s orchard with walled garden backdrop, wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

 

Unusual 'aeroplane' weathercock or bird scarer, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Unusual ‘aeroplane’ weathercock or bird scarer, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

A bit of Trengwainton's history on its wartime garden signage, Cornwall, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

A bit of Trengwainton’s history on its wartime garden signage, Cornwall, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Another clever idea (similar to something I am working on at Newquay Zoo) is their display potting shed, full of period items.

Inside the wartime potting shed, wartime garden project,  Trengwainton NT, Cornwall, May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Inside the wartime potting shed, wartime garden project, Trengwainton NT, Cornwall, May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Anderson shelter recreated, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Anderson shelter recreated, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Chickens and rose hips, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, Cornwall. May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Chickens and rose hips, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, Cornwall. May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Rose hips were (after research into their Vitamin C content at Kew) gathered as a source of Vitamin C during wartime, often by WIs and schoolchildren keen to make some pocket money.

Wartime poster, Trengwainton NT, Cornwall May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Wartime poster, Trengwainton NT, Cornwall May 2014 Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Recreating a wartime potting shed, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, Cornwall. May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Recreating a wartime potting shed, Trengwainton NT wartime garden project, Cornwall. May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

I hope you enjoy these glimpses of Trengwainton’s Wartime garden project and get the chance to visit.

I might even meet some of you at their 1940s event on Sunday the 11th May 2014 which we hope to attend with our display; if I get the chance to photograph the event, I’ll post some further pictures here.

Pedople asked for views of the walled kitchen gardens at Trengwainton so here are a few more shots:

The main walled kitchen gardens at Trengwainton, Cornwall, May 2014 Image: Mark Norris: WWZG.

The main walled kitchen gardens at Trengwainton, Cornwall, May 2014 Image: Mark Norris: WWZG.

 

Green Manure (mustard) flowering in the Walled kitchen gardens, Trengwainton, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Green Manure (mustard) flowering in the Walled kitchen gardens, Trengwainton, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG

Walled kitchen gardens, Trengwainton, Cornwall, May 2014.  Image: Mark Norris, WWZG,

Walled kitchen gardens, Trengwainton, Cornwall, May 2014. Image: Mark Norris, WWZG,

Posted by: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall. Contact via http://www.newquayzoo.org.uk

“For King and Country fought and died — Gardeners and Men !”

April 15, 2014

GARDENERS OF EMPIRE.

Tillers of the soil they were — just gardeners then,

In faith the day’s work doing as the day’s work came,

Peaceful art in peace pursuing — not seeking fame —

When through the Empire rang the Empire’s call for men!

Gardeners they were, finding in fragile flowers delight,

Lore in frail leaves, and charm even in wayside weeds.

Who, in their wildest dreams, ne’er rose to do brave deeds,

Defending righteous cause against relentless Might!

 

The wide world gave her flowers for them — the mountains high,

The valleys low, and classic hills all fringed with snow

Where fires by sunset kindled light the alpen-glow.

O ! Fate implacable ! — to see those hills and die !

 

The war god rose refreshed — Gardeners and Soldiers then!

Who, that slumbering Peace might wake, dared, with manhood’s zeal,

To make Life’s sacrifice to Love’s supreme appeal.

For King and Country fought and died — Gardeners and Men !

 

written by H. H. T

probably Harry H. Thompson, editor of the journal,   The Gardener,  who left Kew in 1899.

reprinted from the Kew Guild Journal, 1915. http://www.kewguild.org.uk/media/pdfs/v3s23p265-39.pdf

A timely  posting for it is National Gardens Week 14 – 20 April 2014 in the year of the First World War centenary http://www.1914.org

This was one of the poems that featured in my recent talk on zoos and botanic gardens in wartime as part of the garden and landscape history at the IHR University of London on 27 March 2014. Some of HHT’s phrases – “finding in fragile flowers delight” – have a faint echo of Gloucester poet Ivor Gurney (1890- 1937) that I have admired and studied for many years, now slowly finding his proper recognition as an artist and musician.  This poem as tribute or epitaph  is growing on me as I uncover how it reflects the lives and attitudes of a generation of lost gardeners of Kew (and the brief opportunities the war provided for women), a period beautifully illustrated by Lynn Parker and Kiri Ross-Jones’ new photographic history of Kew Gardens. You can read brief biographies of each of the 37 Kew casualties of WW1 on previous blog posts.

There are more IHR garden history talks in London coming up in May and Autumn, see http://www.history.ac.uk/events/seminars/121.

I also look forward to returning to Kew Gardens to do another wartime zoo and botanic garden talk in Autumn 2014 as part of their soon-to-be announced autumn programme of talks on http://www.kew.org/kmis.

37 Kew  staff lost  from 150 staff and old Kewites on active service in WW1 seems a disproprortionately large number but again Kew staff  are under threat of 125 staff posts at risk of redundancy, leading naturalists and garden writers from David Attenborough and James Wong to champion the role of Kew Gardens in the modern world. I hope that a solution can be found as it cast a shadow over my day meeting staff there. After visiting the Kew Gardens war memorial and the storm damaged and now vanished Verdun Oak , I met up with James Wearn, hard at work on Kew’s wartime centenary commemorations and look forward to posting more about this throughout the year. Floreat Kew!

Lost Ecologists of the First World War

March 4, 2014

“Not only did the war bring to an end foreign excursions, but it ruptured the often close links with German scholars. It meant an inevitable dislocation of plans and careers …”

The British Ecological Society published a history on its 75th anniversary,  75 Years in Ecology: The British Ecological Society  by John Sheail (Oxford: Blackwell, 1987) that gives a few hints on how the First World War affected the lives and work of British and European ecologists.

Many of its founder British members covered sections of Britain from Cambridge to Scotland, Southern Ireland and Cornwall, Devon and the South in the company of German and European colleagues as part of the grandly titled International Phytogeographical Excursion around Britain in 1911.

On the eve of World War 1 at the end of the Edwardian period, British and European ecologists were pioneers of a discipline still in its early stages. The British Ecological Society had only formed in 1913 and is still going strong, having just celebrated its centenary – see also its Wikipedia entry.

The Cambridge University Botany School had mounted an ecological and botanic expedition to Provence and the fringes of the Mediterranean Alps when news of the Sarajevo assassination broke in June 1914. Two of that expedition were to die in the trenches of France and Flanders over the next 5 years.

Donald Macpherson 1886-1917

Only one of the two casualties was directly named in Shaeil’s book. The unnamed one was possibly Donald Macpherson (b. 1886) who “died in a French military hospital in 1917″ (p.59). He had worked with William G. Smith, a colleague at the Edinburgh and East of Scotland Agricultural College (now the Scottish Rural University College) on Moor matgrass or nard grass (Nardus stricta) and the vegetation of the Moorfoot Hills. Smith went on publish the survey results as W.G. Smith, “The Distribution of Nardus stricta in relation to peat” in the Journal of Ecology, 6: 1-13, 1918.

Smith also wrote an obituary of MacPherson. After EDinburgh OTC and a Commission in the Scottish Horse, 2nd  Lieutenant D. MacPherson  transferred to the Royal Field Artillery in 1917 and was wounded in the back on his first action on the Menin Road. His CWGC record states that he  died on 11th November 1917 aged 31 years at Leith, probably in the Leith War Hospital (rather than France) and is buried in its associated Edinburgh (Warriston) Cemetery.

According to Smith, he abandoned field mapping as part of a Board of Agriculture survey begun in 1912, “the claims of the survey had to give place to a greater call, one which MacPherson felt strongly from the beginning of the war …” Smith described him as “ever pleasant. Best of all were the opportunities of joining him in the field. It was something of a task to keep up with the long striding place of a very tall companion.”

Captain Alfred Stanley Marsh (1892-1916)

The other ‘bright scholar’ was Captain Alfred Stanley Marsh (born 1892) of Crewkerne who was, according to the BES 75th Anniversary Book, “shot through the heart by a sniper’s bullet in the trenches of Armentieres in 1916″ (p.41). He was the son of William Warren Marsh, a relieving officer and E. M. Marsh, of Blacknell, Crewkerne, Somerset.

In Sheail’s book he is called ‘Albert’  Stanley Marsh. Marsh’s  posthumous work was published by British ecologist and psychologist Arthur Tansley in 1917, who had been unfit for military service and worked as a clerk in munitions. Marsh’s experiments on competitve species of Bedstraw were finished by Tansley and published under Tansley’s name in 1917 as “On Competition between Galium saxatile and Galium sylvestre on different types of soil.” Journal of Ecology 5, 173-9, 1917. Tansley also wrote an obituary of Marsh in 1916, as Albert or Alfred Stanley Marsh, New Phytologist journal, 20, 132-6, 1916. S.R.Price also wrote an obituary on Captain A.S. Marsh in the Journal of Ecology 4, 119-120, 1916.

Based on his salt marsh and sand dune surveys and mappping work in summer 1913, Marsh was the author in 1915 of “The Maritime Ecology of Holme next the Sea, Norfolk” in the Journal of Ecology, 3: 63-73, 1915. His map reading and landscape survey  skills were to prove highly useful  as an infantry officer in wartime.

There is more about Captain Alfred Stanley Marsh of the 8th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry, killed and buried in Armentieres on 5 January 1916 on the Somerset Remembers website with obituaries, a unit photograph and sections from the 8th Battalion war diary  5 January 1916 which reads:

That day Capt. Marsh was killed by a sniper about 3 P.M. at the junction of Trenches 69 & 70.

and the CWGC website entry for him.

Ecologist A.S. Marsh lies to the left rear of the block of back to back Allied headstones in Cite Bonjean Militray Cemetery, Armentieres, France. Image CWGC website

Ecologist A.S. Marsh lies to the left rear of the block of back to back Allied headstones in Cite Bonjean Militray Cemetery, Armentieres, France. Image CWGC website

The town and cemetery where Marsh is buried have an interesting, almost symbolic history. Armentieres is a town in Northern France, on the Belgian frontier. The town was occupied by the 4th Division on 17 October 1914 (giving rise to the soldiers’ marching song “Mademoiselle from Armentieres, Parlay Vous?”). It remained within the Allied lines until its evacuation ahead of the German advance on 10 April 1918, recovered again in 3 October 1918.
Plot IX of Cite Bonjean Militray Cemetery, Armentieres,  where Marsh is buried (Plot IX, row D headstone 79) was begun in October 1914 and continued to be used by field ambulances and fighting units until April 1918. Plots V, VI, VII and X were then used by the Germans. Although the cemetery now contains 2,145 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, more than 500 German graves remain in the cemetery even after 455 German graves were re-interred or concentrated elsewhere in 1925.

So A.S. Marsh lies appropriately in a cemetery where Germans and Allied soldiers rest close together, united again in death as in life, except during a war which was greatly disruptive of international scholarship, especially among for scientists or naturalists forced onto opposing sides. John Sheail notes (p.41) in his 75th Anniversary history of the BES that:

“Not only did the war bring to an end foreign excursions, but it ruptured the often close links with German scholars. It meant an inevitable dislocation of plans and careers …”

This paragraph could stand as an epitaph for so many scientific and cultural groups including the botanists and zoologists, gardeners, zoo and botanic garden staff that I have been researching for the World War Zoo Gardens project.

Sydney Edward Brock (1883 – 1918)

Another one of the “deaths and dislocations caused by the First World War”  noted by Sheail (p. 84) was ecologist and bird watcher Sydney Edward Brock (1883 – 1918), a Scottish farmer and naturalist.

Crop of the unit photograph of Captain S.E. Brock, Royal Scots MC (Image source:  Evening Dispatch - December 3rd 1915, via http://www.ww1daleboys.com/2nd10thcyclistbatt.htm website.

Crop of the unit photograph of Captain S.E. Brock, Royal Scots MC (Image source: Evening Dispatch – December 3rd 1915, via http://www.ww1daleboys.com/2nd10thcyclistbatt.htm website.

“Farmer, Naturalist and Soldier” Sydney Brock was a Captain, 10th Cyclist Battalion, Royal Scots, MC (Military Cross) who died of wounds on Armistice Day 11 November 1918 in a UK military hospital and is buried in Kirkliston Burial Ground, Lothian, Scotland. He was the son of tenant farmer (of the Hopetoun House estates) James Easton Brock (d. 1903) and Harriet Brock of Overton Farm, Kirkliston, Linlithgowshire and left a sister Florence and brother Dr. Arthur John Brock M.D. to whom his medals were sent. His WW1 medal record card suggests that he entered France on active service on 21 May 1918. He also has a CWGC website record. He does not appaer to have been listed on the British Ecological Society membership list but is mentioned in Shaeil’s book.

Sydney Brock’s Obituary in British Birds:
For most of the material of the present notice we are indebted to an appreciative sketch by Mr. W. Evans in the Scottish Naturalist, 1919, pp. 27-8. Sydney Edward Brock, Captain 10th Battalion Royal Scots, was descended from a west Lothian family and was born on October 6th, 1883, at Overton, near Kirkliston. He was educated at Kirkliston and Edinburgh, and about 1904 succeeded his father as tenant of the farm where he was born. There is reason to believe that he had in his mind the preparation of a Fauna of Linlithgowshire, where the greater part of his life was spent.

Although chiefly interested in bird-life he had acquired considerable knowledge of some of the lesser worked groups of insects, and of late years had devoted special attention to ecological problems. Most of his contributions to science appeared in the Annals of Scottish Natural History from 1906 onward, but he also wrote for the Zoologist, and the volume for 1910 contains some original observations on the fledging periods of birds (p. 117), and a very careful paper on “The Willow-Wrens of a Lothian Wood ” (pp. 401-417).

His most important contribution to British Birds was a thoughtful and suggestive paper on “Ecological Relations of Bird-Distribution” in British Birds, VIII., pp. 30-44, [1914]. There was every reason to expect much good work in the future from such a careful and good observer, but with the outbreak of the war came a break in his activities in this field.

While on active service in France [Brock] made notes on the bird-life of the Peronne district, which are still [1919] in MS., but on October 16th, 1918, he was severely wounded in action at Courtrai, and died in a military hospital at Aberdeen, from the effects of his wounds, on November 11th, the day on which hostilities ceased. His early death is a serious loss to British ornithology, especially in the department of Ecology and the study of the fauna of the Scottish lowlands. F.C.R.J.”

Brock’s second paper “Bird-associations in Scotland” was published posthumously in 1921 in Scottish Naturalists 11-21 and 49-58.

Brock is pictured centre mid row, a tall man, in 1915 with his fellow officers of the 2nd / 10th Cyclist Battalion, Royal Scots. He appears to have already enlisted by 1914, as a Territorial soldier for an S.E. Brock was gazetted a Lieutenant  in the 8th Volunteer Battalion of the Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) on 24.12.1902 (London Gazette, p. 8846, 23 Dec 1902).

Brock appears to have served for two years in defence of the UK:

“After the sanction of the War Office for the raising of second-line units was received, Lieut.-Colonel E. Peterkin, V.D., raised the 2/10th Royal Scots by the 24th September 1914, after a recruiting campaign of less than a week. The battalion was accordingly mobilised at Bathgate on the 13th October, 1914 but it was not till the 11th January 1915 that uniforms and the necessary military equipment began to arrive. With Berwick as their centre, the 2/10th Royal Scots, a cyclist battalion, became responsible for a share in the defence of the East coast, and from May 1916 furnished drafts for overseas service. The battalion went into camp at Coldingham in June 1916, and its chief thrills were caused by air raids and by reports of hostile landings …” from p. 739, Chapter 39, History of the 2/10th Royal Scots by Major John Ewing MC

By 1916, on the Armadale website, it quotes that 90% of this Territorial Force were serving overseas with other units such as Brock with the 12th Battalion,Royal Scots.

The Supplement to the London Gazette 4 October 1919 gives details of Brock’s gallantry award of the Military Cross:

Captain Sydney Edward Brock, 10th Bn., R. Scots. T.F. (attd. 12 Bn.).
For most conspicuous gallantry at the bridgehead at Cuerne on 17th Oct., 1918. He led part of his company over the bridge,under very heavy enemy fire, in an entirely exposed position, displaying great coolness and disregard of danger, and setting a most inspiring example to his men.

A family gravestone at Kirkliston can be seen online at the Brock genealogy website and the churchyard on Find A Grave website. There is more about the Brock family (some of whom emigrated) and Kirkliston area

Sheail notes that ecologists and botanists lamented the lack of use of their skills made by the authorities during the First World War, a situation slightly different in WW2, which has its own interesting section Part 3 which begins  (p 121 “Anniversaries are necessarily arbitrary affairs” in Sheail’s excellent book (out of print copies available on Amazon, Abe Books etc). Arthur Tansley notes the period in British ecology following the First World War as one of “quiescence”, after the energetic formation of the Society in 1913, despite the birth of techniques such as aerial photography for surveying and vegetation mapping.

There is more about soldier naturalists in Richard Van Emden’s Tommy’s Ark: Soldiers and their Animals in the Great War which we previously  reveiwed / blog posted about in 2012.

World War Zoo Gardens workshops for schools at Newquay Zoo

January 29, 2014

Preparing our World War Zoo Gardens workshop, Newquay Zoo

Preparing our World War Zoo Gardens workshop, Newquay Zoo

We’ve been busy recently at Newquay Zoo setting up for some primary school workshops about wartime life and what happened in zoos in WW2.

Mark Norris in costume as the zoo's ARP Instructor and volunteer Ken our zoo 'Home Guard' delivering a World War Zoo Gardens schools workshop, Newquay Zoo (Photo: Lorraine Reid / Newquay Zoo)

Mark Norris in costume as the zoo’s ARP Instructor and volunteer Ken our zoo ‘Home Guard’ delivering a World War Zoo Gardens schools workshop, Newquay Zoo (Photo: Lorraine Reid / Newquay Zoo)

Schools visit Newquay Zoo from upcountry and around the county. One recent local school who usually go to a local museum visited to find out the answer to an unusual question. The children asked their teacher – “What happened to animals during the war?” so a trip to Newquay Zoo was the answer. Others book in as the start or finish of their wartime history classroom topic or alongside their more traditional animal studies of rainforest or habitats.

Our wartime zoo trail is quickly set up for visiting schoolchildren around the zoo, a trail that’s been shared with visitors around Armistice weekends and wartime garden weekends.

One of our temporary World War Zoo Gardens trail boards set up for schools workshops, World War Zoo Gardens workshop, Newquay Zoo

One of our temporary World War Zoo Gardens trail boards around the zoo set up for schools workshops, World War Zoo Gardens workshop, Newquay Zoo

Display case of wartime memorabilia, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo
Our display case in the Tropical House houses a changing topical collection of wartime Home Front items from civilian and zoo life. There’s an Eye-Spy list to encourage students to look out for and identify some of the more unusual items. They generate interesting history questions: What are they? Who used them and what were they used for?

The Battle Of Britain in miniature for a wartime boy! A beautiful wartime handmade wooden Spitfire toy, our other favourite suggestion for the wartime object collection on the BBC A History of The World.

The Battle Of Britain in miniature for a wartime boy! A beautiful wartime handmade wooden Spitfire toy in our display case  for the wartime object collection on the BBC A History of The World.

Some of my favourites are the handmade items like toy wooden Spitfires or puzzle games from scrap materials, our contribution featured in the BBC digital online museum accompanying the BBC’s “A History of The World in a Hundred Objects”.

Hanging up uniform for the World War Zoo Gardens workshop, Newquay Zoo

Hanging up uniform for the World War Zoo Gardens workshop, Newquay Zoo

The biggest effort is in unpacking and repacking our stored wartime artifacts. These range from large items like heavy wartime civil defence uniform jackets and land girl overcoats to smaller items like steel helmets that are interesting for students to try on and feel the weight. It’s not advisable to try on the different gas masks though, if they still have the filter sections intact or attached. Many of these are everyday wartime items that zoo keepers, their families or zoo visitors would have carried and been very familiar with.

Land Army, Fire and Civil Defence Greatcoats and uniforms hung ready for a schools workshop, World War Zoo Gardens

Land Army, Fire and Civil Defence Greatcoats and uniforms hung ready for a schools workshop, World War Zoo Gardens

Putting our workshop materials out, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

Putting our workshop materials out, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

It takes a while to pin up wartime posters and unpack ‘evacuee’ suitcases but the end result looks good so well worth the effort. Alongside our original Newquay War Weapons Week poster design by evacuee Benenden schoolgirls,  the other wartime posters (” weapons on the wall”) are battered old reproduction examples from the Imperial War Museum shop 

' Evacuee' suitcases with original handmade wartime toys, ARP advice and blue WAAF silks!  World War Zoo Gardens workshop, Newquay Zoo (Picture: Lorraine Reid, Newquay Zoo)

‘ Evacuee’ suitcases with original handmade wartime toys, ARP advice and blue WAAF silks! World War Zoo Gardens workshop, Newquay Zoo (Picture: Lorraine Reid, Newquay Zoo)

Different topics such as the outbreak of war and closure of places of entertainment like zoos, preparing and repairing the zoo from air raid damage, feeding the animals when they had no ration books and coping with the call up and casualties of staff are covered through enlarged photographs, newspaper headlines, adverts and posters from our collection to illustrate our talk or answer questions.

Through telling the story of how we are researching wartime zoos and showing the students many of these original source materials, we’re showing them an idea of the process of how history is written and researched, an important skill for future historians.

Rationing and Dig For Victory gardening items being laid out for our World War Zoo Gardens schools workshop, Newquay Zoo  (Photo: Lorraine Reid, Newquay Zoo)

Rationing and Dig For Victory gardening items being laid out for our World War Zoo Gardens schools workshop, Newquay Zoo
(Photo: Lorraine Reid, Newquay Zoo)

The tiniest items on display are original artefacts like shrapnel and incendiary bomb tail fins that did such damage to zoo and botanic garden glass roofs and hay stores. These small items, along with the bewildering variety of wartime cap badges and buttons, often survive as part of a wartime schoolboy’s souvenir collection of relics.

"What did you Do in the War, Granny?" is partly answered by these poster reproductions on the wall. World War Zoo Gardens workshop, Newquay Zoo

“What did you Do in the War, Granny?” is partly answered by these poster reproductions on the wall. World War Zoo Gardens workshop, Newquay Zoo

This schoolboy collecting bug often puzzles the female students – “what did girls do during the war?” they ask. This question we partly answer with a range of items from land girl greatcoats, women’s magazines, cookery books, knitted dolls and some highly desirable items such as WAAF issue silk stockings and bloomers. Most of the students know how stockings were faked using gravy browning, coffee and eyeliner pencils for the seams. Our other precious silk item, of course of animal origin, is a pilot’s silk escape map of S.E. Asian jungle islands where many of our  endangered animals come from today.

Getting into costume and character as a Zoo ARP instructor dress uniform and scratchy battledress trousers - Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project schools workshop, Newquay Zoo

Getting into costume and character as a Zoo ARP instructor dress uniform and scratchy battledress trousers – Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project schools workshop, Newquay Zoo

We try to cover all the senses such as the weight and roughness of uniforms, sandbags and helmets. Smell is not so easy to represent – what did wartime Britain smell like? – but we visit our recreated wartime allotment near the Lion House to harvest (in season) some fresh animal food and herbs.

World War Zoo Garden, Summer 2011: World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

World War Zoo Garden, Summer 2011: World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

Taste is a tricky sense to safely build into a workshop, what with modern concerns over food allergies (did they exist during rationing?) However our fabulous Cafe Lemur staff help introduce workshops in the quieter times of the year by cooking up batches of fresh and reasonably edible potato biscuits (recipe below) for students to try, taken from some wartime recipe sheets we have for visitors to take away. It’s always interesting to watch the facial expressions of students as they risk the first bite. Only a few aren’t eaten!

Primary history source material -  Keeper Billett of Whipsnade Zoo ZSL in tin hat and gas mask pictured in the shortlived 'Animal And Zoo magazine', November 1939 (magazine / photo from the World War Zoo archive, Newquay Zoo)

Primary history source material – Keeper Billett of Whipsnade Zoo ZSL in tin hat and gas mask pictured in the shortlived ‘Animal And Zoo magazine’, November 1939 (magazine / photo from the World War Zoo archive, Newquay Zoo)

Sound is an important part of the workshop ranging from learning the meaning of the sharp blasts of my ARP whistle to the different sound of air raid sirens – warning and all clear – keyed in from sound effects, as the real hand-cranked sirens are deafening in small spaces and we don’t want to accidentally evacuate the zoo. The gas warning rattle, beloved of football crowds in the past, is a popular and noisy thing to try at the workshop’s end.

Wartime fire fighting equipment - stirrup pump, canvas bucket, AFS 'tin hat' (section 34) and service respirator. Image: World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

Wartime fire fighting equipment – stirrup pump, canvas bucket, AFS ‘tin hat’ (section 34) and service respirator. Image: World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

Apart from looking at the display and trying on some of the headgear, another popular activity at the end of a workshop is a quick demonstration outside of ‘fire bomb drill’ that older children and zoo families would have learnt on firewatch or fire guard duty using our battered leaky but still working original stirrup pumps. Young arms soon tire from pumping these and thankfully there’s no fire involved but it’s a chance to soak your friends! Many gardeners made use of civil defence ‘war surplus’ stirrup pumps after the war as handy garden sprayers.

If we’re in luck, one of our older zoo volunteers pops in to answer questions about wartime childhood and even bring in their original ration books and identity cards. Sometimes our volunteers and our staff (including me!) dress up as characters using original and replica uniforms showing jobs that zoo staff would have done, often  after  a day’s work ranging from Fire Watch, Fire Service, Air Raid Precautions or Home Guard. There are a few of my family photographs of air raid shelters, harvest and garden work and stories from my evacuee parents that I retell in the talk too!

Paper pot maker in the wartime zoo garden, Newquay Zoo, 2010

Paper pot maker in the wartime zoo garden, Newquay Zoo, 2010

In summer we finish off our wartime zoo schools workshops with  making of newspaper pots and potting up of sunflower seeds (good source of animal food in wartime and very wildlife friendly today) for students to take home.  It’s good to hear from children and teachers that school gardens are thriving again as part of  Growing Schools Gardens, one practical follow-up to the ‘Dig For Victory’ history topic and zoo visit. There is an excellent RHS / IWM Dig For Victory schools pack available online as a pdf   It’s good to see this growing area of the  Learning Outside the Classroom manifesto and network, something  which we’re proudly part of at Newquay Zoo as an accredited or quality learning venue since 2009.

Now that World War Two  is staying in modified form in the new ‘Gove’ 2014 primary school history national curriculum, we look forward to running many more schools WW2 workshops about this remarkable period in zoo and botanic garden history. I’m sure many teachers have enjoyed teaching the old Home Front primary history curriculum elements  and will adapt elements from units like the evacuees.

Each workshop throws up interesting new questions to answer or investigate. “What happened in zoos and associated botanic gardens in World War 1?” is one recent question we’ve been asked and are looking at, ahead of the 1914 centenary. We’ve already blogposted about the war memorials at Kew Gardens and London Zoo – see previous posts. 

The next big job is editing some of our research and collection of wartime diaries or letters into a resource pack, something we’re working on throughout 2014.  Some of our North-East wartime farmer’s diaries are on loan to Beamish museum for their new Wartime Farm.

We also run similar history sessions for secondary schools at Newquay Zoo and our sister Zoo Paignton Zoo in Devon. Herbert Whitley’s Paignton Zoo was operational in wartime as a camp site for D-Day US troops and had some strange wartime tales. Paignton also  hosted evacuee staff and animals from the bombed and blitzed Chessington Zoo.

You can find out more about the World War Zoo Gardens project, schools workshops and local offsite talks and our contact details on our schools webpage

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Wartime Savoury Potato Biscuit recipe – cooked up  on World War Zoo Gardens workshop days 

* N.B. Leave out cheese if you have dairy allergy, the pepper is enough to make the taste ‘interesting’.

Adapted from the original Recipe from Potatoes: Ministry of Food wartime leaflet No. 17 

Makes about 24 approx 3 inch biscuits

Ingredients

2  ounces margarine

3  ounces plain flour

3 ounces cooked mashed potato

6 tablespoons grated cheese*

1.5 teaspoons table salt

Pinch of cayenne or black pepper

Cooking instructions

1. Rub margarine into flour

2. Add potato, salt, pepper (and cheese if using*)

3. Work to a stiff dough

4. Roll out thinly and cut into shapes

5. Bake in a moderate oven, 15 to 20 minutes.

Remembering “Muck’s Mauler”: Liberator US Navy Air Crash, Watergate bay, Newquay, Cornwall28 December 1943

December 17, 2013

Muck's Mauler  Liberator crash relics on display, on loan from Douglas Knight, Newquay Zoo wartime weekend  May 2010

Muck’s Mauler Liberator crash relics on display, on loan from Douglas Knight, Newquay Zoo wartime weekend May 2010

During World War Two, Britain as an island was heavily dependent (as we are today) on supplies, fuel and food coming in by ship.

Despite the home grown efforts of “Dig for Victory Garden” allotments behind homes, in parks and  even zoo gardens, this  made Britain’s ports and shipping vulnerable  to attack and blockade by the German air force and U-boats.

Watching  out for enemy submarines and protecting these convoys was the job not just of the Royal Navy but also many British and American coastal patrol aircraft from airfields along the coast such as St Eval or St. Mawgan, near Newquay in Cornwall. Convoys of food and fuel arrived safely but at considerable cost in the loss of men, ships and aircraft.

The occasional remnants of one such casualty from Christmas 1943 can still be glimpsed on the beach a few miles down the coast from where the World War Zoo Gardens project and its allotment garden is based at Newquay Zoo in Cornwall.

At 2.02 a.m. on December 28th 1943 a United States Navy PB4Y1 Liberator “Muck’s Mauler” Liberator - designated ‘war-weary’ - took off from RAF St Mawgan with nine crew members and four passengers aboard. It is believed the plane got into difficulties shortly after take-off and tried to turn back to base when it came down and crashed into rocks. All 13 service personnel aboard the aircraft were killed. Five other unnamed US Navy personnel rescuers drowned trying to save the crew, rappelling down the cliffs and into the night sea in vain to save them.

The crew of Muck’s Mauler –
Rance A. Thomas
Louis T. Perkins Jr
Paul M. Lawthian
Norman Teraut
Edwin H. Rogers
Thomas J. Zock
Edward G. Forkel
Harry Jetter
Charles Minella.

Passengers onboard
Ensign Robert L. Scott
Harold Rossenberg
Harold C. Nylund
Paul Brow.

Edwin H Rogers was born in August 1915 at Williams Station, near Columbia, Houston Co, Alabama. Rogers served in the United States Navy and “Ferried war weary bombers and crew from England to Bermuda during World War II”.

The crew's Fort Scott Cemetery memorial stone from the Find a Grave website.

The crew’s Fort Scott Cemetery memorial stone from the Find a Grave website.

There is a memorial stone plaque on the Find a Grave website http://image1.findagrave.com/photos/2010/147/660073_127509938445.jpg for Edward G Forkel, Harold C Nylund – 1943 and some others in some of the crew reburied in Fort Scott Military Cemetery, Kansas in the USA, listing names and airforce ranks where they were reinterred in 1949.

The day after the accident, 14-year-old Douglas Knight cycled to the scene with his brother Alec and found a number of relics in the sand which were put on display at Newquay Zoo’s World War Zoo Gardens project wartime weekend in May 2010. Douglas arranged to replace and rededicate the plaque on the cliffs where the plane hit. According to Douglas’ address at the memorial service:

“The Liberator … was on its way back to the States, it had done approx. 558 flying hours on the original engines and then would be replaced with a more modified version. I was only 14 years old when my brother Alec and I myself heard about the tragedy. We cycled out to Whipsiderry and walked across the beaches to the scene of the accident. I can still remember that before we came around Lion Rock, there was a terrible stench in the air. We now know that the plane was flying to the States and that there were thousands of gallons of aviation fuel when it crashed and caught fire.

The scene that met our eyes as we came around Lion Rock I will never forget. The cliff was all burnt and the beach was covered with wreckage. There were RAF lorries taking away the engines and other large parts of the wreckage. The bodies of the air crew and those drowned in a rescue attempt were taken away before we arrived.

For several years after this accident whenever we walked across this part of the beach we still found bits of the wreckage.”

Engine section and other relics from the crashed Muck's Mauler on display at Newquay Zoo's wartime weekend in May 2010, loaned by Douglas Knight

Engine section and other relics from the crashed Muck’s Mauler on display at Newquay Zoo’s wartime weekend in May 2010, loaned by Douglas Knight

Wreckage still turns up on the beach crash site after heavy seas. Douglas Knight worked with air historian  Martin Alexander  who has been researching the crash for many years to confirm the names. They arranged for a plaque and dedication ceremony  to mark the place on the cliffs and you can read  Media coverage of the plaque dedication ceremony.

Douglas lent some of these relics, parts of an engine, bullets and instrument gauges, the glass amazingly uncracked to one of our World War Zoo Gardens wartime display events in 2010, a solemn reminder of the human cost of keeping our wartime supply chain safe.

Investigating the crash, the American air force eventually requested greater air sea rescue services in the form of high speed motor launches to be reinforced locally, working out of ports such as Padstow to back up existing lifeboat crews.

Liberator crews like “Muck’s Mauler” were tasked to watch for and sink German submarines or U-Boats which were a threat to Britain’s food supplies and war materials being shipped to Britain. The crew of ‘Muck’s Mauler’ appear to have served at RAF St Eval as well as Dunkeswell airfield in Devon,  then a ‘ferry crew’  landed to refuel and crashed just after takeoff.

Without the protection from these aircrews and the bravery of the Merchant Navy, Royal and US  and Navy crews in shipping convoys, Britain would have struggled to feed its rationed people and carry on preparing for the invasion of Europe on D-Day June 1944 in which the people, coast and country of Cornwall and Devon played such a part.

I will post further related photographs as I come across them in 2014. A beautiful scale model of ‘Muck’s Mauler’ can be seen at http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/43365-pb4y-1-navy-liberators-academy-172/ on the http://www.britmodeller website.

Not just zoo animals get adopted, even wartime allotments get Christmas presents …

December 14, 2013

oxfam unwrapped ecardChristmas is often a challenge to find the right gift, which is why we do lots of Christmas experience gifts and animal adoptions at Newquay Zoo and Paignton Zoo. Many zoos do this gift scheme – you can find your local BIAZA zoo in Britian and Ireland on the BIAZA website.

Animal adoptions were one innovative wartime solution to shortage of funding to feed the animals especially when zoos closed at the outbreak of war for weeks or sometimes months in 1939. Both Chester Zoo and London Zoo claim to have first set this up in 1939/40, a scheme which was picked up by other zoos and has never stopped.

Our wartime allotment has just received another Christmas card this year again in 2013 – by email! It was a lively Oxfam Unwrapped allotment gift e-card with a little Christmas message: “This Xmas gift of an allotment is one way of linking the allotment and project work of the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo with what is happening in troubled parts of the world today.” Maybe a new Oxfam  allotment in Afghanistan is our first informal twin.

It is very appropriate twinning as Oxfam itself was born out of a humanitarian response to wartime famine in Greece in the 1940s. You can find out more about the allotment gifts at Oxfam’s  website http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/oxfam-unwrapped/gardeners/plant-an-allotment-ou7026ag

As the Oxfam e-card went on to say - “More budding UK gardeners are discovering the joys of growing their own. But for many poor women and men an allotment isn’t just a way of saving on the weekly shop, it’s how they feed their families and earn a bit extra to buy other essentials. And this gift will supply the tools, seeds and training to create working allotments that will produce a lot more.”

I was really pleased to hear that “As part of this project in Badakhshan, Afghanistan, Oxfam is helping women to establish kitchen gardens on their land to supplement their income and their family’s diet. Oxfam provides the training and distributes the seeds for the women to grow a variety of vegetables and crops. The extra produce that the family cannot eat is sold at local markets.”

Shirin Gul is one gardener who has been reaping the benefits after Oxfam distributed seeds in her village: “It’s very expensive to buy vegetables here in the mountains. I am lucky as I have a plot of land. Our family has always grown vegetables on this plot – but the Oxfam seeds mean the amount and variety of vegetables that I grow has increased. It used to just be potatoes, onions and egg-plants but now I have tomatoes, beans, squash, lettuce, cucumber – oh, everything.”

Zeinab, from the nearby village of Sah Dasht, is also a lady with green fingers. Her garden is full of produce. There are beans, potatoes, okra and tomatoes all ready to be picked. “I had never really done much farming before though I did grow potatoes but Oxfam gave me some training to help me grow the maximum amount of vegetables.”

I’m very pleased that one  Oxfam project area is Afghanistan. Each year at Newquay Zoo’s Christmas carol service (which ran for almost 20 years until this year),  the retiring collection was usually for our conservation projects at the zoo and overseas, some of them in former war-afflicted areas like Vietnam. Ten years or more ago in the aftermath of 9/11 in 2001/2, I can remember asking visitors for contributions to the global zoo effort to support the recovery of  Kabul Zoo in Afghanistan which had suffered under the Taliban. There also can’t be many of us who don’t know a service family with relatives who have served there in the last ten years or are spending a wartime christmas away from home on active service.

In the next few days I will be posting about the 70th anniversary of the Mucks Mauler Liberator US aircraft crash on he Newquay coast on 28 December 1943. Relics of the plane were exhibited at Newquay Zoo’s wartime displays in the past.

It will soon be time to plan the spring planting to provide a small amount of fresh food for our zoo animals as they did in wartime. It’s time to flick through plant catalogues and plan planting schemes. You can also read through previous Wartime Christmas blog posts on this website.

2014 will be a busy year with the start of the commemoration of the Great or First World War http://www.1914.org We will continue posting about zoos, botanic gardens and allotment gardening in the First World War throughout the year.

I wish all a peaceful, happy and healthy Christmas and New Year 2014  to our blog readers, zoo visitors, zoo staff, their animals and gardeners everywhere.


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