Autumn colours behind the ZSL war memorial, London Zoo, November 2010 (Photo: Kate Oliver, ZSL Education)
09.04.1917 Robert Jones 9 Royal Fusiliers ZSL Gardener.
As Listed on the ZSL London Zoo WW1 Staff War Memorial
There are two current possibilities for this name, awaiting research:
Private GS/60595 Robert Jones, 9th Battalion Royal Fusiliers
This Robert Jones was born in Islington or Highgate, Middlesex around 1881 and was married to Bertha Lewin of Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon around 1905 / 1906 in Camden / Highgate.
He was formerly listed as 23358 6th Middlesex Regiment, having enlisted in Harringay and been resident in Highgate. On the 1901 census he is listed as a Gardener (not domestic) and in 1911 as a Nursery Gardener.
On the CWGC website he is listed as the husband of Bertha Jones of 22 Caxton Street, Little Bowden, Market Harborough. This Robert Jones died of wounds on 7 April 1917 (two days different from the ZSL dates on the war memorial plaque) and is buried in Faubourg D’Amiens cemetery in Arras. His headstone (photographed on the TWGPP website) bears the family inscription from his wife reads: “Thou art not far from us who love thee well”
Robert Jones ZSL Gardener lies buried at Faubourg D’Amiens CWGC Cemetery, which is surrounded by some of the names on the Arras Memorial including ZSL Librarian Henry G.J. Peavot. (Image source: CWGC)
The other Robert Jones possibility with the same date as the ZSL war memorial plaque is Robert Jones 472712, 1st / 12th Btn. London Regiment (The Rangers), aged 31 buried in Individual grave A2 , Gouy-en Artois Cemetery, killed or died of wounds on the first day of the Battle of Arras 1917. The CWGC lists him as the brother of Mrs. Clara Shafer, of 37, Cornwallis Rd., Walthamstow, London. He was born in 1886 in Grays, Essex and enlisted in Plaistow. He appears on the 1911 census not to have been a gardener but a coal porter in a gas works.
This coal porter seems less likely to be the ‘Robert Jones ZSL gardener’ but without surviving service or pension papers for either one that I have found so far, even the ZSL staff record cards give few clues as to which one is the ZSL Gardener.
Both deserve to be remembered.
Names of the fallen ZSL staff from the First World War, ZSL war memorial, London Zoo, 2010 – name plaques since replaced or restored.
For more about the Battle of Arras and the Centenary
ZSL Gardener Robert Jones was not the only April 1917 casualty from London Zoo. Two weeks later, the ZSL Librarian would be killed at Arras.
21.4.1917 Henry George Jesse Peavot, Honourable Artillery Company, ZSL Librarian
B Co. 1st Btn, Honourable Artillery Company, aged 35.
Killed during Battle of Arras period, No known grave, listed on Arras Memorial. Married.
Henry George Jesse Peavot, a 35 year old ZSL Librarian served in B Company, 1st Battalion, Honourable Artillery Company and died on 21st April 1917.
He has no known grave and his name is listed amongst the 35,000 missing men listed on the Arras Memorial alone.
Like many of these zoo staff, Peavot was married; his widow Maud or Maude Pravot as far as I can discover never remarried and lived to mourn his loss for almost seven decades until 1985. They had one child. Previously a ZSL typist, Maude kept in touch with ZSL for many years, a file of personal correspondence in the ZSL Archive appears to continue from 1917 to about 1932 and is likely to be pension related.
The legacy of absence and injury from the First world war is still ongoing or at least within our working and living memory, in families and professions such as zoo keeping across Europe.