Bugg’s Life, Death and Family Tree reunited

May 27, 2016

Mal Padgett, part of the Arthur Bugg family tree,  passed me some photographs of their family reunion of 26 descendants around the staff memorial tree at Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne on 19 November 2015.

It is 70 years this year  since the Brush Box tree was planted in Bugg’s memory.

bugg memorail tree plaque.jpg

Courtesy of Mal Padgett.


Their relative Arthur William Bugg of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne staff died on 2 November 1915  in Egypt during the Gallipoli campaign.

Bugg and staff member Flight Sergeant E W Hiskins of the RAAF (died 1944) are remembered  by a Brush Box tree planted by Ernest Henry Bugg, Arthur’s brother on 10 September 1946.

bugg family reunion

The Bugg Family reunion at the staff memorial tree, Melbourne Botanic Gardens  19 November 2015 (photo courtesy of Mal Padgett)



Press cuttings from previous reunions and the 1946 planting:



bugg reunion cutting 1996

1996 reunion press cutting (courtesy of Mal Padgett)



bugg tree reunion 2

Assembling for the reunion around the Memorial Tree (courtesy of Mal Padgett)


bugg certificate

Arthur Bugg’s entry in the family bible (courtesy of Mal Padgett)


Arthur William Bugg’s entry in the Bugg family bible.  According to Elaine Upton, granddaughter of Ernest, both Arthur and his brother Ernest worked at their Gardens with their father Isaac.

Bugg_Hiskins 001 (2)

From the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne / State archives



If you want to find the Tree in the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne:

melbourne map

Brave men remembered by their families many years on.

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo.



Commemorating The Great War in Ireland’s Zoos and Gardens

May 22, 2016

Remembering Major Reginald Thomas Ball-Acton, killed in action in Ypres on May 22 1916.


Charles Annesley Ball-Acton (from Kilmacurragh website)

With the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914, Charles Annesley Ball-Acton, heir to the Kilmacurragh estate in Ireland and many of his gardens staff  headed for the battlefields of France and Flanders.

On September 25th 1915, Charles Acton, while trying to assist a fellow soldier, was mortally wounded by an explosion at Loos. He was only 39.


Reginald Thomas Ball-Acton (from the Kilmacurragh website)

Kilmacurragh estate house and gardens in Ireland then passed to Charles’ only surviving brother, Major Reginald Thomas Ball-Acton, who was father of the late Charles Acton (a well known music critic for the Irish Times).

On May 22nd 1916, just eight months after his brother’s death at Loos, Reginald Ball Acton was killed in action in Ypres.

Few others of the Kilmacurragh gardeners came home from the war.

In eight years from 1908 to 1916,  Kilmacurragh had three consecutive owners inflicting death duties amounting to 120% of the value of the estate. This placed enormous financial pressures on the family and, after two centuries, the Actons left Kilmacurragh House.

Kilmacurragh can be described as the Irish ‘Heligan’ gardens.

Before the war eleven men and two boys maintained the grounds.  Following the deaths of Charles and Reginald, the gardens were maintained single-handedly by the old Head Gardener. Kilmacurragh for me neatly symbolises the steady decline of the old Irish estates from death duties and also from the unrest of the Irish Civil War.

Last month we posted a blogpost about horticulturalist Allan Livingstone Ramsay, one of the first British officers to due during the Easter Rising in April 1916.


“Problematic”, that’s what I’d been told, “not something that could be so easily done in Ireland.” I’d been talking about commemorating The First World War and our World War Zoo Gardens project that  uses history to engage visitors  with plants at the Botanic Gardens Education Conference at Paignton Zoo in November 2014.

So what else happened in Ireland to zoo and botanic gardens staff during the First World War?

RZSI Dublin Zoo and the Great War

Seven L. Doyles are listed amongst the Commonwealth dead of the First World War.

Thankfully the Dublin Zoo staff member L. Doyle who joined up in 1914 is not (as far as records show) amongst these Canadians and Dublin Fusiliers of the same name. His employers, The Council of The Royal Zoological Society of Ireland RZSI / Dublin Zoo, generously kept his job open and paid his wife his wages in his absence. A patriotic gesture, and after all, it was popularly believed and expected that it would be a short war, all over by Christmas.

By Christmas 1914 with its famous football matches and spontaneous truce between the trenches, the RZSI Council which ran Dublin Zoo already had sorry cause to write with condolences and note in October 1914 the death in action of Lieutenant Victor Lentaigne, the 21 year old nephew of a long standing member of the Dublin Zoo Council, Joseph Nugent Lentaigne.

Victor Lentaigne

Lieutenant Victor Aloysius Lentaigne, 2nd Battalion, Connaught Rangers died on 14 September 1914 and has no known grave. From this early death date, he was probably involved in the Battle of the Aisne, as the fast flowing war of movement of the early months of the war rapidly stagnated and became entrenched. Lentaigne is commemorated amongst the 3739 names on the La Ferte-sous-Jouarre memorial to the missing British Expeditionary Force soldiers of the first three months of the war.

Reading through the rich detail in Catherine de Courcy’s excellent and well-illustrated history of Dublin Zoo, it is possible to see the deflected effect of war on Dublin Zoo.

Whilst they would have no staff war memorial like London Zoo or Belle Vue Zoo Manchester, there would be losses amongst the professional families, the wealthy patrons, the great and the good of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy who established and supported Dublin Zoo from its early  19th Century beginnings.

The great changes of the war years and immediate aftermath would see Dublin Zoo and its Council survive civil war, a war of independence and the establishment of an Irish Republic.

cwgc helles

Helles Memorial to the missing of the Gallipoli campaign, Dardanelles, Turkey. (Image: CWGC website)

Frank Brendan  O’ Carroll, Gallipoli 1915 

The wealthy citizens and Dublin Zoo council members living in Merrion Square in Dublin had their own family losses, many of them amongst the young officer class.

One such was the son of Joseph O’Carroll MD FRCPI of 43 Merrion Square, Dublin. Second Lieutenant Frank Brendan O’Carroll, 6th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers died on 10 August 1915, aged 20 as part of the Gallipoli and Dardanelles campaign. He is remembered on panel 190-196 of the Helles memorial to the missing, Turkey.
The circumstances of O’Carroll’s death are recorded in the 6th Battalion war diary: http://www.dublin-fusiliers.com/battaliions/6-batt/war-diaries/1915-08/1915-08-trans-htm

7 August 1915  Suvla Bay. Made landing at C Beach on Anafarta Bay at 18.00. Battalion in reserve under Brig General Hill. Took up position at Entrance to Salt Lake. 6th and 7th Dublins attached to 31st Brigade.
8 August Suvla Bay. Battalion on water and ammunition fatigue for the Brigade

9 August 1915  Suvla Bay. Battalion attached to 33 Brigade (General Maxwell), Moved from beach about 02.30 to Hill 50. A Coy detached to support the right flank of the Brigade. Battalion ordered to support firing line near Ali Bay Chesme point 105-H-8.

Officers killed Lt Doyle, wounded believed killed 2nd Lt Stanton, 2nd Lt Mc Garry. Wounded and missing Major Jennings. Wounded Capt Luke, Capt Carrol, Lt Martin, 2nd Lt Carter, 2nd Lt Mortimer, 2nd Lt O’Carroll. Missing Lt Clery. Killed wounded and missing Other Ranks 259

The Europeana website has a poignant letter from father Joseph as he worries over four sons including another fighting in Gallipolli. http://www.europeana1914-1918.eu/en/contributions/3619

O’Carroll is pictured on www.irishmedals.org/gpage56.html

Mrs Barrington the manager of Dublin Zoo’s Houston House lost her husband in 19151916. There are several Barringtons listed as casualties in this period.

William Thornley Stoker Woods

In November 1916, the RZSI Council sent condolences to its Vice-President, later President, Robert H Woods,  a neighbour of O’ Carroll,  of 39 Merrion Square, Dublin whose son had died in action in France. Second Lieutenant William Thornley Stoker Woods, 62nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, died aged 20 on 27 October 1916. He is buried in grave IIE8 in the Guards Cemetery, Lesbouefs, Somme, France.


Arras Flying Services Memorial (Source: CWGC)

Thomas Pim

RZSI Council member Cecil Pim’s son Thomas died on 28 August 1918, serving as a Lieutenant in 13th Squadron, Royal Air Force (and previously the Royal Field Artillery). He is remembered on the Arras Flying Services Memorial to 1000 missing aircrew with no known grave on the Western Front.

Kilmacurragh Gardens the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland


These Ginkgo trees at Kilmacurragh are a strange war memorial (Kilmacurragh website) 

The Acton family, their Gardeners and estate  have a strange war memorial – a bed of interwoven Ginkgo trees and a spread of red rhododendron petals each year, like blood red poppies. Their story is well told on the Kilmacurragh website. http://www.botanicgardens.ie/kilmac/kilmhist.htm

There are other reminders of this wartime period at Kilmacurragh.

In the walled garden grow a line of mature maidenhair trees, Ginkgo biloba, planted just over a metre apart. Tradition has it that this was a nursery bed and since the garden staff believed that the war would last only a few weeks, the young trees were left in-situ with the belief that they would be placed in their permanent positions when staff returned that autumn. No one came home from those bloody battlefields and the maidenhair trees still grow in their nursery positions.

Glasnevin, Gallipoli  and Charles Ball

C.F.Ball the assistant editor of Irish Gardening and senior staff at Glasnevin has an unusual memorial – an Escallonia C.F.Ball widely used in hedging. His story is told in the Kew WW1 section. He was killed at Gallipoli.


Fota and Charlie Beswick

The story of Kew trained Irish son of the Head Gardener of Fota is also told in the Kew WW1 section, where he is remembered on the Kew staff war memorial. He was killed in 1917.


Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

A riot of vegetable colour in Newquay Zoo’s wartime garden

May 17, 2016

chard 2016

Just a few photographs to celebrate our World War Zoo wartime garden project here at Newquay Zoo, May 2016, entering its eighth summer.

A 1940s stirrup pump lies hidden amongst the colourful  Chard and Garlic, rusty but  still in fine working order.

The gardener’s  wartime steel helmet hangs on the garden gate, ready to grab in case the air raid siren sounds …

chard stirrup pump 2016

Bright Lights, a collection of colourful Chard overwintered and ready to cut as colourful edible bouquets for enriching our monkey diets. Delicious.

chard artichoke 2016

Another year of Globe Artichokes awaits, another monkey favourite, complete with earwigs.

The strange bird table affair is not mounting for an air raid siren but where we place our portable speakers for the 2.30 Lion  talk a few yards away.

Sparrows dustbathe between the Broad bean rows. The Meerkat section Robin follows the hoe or watering can. Pesky Peacocks nibble emerging shoots.

Rosemary, Curry Plant, Thyme, Mint, Lemon Balm, Nasturtiums,  Leeks and Broad Beans  are all waiting their turn, their moment and their edible or sensory enrichment use.

Dig for Victory, Dig For Plenty and  ‘Hasten slowly’ as Mr Middleton would say. Happy Gardening!

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, 17 May 2016.


Alan Livingstone Ramsay died Easter Rising 24 April 1916

April 24, 2016

WW1, Ireland and The Easter Rising 1916

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.


Newquay’s lost wartime fire crew remembered 75 years on

April 23, 2016

Newquay’s wartime fire crew lost 5 members during the Plymouth Blitz of 23 April 1941.


Remembered 75 years on.

Belfast Zoo and the Belfast Blitz 19 April 1941

April 16, 2016

Belfast Zoo in the Belfast Blitz  75 years ago 19 April 1941 …

“During World War II, the Ministry of Public Security said we must destroy 33 animals for public safety in case they escaped when the zoo was damaged by air raids.

On 19th April 1941, Mr A McClean MRCVS, head of the Air Raid Protection section, enlisted the help of Constable Ward from the Royal Ulster Constabulary and Sergeant E U Murray of the Home Guard to shoot these animals.

The animals included 9 lions (including cubs), 1 hyena, 6 wolves, 1 puma, 1 tiger, 1 ‘black’ bear, 2 brown bears, 2 polar bears, 1 lynx, 2 racoons, 1 vulture, and 1 ‘giant rat’ that is presumed to be a Coypu (a large rodent creature).”

In the account in Juliet Gardner’s The Blitz, the Head Keeper is recorded as having been in tears as he watched.

Similarly, Japanese zoo staff were traumatised by carrying out official orders (from higher military or government authority) the ‘disposal’ of ‘dangerous animals’ in Japanese zoos, due to the threat of air raids, an event described in great detail in  Japanese Wartime Zoo Policy: The Silent Victims of World War II by Mayumi Itoh (Palgrave, 2010).

Lest we forget the sacrifices of staff and animals of zoos in wartime.

Posted in remembrance by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

Plymouth Blitz diary 1941

March 20, 2016


April 1941 entries (anonymous Plymouth Blitz diary, c/o Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project)

Plymouth Blitz 1941 diary

‘Awful Blitz’ – Last year this anonymous diary of a Plymouth civilian turned up in an online auction and is now part of my collection of wartime civilian diaries.

I feel fairly sure the anonymous author is a woman, a health worker, health visitor or district nurse. Some of the handwriting in ink and pencil is cramped or smudged and difficult to read in the small section allotted to each day in this small personal diary.

Two excellent books by Gerald Wasley Devon at War (Halsgrove) and the Plymouth:  A Shattered City  (Halsgrove, 2004) describe and illustrate the effects of the Plymouth Blitz very well.

Here is an edited selection covering the March and April Plymouth Blitz weeks of 1941, my small tribute to the people of Plymouth and of Blitzed Britain 75 years on.

Where I cannot make out the smudged or cramped ink handwriting, I have put best guesses in brackets or dots if not sure […] and will add details as they become clear over time.


This section of the diary opens with the royal visit after a quiet unblitzed night.


March 1941 Blitz entries (anonymous Plymouth  1941 diary, c/o Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project)

Thursday 20 March 1941

King and Queen in Plymouth. Peace all night.

Dull morning. Down Beaumont, lovely day later. Dev(onport) dips then town in [?blazing?] Sunshine. To Salisbury Road Schools then Dr. Harrison in Princess Square. Home, tea. Cookery school and Easter Cake. Siren 4.30 and again 8.30pm Awful blitz.

Ended midnight. Lay on bed.

Fri 21 March 1941

Up early and out Swilly. Down town lunch hour. Spooners gone. St Andrews burning via ?ove? street to collect marmalade and cake. House craft. Home, lunch and out Swilly. Then [w..] Hawkes to tea. To CH (City Hospital), had bath – could not see Mac. Packed bag. Put oil away. Awful blitz 8.30 till midnight but felt calmer than on Thursday.

[Editor’s note: CH is the abbreviation for City Hospital. Love Street is in Plymouth. St Andrews Church was lost in the Plymouth Blitz. Beaumont maybe Beaumont Road in the St. Jude’s area of Plymouth.Swilly (now North Prospect) was the original official name (and still known to many as Swilly) given to the first council estate built in Plymouth during the 1920s. There was also a hospital there who dealt with many blitz victims.Spooner’s department store was destroyed in the  bombing (‘gone’) – see photos and more information at Derek Tait’s website: http://plymouthlocalhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/spooners.html

Sat 22 March 1941.

Up early and out Beaumont, Dentals. Town Hall staff moving into Beaumont. After Dentals went market and then home and cleaned flat. Sun came out. Icky arrived. Had lunch. Went via Drake’s Circus to market and looked at ruins. Firemen still playing hose on smouldering parts. To Stoke House and then walk via Peverell to Hartley Vale and [???] Kelly. Bus home, tea then saw Icky off in awful crowd. Lovely sunny afternoon. To CH  City Hospital – found Mac evacuating and saw ruins of Children’s ward. Home. Supper down with J’s

[Editor’s note: Icky and Mac a nurse of some rank are two friends of the writer who recur throughout the diary entries.
It is possible that Mac is Dr Allison McNairn, who won the George Medal for her bravery at the Children’s Ward of the City Hospital during the Blitz.


The Daily Emergency Bulletin No. 1 March 1941 mentions the “12. Public Health Department has been transferred from the Town Hall Stonehouse to Beaumont House, Beaumont Park, Plymouth Telephone Plymouth 2821, Ext. 249.” Bulletin shown on p. 116, Plymouth – A Shattered City by Gerald Wasley.

This Bulletin also mentions “List of Rest Centres open: Mount Gold Methodist, Mount Gold Road; Salisbury Road Baptist, Plymouth; Clarence House, Clarence Place, East Stonehouse; St. Jude’s Hall, Beaumont Road; St. Gabriel’s, Hyde Park Road; Swarthmore Settlement, Mutley Plain; All Saints, Harwell Street; St Peters Hall, Wyndham Street, Plymouth; Central Hall, Saltash Street; YMCA Hostel, Union Street; St. George’s Road, Ryder Road”. The diary writer mentions several of these locations and Rest Centres which were for “Food and Shelter for those rendered homeless”.

From the 1930s, Stoke House became known as Devonport Guardians’ Children’s Home.

See section 4040 http://www.plymouth.gov.uk/archivescatalogue?criteria%3D4040%26operator%3DAND%26toNo%3D40%26accno%3Dyes

The bombing of the City Hospital children’s ward and loss of several nursing staff and young children is remembered in a plaque in Derriford Hospital. It is mentioned in several websites such as the BBC People’s War and also:



Sunday 23 March 1941

Peace all night but difficult to sleep. To CH City Hospital and Swarthmore. Then back Eggbuckland. Walk Stonybridge, Plymbridge, Estover. Jerry siren and guns. Shown over Estover farm 172 cows. Walk George Hotel. Bus CH (City Hospital), did washing and shampoo. Then out Miss Jago. Home with J’s. Cold.

Monday 24 March 1941

Peace all night. Dull drizzle. On [Mutley] Plain and the Salisbury Road. Siren 11 am. To Beaumont and Cobourg with reports. Home, lunch. Walk out Swilly via Peverell. Quiet clinic. Mist and rain. To Stoke House. Mill bridge to see […] Vine via Odeon to Housecraft then home. Siren 6.30. Washed and wrote. Knitted, J’s.

[Editor’s Note: Cobourg Street in Plymouth was also home to Plymouth City High School for Girls, where the writer seems to go for lunch on her rounds. The High School served “Communal Meals will be served at Portland Square, Treville Street School and Plymouth Girls High School between 12 and 2 pm at a cheap rate. open Sunday” according to a Ministry of Information Plymouth Circular 25-4-41 (p. 165, Plymouth – A Shattered City by Gerald Wasley.]

Tuesday 25 March 1941

Quiet night. Rain and drizzle. Mutley Plain, Central Park and Devonport. Home via Hoe and saw Miss Coburn. Back lunch and out Dev[onport] via Cobourg Street, called Stoke House then Beaumont and saw Mrs Robert Walker. Raining. Muddy. CH City Hospital for bath and saw Mac. Dinner etc and eve[ning] with J’s.

Wednesday 26 March 1941

Quiet night. Mist and rain. Up Henders Corner then Salisbury Rd School to Virginia House and Housecraft. Home lunch. Bank and Peverell Dr Johnstone. V. Wet. Saw smashed up Jerry outside CH City Hospital. Out Stoke House [??] Dev(onport). Walk home via Manadon. Lovely evening. Parcel from Jo and letter. Cleaned. Cooked. Wrote letters. Darned, J’s.

[Editor’s Note: the  Virginia House Settlement were welfare and community buildings in former church and community buildings on Looe Street and Batters Street developed with the help of Plymouth MP Nancy Astor between the wars.]

Thursday 27 March 1941

Good sleep and nice quiet night. Lovely a.m. To Housecraft and Barbican. Then Beaumont. Saw Thynne re. billeting children. To Devonport  Dips then Miss Glover. Lost bag. Hot day out Laira Green School – finished early. Nice walk [??] Marsh Mills, Stonybridge, Estover …Miss ??son, Aerodrome, Stonybridge Eggbuckland and back. Inoc typh: made Easter biscuits. Jenkins gone. Sirens and guns 9pm [??]

[Editor’s note: Inoc typh – See “free inoculations against Typhoid: Persons wishing to avail themselves of this service should go to Prince of Wales Hospital, Greenbank, between 9.30 am – 11 am or 2.30-5pm” according to a Ministry of Information Plymouth Circular 25-4-41 (p. 165, Plymouth – A Shattered City by Gerald Wasley.]

Friday 28 March 1941

Wet. Swilly via Swarthmore and St. Gabriel’s. Home. Lunch via Peverell and to Compton Lodge and saw delicious flat. Walk out Milehouse and did clinic. Rain in through Lukes roof. Home via town. Parnell called. To CH City Hospital, bath. Home and cooked Easter biscuits and saw Jenkins. Knitting and darning.

Saturday 29 March 1941

Cold and dull. Restless night ac/o

To Beaumont no D.S. to town found Dingles and Town Hall Devastation awful. Beaumont billeting Thynne. St Jude’s Rest Centre. after lunch walk over moors Moorland Links. Saw Dr and Mrs Harrison. Bus home from Derriford. CH City Hospital for ironing. Dinner etc Siren 8.45. V.cold talked mrs Montague on steps.

[Editor’s Note: Dingles was a major department store which was damaged like the Town Hall during the Blitz].

Sunday 30 March 1941

Lovely sunny a.m. Up CH City Hospital and saw [???] MacN? Icky arrived. Walk Mount Gold and saw babes then Rest Centre. Then Stonybridge,  Plymbridge. Lunch, pine wood in baking sun ….

[Editor’s note: Mount Gold was a hospital in wartime Plymouth. Rest Centres were part of the WRVS, civic and Civil Defence responses to displaced or bombed out people – see previous note.]

Monday 7 April 1941

Brilliant sun but very cold. Town v. Late then punctured so reached Plymouth at noon. Letters and lunch then stopping in lovely sun up Swilly. Back Plain bus and cleaned up flat. Raid 9.30 – 12.30 then again 1.30 – 4.30 am. Dressed in cupboard. Fire watched at Rand and Co.

Tuesday 8 April 1941

Up early for good bath CH City Hospital incendiaries ++ Hartley and HE at Swilly. Devonport via Hartley bus v. Tired all day. Had tea Stoke House then in lovely sun to flat, did ironing and had dinner CH then sewing at Sellecks. Peace all night.

[Editor’s note: ++ is probably the diarist’s symbol for many. HE is High Explosive bombs].

Wednesday 9 April 1941

Cold raw morning. Out school St. Budeaux, shopping and to Communal Dinner [at] High School. Back Devonport and called Stoke House with Rawlin. Back flat and did good clean up. Siren 11 pm just as in bed. Quiet at first then planes and guns. In Sellecks and out firewatching till late.

Thursday 10 April 1941

To CH bath early. Lovely sunny morning. Down Beaumont, fetched luggage from flat > Devonport Dips to [???] Lunch, lovely sun. Throng in shattered Plymouth to Sussex Street Re. patient. Home, flat, cleaned up then caught 3.45 bus Exeter. Coffee Dellars [???] See Whole City. Home. Supper. Planes + Siren in [???] Incendiaries. House burned out Copplestone.

[Editor’s Note: according to website http://www.exetermemories.org.uk, “Deller’s became a favourite venue after the outbreak of war for the many who were displaced, or had been evacuated to Exeter. Members of the Women’s Land Army were guests at the café, along with evacuated children, and of course, service men meeting their sweethearts.” It was damaged by bombing and fire damage in 1942 in the Exeter Blitz.]


Friday 11 April 1941 Good Friday

Did not hear all clear. Nice morning. Walk […] Copplestone and St. [???] road. Incendiaries + Then [???] Home and to 3 hours [church] service. After walk [Radford or Redditch] lake, St. Johns and Ex??? Then home same way. Tea guesthouse St. Johns. Apples, tour round Ralditch. Dinner in drawing room. Sirens. Played piano + + all clear 5 am.


Saturday 12 April 1941

Lovely sunny morning V. Hot walk Exmouth and met DB there and home by bus Littleham. Cycled Marley, Lympstone, Woodbury village, Hogsbrook Rise [in] afternoon. Tea bungalow and home. Dull and cold. Nice ride home. Knitting eve. Siren, noisy, planes + Bombs at Exmouth. Got to bed 12.30.


Sunday  13 April 1941 Easter Sunday

Lovely morning . Up 5.30 and to 6 am service then home and breakfast etc. then walk Littleham church. Packed. Sat on font. Home over cliffs and fields. In afternoon to Exmouth on cycle, see bomb on beach. V. Cold windy Home rain […] Rd. tea and took run out up Knowle. Washed hair. Potato cakes.


Monday 14 April 1941 Bank Holiday

Siren on and off all night. Common on fire and bombs? […] Up breakfast and out before on bike collecting news. Then bus Exeter RB and on Plymouth. Sun came out Ivybridge. To flat. Looked dilapidated after Budleigh. Tea Mrs. Hynes. Home and cleaned then took luggage Mrs H. and slept there night v. Comfy. Siren about 5am.


Tuesday 15 April 1941

Lovely morning. Up dressed and down flat then out Devonport. Down Town and OU Comm Church, did shopping Town and out Dev(onport) – slack ish. Home eve[ning] via Peverell and Mutley. Note Rands re sleeping there. Up Hynes – lovely eve. […] knitting […] Long raid 9.30 to 5.20 am.

Wednesday 16 April 1941

Lovely morning v. Tired. Down flat and baked cake, Sellicks then town and Stoke House and lunch High School. Glorious day. Devonport Park afternoon (crossed out section – up to see Mrs O’Sullivan who was v. Depressing) Think no air raids. Put advert in paper for flat.

Thursday  17 April 1941

Lovely morning. Out to St. Budeaux for A.N. [AnteNatal?] clinic. Lovely day. Home and cleaned flat and to CH City Hospital for tea. Then Dr Hynes. Shoals of adverts from flat, spent week inspecting them.

Friday 18 April 1941

Swilly as usual. To High School, lunch and met [? at ? ?] City Hospital. Caught 3.45 bus Exeter, v. long and crowded journey. Home night perfect peace. Good sleep.

Saturday 19 April 1941

Lovely morning. On bicycle to Exmouth for some margarine. Lovely ride home. In afternoon cycled with DB to Tidwell, Bicton and Yettington. Then to find bomb craters near Blackberry ??farm?? Lost DB. Started to rain. Went home. DB arrived later and lively debate ensued re leaving her. In evening did much cooking ac/o Mick’s injured hand. Peace night. Mick from Skinners [???]

Sunday 20 April 1941

Lovely morning but cold. To Littleham. Church DB home over cliffs. After lunch walk ?? To cliffs in sun. Caught 3.35 bus Exeter and Plymouth. Back to flat prepared supper. To Hynes and peace all night.

Monday 21 April 1941

Down flat early then to School Clinic. Lovely sun. Met Thomson. To town and flat there flat lunch and out [to] Hynes [in] evening. Air raid 9.30 pm Fires planes ++ ended 4.30 am. Devonport attacked and rest of Plymouth.

Tuesday 22 April 1941

Up early and down flat. Still intact. Then out Devonport. Time bomb near Stoke House, much damage Albert Road. Lunch High School and back Devonport. Visited Welcome Rest Centre. Back there afternoon then Yelverton to see Black. Lovely.

Air Raid all night 9.30 to 3a.m. Devonport badly attacked and Police Station and terrace by Hospital. All Town roped off.

Wednesday 23 April 1941

To St. Budeaux school dull and wintry walk Eggbuckland vicarage and Wideycourt. Could not get [to] High School for lunch. Out Devonport – time bomb near [???] Back Stoke House burned out. Then to Gratton [… Fayre …] And to see […] Bus home. To flat and out [to] Hynes.

Thursday 24 April 1941

Air raid 9.30 to 1 a.m. Devonport again and oil tanks Torpoint. To Beaumont Dips and then Town Hall. High School lunch. Lovely sunny day. To Stoke House children in a school and then school inspect[ion] St. Budeaux. Home and cleaned flat. Then [to] Hynes. Shampoo. Lay down and slept 2am.

Friday 25 April 1941

Good rest. Lovely evening. To Swilly via Peverell, Beacon Park. Seized with renal colic before lunch at High School. Could not do clinic. Home. Saw Mrs. Collier. Bed. Down for news and then long good night. Lovely day. Siren 10pm and 1.30am.

Saturday 26 April 1941

Up early and down to get breakfast. To Town Hall, Stoke House, Rest Centres etc. Home lunch. Finished Rest Centres and Ben lovely sunny walk [???] Tralee and back to flat. Then to another Rest Centre then home,  washed stockings. Icky rang up. Pleasant evening. Siren 6pm.

Sunday 27 April 1941

Dull and v. cold wind. Down flat and did rest centres. Visited Smellie. Home lunch and up [to] Hynes and down out Holbeton. Walk along Hill Drive into Holbeton […] home to flat and started packing. Walk [… ] Eggbuckland and home.

Monday 28 April 1941
Lovely morning out St Budeaux and Swilly then home flat. Called Marshall’s in Cornwall. Up Mrs. Hynes. Siren 10 to 10 and v. intensive raid. Finished about 1.30 am. Dreadful damage St. Budeaux and Saltash.

Tuesday 29 April 1941
Lovely sunny morning. Out to Devonport – still time bombs. Then to Stoke House children – Matron going Clovelly. Walk out [Linkelly?]
then to High School lunch. Out Swilly afternoon. Tea Mrs. Kennedy. Packed up and went Hynes. No go at [Coll …] Dreadful raid 10 to 10 – 2 a.m.



[Editor’s note: Our local NFS Newquay Fire Crew were lost attending the 27/28 Plymouth April fires.


The diary continues for the rest of the year. Another notable entry is on “May 1 1941 evacuation school children” and “Friday 9 May Evacuation Exam” along with “Saturday 3rd May Churchill Visit” but that is another story for another post.

Children from Stoke House Children’s Home and the related Scattered Homes were evacuated to Clovelly in Devon – see Plymouth Archive catalogue 4040 http://www.plymouth.gov.uk/archivescatalogue?criteria%3D4040%26operator%3DAND%26toNo%3D40%26accno%3Dyes

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Collection, Newquay Zoo.

If you wish to reuse or quote extracts from this Plymouth 1941 Blitz diary, please credit it back to the above and this website. I can be contacted through the Reply / Comments page on this  blog.


Plymouth Marine Biological Association blitzed 20 March 1941

March 18, 2016

Remembering Stanley Wells Kemp and the fire teams in the Plymouth Blitz


The Laboratory of the Marine Biological Association on the Hoe in Plymouth was severely damaged on the evening of 20 March 1941 in the Plymouth Blitz. It also suffered HE bomb damage to its extensive glass on 28 December 1940.

The 1941 bombardment is described in the obituary of Stanley Wells Kemp who was the director of the MBA at the time. He sacrificed his living quarters to the flames in order to try and save his ‘aquarium’ laboratories.



More resources on the MBA in the Plymouth Blitz can be found on the MBA website including a typed description of the damage, republished in the journal Naturehttp://www.mba.ac.uk/nmbl/projects/history/125laboratory/resources/blitz

Somme 100 at Kew

March 16, 2016

Somme 100 at Kew

Kew’s upcoming First World War Centenary event ‘Somme 100 at Kew’ takes place on Wednesday 6 July 2016, 18:00-20:30.

The evening will include a drinks reception followed by a welcome address by Kew’s Director, Richard Deverell, and two fascinating talks in the Jodrell Lecture Theatre, with a Q&A session afterwards. Among the invited guests will hopefully be two living relatives of Kew staff who were on the Somme in 1916.

In a unique and poignant tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, Kew has joined forces with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to present this exclusive evening event.

Kew’s longstanding relationship with the Commission places us in a unique position to tell the story of the First World War in a new light, focusing on the relationship between people, plants, conflict landscapes and remembrance.

Please see this link for more details: http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/whats-on/somme-100-kew

Our previous blogposts on Kew’s lost WW1 gardeners:





Blitz and pieces at our Wartime zoo workshops

March 10, 2016

Another successful wartime zoo workshop at Newquay Zoo, an annual event for St Joseph’s School in Cornwall.

Before busily  packing away our interesting archive of wartime items until their  next outing for a schools workshop, so I thought I’d photograph a few more items in our collection to share with you.

wartime toys

Previously we showed a little of our  wartime workshop for schools about how  wartime changed life for zoo staff, animals, visitors and more generally for people on the Home Front in Britain in World War 2.



It’s always interesting to see what items attract children’s attention each time. The handmade toys proved popular and the school may well have a go at making some of their own. (I have a few plans and books of these).


benenden newquay war weapons week

Benenden School student (evacuated to Newquay) wartime poster design for a competition for Newquay War Weapons Week (1941?)

Shrapnel collection (including V2  rocket pieces), alongside many other treasures of a wartime childhood and a fabulous handmade wooden Spitfire.  The ARP bell proved pretty noisily popular, along with the wooden gas rattle.

wartime childhood

A wartime toy ark made from whatever wood was available by Mr Ernest Lukey, teacher from Poole, Dorset for his daughter Wendy (kindly loaned to Newquay Zoo).

wartime toy ark

Mr Lukey’s  hand carved wooden toy animals are the only time you’ll see elephants, rhinos, camels and giraffes at Newquay Zoo. The real ones are usually seen at our sister zoo at Paignton, operational throughout World War 2.

wartime wooden animals

Trying on helmets and heavy woollen wartime uniforms and clothing was also popular:

wartime clothing.png

land army greatcoat label

Inside the Women’s Land Army greatcoat was this 1943 label and inside the pocket this curious cardboard roll of labels – maybe to do with size?

land army greatcoat label and size tags.png

In our next Blitz and Pieces we’ll feature another popular item on display – the insides of the family ARP (Air Raid Precautions) First Aid Box, still intact 70 years on.

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo (March 2015).



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