Our first red poppies towards the nationwide Ribbon of Poppies project

May 22, 2018

 

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Ladybird Poppy – the first of our poppies to flower, ahead of the Flanders Poppy seedlings. 

 

Our first red poppies of 2018 have flowered!

Last month we wrote about joining in with the Ribbon of Poppies project across Britain and worldwide to mark 2018 as the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 in 1918:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/part-of-the-worldwide-ribbon-of-poppies-planted-at-newquay-zoo-for-the-ww1-centenary/

Today we have our first Red Poppy of the year in flower – a beautiful deep red and black Ladybird Poppy.

It attracted lots of admiring glances and comments from visitors to Newquay Zoo, overheard as I was tidying up and watering our tiny garden plot here near the Lion House at Newquay Zoo.

It’s not too late to plant some poppies yourself and join in the Ribbon of Poppies event:

https://www.facebook.com/RibbonofPoppies/.

 

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First of our Ladybird Poppies to flower for the Ribbon of Poppies event 1918 / 2018 in our World War Zoo Gardens keepers’ allotment and WW1 / WW2 memorial project at Newquay Zoo. The  big clump of garlic behind the poppy is throwing up flower spikes which create a great wildlife attraction and edible oniony flowers for monkeys to eat. 

 

 

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A yellow (Welsh?) poppy turned up in flower last week. Curious  – I didn’t plant this one ! 

 

 

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Borage – edible flower head treats for our flower eating animals such as the monkeys. These have self seeded and returned each year from our first planting in 2009. 

 

Even the veg has joined in the deep red colour scheme this year with bright red Rainbow Bright Lights or Rhubarb Chard fooling lots of our visitors into thinking it is sweet rhubarb. ‘Rhubarb’ Chard is a cousin of spinach and beet. 

Real Rhubarb leaves are of course poisonous or toxic to humans and many other animals. 

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Borage flowers intertwined with deep red Rhubarb Chard leaves. Some Big Cat Thyme grows alongside – good for scent enrichment of animal enclosures including Lions. 

 

I cut a whole bucketful of this colourful red  Rhubarb Chard (a cousin of spinach and beet) for keepers to use as fresh animal food and enrichment today!

I also cut back the thuggish Rosemary herb / bush planted ten years ago. It gets  regularly pruned by keepers using the clippings to scruff around animal enclosures to safely introduce interesting new smells. This should give more light and space to other enrichment herbs such as Lemon Balm and Mint (also useful for the odd cup of Keepers’ herbal tea). Delicious!  Cold herbal mint tea can also be sprayed around enclosures for animal scent enrichment.

I found a small batch of  chitted late potatoes at home which came to work with me and have now filled  in any planting gaps between Broad Beans, Cabbages and Leeks.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Education Department , Newquay Zoo, May 21 / 22 2018.

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Remembering Lost Gardener John Leonard Veitch Kew Gardens WW1 21 May 1918

May 21, 2018

One of the Veitch Nursery Family, famous sponsors of plant collectors and plant hunters, was killed in the First World War.

Major John Leonard Veitch, Military Cross, 7th Battalion attached 1st Battalion, Devonshire Regiment, died on 21st May 1918, aged 31. Mentioned in Despatches.

His death must have seriously affected the future of the Veitch Nursery, as happened to so many lesser-known plant nursery firms in Britain and across Europe.

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Vietch is buried in the tiny Thiennes Cemetery. (Image: CWGC website)

He is buried at Grave Reference Row A. Grave 1, Thiennes British Cemetery, France.

A photograph of his headstone can be seen on the TWGPP website. According to CWGC records, the inscription on his headstone chosen by his family is “Unto God’s gracious mercy and protection we commit thee”.

The German offensive of April 1918 pushed the front line back almost as far as St. Venant in this sector and this was one of the cemeteries made for Commonwealth burials arising from the fighting in the area. Thiennes British Cemetery was started by the 5th Division in May 1918 (when Veitch was amongst the first to be buried) and used by the 59th and 61st Divisions before being closed in August 1918. It is a small cemetery of only 114 First World War burials in the cemetery, Veitch’s grave being the first A1.

He is listed as the son of Peter Christian Massyn Veitch, J.P. Esq, and Harriett Veitch (nee Drew) 11 Elm Grove Road, Exeter of the famous Veitch nursery family.

His Kew Guild Journal 1919 obituary lists him originally enlisting in August 1914 in the 7th Cyclists Battalion of the Devon Regiment, his local regiment.

He was in France from 1915, noted as being on front line duties since December 1915 and fought through the battle of the Somme in 1916. He was wounded in the shoulder at Vimy Ridge. After service in Italy, Veitch was killed by a stray machine gun bullet in the Nieppe Forest area of France on May 21, 1918. Another Devonshire Regiment man, Private Harold Harrison, lies buried beside him, killed on the same day.

A month earlier Veitch had received his recommendation for a Military Cross “for his excellent defence of the Lock, just east of the Forest of Nieppe, in the middle of April, when he stopped five attacks. He had the honour of dying in temporary command of our famous battalion.” (letter to Veitch’s father from his Colonel).

He was at Kew from 1908 to 1910, before joining the family nursery business in 1910. Educated at Exeter School, he spent time studying horticulture in Germany and Holland before entering Kew.

Veitch  Nursery history and links

John Leonard Veitch’s  father was Peter Veitch, and his sister Mildred was the last of the Veitch family to continue the Nursery business until 1969 when she sold the last Veitch Nursery site in Exeter to St. Bridget’s Nursery, who still run this today.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Veitch

“The firm of Veitch had by the 1914/18 war been responsible for introducing an astonishing 1281 plants which were either previously unknown or newly bred varieties. These included 498 greenhouse plants, 232 orchids, 153 deciduous trees, shrubs and climbing plants, 122 herbaceous plants, 118 exotic ferns, 72 evergreen and climbing plants, 49 conifers and 37 bulbous plants. In the years to come, more plants followed.”

Quote taken from St. Bridget’s Nursery website https://www.stbridgetnurseries.co.uk/about-us/veitch-family-history/, the Nursery being on a former Veitch Nursery site.

Had John Leonard Veitch survived and had a family, the history of Veitch’s Nursery may have continued longer, even up to the present day. A story no doubt similar to many nurseries, estates and small businesses across Britain and Europe.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veitch_Nurseries

Other Kew Gardens staff casualties had worked for Veitch nurseries such as Gordon Farries (died WW1 20 April 1918). The Veitch Medal of Honour (VMH) is still a prestigious award for gardeners.

You  can read more about Kew Gardens staff in WW1 at

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

https://www.theexeterdaily.co.uk/news/local-news/chiefs-launch-search-ww1-players

Blogposted on the Centenary of John Leonard Veitch’s death by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project at Newquay Zoo, 21 May 2018

The Dambusters Do A Bit Of Gardening

May 15, 2018

dambusters-gardeningYou may have noticed news stories about the 75th anniversary of the Dambusters Raid in May 1943 on the Ruhr Dams.

Hard to look at this photo  and not think of the theme tune to The Dambusters movie. (Duh Duh duh duh duh duh de duh duh …)

I picked this wartime photo up as a copy from an online source, as it shows a little off-duty R&R and Dig For Victory, although it is hard to see exactly what is being planted.

These airfield gardens are the kind of ephemeral gardens that sprung up briefly in wartime, remembered today only in photographs or ‘ghost marks’ on the ground (as such traces were called by Kenneth Helphand, Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime).

Obviously not all of these RAF Bomber Command crews would live to see these gardens flower and vegetables harvested, given the low life expectancy and high casualty rates of such bomber crews. Such wartime gardens also gave pleasure and rations to downed RAF crews, gardening in POW (Prisoner of War) Camps in Occupied Europe.

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Guy Gibson, his black dog mascot and some of the Dambusters crews of 617 Squadron gardening between sorties.

This curious (posed propaganda?) photo shows one of Guy Gibson’s Dambusters crews gardening for relaxation in between bombing  sorties.

Interestingly it  looks possibly like flowers rather than vegetables during the WW2 Dig For Victory campaign.

In the background, you can see their iconic and famous  Lancaster bombers.

The Dambusters crews No. 617 Squadron are famous for taking part in the attack on the Mohne and Ruhr Dams as part of Operation Chastise.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Chastise

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No._617_Squadron_RAF

This picture is likely to have been taken at their base at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Scampton

This Wikipedia entry also shows the grave of his famous black dog mascot who died the same night as the raid.

The Commanding Officer of 617 Squadron  Guy Gibson (1918-44) has local Cornish connections to Porthleven, near to us here in Cornwall. Some of the local road names in Porthleven have Gibson and aircraft connections, and there is a plaque to him on the famous Porthleven harbour tower.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Gibson

http://www.rocassoc.org.uk/open/items/gr10/guy_gibson.htm

The Dambusters have a memorial garden in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire commemorating those who took part in the raids. http://www.dambusters.org.uk/commemoration/

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, 15 May 2018.

Spaghnum moss gathering on Dartmoor WW1

May 11, 2018

Amongst the unusual objects in the World War Zoo Gardens Collection at Newquay Zoo is a little charity flag from WW1 Edinburgh about Sphagnum Moss for Scottish Hospitals.

 

Sphagnum Moss Gathering Edinburgh May 11th 1918  Charity flag fundraiser (Image Source: c/o World war Zoo Gardens Collection, Newquay Zoo)

Sphagnum Moss Gathering Edinburgh May 11th 1918
Charity flag fundraiser (Image Source: c/o World war Zoo Gardens Collection, Newquay Zoo)

Sphagnum Moss was used as a wound dressing for its absorbent and antiseptic properties.

So I was very interested to see on the ever interesting Mary Evans blog Picturing the Great War about WW1 in Devon and Cornwall is an interesting feature by Luci Gosling using several images in the Mary Evans Picture library.

It shows novelist Charlotte Matheson in 1917 as part of the Women’s Land Service Corps working at the Duchy of Cornwall’s Home Farm at Stoke Climsland in Cornwall, the edge of the productive Tamar Valley where BBC’s Edwardian Farm was filmed.

The Duchy Home Farm established in 1913 became the site in 1984 for the  Duchy College Stoke Climsland training farm, which I have had several times visited for animal careers days, being not so very far from Newquay Zoo where the World War Zoo Gardens project is based: http://www.duchy.ac.uk/about-us/duchy-home-farm

Conscientious objectors are also pictured working at Princeton, Dartmoor and also the collection of Spaghnum Moss for antiseptic absorbent wound dressings at Widecombe and Dartmoor.

http://blog.maryevans.com/2014/03/conscientious-objectors-sphagnum-moss-dressings-the-duchy-of-cornwall-estate-during-the-great-war.html

 

Growing vegetables above and under ground – a strange wartime connection

May 8, 2018

 

 

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screenshot from Messy Nessy’s blog piece on Growing Underground 

Interesting blog post on the Messy Nessy Chic travel blog website about Growing Underground, a novel use for London’s old deep air raid shelters from WW2.

 

http://www.messynessychic.com/2014/02/11/london-has-a-subterranean-veggie-farm-in-an-abandoned-wwii-bunker/

messy nessy growing underground 2

The blog post about reusing London ‘Deep Shelters’ as  hydroponic salad farms also shows several  interesting archive photos of their original air raid use by civilians.

https://www.facebook.com/growingunderground

http://growing-underground.com/

Billed as Zero Carbon Food, the underground London project cuts down on food miles and ‘plot to plate’ food minutes, but they are not quite as close to their consumers as our tiny zoo allotment to its animal customers here at Newquay Zoo. Admittedly they have 2.5 acres underground in London, we have a postage stamp tiny plot of a few metres as a display garden on a once scraggy old lawn edge near our Lion House.   Jersey Zoo (Durrell Wildlife Trust) has also used an adjacent market garden for many years.

This Growing Underground idea reminds me of the Verticrop hydroponic experiment hosted at Paignton Zoo  c. 2008/2009 for a couple of years during a fascinating trial period. An innovative way  for growing fresh salad on site for the zoo animals?

https://www.bgci.org/resources/article/0784/

http://www.cityfarmer.info/2009/11/20/time-magazine-names-valcents-vertical-farming-technology-one-of-top-50-best-innovations-of-2009/

Verticrop (by Valcent) was put in experimental place at our sister zoo, Paignton Zoo in 2009 around the same time our above-ground World War Zoo garden allotment was set up here at Newquay Zoo.

I think I prefer to garden above ground and I have just planted the next lot of Ladybird poppies (for The Ribbon of Poppies Initiative). I’ve also planted  more leek seedlings, cabbage, broad beans and  rainbow chard to replace the snow and ice damage of February and March 2018. The planting areas are filling up nicely.

Maybe gardening underground you don’t get the peacocks and pigeons alongside snails as a plant eating ‘pest’ that I have to withstand here at the Zoo.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/part-of-the-worldwide-ribbon-of-poppies-planted-at-newquay-zoo-for-the-ww1-centenary/

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World War Zoo Garden planting areas, Newquay Zoo – after the snow and ice of the Beast from the East, March 2018, not much survived except colourful Rainbow or Rhubarb Chard. 

 

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Looking leafier – May 2018 after replanting 

 

 

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Poppy seedlings coming through, Ladybird poppy flower heads forming. Our part of the Ribbon Of Poppies for Armistice 1918 / 2018 is now in parts growing well. 

 

However and wherever you garden, enjoy your day and your garden!

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo, 8 May 2018.

 

 

Remembering Gordon Farries Kew Gardener died WW1 20 April 2018

April 20, 2018

Private Gordon Farries, S/11973, 11th Battalion, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, died on 20th April, 1918, aged 27.
The fifth to fall of the ten Kew Sub-Foremen who joined the Army, he worked at Kew Gardens from February 1913 after working at the well-known Veitch’s Nursery at Feltham.

He originally joined the Royal Army Medical Corps but later transferred to a Scottish regiment.

His Kew Guild Journal 1919 obituary notes that he was killed on the night of April 20-21 1918 whilst reinforcing another platoon.

He is remembered on the Kew Gardens staff war memorial.

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Reported missing on 20 April 2018, his body was later found and identified by men of a London Regiment fighting over the same ground.

Farries is buried at Grave Reference III. G. 4, Feuchy Chapel British Cemetery, Wancourt.

His headstone inscription reads  “to live in the hearts of those we love is not to die.

His brother was also killed a few months later in WW1. Thomas Charlton Farries, aged 39, serving as Private (41490) 18th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry, was killed in action on 30 September 1918. (Source: Scottish National War Memorial) He is buried at Zantvoorde British Cemetery, Belgium. Thomas was the son and namesake of Thomas Charlton Farries of 2 Gordon Street, Dumfries, and the late Henrietta (Grierson) Farries.

Gordon Farries his brother was the son of Thomas Charlton Farries and L. J. Farries, of 2, Gordon St., Dumfries.

their deaths must have been a double blow to their father, so close together. Both sons are remembered near home on the Dumfries war memorial.

You can read more about Gordon Farries and the other Kew gardeners turned soldiers at:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

Blogposted on the centenary anniversary 20 April 1918 / 2018 by Mark Norris, World war Zoo gardens project.

 

 

Remembering Cuthbert St. John Nevill FLS Linnean Society died WW1 18 April 2018

April 18, 2018

 

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Cuthbert St John Nevill photograph (from Rosemary’s  Relatives website)

Cuthbert St. John Nevill was a Fellow of the Linnean Society FLS  who was killed during the Spring Offensive of 1918.

https://www.linnean.org
Born in 1889, Nevill was killed on 18 April 1918. The eldest son of a stockbroker Sir Walter Nevill, Highbury New Park, London, he was educated at Eastbourne and Uppingham.

He worked as a member of the Stock Exchange and joined the City based HAC Honourable Artillery Company with whom he served in Egypt and Aden in 1915, thus being eligible at his wife’s post-war request for a 1914-15 star alongside his British War and Victory medals.

Transferred as a Second Lieutenant to the C Battery, 251st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery and commissioned in 13 April 1916, he served with the RFA in France until his death in service on 18 April 1918.

He is buried at III A 1, Chocques Military Cemetery, where many of the burials are related to the No. 1 CCS Casualty Clearing Station.

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Cuthbert is buried in Chocques Militray Cemetery (Image CWGC) 

In 1918, Cuthbert married Miss Eunice May Le Bas (1890 – 1979) of Guernsey.

Widowed within the early months of her first marriage, she remarried another officer (possibly wounded as awarded a Silver War Badge), J.C. Oakley-Beuttler Lieutenant in the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry (1888 – 1940) in November 1919.

 

Several other Linnean Society fellows were killed in WW1, recorded on their Roll of Honour – see my 2013 blog post:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/lost-fellows-the-linnean-society-roll-of-honour-1914-1918/

https://rosemarysrelatives.wordpress.com/2007/11/09/in-memory-of-my-nevill-relatives-who-died-in-the-great-war/

Remembering Joseph Fuller of Belle Vue Zoo died WW1 14 April 1918

April 14, 2018

warmem2 Belle Vue today

Belle Vue zoo’s sadly vandalised war memorial, Gorton Cemetery. Manchester lists their First World War dead – a tiny glimpse of the losses of men from zoos on active service in both world wars. Image: manchesterhistory.net

warmem3 Belle Vue names

Belle Vue Zoo’s now vandalised war memorial – luckily the names, although hard to read, are inscribed in stone as the brass statue.

Sergeant J Fuller of Manchester died serving with the Devonshire Regiment / Pioneer Corps on 14 April 1918. Buried Amiens, France. He may well be the J Fuller mentioned here on the staff War Memorial, although the Jennison Family directors mentioned “Fuller of the Guards” at the 1926 Dedication of the Staff War Memorial.

On March 1918 The Germans launched the first of their offensives in a final bid to win the war. The British bore the brunt of these offensives in March and April and, although the British were forced to concede considerable ground, the line never broke.

Sergeant Fuller was married and lived at 9 Millen Street, West Gorton.

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On the 1911 Census this Joseph Fuller was a Journeyman Baker. Hi He was serving with the Labour Corps, having transferred from The Devonshire Regiment.

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He died on 14 April 1918 and is buried in St Pierre Cemetery, Amien. This town and railhead was a key objective of the German offensive but never fell.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/remembering-the-lost-ww1-staff-of-belle-vue-zoo-manchester/

http://gortonphilipsparkcemetrywargrave.weebly.com/belle-vue-war-memorial.html

Remembered.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens, Newquay Zoo, 14 April 2018.

Part of the worldwide Ribbon of Poppies planted at Newquay Zoo for the WW1 Centenary

April 11, 2018

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Part of the 2016 crop of Poppies at the World War Zoo Gardens at Newquay Zoo

We have planted more poppy seeds at Newquay Zoo as part of the Ribbon of Poppies Remembrance event to mark 100 years since the end of WW1.

 

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Some ever so useful fake or silk poppies (from 2015)

 

I have  registered our  little poppy patch with Ribbon of Poppies at Eventbrite.

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Inspired by The Memorial Mob, this event which is free to join wherever you are. Twitter #RibbonofPoppies    http://thememorialmob.webs.com/

https://www.facebook.com/RibbonofPoppies/

I was tipped off about this Ribbon of Poppies event or initiative by Rosie and the Gardens staff at Wild Place, part of Bristol Zoo http://www.wildplace.org.uk/

They are thinking of planting not just red Flanders Poppies but working out if they can find 100 varieties of Poppies to grow for 2018.

Wild Place’s walled gardens and its Sanctuary gardens are  an interesting ‘wartime garden’ in itself, as I posted  in 2014:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/digging-into-bristol-zoos-wartime-garden-past-mystery-photograph-solved/

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100 types of poppy? Having bought poppy seeds in different garden centres, I was surprised to find that there probably are that many ornamental varieties of poppy.

I have mostly bought Papaver rhoeas, the Flanders or Field Poppy but also an ornamental poppy Papaver somniferum, a variety named a suitably brave ‘Victoria Cross’. 

poppy 2

Some of the poppy seeds are saved from previous years, some have been bought from various suppliers including a special packet from  Heligan Gardens as part of the Heligan 1914 – 1918 centenary celebrations.

Part of the profits from some of these seeds appropriately  goes to service charities Royal British Legion and SSAFA.

Thousands of poppy seeds have now been scattered on the front section of our allotment garden, backed up by some Ladybird Poppies (Papaver commutatum), a hardy annual poppy which will also self sow.

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http://www.centenarynews.com/article/call-to-sow-ribbon-of-poppies-for-2018

Poppies are bee-friendly and wildlife friendly plants, great for our native species focus this year.

 

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Our  suitably rusty memorial to wartime zoo keepers and gardeners  past, based at Newquay Zoo for the last ten years  (2018)  

 

Why mark this in the modern zoo? Many zoo staff joined up or were conscripted from such zoos as were open in 1914 (and 1939) including  Bristol, London, Belle Vue and Edinburgh Zoos. Not all of them came back, complete in mind and body. Sadly their stories and sacrifice have sometimes been forgotten over the years. No doubt the same story can be told for each of the towns or village communities surrounding our zoos and gardens today, and to the families of many  of our visitors today from all nationalities.

The same happened to staff in botanic gardens like Edinburgh or Kew. Over the last (almost) ten years we have posted on the blog on the anniversary of each WW1 zoo or botanic gardens related casualty. A few of these stories are collected here: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/ww1-related-posts/

This was another of our poppy posts on the 100th anniversary of the 1915 ‘poppy’ poem In Flanders Fields – some very useful fake silk poppies on show! https://wordpress.com/post/worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/979

Inspired to get involved?

I hope that you and your family, your workplace, your zoo or botanic garden, your garden, your street or your park are inspired to take part in the nationwide or even international Ribbon Of Poppies, even with just a small pot of ornamental or Flanders Poppies. Sign up and find out more: Get involved!

https://www.facebook.com/RibbonofPoppies/

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens, Newquay Zoo, 11 April 2018

NB. Unlike some of the Ribbon of Poppies venues, please note that Newquay Zoo is not a ‘free to enter’ venue – more about our ticket prices and annual passes: https://www.newquayzoo.org.uk/plan-your-visit/tickets-and-prices

To finish: a couple of shots of recent and surviving planting in the World War Zoo Gardens, such colourful veg just to the right of where our poppies are sown.

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Remembering the March 1918 German Spring Offensive

March 21, 2018

Dawn on the 21st March 1918 saw a surprise German attack on a massive scale using specially trained Stormtroopers and almost early Blitzkrieg tactics. This caught the British and Allied troops unprepared and the German Army made huge gains in captured land, prisoners and equipment.

The Kaiser’s Battle, as it became known, saw Field Marshall Haig issue his “Backs to the Wall” order on April 11th 1918 which ends dramatically:

“ … Many amongst us now are tired. To those I would say that Victory will belong to the side which holds out the longest. The French Army is moving rapidly and in great force to our support.”

“There is no other course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end. The safety of our homes and the Freedom of mankind alike depend upon the conduct of each one of us at this critical moment.”

http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/backstothewall.htm

Into this chaos were flung scratch regiments of any men available to fight, including troops who normally served behind the lines. Artillery lines were overrun, base camps and supply lines.

During this fighting two  Kew Gardens staff  James William Clark  and Charles Hubert Brown were killed both on 26 March 1918.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

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Charles Brown and James Clark’s names on the Kew Gardens Staff WW1 Memorial 

Gunner / Private Charles Hubert Brown, March 26 1918
Private Charles Hubert Brown, Royal Garrison Artillery (and Royal Sussex Regiment) died on the same day as a fellow Kew Gardener and gunner, James William Clark (see below).

Brown entered Kew from the gardens of Court Close, Eckington in September 1914, possibly as result of vacancies created by enlistment of Kew men. He had been rejected as medically unfit for the army owing to heart trouble. He tried to enlist twice more whilst at Kew, finally succeeding at the end of 1916. He died in hospital in France on the 26 March, 1918 as a result of shrapnel wounds to the head, according to his Kew Guild Journal 1919 obituary.

In the Kew Guild Journal it mentions “we had no further news of his movements” – so maybe this is why his regiment varies in listings. Charles Hubert Brown, 290133, 11th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment died on 26 March 1918 and is buried in plot VII.AA. Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension.

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Gunner  James William Clark, 26 March 1918
Gunner James William Clark, RMA/1656(S), Royal Marine Artillery, Howitzer Brigade, died 26 March 1918, aged 26. He is buried at Grave Reference VI. D. 8, Faubourg D’Amiens Cemetery, Arras. He joined the Royal Marine Artillery in January 1916.

Clark is listed as the son of James William and Elizabeth Clark, of The Gardens, Torre Abbey, Torquay where James also worked before Kew amongst a number of Torquay posts at Braddon’s Hill Nursery and Normount Gardens.

He was born on August 24, 1891. Clark entered Kew in January 1913, working as a seed collector in the Kew Arboretum before working as Sub-Foreman Decorative Indoors at the end of 1914.

Clark is also remembered on his local primary school memorial, which Margaret Forbes-Hamilton and other ‘churchyard friends’ in Torquay are having restored. This memorial stone of Carrera marble in the churchyard in Torre to the fallen from the local primary school includes James William Clark, who was a young gardener at Kew and whose father was the gardener at Torre Abbey.

Clark was an only child, though had many cousins, and his parents must have been devastated at his death; the inscription on his Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone chosen by his family reads: “Thy will be Done. Dear Boy.”

Looking at the Graves Registration documents and Faubourg cemetery records for Plot VI or 6, Row D amongst the several thousand headstones and many thousands more names on the Arras Memorial (over 37,000 names), it is possible to see that James Clark lies in a row with comrades in a small cluster of burials from No. 6 Gun, Howitzer Brigade, Royal Marine Artillery who all died on 26 March 1918.

Clark lies alongside Gunner A.E. Skuse (or Skuce), Pte E.Jones, A. Lambert (Armourer’s Crew Royal Navy “HMS Excellent”) showing the strange mixture of units, ranks and nationalities (West Country English, Welsh, Scottish) that made up the crew of this one gun in a strange Royal Marine or Navy unit. Other Officers and Gunners from the Royal Garrison Artillery Siege Battery brigade are buried in the same row from the same fighting.

Remembering all the men lost on both sides in the March 1918 offensive.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens, Newquay Zoo, 21 and 26 March 1928 / 2018.

 

 

 

 


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