A wartime guide to Edinburgh 1943

April 1, 2015

This little wartime guide to Edinburgh is something I didn’t get time to post during the 2014 Scottish referendum or during the RZSS Edinburgh Zoo centenary in 2013. It is from the 5th Edition, November 1943.

Edinburgh wartime guide c/o the World War Zoo Gardens collection, Newquay Zoo.

Edinburgh wartime guide c/o the World War Zoo Gardens collection, Newquay Zoo.

It gives a little flavour of wartime life in Edinburgh and Scotland during WW2. Clicking on a picture below should allow you to enlarge it and read more.

wartime guide 2wartime guide 3

More about Edinburgh wartime life, such as where to sleep for visiting servicemen and women:wartime guide 4

And of course, regimental clubs and less glamorous canteens and rest rooms for H.M. Forces:

wartime guide 5Alongside “leading churches in the city”, there is mention of Edinburgh Zoo and an image of its polar bears. There is also suggestions for Sunday evening entertainments other than churches.

wartime guide 6wartime guide 7 mapAmongst many recreation and entertainments including cinemas, theatres, public baths and zoos, golf seems to feature quite heavily in this little wartime tourism guide in the era of “holidays at home” in Scotland.

“>wartime guide 8

“Some addresses which may be useful” in wartime from ARP and NAAFI to the NFS and the YWCA.

wartime guide  10

wartime guide 12

wartime guide 11

So that’s a glimpse of wartime life in Edinburgh, a little bit of time travel.

There is a final page written in French which I will scan and add later, probably for Free French and Canadian French troops visiting the city.

Later in the year I will add more about the history of Edinburgh Zoo, its remarkable founder ‘Tom’ T.H. Gillespie and a few stories from its WW1 and WW2 history.

wratime guide 1

A garden in a war desert Zonnebeke Ypres 1915 by Herbert Cowley

March 29, 2015

Herbert Cowley's article "A Garden in a War Desert", The Garden Illustrated journal June 26, 1915

Herbert Cowley’s article “A Garden in a War Desert”, The Garden Illustrated journal June 26, 1915

The April 1915 RHS lecture  on “Informal and Wild Gardening” by James Hudson was reprinted over several issues of The Garden weekly journal alongside  interesting articles by former Kew Gardener and The Garden sub-editor Herbert Cowley, away serving at the front. His own writing on war-ravaged gardens  in the same journal proved an interesting and ironic counterpoint to James Hudson’s more studied and peaceful ideas of wildness and beauty.

Herbert Cowley (1885-1967) from his Kew Guild journal obituary 1968

Herbert Cowley (1885-1967) from his Kew Guild journal obituary 1968

Cowley was at the time serving with the 12th County of London Regiment (The Rangers) who had been in France and action  since Christmas Day. He is likely to have been a prewar Territorial with this short four number (2477) to have embarked so soon. His battalion are featured in a propaganda or recruiting film at the time: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060010035

Our Sub Editor wounded in action ran the headline in The Garden, May 8 1915:

“for the past eight days we have been in severe battle. I am slightly wounded by shell – only a bruised rib and am in hospital. Dreadful warfare is till raging … We must win …”

Shortly afterwards, as  fighting continued in the Second Battle of Ypres, Rifleman H. Cowley 2477 was home with a Blighty wound that would finish his military career and was recovering in  Surgical 7, 3rd Southern General Hospital in Oxford “wounded in the knee while bandaging another soldier in the trenches.”

gardenillustrate7915lond_0185

Before this Cowley had been writing home about the horticultural sights “somewhere in France or Belgium” on page 169 of the April 10th, 1915 issue of The Garden. Previous mention by various readers had been made of sending flower and veg seeds to serving soldiers:

“the suggestion re quick growing seeds is excellent. Delightful instances are now to be seen of dugouts, covered with verdant green turf, garden plots divided by red brick and clinker paths suggestive of an Italian garden design. Some plots are now bright with cowslips, Lesser celandine and fresh green leaves of the cuckoo-pint, wild flowers obviously lifted from meadows and ditches nearby. Yet the roar of heavy guns and the roll of rifle fire are incessant. Verily the Briton is a born gardener …”

These are the kind of ‘trench gardens‘ that Kenneth Helphand writes about in Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime and his legacy website www.defiantgardens.com

Herbert Cowley's article "A Garden in a War Desert", The Garden Illustrated journal June 26, 1915

Herbert Cowley’s article “A Garden in a War Desert”, The Garden Illustrated journal June 26, 1915

In the June 26 1915 edition of The Garden Illustrated, the convalescent Cowley  wrote about “A Garden in the War Desert” that  he had observed in the ruined walled garden of Zonnebeke Chateau at Zonnebeke near Ypres in Belgium:

https://archive.org/stream/gardenillustrate7915lond#page/313/mode/1up

This article proves to be an interesting piece of Great War prose or reportage, vivid in its description of early wartime destruction, ‘Romantic’ in its lost or secret garden associations of ruin and verdant wildness.

Herbert Cowley’s last battle May 1915

12th London Rangers history - Zonnebeke 1915

12th London Rangers history – Zonnebeke 1915

This article by Cowley can be read alongside the Regimental History which mentions Zonnebeke: https://archive.org/stream/rangershistorica00whee#page/32/mode/2up

12th London Rangers - Ypres May 1915 battles

12th London Rangers – Ypres May 1915 battles

The May 1915 battles where Cowley was wounded are recounted here: https://archive.org/stream/rangershistorica00whee#page/35/mode/1up

1/12th London Bn in the second battle of the Ypres.

“On the night of May 2nd-3rd, the Battalion was sent to dig a trench line, fire and support trenches, on the Frezenburg ridge, and to man this, which was to become the front line in the event of a retirement from the salient at Zonnebeke taking place. This retirement took place the following night (May 3rd-4th) on which night the new line was improved.

The German artillery soon found the new line on the Frezenburg ridge, and shelled it repeatedly, causing numerous casualties. Relief by the Monmouths, eagerly looked for by the troops now wearied with the strain of many days under continual shell fire, took place on the night May 7th-8th, and the Battalion retired to dug-outs behind the G.H.Q. line, arriving about 4 a.m. Heavy shelling of these dug-outs from about 6 a.m. onwards caused numerous casualties and forbade rest.

At 11.15 a.m. came the order to advance in support of the Monmouths, the right of the Brigade line having been broken by the German advance. The Battalion, now about 200 strong, advanced with A, B and C Companies in the front line, led by Major Challen and Major Foucar, and D Company, under Captain Jones, in support, the Machine Gun Section with one gun only left, moving independently on the left flank.

The Battalion had to pass through a gap in the barbed wire in front of the G.H.Q. line on which German machine-guns were trained, and suffered heavily in its passage. The whole of the ground over which the further advance took place was heavily shelled, and in places exposed to heavy rifle and machine-gun fire, so that the Battalion rapidly dwindled. A small remnant pushed forward to the rise where the trench line had been and there dug in, and stayed the German advance. The Machine Gun Section under Lieut. J. K. Dunlop, operating independently, did extremely useful work and was able to bring enfilade fire to bear on the advancing Germans, until the gun was struck and disabled by shell fire.

Of survivors there were ultimately collected by Sergeant W. J. Hornall (every Officer having been either killed, wounded, or taken prisoner), 53, mainly pioneers and signallers. All the remainder were either taken prisoner, killed, missing or wounded.

The determination of the attack, it is said, was such that the Germans thought it could only have been made by troops sure of speedy and strong support, not, as in fact was the case, by practically the last remaining troops between them and Ypres, and so the enemy dug in without further advance, and thus was achieved the object for which so many gallant souls gave up their lives. The few survivors, after assisting to dig trenches in the vicinity for the next two or three days were ultimately withdrawn to the rest they so richly deserved.”

A PERIOD OF TREKS.

“There were many sad and many glorious days to come, but for sheer tragedy the Second Battle of Ypres stands out most prominently from the many vicissitudes through which the Rangers went during the War.

The brave effort on the Frezenburg ridge had brought about the end of the original Battalion. Of the Officers and men who had so whole-heartedly and unselfishly prepared themselves for war during the days of peace, only fifty-three men, headed by Sergeant Hornall, struggled out of the shell-fire and the mud and slush in front of Ypres.

Meanwhile Lieut. Withers Green, the Battalion Transport Officer, had brought up to Ypres every man of Battalion Headquarters, every detail on whom he could lay his hands, and some reinforcements that had lately arrived under Lieut. Benns and 2nd Lieut. Bentley. By May l0th, however, the German advance had been stemmed and the eighty odd men that composed Lieut. Green’s party were not needed. Accordingly they proceeded to a camp near Ypres and slept the night in some huts. It was here that Sergeant Hornall and the band of fifty-three survivors, begrimed with mud, dazed and utterly weary, reported to Lieut. Green in the early hours of May nth. They had little enough time that day to sleep and recover from their experiences, for at 5 o’clock in the afternoon the Battalion, now numbering five officers (counting Lieut. Lindop, the Quartermaster and Lieut. Uloth, the Medical Officer) and two hundred N.C.O.’s.”

Herbert Cowley would have been amongst the many wounded of this Battalion. He survived his wound,  got married at the end of 1915 and returned to his garden writing career as editor of The Garden. He died in the late 1960s after a long and busy horticultural career.

Many thanks to contributors on http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=186158 for this Regimental information.

There is more about Herbert Cowley’s recovery, life and writing career in my previous blogpost and my Wikipedia entry for him:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/dig-for-victory-1917-world-war-1-style-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-and-the-fortunate-herbert-cowley-1885-1967/

World War Zoo Gardens reblog of Great War Lives Lost: 26 March 1915

March 26, 2015

worldwarzoogardener1939:

Of tanks, zoos and gardens …
Two and a half years later after Churchill’s instruction (set out in the Great War Lives Lost blog) to design tanks today on 26 March 1915, 40 year old Sergeant George Douglas, gardener formerly of Kew Gardens, was to die in an early tank action at Flesquieres on 20 November 1917. See https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war

Cambrai Louverval Memorial (image CWGC)

Cambrai Louverval Memorial (image CWGC)

Sydney Comer of Kew Gardens died training with the USA Tank Corps and several Kew staff died in tank battles in WW2. Secret tank trials took place amongst the estate grounds of Hatfield Park in Hertfordshire in January and February 1916, whilst Knowsley Hall Park (now a safari park) proved great tank training grounds in WW2.

Today tank training ranges like Salisbury Plains form interesting ‘untouched’ conservation and wildlife reserves!

Originally posted on Great War Lives Lost:

Winston Churchill’s instruction, “Proceed as proposed and with all dispatch”, authorizes commencement of the design of tanks.  They are to be bullet proof machines in the words of Major General ‘Sir’ Ernest Swinton “capable of destroying machine guns, of crossing country and trenches, of breaking through entanglements, and of climbing earthworks”.

Today’s losses include:

  • A son of a member of the clergy
  • Multiple families that will lose another son in the Great War

Today’s highlighted casualties are

  •  Lieutenant Commander Charles Pleydell Mansell (HMS Celtic) dies at sea at age 43. His brother will be killed in October 1916 and they are sons of the Reverend Owen Luttrell Mansell.
  • Second Lieutenant John William Henry Greig (Indian Army Reserve of Officers attached Indian Cavalry) is killed in the operations against the Toch at age 28. His brother will die of injuries in suffered in the loss of HMS Russell in April 1917.

View original 23 more words

Duncan Hepburn Gotch entomologist died Neuve Chapelle 11 March 1915

March 9, 2015

Duncan Hepburn Gotch in uniform 1914/5 (source: www.baptist.org WW1 article)

Duncan Hepburn Gotch in uniform 1914/5 (source: http://www.baptist.org WW1 article)

Amongst the names on the Natural History Museum staff war memorial is the name of Duncan Hepburn Gotch an entomologist who “showed every promise of making a name for himself as a scientific worker” as his former Director remembered.

Over the next few months I will feature the stories of several British Museum (Natural History) staff remembered on the WW1 and WW2 memorial sections, now in the entrance area of the Natural History Museum. I currently do not have my own photographs of this memorial but the WW1 memorial and Roll of Honour can be found on the following websites:

Entomologists Record XXVII No 1 January 1915 page 18

Entomologists Record XXVII No 1 January 1915 page 18

In the Entomologist’s Record 1915, p.17, Current Notes: “the staff of the Entomology Department S. Kensington is well to the fore in this mighty struggle ”  – the names of many serving staff can be read at:

https://archive.org/stream/entomologistsrec271915tutt#page/16/mode/2up

An early volunteer, having joined the Artists Rifles as a Territorial in February 1914, Duncan Hepburn Gotch was typical of the many young officers and Second Lieutenants who were killed after only a few short weeks of active service. Statistically this rank of young officer had very high casualty rates.

Gotch was killed as Second Lieutenant, 1293, B Company, 1st Battalion, Worcester Regiment on 11 March 1915, aged 23 during the short battle of Neuve Chapelle.

Originally enlisted as Private 1293, 28th London Regiment or 1/28th (County of London) Battalion (Artist’s Rifles),  Gotch would have reported in August 1914 at Dukes Road, Euston Road as part of /  attached to 2nd London Division. They moved on mobilisation to the St Albans area.

On 28 October 1914 Gotch and his regiment moved to France, where it was established as an Officers Training Corps based at Bailleul.

Gotch had only recently been gazetted an officer and joined the 1st Worcestershires on 1 January 1915, reaching  the front on 15 January 1915. The story of the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment is given at www.worcestershireregiment.com and gives an idea of the cold wet and muddy conditions in which Gotch first  arrived in the trenches:

During those last days of 1914 the 1st Battalion experienced an equally severe ordeal in their neighbouring trenches facing Neuve Chapelle. There also rain and frost had done their work, and the trenches filled with water into which the crumpling parapets collapsed. During the last days of December some pumps were secured and all ranks struggled manfully to reduce the height of the water, which indeed was then a greater danger to the defences than was the fire of the enemy; but in spite of all their efforts the water gained.

The communication trenches became impassable, and all ration parties and reliefs had to come up after dark across the open right up to the trench line. The German trenches facing the line held by the Battalion were on slightly higher ground and it was constantly expected that the enemy would attempt some method of draining water from his trenches into the British lines (Source: http://www.worcestershireregiment.com)

The weather and waterlogged state of the trenches grew steadily worse throughout January but  had slightly improved by the start of March 1915 and the Battle of Neuve Chapelle.

According to De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour , at Neuve Chapelle, he was the “last officer left in action with his company and he was killed as he led his men to the charge. He was buried 1 mile N.W. Of Neuve Chapelle, unmarked …”

An interesting account and photographs of the Neuve Chapelle battle mentioning Gotch’s B Company, 1st Worcestershire Regiment is given at http://www.worcestershireregiment.com

“Save for that gain of ground and for the proud memory of that bayonet fight there was but little profit visible to the regimental officers and men from the battle of Neuve Chapelle.

The losses had been terribly severe. The 1st Worcestershire had lost over 370 of all ranks, including 19 officers … The Commanding Officer, Lieut.-Colonel E. C. F. Wodehouse, D.S.O. and the Adjutant, Lieutenant J. S. Veasey, a brilliant young officer, were among the dead. The Battalion had gone into action on the 10th March 1915, with a strength of 26 officers and 870 rank and file. On the morning of March 13th the whole Battalion could muster no more than 7 officers and 450 men …

Killed: 9 officers … [D.H. Gotch is named here] … Besides these losses many officers and men, including the 2nd-in-command, Major J. F. S. Winnington, and Lieut. M. A. Hamilton Cox, were invalided after the battle from the effects of the strain and exposure of the three days and nights of fighting …”

Gotch is mentioned under the long list of officer casualties of this action in this comprehensive website.  As well as his name on the British Museum (Natural History) war memorial plaque,  Gotch is also remembered on the Le Touret Memorial to the missing of the early battles of 1914-1915 who have no known grave. He is also remembered at Cambridge University.

Le Touret Memorial, France  to the missing of 1914/15 battles (Image Source: CWGC website)

Le Touret Memorial, France to the missing of 1914/15 battles (Image Source: CWGC website)

There is more about Neuve Chapelle, its Indian troops involvement and the subsequent Shell Crisis of 1915 on Wikipedia entry: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Neuve_Chapelle

One strange comment on the Shells Crisis can be found on Luci Gosling’s interesting Mary Evans Picture Library blog posts about the Great War. http://blog.maryevans.com/2013/04/london-zoo-at-war.html It featured in the press cuttings in the London Zoo at War exhibition recently)  with a press photo of  Methusaleh the tortoise, its shell inscribed: We Can’t Do Without Our Shells and captioned: ‘We can’t do without our shells; but they will serve to remind you that there are others – which your country needs.’

Born in Kettering, Duncan was the son of Davis F. Gotch (a leather manufacturer and then Assistant Secretary of Education for Northampton County Council) and Ethel Gotch (nee Hepburn), Bassingburne, Abington Park, Northampton. The  family medals and photos of Gotch and his brother recently came up at auction by Dix Noonan Webb (see www.dnw.co.uk Archive Lot 1207, 17 September 2004)

In the 1911 census, he was listed as Biology Student at  Cambridge University. De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour reports that he was educated at Oundle School and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge on a Natural Science Scholarship and special County Council Scholarship, gaining an Honours degree in Natural Science in 1913.

Gotch swiftly joined Sir Guy Marshall’s Imperial Bureau of Entomology in 1913 as one of its early staff, a Scientific Assistant, when it had newly moved into offices at the British Museum (Natural History) and Elvaston Place, South Kensington.

Gotch and assistant preparator E.A. Bateman were both killed in the First World War, two of the names on the British Museum (Natural History) / Natural History Museum memorial. Bateman’s story  (1st Norfolk Regiment, died 29 June 1918, aged 18, buried at Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille, France) will feature in a future blogpost.

Source: Baptist.org website WW1 article by Jonathan Barr, 2014

Source: Baptist.org website WW1 article by Jonathan Barr, 2014

Like many young officers Duncan Gotch left quite a paper trail. There is a fine short biography by Jonathan Barr on the http://www.baptist.org website http://www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/409983/Baptist_soldiers_in.aspx

Duncan  Hepburn Gotch was born in Kettering, on 25 August 1891, into a family well known in the Baptist denomination for their support and participation in the Northamptonshire Baptist Provident Society…

The Gotch family seem to have been linked to the local traditional boot, shoe and leather trade. A fellow officer wrote of him:

“He had only been with us a month or two, but in that time, by his cheeriness, by his keenness, and by his hard work and enthusiasm we had all got to like him immensely. His cheerfulness was catching …

He was very plucky and would insist on exposing himself unnecessarily, generally in the hope that he would spot the enemy or some better place for his platoon. His loss is a real one for the regiment, for he was one of the right stuff and of the sort we want in the Worcestershire Regiment. A brave, cheery, kindly, popular officer and we can ill afford his loss.”

Gotch’s death was mentioned in The Sphere, 10 April 1915.

The Entomologist’s Record XXVII no. 5, May 15, 1915 (p.185) notes that:

We regret to announce that two members of the South London Entomological Society have fallen in action in France. Lieutenant W. W. Penn-Gaskell of the Queen’s London Regiment …  and D.H. Gotch …

Penn-Gaskell of the 24th London Regiment is commemorated like Duncan H Gotch on the Le Touret Memorial to the Missing.

The Baptist.org article by Jonathan Barr also reveals that Gotch’s younger brother, Davis Ingle Gotch, enlisted the very day that the family received the news. Serving with the Northampstonshire Regiment, he won a Military Cross in January 1917, was taken prisoner of war during the German Spring Offensive, before being repatriated on 18 December 1918. During the Second War he served with the Gloucestershire Regiment as a Captain.

Another interesting note in the Baptist.org article, his sister Dorothy Maud Gotch “served as an army nurse caring for the soldiers coming home.” In 1911 she had been listed as a Deaconess in the Baptist Church. She died unmarried in 1963 in Hitchen, Hertfordshire.

gaynor kavanagh

Museums and the First World War

The British Museum (Natural History) wooden Roll of Honour board, naming all who served and those who died, is also mentioned on p.60 of Gaynor  Kavanagh’s excellent  and wide-ranging book ‘Museums and the First World War: A Social History’ (Leicester University  Press, 1994).

There is also interesting material on entomologists in WW1 in Richard Van Emden’s recent 2011 paperback Tommy’s Ark: Soldiers and their Animals in the Great War.

Further interesting points from the Entomologist’s Record 1914-1919

The activities and loss of Russian Entomologists fighting the Germans is outlined here in the  Entomologist’s Record, 1915,p.89: https://archive.org/stream/entomologistsrec271915tutt#page/88/mode/2up

The  role of Entomologists in the trenches is set out in this article “Notes from the Trenches” in 1915 https://archive.org/stream/entomologistsrec271915tutt#page/198/mode/2up

Reading through the online scans of the wartime issues of Entomologist’s  Record will no doubt reveal many other interesting stories that I will post here over the next few months including:

  • casualties and bughunting at Gallipoli in 1915 including Neville Manders
  • http://www.ramc-ww1.com/profile.php?cPath=211_652&profile_id=11097&osCsid=29
  • Somme casualty 1917 Frederick H Stallman, entomologist;
  • the war against the house fly, a London Zoo exhibition on them  and research into mosquitoes and malaria;
  • difficulties collecting insects by night light in the WW1 ‘blackout’ and treacle rationing;
  • Bug hunting amongst the strange habitats of wrecked battlefields like Vimy Ridge.

Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo.

 

National Growmore Fertiliser – a brief history

March 4, 2015

The Little Man with The Spade - unofficial logo for the National Growmore Campaign 1940, replaced by the iconic hobnail boot on spade image of the Dig for Victory campaign in 1941 Image from adverts in The Vegetable Garden Displayed, RHS (image from the World War Zoo gardens archive, Newquay Zoo)

Our poor soil is getting tired, entering our 7th growing season in the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo, just as it would have been for gardeners entering the 1945 growing season.

The first year or two in 2009/10, our Lion House lawn turned wartime allotment must have had a certain amount of stored natural goodness, being cultivated for the first time, along with good helpings of zoo bedding and zoo manure well rotted down.

The last two autumn / winters of 2013/14 we’ve given it an organic boost with green manures of mustard and clover grown and dug in before flowering. Like Heligan, we have used the traditional seaside remedies of using seaweed solutions or mulched sea weed dug and rotted down.

Since 2009 we’ve been keeping  it ‘semi-organic’, as our garden produce is not just for show but practically for our zoo animals. I have to be wary of chemicals and pesticides that would have been the quick fix for soil and pest problems in WW2.

It’s International Year of the Soil in 2015 (IYS) and December the 5th is now an annual World Soil Day, focussing on the growing challenge of feeding a growing world’s population with a potentially finite resource of soil. Much the same food security challenge faced farmers and food ministers in the wartime and post-war wrecked economy after World War 2.

The Soil Association's clever fusion of Renaissance artist Arcimboldo and the WW1 Kitchener poster (Source: Soil Association / World War Zoo gardens collection, Newquay Zoo)

The Soil Association’s clever fusion of Renaissance artist Arcimboldo and the WW1 Kitchener poster (Source: Soil Association / World War Zoo gardens collection, Newquay Zoo)

 

In future blogposts I will look at the organic and hydroponic movement that arose out of wartime and post-war  food production and intensification of farming. Few realised in the desperate state of wartime a nd positive view that ‘Science’ would solve all post-war problems until the slow discovery that some ‘miracle’ or quick-fix wartime pesticides like DDT would lead to the ‘Silent Spring’ of pollution in the 1950s and 1960s, as Rachel Carson christened the disastrous impact on wildlife and human health.  But  for now, I shall look at and try out the wartime solution of a simple and still much-loved  chemical fertiliser.

Update 15 March 2015:  As compromise and inspired by 1970s dandruff adverts, I will feed one hlf of the allotment National Growmore chemical fertiliser, the other half of the plot I will the leave as organic green manure fuelled or maybe Organic Blood Fish and Bone as an experiment.

Modern Growmore next to the campaign signs of what replaced the National Growmore Campaign, Dig For Victory!  World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo,  January 2015

Modern Growmore next to the campaign signs of what replaced the National Growmore Campaign, Dig For Victory!
World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, January 2015

 

This year for the first time, I’ll be using ‘Artificials’, taking my wartime gardening advice from the Ministry of Agriculture leaflets for 1945.  We have acquired many of these Ministry of Ag original leaflets for our archive but for muddy garden use and display we use a recent reprint.

These have been reprinted recently as Allotment and Garden Guide: A Monthly Guide to Better Wartime Gardening published by Sabrestorm  (www.sabrestorm.com) in 2009 edited by Garden historian Twigs Way. It describes Growmore in January 1945 as:

A SOUND GOVERNMENT FERTILISER
“To meet the needs of gardeners the Government arranged for the supply of a good standard fertiliser at a reasonable price. It is called “National Growmore Fertilser” and contains the three important plant foods – the analysis being 7 % N. (Nitrogen), 7 % Phosphate and 7 % Potash …”

“On most soils 42 lb of National Growmore Fertiliser should be sufficient for a 10 Rod Plot (300 square yards). A few days before sowing  or planting, scatter 1 lb. evenly over 10 square yards and rake in.”

“To give this general dressing to a 10-Rod allotment will take 30 lbs. this will leave 12 lbs for giving an extra dressing  for potatoes, winter green crops and spring cabbages. 4.5 lbs should be reserved for potatoes and should be applied at planting time. 5.5 lbs should be kept for applying during August to the autumn and winter green crops when they are making active growth. The remaining 2 lbs should be used during March as top dressing for Spring cabbage.”

How every well dressed gardener should appear on the allotment - National Growmore Fertiliser illustration from the January 1945 Min of Ag Allotment Guide

How every well dressed gardener should appear on the allotment – National Growmore Fertiliser illustration from the February 1945 Min of Ag Allotment Guide

The January 1945 leaflet goes on to suggest bulk buying if you can organise enough people to spilt the volumes ordered. This reminds me of childhood trips with my Dad to the local allotment society ‘potting shed’ on a Sunday to buy his share of the bulk bought fertiliser, seeds and such. With no car, we must have carried it or wheelbarrowed it home. The  smell of such places is quite evocative, dusty, fish, blood and bone, quite different from a modern garden centre.

“You will be able to get National Growmore Fertiliser from most sundries merchants. Allotment  Societies  and similar bodies, which have hitherto bought their fertilisers in bulk, are able to buy National Growmore Fertiliser in bulk at reduced prices.”

“On some allotments or in some gardens it may be necessary to give an additional top dreessing of a nitrogenous fertiliser (such as Sulphate of Ammonia) to any growing crops, applying it at the rate of about 1 lb per 10 square yards.” (January 1945 Min of Ag leaflet  p. 3-4)

Sundries merchants, hitherto – they just don’t write paragraphs like that anymore. As vanished as the evocative small of the local allotment society potting shed shop? Thankfully National Growmore Fertiliser is still alive and well available from most garden centres from several manufacturers such as J. Arthur Bowers and Vitax still made “to original ‘dig for victory’ formula” – http://www.vitax.co.uk/home-garden/vitax-growmore/

It also appears again on the REMINDERS monthly page for January 1945 Get Your Fertilisers Now. “Make sure of your fertilisers now, so that you have them at hand when needed”

Maybe gloves should be worn today ... How to dress to scatter National Growmore Fertiliser illustration from the January 1945 Min of Ag Allotment Guide.

Maybe gloves should be worn today … How to dress to scatter National Growmore Fertiliser, illustration from the January 1945 Min of Ag Allotment Guide.

So important was Growmore to tired wartime soil and tired wartime gardeners that it was mentioned again in the February 1945 Allotment and Garden Guide Vol 1 No. 2. The end of the war was in sight after hard fighting but still the need to grow postwar crops meant that these leaflets carried on being published well past the end of the war in August 1945. Dig for Victory became Dig for Plenty, as rationing carried on for almost another ten years until 1954. Crop Rotation, compost, all these were important reminders to the winter gardener: “But before you get down to planning, have you yet got or ordered what you will need when you start outdoor operations? These are the items : SEEDS * SEED POTATOES * FERTILISERS *

Lovely Black and White line illustrations, National Growmore Fertiliser illustration from the February 1945 Min of Ag Allotment Guide

Lovely Black and White line illustrations, National Growmore Fertiliser illustration from the February 1945 Min of Ag Allotment Guide

A page or two later it has another reminder: “Have you got your NATIONAL GROWMORE FERTILISER? you will need it for dressing your land before sowing and planting. it contains the three essential plant foods in balanced proportions …”

It crops up again in the Jobs Reminders, in March 1945: “Feed Spring cabbage … Lettuces and Spinach  … but keep the fertiliser off the leaves” and then onwards month by month in the Reminders. By July 1945, the war in Europe and VE day was over but things were still uncertain in the Far East. Reminders continued to gardeners to plant and sow to bridge the hungry gap next Spring 1946.

Handy topical monthly hints from the Ministry of Food's 1945 wartime gardening guide.

Handy topical monthly hints from the Ministry of Food’s 1945 wartime gardening guide.

What is National Growmore Fertiliser?

National Growmore is an inorganic or chemical fertiliser, broadly similar in its 7% each of Potash, Nitrogen and Phosphoric acid balance of nutrients (NPK 7:7:7)  to more traditional organic fertilisers like Blood, Fish and Bone.

Before the war,  nitrogenous fertilisers had existed in large numbers since Victorian times thanks to Chemists like Leibig and Humphry Davy. Prewar it would have been manufactured or sold by seed companies such as Sutton’s who offered a range of fertilisers:

  • Icthelmic Guano (sea bird poo, the reason some of our sea birds like the endangered Humboldt Penguins at Newquay Zoo became rarer when their Peruvian beach nest sites were mined or dug  back to useless bare rock )
  • Poultmure, treated chicken manure,  although no longer sold by Sutton’s or by this name is  still available in garden centres.
  • Garotta, still made under this name by several companies to speed or encourage compost breakdown.

When war broke out many of our European supplies of chemicals and chemical fertilisers such as (Sulphate of ) Potash became unobtainable, fell into enemy hands or found other competing wartime uses. Since the 1860s much of the Potash came from German or Prussian mining towns like Stassfurt.  Changing times meant fewer horses meant less available farmyard manure. Meanwhile a nation of gardeners was being mobilised to replace the same food supplies that had vanished into enemy hands and that (like today) we had become dependant on from foreign imports. A simple, easy to apply and multipurpose fertiliser at low cost and  widespread availability was required. National Growmore Fertiliser was the answer!

The Little Man with The Spade - unofficial logo for the National Growmore Campaign 1940, replaced by the iconic hobnail boot on spade image of the Dig for Victory campaign in 1941 Image from adverts in The Vegetable Garden Displayed, RHS (image from the World War Zoo gardens archive, Newquay Zoo)

The Little Man with The Spade – unofficial logo for the National Growmore Campaign 1940.

Why Growmore?

Growmore appears to have  got its simple name from an early version of the Dig For Victory campaign name and its popular Grow More food  leaflets. Eventually the campaign name changed to the more familiar Dig For Victory, its little gardener man logo replaced by the famous foot on spade  and postwar Dig for Plenty campaigns. Growmore remains the same name and composition to this day.

“Specifically Prepared to Produce Maximum Crops Of Vegetables”

Researching the introduction of Growmore, the National Archives files for the Ministry of Agriculture  MAF 51/24 suggest a start date of 1942 “National Growmore Fertiliser, a general purpose compound fertiliser”.

Looking at selections of historic newspaper archives through family history websites such as Find My Past as  a very rough sample reveals 7 mentions of National Growmore for that year, mostly in the later part of 1942,  whereas there are 166 for 1943 and so on.

The Ministry of Agriculture had made great use of the well-known garden writer Roy Hay (20 August 1910 – 21 October 1989) from 1940 onwards as part of its Dig for Victory campaign. In late 1942 he was used  to introduce National Growmore Fertiliser in his syndicated garden columns “Garden Hints”. Announcements appeared in many different papers ranging from  the Gloucester Journal on November 11 1942, Sussex Agricultural Express on 13 November 1942 to the Essex Newsman of the same week. Much of the copy Roy Hay provided and packaged in his garden columns was reproduced or recycled in the 1945 Allotment Guide:

A Standard Fertiliser

“At last gardeners and allotment holders can buy a standard fertiliser … to sold at prices not exceeding … 1 Cwt 25 shilings .. and authorised manufacturers will be permitted to put it on the market under this name. Many fertiliser manufacturers have already done so.”

There are a range of adverts from local newspapers that back this claim up of regulated prices “not exceeding”, such as this one from the Western Morning News 22 May 1943:

Fison’s National Growmore fertiliser for all vegetable Crops. Orders dealt with in strict rotation.Directions in Every Bag. 7 lbs 2/9 (2 shillings, 9d) 14 lbs 4/6, 28 lbs 7/6, 56 lbs 13/6 and 1 Cwt 25 shillings Carriage paid home.  It’s FISON”S for FERTILISERS. From seedsmen or direct from Fison’s Ltd Gardens Dept, Harvest House, Ipswich. Pioneers of Granular fertilisers.

 

The Government's November 1939 leaflet on obtaining an allotment to Dig For Victory. By 1945 wartime soil and wartime gardeners would be showing the strain of tiredness. (Image source: World War Zoo Gardens Collection / Newquay Zoo)

The Government’s November 1939 leaflet on obtaining an allotment to Dig For Victory. By 1945 wartime soil and wartime gardeners would be showing the strain of tiredness. (Image source: World War Zoo Gardens Collection / Newquay Zoo)

The Government's November 1939 leaflet on obtaining an allotment to Dig For Victory. By 1945 wartime soil and wartime gardeners would be showing the strain of tiredness. (Image source: World War Zoo Gardens Collection / Newquay Zoo)

The Government’s November 1939 leaflet on obtaining an allotment to Dig For Victory. By 1945 wartime soil and wartime gardeners would be showing the strain of tiredness. (Image source: World War Zoo Gardens Collection / Newquay Zoo)

A similar advert in the Yorkshire Post of 30 march 1943 boasts the royal credentials or patronage of another authorised maunfacturer:

By appointment to HM King George VI

NATIONAL GROWMORE FERTILISER

The “Humber” Brand is manufactured by the makers of the famous “Eclipse” Compound Fish Manure. both of these aids to better gardening are packed in bags of 7 lbs, 28 lbs, 56 lbs, and 112 lbs, and supplies are available from your seedsman. Note – Special  terms are offered to Allotment Societies buying in bulk. Licensed manufacturers, the Humber Fishing and Fish manure Co. Ltd, Winchester Chambers, Stoneferry, Hull.

Whereas in the Lincolnshire Echo, 14 January 1944 Barkers and Lee Smith Ltd of Lincoln urge people to “Book your order now for spring delivery. Up to 3 cwt delivered tp premises at 25 shillings per cwt. No permit required.” Similarly a sense of urgency is found in this Cornishman advert of 1st July 1943:

BUMPER CROPS can still be obtained from your GARDEN if you use NATIONAL GROWMORE FERTILISER NOW. You can purchase up to 3 Cwts free of permit from stocks at T.F. Hosking and Co., Marazion and Helston.

National Growmore made it into the regular Ministry of Agriculture adverts on

Wartime Gardening No. 22: SOWING TIME IS HERE

“If you’ve broken down rough ground till it is fine and level, and raked in National Growmore Fertiliser. take a last look at your cropping scheme. If you,ve allowed less than one-third of your space for growing winter greens, send at once for Dig For Victory Leaflet No 1 which shows you how to correct this serious mistake. You must make sure of enough winter gardens for next season. write to the Ministry of Agriculture, Hotel Lindum, St Annes On Sea, Lancashire.”

This address and the Hotel Berri Court Lytham St Annes seem to be the regular correspondence address for obtaining leaflets from the Ministry of agriculture which had dispersed or evacuated like many wartime ministries and organisations such as the BBC to a  safer ‘rural’ address or requisitioned seaside hotels.

Roy Hay even suggests National Growmore Fertiliser for Christmas 1942 in his column headed  “Tool Gifts for Gardeners” in the Essex Newsman 19 December 1942:

“A good present would be a bag of the new National Growmore Fertiliser – it has the advantage that you can buy quantities varying from a 7 lb bag at 2s, 9d to 1 Cwt at 25 shillings.”

 

Interestingly, the work of promoting National Growmore switched to Tom Hay, Roy’s retired gardener father in early 1943:

“They are fortunate who have a compost heap and for those less fortunate, the new National Growmore fertiliser…”  writes Tom Hay in the 18/2/43 edition of the North Devon Journal and Herald

Tom  Hay Plans  Your Victory Garden

“Roy Hay the national broadcasting gardening expert, whose articles in the Journal-Herald from time to time have been much appreciated by readers, has gone overseas on important work. Contrary to the Biblical story the mantle of Elisha has fallen in Elijah; in other words Mr Hay’s father Mr Tom Hay CVO, VMH, ex-superintendent of Royal Parks contributes this article:

“At no season is the great advantage of a carefully planned cropping system more evident than at present…”

and so Tom Hay goes on to talk about Crop Rotation, a major feature of the Dig for Victory campaign.

Exploring Roy Hay’s biography on Wikipedia reveals why he handed over many of his press columns and radio broadcasts on the BBC “Radio Allotment” to his father. He had been recruited as a Horticultural Officer to the besieged George Cross winning island of Malta to oversee its food production. He resumed his broadcasting career postwar with Fred Streeter on “Home Grown”, a Sunday forerunner of BBC Radio Gardener’s Question Time.

Roy Hay went on to found the Britain in Bloom movement in 1963, inspired by one in De Gaulle’s France. So another influence on the Newquay Zoo wartime garden which has featured as part of the zoo and Newquay’s efforts  in these ‘Bloom’ competitions.

Other garden writers like George H. Copley (N.D. Hort) in “Your Wartime Food Garden”  in the Lancashire Daily 26 May 1943 mention National Growmore Fertiliser in relation to fruit trees, advice later recycled again in the 1945 Allotment Guide.

For more on Fertilisers today check the RHS website https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=451

Enjoy the coming gardening season,  as March begins a busy period of sowing in the garden.

Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

Postscript

There is an excellent section on wartime allotments in the new City Library of Birmingham, where I recently researched for information on the Birmingham Botanic Garden archives.
http://www.libraryofbirmingham.com/allotmentsinwarandpeace

Planting the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Memorial Tree

February 25, 2015

 

Bugg_Hiskins 001

Photo courtesy of: State Botanical Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

A few moving photographs have been sent to me from the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Archive.

Bugg_Hiskins 001

Photo courtesy of: State Botanical Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

These images have kindly been made available by Sally Stewart and the Library team at RBG Melbourne and remain copyright of the State Botanical Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne Memorial Tree seems to go under several synonym plant names in the articles, plaque and press cuttings – Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus) its now widely used name or Queensland Box Tristania conferta (synonym). This evergreen tree is native to Australia, though cultivated in the USA and elsewhere. Other common names include the one mentioned in the 11.11.46 newspaper article Brisbane Box – there is more about this Box tree on its Wikipedia entry. The memorial plaque reads:

Lophostemon confertus BRUSH BOX.

Planted in memory of members of the staff who died in Active Service.

Driver A.W. Bugg, AIF 1915.

Flight Sergeant E.J. Hiskins, RAAF 1944.

10th September 1946

Read more about these men at our previous blogpost Bugg’s Life and Death: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/buggs-life-and-death-royal-botanic-gardens-melbourne-staff-memorial-tree/

I was interested to hear from the Melbourne team about the Gallipoli Oaks project.

A Gallipoli Oak has been planted by Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC Retd at the Gardens  on 13 November 2014 to mark the Centenary of WW1 working with RBG Melbourne and National Trust of Australia. This was the first of 500 seedlings planted as part of the Gallipoli Oaks Project, descended from a Quercus Coccifera (Kermes Oak) sent home from Gallipoli by Australian soldier Captain William Lempriere Winter-Cooke.  It is hoped that over the centenary years 2014-18 that each primary school in Victoria will receive a Gallipoli oak seedling as a living memorial.

There are photographs, teacher resources and more information at  the project website: http://gallipolioaks.org/about/

Photo courtesy of: State Botanical Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Photo courtesy of: State Botanical Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Mr. Middleton’s February and March Gardening Advice 1943

February 6, 2015

middleton calender cover

February and March gardening advice from Mr Middleton from the “Sow and Reap” 1943 calendar in our World War Zoo Gardens collection at Newquay Zoo. Happy Gardening!

middleton january week 3

All calendar words Mr Middleton’s own. Source Credit: Sow and Reap 1943 Calendar by Mr Middleton, from the World War Zoo Gardens collection, Newquay Zoo.

 

feb2

All calendar words Mr Middleton’s own. Source Credit: Sow and Reap 1943 Calendar by Mr Middleton, from the World War Zoo Gardens collection, Newquay Zoo.

Some bird-friendly advice about pest control.

Time to order your seeds now! Soon time to get sowing.

feb3

All calendar words Mr Middleton’s own. Source Credit: Sow and Reap 1943 Calendar by Mr Middleton, from the World War Zoo Gardens collection, Newquay Zoo.

Spinach, lettuce, broccoli, carrots – sow!

march1

All calendar words Mr Middleton’s own. Source Credit: Sow and Reap 1943 Calendar by Mr Middleton, from the World War Zoo Gardens collection, Newquay Zoo.

 

march2

All calendar words Mr Middleton’s own. Source Credit: Sow and Reap 1943 Calendar by Mr Middleton, from the World War Zoo Gardens collection, Newquay Zoo.

We’ll finish March with Mr Middleton’s late March advice, as he was a man who knew his onions …
You can read more about Mr. Middleton and his January 1943 advice in our previous post.
All calendar words Mr Middleton’s own. Source Credit: Sow and Reap 1943 Calendar by Mr Middleton, from the World War Zoo Gardens collection, Newquay Zoo.

Bugg’s Life and Death: Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne staff memorial tree

February 2, 2015

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne staff memorial tree  (Photo by Graham Saunders via Monuments Australia website)

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne staff memorial tree (Photo by Graham Saunders via Monuments Australia website)

On the 2 February 1915 Driver Arthur William Bugg of the Australian Army Service Corps  set sail from his native Melbourne, Australia on HMAT Chilka heading for the Middle East and Gallipoli campaign. Three months earlier he had been working as a gardener at Melbourne Botanic Gardens.  He was never to see Melbourne again. Nine months later from the day of his embarkation,   Arthur died of illness (meningitis) in a Cairo hospital on the 2nd November 1915

Revisiting the article I wrote for BGEN called Using the garden ghosts of your wartime or historic past   there is a section on   staff memorial trees at Kew Gardens (the recently 2014 storm-felled  ‘Verdun Oak’), the Ginkgo trees at Kilmacurragh and at Melbourne. The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne page that  I originally found  is now a ‘vanished link’ on the internet (originally from 1996, http://www.msk.id.au/ memorials2/pages/30560).

With the interest in WW1 anniversary and Gallipoli centenary in 2015, this information should be back in the public domain.

The original photograph and now vanished 1996 web page for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne.

The original photograph and now vanished 1996 web page for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne.

There is now a brief new link page at Monuments Australia http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/conflict/multiple/display/32471-royal-botanic-gardens-staff-memorial-tree In case it vanishes again, here are the details: “The memorial tree is a Brush Box (Lophostemum confertus) and commemorates two employees of the Royal Botanic Gardens who died on active service – Arthur William Bugg (1895 – 1915) who died during World War 1 and E.J. Hiskins who died during World War 2.”

“A commemorative plaque is mounted on the trunk of the tree. The tree was planted by Ernest Henry Bugg (1881-1971) on 10 September 1946. Ernest Henry Bugg was the elder brother of Arthur William Bugg and also served in the AIF (Australian Imperial Force) during World War 1.”

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne staff memorial tree plaque (Photo by Graham Saunders via Monuments Australia website)

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne staff memorial tree plaque (Photo by Graham Saunders via Monuments Australia website)

Lophostemon confertus BRUSH BOX. Planted in memory of members of the staff who died in Active Service.

Driver A.W. Bugg, AIF 1915.

Flight Sergeant E.J. Hiskins, RAAF 1944.

10th September 1946

 

Melbourne Botanic Garden’s WW1 casualty
Arthur William Bugg was born in the Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda on 28 January 1895 and was the son of Henry isaac Bugg and Drusilla Martha Sophie Bugg (nee Carroll). He went to St Kilda State School in Melbourne.

Arthur served as a Driver (service no 5207) in 12th Company, Australian Army Service Corps as part of the 13th Light Horse Brigade Train 3.  The 3rd Light Horse Brigade  Train were primarily recruited around the Melbourne area and trained at Broadmeadows.

Arthur William Bugg's picture.Source: from The WW1 Pictorial Roll of Honour, www.vic.ww1anzac.com/bu.html

Arthur William Bugg’s picture.Source: from The WW1 Pictorial Roll of Honour, http://www.vic.ww1anzac.com/bu.html

A photograph of him exists amnogst thousands of Australian casulaties at http://vic.ww1anzac.com/bu.html

Bugg enlisted on 29 December 1914, aged 19. He was speedily embarked as he had already been enlisted before the war as a Territorial in the 28th Australian Army Service Corps.

After Arthur embarked on HMAT A51 Chilka on 2nd February 1915, he disembarked in Egypt and underwent further training at Mena Camp. It seems likely that he and his Company  saw service in Gallipoli.The HMAT A51 Chilka, owned by the British India Steam Navigation Co Ltd, London, was leased by the Commonwealth on war service until 4 August 1915.

Arthur  died at Heliopolis, Egypt on 2nd November 1915 aged 20 as a result of meningitis.

He is buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt and is also remembered on the headstone of his maternal grandparents, William and Ellen Currell, in St. Kilda Cemetery, Melbourne. He is also remembered on panel Number 181 of the Australian National War Memorial.

Like 62,000 other lost Australians from WW1, Arthur Bugg’s name will be individually projected for 30 seconds onto the exterior wall of the  of the Australian War Memorial thirty times throughout 2015 to 2018 – see their website for details – beginning on Thursday 19 February 2015, 12.24 a.m.

The CWGC website lists him as “Son of Henry Bugg, of 13, Smith St., St. Kilda, Victoria, Australia.” Although there appears to be no cross by request, there is the simple inscription “Peace” at the base of his headstone at the request of his father listed in CWGC Headstone schedules.

Headstone inscription chosen by his father for A.W. Bugg (Source: CWGC )

Headstone inscription chosen by his father for A.W. Bugg (Source: CWGC )

There is an interesting Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour Circular of biographical details supplied by his parents.He was his father proudly recalls him as a boy as “One of the first Baden Powell Scouts formed in St. Kilda [Melbourne]”

A.W. Bugg's personal details supplied to the Australian war Memorial by his father (Source: AWM 131)

A.W. Bugg’s personal details supplied to the Australian war Memorial by his father (Source: AWM 131)

More can be read about Bugg’s life on the AIF website, which mentions us occupation as a “gardener” at the Melbourne Botanic Gardens: www.aif.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=38240. There is more at RSL Virtual War Memorial www.rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au/explore/people/339423

Cairo War Memorial Cemetery (image CWGC website)

Cairo War Memorial Cemetery (image CWGC website)

Bugg’s headstone can be seen on the War Grave Photographic Project website.

Apparently this Staff Memorial Tree was mentioned in an article published in the Australian Herald-Sun newspaper on 23rd March 1992 in conjunction with the Botanic Gardens Revitalisation Appeal. The article, entitled “Family Tree for Buggs” included a photograph of Ernest Bugg planting the tree in 1946 and a photograph of some of his descendents who attended a family reunion at the memorial tree in 1992. Hopefully I or somebody can track these 1992 photos down via the Herald-Sun newspaper website.

Bugg_Hiskins 001

Hiskin’s father and Bugg’s brother are pictured with relatives. Copyright: State Botanical Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

 

Photographs of the planting and of the families can be seen in cuttings and photographs from scrapbooks in the State Botanical Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne/Archive:   https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/54606/

There is also information about the Gallipoli Oaks project.

Melbourne Botanic Garden’s WW2 Casualty 

The original memorial tree website said that “information regarding E.J. Hiskins would be welcomed“.

His CWGC records list him as Flight Sergeant Ernest Joseph Hiskins, Royal Australian Air Force, 410058, who died in action in an air crash on the 15th April 1944. He is remembered on Panel 9 of the Northern Territory Memorial, alongside his pilot H.S. Ashbolt. He is listed as the son of Ernest Barton Hiskins and Alice Mary Hiskins, of Brunswick, Victoria, Australia.

Northern Territory Memorial, Australia  (Image CWGC website)

Northern Territory Memorial, Australia (Image CWGC website)

The Northern Territory Memorial stands in Adelaide River War Cemetery and is one of several memorials erected to commemorate 289 men of the Australian Army, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Australian Merchant Navy who have no known grave and lost their lives in operations in the Timor and Northern Australian regions and in waters adjacent to Australia north of Latitude 20 South. Again I will look for some additional information on his service and the circumstances of his death.

Hiskens is also remembered on Panel 102 of the Australian National War Memorial in Canberra.

So far I have found newspaper listings of his being “previously posted missing now  presumed dead” in the latest RAAF casaulty list published in Australian newspapers on 29 September 1944, www.nla.gov.au/nla.news-article.11363210

A year earlier in the Argus, Melbourne Victoria of 27 November 1943, under Family Notices is the happier news of his marriage or engagement to Peggy, only child of Mr and Mrs M.J. Stanton, 10 Ryan Street, Coburg to Flight Sergeant E.J. Hiskins, RAAF, second son of Pte. And Mrs Hiskins  (E.B) 53 Lydia Street, Brunswick.  www.nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11800090.

On most of his records his mother Alice is is next of kin and his marriage is not mentioned but this marriage or engagement coincided with a period of special leave in his records.

The circumstances of his death  are sketched out in the research on his crashed plane a Beaufighter of 31 Squadron on the ADF Serials website www.adf-serials.com.au/2a19.htm

His Beaufighter plane a Mk. X Beaufighter had the RAAF serial  number A19-178, and the RAF serial number LZ201. There are several codes next to its history 30/11/44 2AD, 19/01/44 5AD, 11/03/44 3 AD then 16/03/44 31 Squadron.

There is much about 31 Squadron on the Australian War memorial website, including photographs. It mentions that No. 31 Squadron, based at Coomalie Creek (near Darwin, Australia), flew ground attack sorties against the Japanese in Timor and the Netherlands East Indies, as well as anti-shipping patrols and convoy protection missions.

On 15 April 1944, there is an entry:

“Damaged by Japanese Anti Aircraft Fire which knocked out starboard engine. After flying for 20 minutes on port engine, aircraft lost height and crashed into the Timor Sea.”

The crew Pilot Flight Sergeant H.S.Ashbolt, and Navigator Flight Sergeant E.J. Hiskins were in action as part of formation of 31 Squadron Beaufighters were attacking Japanese positions at Soe village in Timor. According to his ADF Gallery / RAAF file, his Beaufighter developed a starboard engine oil leak from Japanese anti aircraft fire:

“the aircraft was seen to lose speed and height and strike the water 60 nautical miles off the South Coast of Timor. The only wreckage was part of a fin, wing, dinghy and three fuel tanks. There was no sign of the crew.”

Full RAAF records and photos  for his pilot Harry Ashbolt  and Ernest Hiskins can be found on http://www.adf-gallery.co.au

Ernest’s ‘Circular’ record lists him as a “Botanist” whilst his air force records list him as a graduate of a Crown Horticulture Scholarship at Burnley Horticulture School (still open today) in 1937-39 and working at Lands Department (State) Treasury Gardens Melbourne.

Sadly Ernest’s brother Wireless Officer K.J. Hiskens was also killed flying in Wellington bombers with 70 Squadron RAF on 26 June 1944. He  is buried in Budapest Cemetery.

AWM roll of honour for E J Hiskens RAAF (Source: AWM)

AWM roll of honour for E J Hiskens RAAF (Source: AWM)

Other Memorial Trees

Where the Kew Verdun Oak stood for almost a century ... RIP 2014

Where the Kew Verdun Oak stood for almost a century … RIP 2014

Kew’s Verdun Oak was damaged by a storm in 1914 on the eve of the WW1 Centenary.

Kilmacurragh’s memorial trees are Ginkgo biloba grouped still 100 years on  in their original nursery beds, a story told on the Kilmacurragh Gardens website. 

The Kilmacurragh Ginkgo biloba trees still in their nursery beds planted close, 100 years on a memorial to their vanished staff of 1914. Picture: Kilmacurragh website

The Kilmacurragh Ginkgo biloba trees still in their nursery beds planted close, 100 years on a memorial to their vanished staff of 1914. Picture: Kilmacurragh website

Remembering zookeeper and gardener Far East POWs 70 years on 2015

January 23, 2015

January 24th 2015 is the 50th anniversary of the death in 1965 of Winston Churchill, wartime prime minister and coiner of many memorable phrases including, most notably for our wartime gardens project, “War is the normal occupation of man. War – and gardening” (speaking to Siegfried Sassoon in 1918).

January 25th 2015 and 7th February 2015 are the less well-marked 70th anniversaries of several zoo and botanic garden casualties who died as FEPOWs (Far East Prisoners of War) or in the vicious fighting of what was called the ‘forgotten war’ in the jungles and oceans of the Far East. For many, the Burma Star was hard won.

G H Spare from the Kew Guild Journal obituary c. 1945/6

G H Spare from the Kew Guild Journal obituary c. 1945/6

Remembering Albert Henry Wells, London Zoo keeper killed in action, Burma, 25 January 1945

Remembering Gordon Henry Spare, Old Kewite / former Kew Gardens staff who died as a Far East POW (FEPOW), Borneo, 7 February 1945

Amongst the family medals I saw from childhood and that I now look after is a Burma Star belonging to my maternal grandfather, who died before I was born. A naval holder of the Burma Star for his service on aircraft carriers in the Far East, he survived several Kamikaze attacks. We still have some of the dramatic photographs in our family album.

My grandfather Len Ansell's Burma Star for naval service, with two portraits and his photos of life on board deck of an RN aircraft carrier from kamikaze attacks and seaplane prangs to deck hockey c. 1944/45 Source Image: Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens Collection.

My grandfather Len’s  Burma Star for naval service, with two portraits and his photos of life on board deck of an RN aircraft carrier from kamikaze attacks and seaplane prangs to deck hockey c. 1944/45 Source Image: Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens Collection.

So one day about fifteen years ago, I knew I would meet some amazing people with tales to tell when I was told that the Burma Star Association were visiting Newquay Zoo (home of the World War Zoo Gardens project) during a holiday gathering. I met them all by accident whilst I was clambering around our indoor rainforest in the Tropical House at Newquay Zoo, doing a feeding talk and rainforest chat.

Part of our Tropical House at Newquay Zoo.

Part of our Tropical House at Newquay Zoo.

As they entered the heat and humidity of our Tropical House, I heard a different reaction to the usual “what’s that smell?” White haired old men remarked amongst themselves and to their wives that the smell “took them back a bit”. They were all transported back in memory to the tropics by that wet damp jungle smell.

As I scattered mealworms to attract the birds, pointed out various species of plants or animals then introduced some snakes and insects, I was surprised to be asked by one of them “if I knew what all the animals tasted like?”

The Burma Star embroidered: Embroidered hassock cushions, Zennor Parish Church Cornwall. Image: Mark Norris /WWZG

The Burma Star embroidered: Embroidered hassock cushions, Zennor Parish Church Cornwall. Image: Mark Norris /WWZG

I should have realised why he asked  when I saw the Burma Star proudly embroidered on some of their blazers and the regimental ties. These tough old men soon told me how they survived as soldiers or prisoners in the jungle, eating whatever they could catch or collect. For some of the prisoners amongst them, it literally saved their lives.

I quickly gave up talking and allowed our zoo visitors to listen to their jungle survival stories. From what I remember, to these hungry men, everything from snakes to insect grubs tasted “like chicken!” Having eaten a few unappetising invertebrates in the past, and those mostly dipped in chocolate, it only proves that hunger is the best sauce to unusual food!

Burma Star Association window, Zennor Parish Church, Cornwall. Image: Mark Norris / WWZG

Burma Star Association window, Zennor Parish Church, Cornwall. Image: Mark Norris / WWZG

We do many rainforest talks for schools and visitors in our evocative and atmospheric Tropical House at Newquay Zoo, home to many interesting jungle animals including rare birds like the critically endangered Blue Crowned Laughing Thrush.

I  often think of those Burma Star veterans (who would now all be in their nineties, if still alive) and tell their “bushtucker” story whilst working or talking to people in the Tropical House.

Part of our Tropical House at Newquay Zoo.

Part of our Tropical House at Newquay Zoo.

 

I thought of them recently when passing the Portscatho Burma Star memorial overlooking the harbour in Portscatho in Cornwall. I was puzzled why of all places it was there, but recently found more on the BBC archive about the unveiling of this here in 1998.  This memorial is especially dedicated for the missing who have no known grave, people like G.H. Spare of Kew or Henry Peris Davies of ZSL London Zoo. It is “dedicated to the memory of 26,380 men who were killed in Burma 1941-45 and who have no known grave, thus being denied the customary rights accorded to their comrades in death.

I wonder if the dedication of this memorial was the reason for the Burma Star Association gathering and social visit to Newquay Zoo, where I memorably met Burma Star veterans? This would have been around 1998.

I especially think of these men whenever I look at the Burma Star window in the beautifully rugged coastal church at Zennor in Cornwall.

I have inscribed the name of my Grandfather in the Burma Star memorial book at Zennor, along with the names of some of the casualties amongst London Zoo and Kew Gardens staff who died on active service in the Far East.

Burma Star memorial book, Zennor Parish Church, Cornwall. Image: Mark Norris / WWZG

Burma Star memorial book and lectern, Zennor Parish Church, Cornwall. Image: Mark Norris / WWZG

Close up of the Burma Star memorial inscription, Portscatho, Cornwall  Image: Mark Norris

Close up of the Burma Star memorial inscription,
Portscatho, Cornwall
Image: Mark Norris

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Dedication on the Burma Star Memorial Portscatho Cornwall, opened by Field Marshall Slim.  Image: Mark Norris.

Dedication on the Burma Star Memorial Portscatho Cornwall, unveiled by Viscount Slim, 1998  . Image: Mark Norris.

I  also thought of these men when displaying books and a silk jungle escape map in a display about another old man in the jungles of Far East Asia, plant hunter Frank Kingdon-Ward.

Frank Kingdon Ward in WW2 from a trail board from a past Newquay Zoo plant hunters trail. Image: Mark Norris / WWZG

Frank Kingdon Ward in WW2 from a trail board from a past Newquay Zoo plant hunters trail. Image: Mark Norris / WWZG

If any prisoner had escaped or aircrew crashed down in these jungles, silk escape maps like these would have been a life saver. After the war, explorers like Frank Kingdon-Ward helped the US government find their missing aeroplanes (and crew) in these dense jungles and mountains. In this connection, see our postscript about missing aircrew on the Melbourne Botanic Gardens staff memorial tree: Flight Sergeant E.J. Hiskins, RAAF 1944.

The lower part of Borneo on a secret WW2 silk escape map in the World War Zoo Gardens collection. Labuan Island POW camp where G.H. Spare died is off the map,  further up the coast on the left-hand side (now in modern Malaysia).

The lower part of Borneo on a secret WW2 silk escape map in the World War Zoo Gardens collection. Labuan Island POW camp, Sabah, Borneo  where G.H. Spare died is off the map, further up the coast on the left-hand side (now off the coast of modern Malaysia).

From the Kew Gardens staff war memorial:

G.H. Spare, 7 February 1945
Gordon Henry Spare, Private 6070 SSVF Straits Settlements Volunteer Force / 3rd Battalion (Penang and Province Wellesley Volunteer Corps), Singapore Volunteers, died at Labuan, Borneo as a Japanese POW.
According to CWGC records Spare is remembered on column 396 of the Singapore or Kranji Memorial, as he has no known grave. He was the son of Harry and Grace Spare, Wallington, Surrey, and husband of Rose Ellen Spare, Worthing, Sussex. His wife, young son and daughter were evacuated clear of danger before the Japanese invasion.

Singapore Memorial (image copyright CWGC website www.cwgc.org)

G.H. Spare of Kew and Henry Peris Davies of ZSL London Zoo are remembered on the Singapore Memorial (image copyright CWGC website http://www.cwgc.org)

John Charles Nauen, 10 September 1943
J.C.Nauen was Assistant Curator, Botanic Gardens Singapore from 1935. Nauen served with G.H. Spare as a Serjeant 5387, volunteer in the 3rd Battalion, (Penang and Province Wellesley Volunteer Corps) SSVF Straits Settlement Volunteer Force.

His botanic skills were of help gardening and collecting plants from the local area to help keep fellow prisoners alive. Nauen died as a Japanese POW prisoner of war aged 40 working on the Burma-Siam railway in September / October 1943 of blood poisoning. He is buried in Thanbyuzayat CWGC Cemetery in Burma, alongside 1000s of fellow POW victims from the Burma-Siam railway. He was the son of John Jacob and Clara Nauen of Coventry.

Some of Nauen’s plant collecting herbarium specimens survive at Kew, whilst he has an interesting obituary in the Kew Guild Journal 1946 (alongside G.H. Spare) and The Garden’s Bulletin Singapore September 1947 (XI, part 4, p.266).

Percy Adams, ZSL Whipsnade keeper who died as a Japanese POW is buried here at THANBYUZAYAT WAR CEMETERY, Image: www.cwgc.org

John Charles Nauen of Kew and Percy Murray Adams, ZSL Whipsnade keeper who  both died as Japanese POWs are buried here at THANBYUZAYAT WAR CEMETERY. Image: http://www.cwgc.org

Many Botanic gardens and Herbariums were looted by invading forces, Singapore Botanic Gardens only surviving through the efforts of botanist Edred Corner.

More about Kew Gardens staff in WW2 can be found on this blog post. https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-world-war-two/

An interesting Kew Gardens archives blog post on the vital nutritionist role of tropical botanists in keeping fellow POWs alive in internment camps has been recently written by James Wearn and Claire Frankland.

Ness Botanic Gardens FEPOW Bamboo Garden launch with Elizabeth and Zoe,  pupils from Pensby High School and Merle Hesp, widow of a FEPOW Harry Hesp, 2011.  Image source: Captive Memories website.

Ness Botanic Gardens FEPOW Bamboo Garden launch with Elizabeth and Zoe, pupils from Pensby High School and Merle Hesp, widow of a FEPOW Harry Hesp, 2011.
Image source: Captive Memories website.

A Far East Prisoner of War memorial garden was created in 2011 at Ness Botanic Gardens in Liverpool, linked to http://captive memories.org.uk There is more about this garden at the Waymarking website FEPOW garden entry

Names of the five fallen ZSL staff from the Second World War, ZSL war memorial, London Zoo, 2010

Wells, Adams, Davies: three of the five fallen ZSL staff from the Second World War, ZSL war memorial, London Zoo, 2010 (plaque since replaced with a more legible one, 2014)

London Zoo staff names killed in the Far East 

1. Henry Peris Davies (Lieutenant RA) ZSL Clerk: Killed in action Far East 21.12.1941

Lieutenant Davies 164971, Royal Artillery, 5th Field Regt, died aged 27. His name is listed on the Singapore memorial, like that of Gordon Henry Spare of Kew

According to his ZSL staff record card, Peris was born on 29th March 1913, he joined London Zoo as an accounts clerk on 2 September 1935. Four years later, he was called up as a Territorial on the 1st or 2nd September 1939.

Taukkyan Cemetery, Burma.  Image Source: CWGC

Taukkyan Cemetery, Burma.
Image Source: CWGC

2. Albert Henry Wells (Gunner RA) ZSL Keeper: Killed in action, Burma 25.01.1945

Gunner Wells 1755068, Royal Artillery, 70 H.A.A Regiment is buried in an individual grave in Taukkyan Cemtery, Burma, a concentration of thousands of battlefield graves from the Burma campaign. He was aged 36, the son of Henry and Mary Wells and husband of Doris Hilda Wells, Hendon, Middlesex.

According to his ZSL staff card, Albert Henry Wells was born on the 15 or 25 April, 1908. He was first employed at London Zoo in January 1924 as a Helper, the most junior keeper rank. He had worked his way up to 3rd Class Keeper  by 1937.

On January 11 1941 he was called up for military service and his staff card reports him as killed in action in Burma January 25 1945.

The rest of his staff card involves details of the pension being paid by ZSL London Zoo to his wife Mrs. Wells including additional amounts for each of his three children until they reached 16 in the 1950s.

 

3. Percy Murray Adams (Gunner RA) ZSL Whipsnade Keeper: Died in Japan POW 28.07.1943 aged 26. Gunner 922398, Royal Artillery, 148 (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regt.

According to his ZSL staff card, he was born on 15 July 1917 and joined ZSL Whipsnade on 24 May 1932. Like Henry Peris Davies at London Zoo, he was called up as a Territorial on September 3rd 1939. Adams was unmarried. In March 1942, his staff record card reports him as “Reported as Missing at Singapore. In 1945 reported died of dysentery in Japanese POW camp somewhere in 1943.”

Only  a few rows away from  Kew’s J.C.Nauen, Adams is also buried in Thanbyuzayat CWGC Cemetery in Burma.

Percy Murray Adams ZSL Whipsnade Keeper

Percy Murray Adams, ZSL Whipsnade Keeper, Animal and Zoo Magazine c. 1937/8

These three men are all remembered on the ZSL London Zoo staff war memorial WW2 plaque. I also inscribed their names  in the Burma Star Association memorial book in Zennor Church on my last visit.

I will be updating the entries on ZSL London Zoo WW2 staff casualties later in 2015.

The grim story of what happened to Japanese zoo staff, vets and animals is well told in Mayumi Itoh’s recent Japanese Wartime Zoo Policy.

Gas masks for Japanese zoo elephants on the cover of Mayumi Itoh Japanese zoo wartime book

Gas masks for Japanese zoo elephants on the cover of Mayumi Itoh Japanese zoo wartime book

Further reading about POW gardening can be found in Kenneth Helphand’s Defiant Gardening book and extension website

You can read more about the Burma Star and its assocaition on this website: http://www.burmastar.org.uk/epitaph.htm 

It’s probably appropriate to end with the Kohima prayer or Burma Star epitaph, which I didn’t realise came from WW1 but was used on the Kohima Memorial to the dead of the Burma Campaign in WW2. The words are attributed to John Maxwell Edmonds (1875 -1958), an English Classicist who had put them together among a collection of 12 epitaphs for World War One in 1916:

“When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today”

Rest in peace, Gunner Wells and  Gunner Adams and the many others who never returned.

 

Melbourne Botanic Gardens Australia staff memorial tree.

Melbourne Botanic Gardens Australia staff memorial tree.

Postscript
Later this year I will blogpost about the staff memorial tree at Melbourne Botanic Gardens which remembers a Gallipoli / Middle East campaign casualty and an airman from the Far East Campaign in WW2.

Planted in memory of members of the staff who died in Active Service.

Driver A.W. Bugg, AIF 1915.

Flight Sergeant E.J. Hiskins, RAAF 1944.

10th September 1946

The original memorial tree website said that “information regarding E.J. Hiskins would be welcomed“. His CWGC records list him as Flight Sergeant Ernest Joseph Hiskins, Royal Australian Air Force, 410058, who died on the 15 April 1944.

He is remembered on Panel 9 of the Northern Territory Memorial. He is listed as the son of Ernest Barton Hiskins and Alice Mary Hiskins, of Brunswick, Victoria, Australia.

Northern Territory Memorial, Australia  (Image CWGC website)

Northern Territory Memorial, Australia (Image CWGC website)

The Northern Territory Memorial stands in Adelaide River War Cemetery and is one of several memorials erected to commemorate 289 men of the Australian Army, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Australian Merchant Navy who have no known grave and lost their lives in operations in the Timor and Northern Australian regions and in waters adjacent to Australia north of Latitude 20 South.

More to follow!

Blog post by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

 

 

 

Mr. Middleton’s January Gardening Advice 1943

January 16, 2015

Mr Middleton’s gardening calender “Sow and Reap” 1943 (images from my collection).

middleton calender cover
Middleton Jan week 1

middleton jan week 2
The pencil marks on the dates I think refer  to the original owner’s chicken breeding or egg production, judging by other strange pencil notes inside this calender.
middleton january week 3

This calender is put together from a mix of Mr. Middleton’s gardening advice from other sources and publications, recycled by an obviously busy Mr. Middleton. We will post the relevant section month by month throughout 2015, another useful guide for our wartime allotment project.

Wartime rationing 75 years on and Mr Middleton’s wartime gardening advice

2015 marks the 75th anniversary of rationing being introduced on 8th January 1940 and the 70th anniversary of Mr Middleton’s death on 19th September 1945.

How time flies! We marked this rationing date on the 70th anniversary in 2010, several years into the World War Zoo Gardens project, alongside the Imperial War Museum – see the legacy site for http://food.iwm.org.uk  2010 Ministry of Food Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, marking  70 years since rationing was introduced.

A Titchmarsh before his time ... C.H. Middleton, the radio gardener. This original wartime paperback has recently been reissued.

A Titchmarsh before his time … C.H. Middleton, the radio gardener. This original wartime paperback has recently been reissued.

2015 is also sadly the 70th anniversary of the death of Cecil Henry Middleton (b. 22 February 1886) on 18 September 1945.

On the Ministry of Food IWM site, there is also some great December 1945 gardening advice pages from this wartime celebrity gardener Mr. Middleton. The whole 1945 leaflet set has been reprinted recently as a book edited by Twigs Way (Sabrestorm Press, 2009). We will feature more about Mr. Middleton throughout 2015. As well as Pathe Newsreel footage of Mr. Middleton, there is an interesting Mr Middleton blog.

It’s a quiet time in the World War Zoo Garden allotment at Newquay Zoo, a time to plan rather than to plant and sow. “Hasten slowly”,  my favourite gardening advice from Mr. Middleton.
Happy gardening! Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.


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