Remembering John Mackenzie Campbell Kew Gardens died 14 July 1915

July 14, 2015

 

Header panel, Kew Gardens War memorial. Image: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project

Header panel, Kew Gardens War memorial.
Image: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project

John Mackenzie Campbell is remembered on the Kew Gardens staff war memorial. Unusually he died of heatstroke whilst in training in Canada and is buried in Toronto.

RBG Kew's war memorial, Temple of Arethusa, Kew  (Image copyright :  Kew website)

RBG Kew’s war memorial, Temple of Arethusa, Kew
(Image copyright : Kew website)

After training at Kew, Scottish-born Campbell had been working in Canada since 1908 and volunteered for the Army, serving as  Private John Mackenzie Campbell, 204th Canadian Beavers Infantry Battalion

Toronto Cemetery where J M Campbell is buried. Image: CWGC website

Toronto St. John’s Cemetery where J M Campbell is buried. Image: CWGC website

 

He died and was buried in Toronto (St. John’s Norway) CemeteryToronto, Canada in 1915. His 1917 Kew Guild Journal obituary lists him as dying aged 36 of sunstroke whilst training in Canada, where he worked for the Toronto Parks Department.

Toronto Cemetery where J M Campbell is buried. Image: CWGC website

Toronto Cemetery where J M Campbell is buried. Image: CWGC website

He was born into a family of ten children of Mr. Roderick Campbell of Ardross, Lanarkshire and the late Isabella Campbell. His private headstone exists amongst other IWGC / CWGC headstones, a photograph exists on the TWGPP website. 

His Kew Guild Journal obituary can be read here: http://www.kewguild.org.uk/media/pdfs/v3s24p333-38.pdf

Old Kewites  returned from working in many parts of the Empire to serve in the armed forces in both world wars. You can read more about Campbell and the other Kew Gardens staff casualties at our previous Kew WW1 blogpost “Such is the Price of Empire.” https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

Remembered.

j mac campbell Kew

 

Remembering Ernest George Gentry Natural History Museum died Ypres 13 July 1915

July 13, 2015

Ernest George Gentry of the British Museum (Natural  History) was killed in Ypres, Flanders, Belgium on 13 July 1915. As Ernest Gentry has no known grave, he is remembered on Panel 34 of  the Ypres (Menin Gate) memorial to the missing.

cwgc menin

He died serving as a Lance Corporal, no. 6896 in the 2nd Battalion East Surrey Regiment on 13 July 1915.

Working for what is now the Natural History Museum, his name is included on the staff war memorial near the entrance.

According to his WW1 medal record cards (including a 1915 Star), after enlisting in Shepherds Bush, Middlesex and undergoing training, he entered the France ‘Theatre of War’ on 25 May 2015. He appears to have been amongst reinforcements to this regular army battalion which arrived in France in January 1915.

The www.queensroyalsurreys.org.uk website has digitised the original typed war diaries which record day by day what happened to the 2nd East Surreys. The website records of the 2nd East Surreys  that “of the 1000 who went up the line [in 1915] only 200 survived in just 5 days of action.”

I can’t find a surviving WW1  service record for Ernest Gentry. Other Ranks are not mentioned by name in the unit’s war diary. Gentry may have been amongst the draft of 25 men who arrived on 27th or the 119 who arrived on 28th May 1915.

The 2nd Battalion East Surreys (The Glasgow Grays) were being reinforced for losses sustained in an earlier gas attack and fighting during the Battles of St Julien and Frezenberg as part of the 2nd Battle of Ypres, 22 April to 25 May 1915.

On the 13th July the Battalion was in trenches again “casualties to noon killed two, wounded 2” including 2 /Lt. F. L.Carter , a “Quiet day”.

One of those casualties was likely to have been Gentry, who has no known grave.  The other 2nd East Surrey casualty is probably Private H. F. Aldridge killed on 12 July 1915 and reburied at Voormzeele Enclosure No. 3 Cemetery, Ypres.

The Natural History Museum archives website lists Gentry’s museum career as being appointed ‘boy attendant’ in Department of Zoology around 8 May 1899 (corroborated by an entry in the Edinburgh Gazette 9/5/99 p. 463 Civil Service Commission), becoming an attendant 26 August 1903 and transferring to the Department of Botany in 1910.

Ernest was born in 6 May 1884 to Richard Gentry, a Police Sergeant (1891) living in Fulham and later (1907) Travelling Agent. Ernest had 6 surviving sisters and brothers who thankfully survived the war.

In the 1911 census Ernest is listed as a Civil Servant (Attendant) at 32 Delvino Road, Fulham alongside his growing family.  On 28 March 1907  he married Hilda Mary French (1887-1952)  of 25 Onslow Gardens, Kensington, daughter of Joshua French, an Engineer.  By the time he died, they had several young children: Dorothy Hilda Gentry (1908-1987), Ernest Charles Gentry (1909-1996) and George Richard Gentry (1912-1982)

Ernest George Gentry, remembered. 

 

Gilbert Ramsay art gallery curator killed Gallipoli 12 July 1915

July 12, 2015

I have been reading a very interesting book by Gaynor Kavanagh, Museums and the First World War published by Leicester University Press, the product no doubt of Leicester’s excellent Museum Studies Programme.

gaynor kavanagh

Gaynor Kavanagh’s book is an interesting parallel to what I have been researching about how institutions such as zoos and botanic gardens survived the challenges of both world wars. Staffing challenges and casualties, evacuation of collections, closure or requisition of buildings, air raid precautions and damage  – there are many similarities between the wartime stories of museums and zoos, or between galleries and botanic gardens and other ‘places of entertainment’.

Describing them all as places of entertainment seems a little frivolous. However as the zoologists at London Zoo or botanists at Kew, camoufleur artists from galleries and the art world or geologists and scientists from museum collections found, they often had extremely useful skills in wartime ranging from geology to sanitation, cryptic camouflage to food production, pest control to code-breaking and intelligence work.

Early on in my research I read the story of how Britain’s Art Treasures were hidden away underground, whilst more recently I have been reading Gerri Chanel’s remarkable story Saving Mona Lisa about how the treasures of the French museums and galleries (including the Mona Lisa) were saved and hidden in occupied France during WW2. A staff war memorial for the Musee Nationaux casualties exists in Galerie Denon, Louvre for both WW 1 and WW2

Sadly one recurrent theme across many sites, especially in the First World War, was the casualty lists.

One of the Glasgow Museum and Art Gallery staff, its director Gilbert Ramsay, was another 1915 casualty at Gallipoli. The previous director James Paton, who had retired in 1914 aged 71, stepped back into the post until 1919.

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/687342/RAMSAY,%20GILBERT%20ANDERSON

Lance Corporal Gilbert Anderson Ramsay, No. 2253 died in Gallipoli on 12 July 1915 aged 35, serving with the 6th Battalion (City of Glasgow) Highland Light Infantry (Territorials) in Gallipoli.

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

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

He has no known grave and  is remebered on Panel 174 of the Helles Memorial to the missing of the Gallipoli campaign. The Additional Information listed by CWGC describes him as the “son of Mr. G. A. Ramsay, of Glenlee, Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire. A Director of Glasgow Art Galleries.”

Ramsay also features on the Glasgow Art Club war memorial, pictured here: http://warmemscot.s4.bizhat.com/warmemscot-ntopic3063.html

and on the Glasgow School of Art War Memorial where he was a student.

De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour gives further biographical details: Born on 7 June 1880 in Greenock, educated at Greenock Academy and Glasgow School of Art before becoming an architect. He was director of the Whitechapel  Art Gallery from 1911-14, before being appointed to be Superintendent (Director) of Glasgow Corporation Art Galleries in May 1914. By Oct 1914 he had enlisted and arrived in Gallipoli in May (medal card says July) 1915. He was killed “whilst charging with his regiment” on 12 July 1915.

Lucinda Matthews-Jones’ blog A Historian’s Tears notes of Ramsay’s involvement with the Toynbee Hall university settlement in the East End, during his Whitechapel Gallery years.

http://lucindamatthewsjones.com/2013/07/29/the-historians-tears-toynbee-hall-first-world-war-obituaries/

“Most of these men were unmarried and childless. As the obituary of Gilbert Anderson Ramsay commented on his death in July 1915 ‘he was struck by a shell, and instantly killed. So died, in his thirty-sixth year, childless and unmarried, one of the most gifted, and surely one of the most lovable of Toynbee men’. Ramsay was instrumental in the decorative schemes of Toynbee in the Edwardian period and he worked tirelessly at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. His weekend jaunts with fellow settlers to Essex were remembered with fondness together with his ability to cook chops. For Francis Gordon Shirreff, Ramsay’s death forced him to ‘look upon an empty world’ and ask ‘Can anything, however, high and holy, repay the loss of such a life? So we ask ourselves in our utter desolation? But the measure of our loss, is in reality, the measure of our reply. All we loved is in the dust: all we loved has laid it there’ (December 1915)…

His time at Whitechapel Art Gallery http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/about/history/ was at an interesting and exciting time for British art:

“However, in 1914 proposals for an exhibitian of Twentieth Century Art, organised by Aitken and Gilbert Ramsey, who had become Director when Aitken moved to the Tate, caused Henrietta Barnett to write to plead with them “not to get too many examples of the extreme thought of this century, for we must never forget that the Whitechapel Gallery is intended for Whitechapel people, who have to be delicately led and will not understand the Post impressionist or futuristic methods of seeing or representing things”

Letter to Ramsay by Barnett, 7 Feb 1914 (Whitechapel Art Gallery archives) Quoted from the Passmore Edwards website. http://www.passmoreedwards.org.uk/pages/history/Libraries/Whitechapel%20art%20gallery/history%202.htm

This 20th Century Art: A Review of Modern Movements summer  exhibition did eventually open at Whitechapel Art Gallery from 8 May to 20 June 1914, by which time Ramsay was heading for Glasgow. Just over a year later Ramsay was dead at Gallipoli. The Toynbee Art Club exhibitions ran from 1911 to 1915 and then continued postwar.

The  20th Century Art summer exhibition is widely covered in many books including an article (11)  by Juliet Steyn p. 212. – 230 entitled “Inside Out: Assumptions of ‘English Modernism’ in the Whitechapel Art Gallery, Summer 1914″ in  Art Apart: Art Institutions and Ideology Across England and North America  (edited By Marcia R. Pointon) and  also  London, Modernism, and 1914 by Michael J. K. Walsh.

The tiny number of paintings in the exhibition  by the few Futurists and Cubist artists received disproportionate coverage out the 494 works of art featured, but these featured artists such as Bomberg, Nevinson and Wyndham-Lewis are now seen by some as prophetic of and highly influenced by the coming war. Their war art regularly  features in visual representations of the dehumanised battlefield, industrial slaughter and mechanised warfare of the First World War.

Gilbert Ramsay, art gallery curator, remembered amongst the dead of Gallipoli.

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

In future blog posts I will feature the British Museum staff war memorial names starting  this centenary anniversary  with the death this week in 1915 of  E. George Gentry.

The morphology of leaf fall: Remembering Ernest Lee FLS died Flanders, 11 July 1915

July 11, 2015

His grave lies in the rows to the right of the cross of sacrifice at Artillery Wood Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium. (Image www.cwgc.org)

Ernest Lee’s  grave lies in the rows to the right of the cross of sacrifice at Artillery Wood Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium. (Image http://www.cwgc.org)

Remembering Ernest Lee, FLS Fellow of the Linnean Society, who died in Flanders on active service on 11th July 1915.

Born in Stanley Cross End, Yorkshire on 11 April 1886, the son of a colliery expert, Ernest Lee was educated at the Burnley Technical Institute, before moving to the Royal College of Science where he studied and published on the ‘morphology of leaf fall’. He worked as a Demonstrator and Assistant Lecturer in Botany, Birkbeck College, London.

Elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society in June 1911, by 1913 he had moved to the Department of Agricultural Botany, University of Leeds. Here he joined the University of Leeds OTC Officer Training Corps in September 1914 (see links below).

Ernest Lee married a Fellow Linnean, Miss Helen Stuart Chambers FLS in November 1914, when he was already listed as ‘Officer in HM Forces’ on his wedding certificate. The daughter of a colliery manager, Helen was listed in 1911 as a lecturer at Royal Holloway College, London.

Ernest Lee was quickly gazetted a Second Lieutenant into the 4th Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment. After training as a Machine Gun officer, he became a Lieutenant and survived three months at the Front before dying on 11 July 1915. He is buried at III D 12, Artillery Wood Cemetery, Ypres, Flanders.

His CWGC  headstone and a picture of Ernest Lee can be seen here at ww1. Cemeteries.com –  http://www.ww1cemeteries.com/ww1cemeteries/artillerywoodcemetery.htm

Ernest Lee is mentioned on the Western Front Association web pages in an article on the Leeds University OTC  http://www.westernfrontassociation.com/great-war-people/memorials/1646-the-university-of-leeds-otc-and-roll-of-honour.html which has recently added the following brief biography as part of an online article by David Stowe in 2010.

Lee, Ernest. Lt. 4th Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) Date of Death: 11-7-1915. Cemetery-Memorial: Artillery Wood Cemetery. III. D. 12.

Lt. E. Lee was killed by a rifle bullet while supervising the repair of a parapet of his machine-gun emplacement on 10 July. Lee was lecturer in Agricultural Botany in the University for about eighteen months before the beginning of the War.

In that period he managed, by his great gift of energy and organising power to perform, in addition to his departmental duties, a great deal of unobtrusive but extremely valuable work for the University as a whole. Most important of all was his work for the O.T.C. He was only in the contingent about six months but in that period he must have established something like a record in attendance at parades. He revived enthusiasm in musketry to such an extent that many cadets paid not two but ten visits to the range during the summer of 1914.

Lee had persuaded several other members of the staff to join the contingent with him and when Captain Priestley left for France in August 1915, the work of the new conditions caused by the war fell on them. While waiting for his own commission Lee literally slaved at Headquarters. He was responsible for musketry instruction and did an enormous share of the spade work which produced the present system out of an almost hopeless chaos. With his regiment he was equally successful. He was promptly promoted lieutenant and given command of the machine gun section which he served till his death. He had an exceptionally unselfishly disposition; no exertion was too great and no task to trivial if the work was for the welfare and comfort of others.

A few months before he went to France he was married to Miss Helen Stuart Chambers, B.Sc., of 9 Grange Road Sheffield, and those of his friends who knew the great happiness that the union brought him will extend special sympathy to Mrs. Lee in her irreparable loss. He was an Associate of the Royal College of Science and a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London.

You can read more in our previous WW1  blogpost about other Lost Fellows of the Linnean Society at: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/lost-fellows-the-linnean-society-roll-of-honour-1914-1918/

Remembered …

Postscript

It appears likely that his widow Helen Stuart Lee remarried in 1920 to a John Woolfenden Williamson, barrister and carried on as a research assistant at the Botany Department Birkbeck College, joint author of a series of papers on fungi.  (Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists Ed Ray Desmond). She has an obituary in Nature, 1934, v 134, 998, having died on 4 December 1934.

Remembering the British Chancellor and the bombing of Falmouth Docks 10 July 1940

July 9, 2015

Charles Pears (1873 -1958),  painting “The Bombing of The British Chancellor 10 July 1940”, signed, oil on canvas, a large painting at 80 x 125 cms and presented by the Falmouth Harbour Commission, 1993. Copyright: Falmouth Art Gallery www.falmouthartgallery.com

Charles Pears (1873 -1958), painting “The Bombing of The British Chancellor 10 July 1940”, signed, oil on canvas, a large painting at 80 x 125 cms and presented by the Falmouth Harbour Commission, 1993. Copyright: Falmouth Art Gallery http://www.falmouthartgallery.com

It is 5 years since we last posted on our blog about the 70th anniversary of the bombing of the British Chancellor and Falmouth Docks on 10 July 1940.

Now on the 75th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain and the Blitz on Britain’s towns, cities and ports, it is interesting to reread the ‘last post’ and postscript from 2010:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/postscript-to-our-price-of-oil-paint-big-ships-of-all-nations-bombing-of-the-british-chancellor-10-july-1940/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/the-price-of-oil-paint-and-big-ships-of-all-nations-from-the-ark-to-the-supertanker-german-invasions-budgets-the-world-cup-and-the-wartime-zoo-keeper’s-vegetable-garden-at-newquay-zoo/

I remember hearing David Barnicoat speak in 2010 on BBC Radio Cornwall about the 10 sailors and dock staff killed, the dramatic events at 2.30 /3.30 p.m. on an otherwise “lovely sunny day” and the marking of this anniversary on Falmouth Docks on Saturday 10th July 2010 with the sounding of the Docks siren to mark the 2010 anniversary and commemorate the loss of life and heroic rescue effort.

Read also an account of the rescue here http://www.falmouthpacket.co.uk/news/fpboating/8258392.Deadly_raid_remembered/?ref=rss

Remembering the ten sailors and men  killed during this bombing, Falmouth, 10 July 1940.

Local civilians on board SS British Chancellor  or at Falmouth docks:

George Eric Bastian, aged 40

Walter Samuel Knott, 48

Charles Palin

Henry Arthur Pellow, 40

Samuel Prouse, aged 64

Leonard John Tallack

Merchant Navy crew of SS British Chancellor, mostly buried in Falmouth Cemetery:

3rd Engineering Officer John Carr, 26 (buried in Sunderland)

2nd Engineering Officer William Joseph Crocker, 36 (of Portsmouth)

Chief Engineering Officer Charles Halley Lennox, 56 (of Glasgow)

3rd Engineering Officer Philip George Lucas Samuels, 26

Further family information on CWGC.org records can be found for most of these men.

Remembered.

 

 

 

Remembering William Gordon Dickson and Isaac Bayley Balfour, RBGE, Gallipoli 1915.

June 28, 2015

William Gordon Dickson, a Gardens Labourer at the  Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE)  in 1914, enlisted as a Private 5th Royal Scots and was killed in action at Gallipoli 28 June 1915.

Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery, Gallipoli (Image: CWGC)

Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery, Gallipoli (Image: CWGC)

The same day, ‘ Bay’ Balfour, the son of Isaac Bayley Balfour, RBGE’s Regius Keeper throughout the war, was also killed as part of the same Battle of Gully Ravine in Gallipoli on 28th June 1915. He was serving as a Lieutenant with the  1st King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB) and is buried in Twelve Tree Copse cemetery.

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

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

Private William Gordon Dickson, No. 2170 died aged 44 at Gallipoli on 28 June 1915 whilst serving with the 5th Battalion Royal Scots 5th Bn. (Queen’s Edinburgh Rifles), a regiment in which many of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh staff served and several were also killed at Gallipoli.

See: Leonie Paterson’s excellent botanics stories blog for Dickson’s story:  http://stories.rbge.org.uk/archives/16027

and for ‘Bay’ Balfour: http://stories.rbge.org.uk/archives/16015

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/04/25/remembering-the-lost-gardeners-of-gallipoli-2015/

Unlike Balfour, Dickson has no known grave and is remembered on Panel 27 of the  Helles Memorial to the Missing of the Gallipoli Campaign.

CWGC lists him as the “Husband of Margaret Dickson, of 85, Hanover St., Edinburgh.” Dickson was born and enlisted in Edinburgh on 4th September 1914. He began work at the Botanics only on 3 August 1914. The following day, Britain’s ultimatum to Germany ran out and it became involved in the First World War.

Dickson is also remembered on the staff memorial at the ‘Botanics’ in Edinburgh, erected in memory of the RBGE men and Isaac Bayley Balfour who died c. 1922 http://warmemscot.s4.bizhat.com/warmemscot-ftopic4114.html

Two very different men, one young, one old, one an officer, another a gardens labourer, strangely linked in memorial by a workplace and a grieving Balfour family.

Both remembered.

Remembering Private Duncan Smith of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

June 13, 2015

Remembering Private Duncan Smith of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh 5th Royal Scots killed at Gallipoli 11th to 13th June 1915

http://stories.rbge.org.uk/archives/15680

Remembering VE Day May 8 1945 and 2015

May 4, 2015

Our bunting is back out in the World War Zoo Gardens wartime allotment garden at Newquay Zoo to remember and mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day on 8th May 1945.

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

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

Remembering VE day May 8  1945 – many events are planned around Britain and the world to mark this 70th anniversary on Friday 8th May 2015, as the election news settles. The Gov.uk lists several VE Day 2015 projects.  BBC Radio Cornwall have also been collecting and featuring local memories of  VE Day events in 1945.

VE Day colours in our World War Zoo Gardens at Newquay Zoo  - blue and white edible borage flowers with a splash of red from some silk poppies.

VE Day colours in our World War Zoo Gardens at Newquay Zoo – blue and white edible borage flowers with a splash of red from some silk poppies.

Here is a local Victory Day programme (1946) from our World War Zoo Gardens collections at Newquay Zoo:

Marazion VE day 1945

Some interesting and unusual sports – Tip the Bucket, Slow Cycle race – amongst the familiar egg and spoon and sack races  to celebrate Victory Day programme for the Marazion Victory parade in 1946.

 

Marzaion VE day 1945 2

Note the last phrase “The public are asked to decorate their houses with Flags and Bunting for the occasion”.

Many local people were interested to see this original Victory parade programme near its origin at the Trengwainton National Trust Gardens 1940s event in June 2014. A copy has now been passed on to the local Marazion school and museum

We will be back at Trengwainton with part of our wartime collection  at its next Sunday June 14th 2015 event  – check the Trengwainton Gardens website for details. They had a fantastic display at their own wartime allotment, including this fetching V for Victory 1940s garden poster:

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

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

After VE  day instead of relaxing in the wartime garden and planting flowers,  there was a switch from “Dig For Victory” to “Dig on For Plenty“, realising we had much of Europe to feed.

You can see more of Trengwainton’s wartime ‘victory’ garden and our part in their Victory Day  2014 events here:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/trengwaintons-wartime-garden-project-cornwall/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/trengwainton-gardens-hurrah-for-the-home-front-1940s-event-2014-in-pictures/

However for my family and the nation there was still VJ Day to work towards, an a anxious and tired wait for the end of the war against Japan, which finally happened in August 1945.

This was covered in our zoo keeper and botanic garden staff FEPOW and Burma Star blogpost in January 2015: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/remembering-zookeeper-and-gardener-far-east-pows-70-years-on-2015/ 

Remembering VE Day 1945 …

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

Lucky Underwear and the Lusitania Centenary 7 May 1915

May 3, 2015

Remembering 1195 souls lost in the sinking of the Lusitania centenary 7 May 1915.

This is a brilliant London Tube Poster (photographed Autumn 2014) advertising the 2014 relaunch of the WW1 galleries at the Imperial War Museum London www.iwm.org/ww1 showing how well an unusual object can ‘tell’ an incredible survival story:

lusitania ww1 text

Having seen the object in the gallery, an almost overwhelming immersive experience, the poster tells the Lusitania story simply and well.

ww1 lusitania

Appropriately for someone researching wartime gardens in unusual places like zoos, a flowery patch of home also caught my eye on this IWM WW1 ‘object story’ poster, again for a small object that might get lost amongst the mass of exhibits at the IWM galleries:

wallpaper ww1

The posters were created by agency Johnny Fearless and its Executive Creative Director Paul Domenet which included a short animation with Aardman, Flight of Stories:

http://www.fastcocreate.com/3032700/a-new-exhibit-brings-first-world-war-stories-home#5

Another chilling anniversary for April and May 1915 was the use of poison gas on the battlefield:

3032700-inline-s-2-imperial-war-museum-print-and-video

An unusual “Hoodie” for Tube Commuters to see indeed.

Other clever WW1 centenary interpretation methods glimpsed in London include the WW1 soldier war memorial to railway staff ‘Talking Statue’ at Paddington Station.

Lest we forget …

Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project

Poppies poem anniversary written 3 May 1915

May 3, 2015

 

 

Somme poppies, Thiepval area, France taken on my first trenches tour,  1992 (Copyright: Mark Norris)

Somme poppies, Thiepval area, France taken on my first trenches tour, 1992 (Copyright: Mark Norris, WWZG, Newquay Zoo)

 

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row …”

Today is the 100th anniversary of the writing on 3rd May 1915 of the Poppies poem, In Flanders Fields, by Canadian Army doctor John McCrae.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

It was written by McCrae to commemorate his Canadian friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer who had died the day before on 2 May 1915 during the Second Battle Of Ypres. McCrae had presided over the burial and noticed poppies around the graves.

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1592956/HELMER,%20ALEXIS%20HANNUM

The poem was said to have been written in the back of an ambulance the next day 3rd May 1915 but not published anonymously until 8th December 1915 in Punch magazine. McCrae himself died of pneumonia in January 1918.

I visited  the very muddy flooded Essex Farm casualty clearing station where McCrae worked  and took my picture of Thiepval Somme poppies the same wet, overcast day in 1992. You can see pictures on Alan Jennings’ WW1 Battlefields Blog

Tower Poppies

Tower Poppies, London WW1 Centenary, November 2014 (Image: Mark Norris, WWZG collection)

The poem’s final verse (below) caused some unease and discussion when it was read recently at a local Roll of Honour rededication ceremony. However I think it sits well with the WW1 centenary ethos of keeping ‘faith’ with the memory of all “the Dead”  of all nations, in remembering the fallen WW1 casualties and their generation.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

You can read more about John McCrae and Alexis Helmer who inspired the Poppies poem at :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Flanders_Fields

http://www.greatwar.co.uk/poems/john-mccrae-in-flanders-fields.htm

The recent Gallipoli anniversary in April 2015 also saw CWGC commemoration of the early death from disease on active service  of poet Rupert Brooke and his sonnet The Soldier : “If I Should Die …”

Wild Memorial Flowers

The Poppy went on to become a powerful symbol of remembrance, symbolic of blood yet at odds with the beautiful spread of wildflowers on disturbed farmland torn up and disfigured by the trenches. The Tower Poppies display in Autumn 2014  showed that its symbolic power en masse has not faded with the years but grown with the centenary and with fresh memories of recent conflict.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Tower Poppies, Autumn 2014. (Image: Mark Norris, WWZG)

 

In France, according to RBGE archivist Leonie Paterson, the equivalent remembrance flower is the Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) or “Les Bleuets”, based on the sky blue uniform adopted during WW1 by the French troops. Leonie has been studying many of the flowers dedicated to RBGE staff killed in WW1 on her fascinating blog posts. A WW1 centenary wildflower and poppy lawn were sown at RBGE Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh in 2014.

I have planted some Cornflowers, a source of edible petals for some of our animals, in our World War Zoo Gardens allotment plot at Newquay Zoo.

Many BIAZA zoos in the UK including Newquay Zoo have planted wildflower areas in 2015 as part of the BIAZA Grab That Gap  wildflower initiative with Flora Locale to encourage wildlife and survey them as part of  a BIAZA Bioblitz this summer.

French prisoners of war in a German postcard, wearing the old early French WW1 uniform (almost bright Waterloo colours) before it became sky blue, like the cornflower - "les bleuets"  (Image Source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens collection)

French prisoners of war in a German postcard, wearing the old early French WW1 uniform (almost bright Waterloo colours) before it became sky blue, like the cornflower – “les bleuets” (Image Source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens collection)

Remember John McCrae, Alexis Helmer and the many other casualties of all nations, whenever you next see a wild poppy blowing in the wind, wherever it is, in a zoo or in a field or garden  …

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


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