Remembrance Weekend 2017

November 11, 2017

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World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, 2016 poppy. 

Remembering the many zoo and botanic Gardens staff and their families affected by the two world wars and conflicts silence.

Remembered at Newquay Zoo and in many zoos and botanic gardens by the two minutes silence at 11 am  Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th November 2017.

We will remember them.

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, 11 November 2017

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100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution 7th November 1917

November 7, 2017

Russian WW2 DFV postcard 1942 (3)

Russian Dig For Victory WW2 style (Image Source: Postcard, unknown source)

Posted to mark the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.

 

During WW2, as in Britain, many city areas in Russia were dug up and planted to provide food in beseiged towns and elsewhere to support the war effort.

Note the air raid shelter in the centre.

Note also the woman in front who is wearing a medal.

Russian Zoos in wartime – web material

from the All About Zoos website – Moscow Zoo entry

But in the turmoil of the Revolution of 1905 the Moscow Zoo was severely damaged: the buildings were ruined, the library was set on fire, many animals perished. So, for the second time the Society was forced to turn over the Zoo to private owners.

Then in 1914 World War I broke out. For the Zoo this meant that in the autumn of 1914 the only building that remain to this day was transformed from the director’s premises to a hospital for wounded WWI soldiers.

The WWI impact compounded Russia’s suffering from a number of economic and social problems, which resulted first in the 1917 February revolution followed by the October revolution.

In the aftermath of the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917 and the fall of the Russian Empire, the Society ceased to exist, and in 1919 the Zoological Garden was declared national property and transferred under the responsibility of the ministry of Culture of the communist Moscow parliament, the Mossovet.

In 1922 it was transferred to the authority of Moscow City Council and since then it has been supported by the City Authorities. Construction work began on the Zoo grounds. The Zoological Garden premises almost doubled in size with the establishment of the ‘New’ territory on the opposite side of Bolshaya Gruzinskaya street.

New exhibits, which followed the principle of Carl Hagenbeck’s bar-less enclosure design were established. One of the most interesting exhibits of the Zoo called ‘Animal Island’ still exists. It was a high stony rock surrounded by a deep water ditch that separated the visitors from bears, tigers, lions and other large predators on the ‘Island’. The total size at the time was nearly 18 hectares.

In 1926 the Zoological Garden was renamed ‘Zoological Park’. At that time the range of activities extended, the animal collection increased considerably with expeditions collecting wildlife in Central Asia, the Far East and the Caucasus. New departments were established, focussed on for instance scientific research, education, veterinary science and nutrition. In those same years Moscow Zoo was the first zoo in the world where educational activities were the main priority.

In 1924 the Zoo had established the Young Biologists Club that gathered like-minded young people that joined in real scientific research. Many of them became a Zoo employee. The Club was founded by Petr Manteifel, who also was the pioneer father of the science called ‘zoo biology’. Manteifel and his young biologists discovered a way of artificial breeding sables (Martes zibellina), which were on the verge of extinction due to man’s insatiable pursuit for its expensive fur.

In the 1930s during Stalin’s great purge many members of the Young Biologists Club were arrested accused of spreading anti-soviet propaganda and liberal-minded ideas and having contact with German colleagues at Berlin zoo, some were even executed as foreign spies.

The Young Biologist’s Club was considered a non-governmental organisation beyond the direct control of the authorities, which in fact was partly true because the Club was a real democracy, with membership available to all.

World War 2 – known as ‘The Great Patriotic War’

Although many animals were evacuated and many of the zoo staff were called to arms at the beginning of World War II the Zoo was kept open. Of the 750 employees at autumn 1941 only 220 remained on the staff, most of them women.

Getting enough food for the animals was a constant challenge, for instance carcasses of killed horse at the battlefield around Moscow were brought to the zoo. More than six million people visited the Zoo from 1941 to 1945 to enjoy the sights of animals that had remained.

At wartime the scientific work proceeded, perhaps even more intense than before or after the war. The scientific staff worked especially on development of antibiotics.

But the most important mission of the Zoo during the war was to give people hope. It produced the illusion of a peaceful life until people survived through the desperation of the war with the Red Army soldiers as the most frequent visitors of the Zoo. Which were given the pleasure of watching newborn offspring even during the war.

During the Soviet Union period (1922-1991) not many highly ranked people cared about the zoo – no Soviet leader had any interest in it. The city encroached on the zoo premises, while the zoo needed additional space for the ever expanding zoo population of animals because the breeding results were still excellent …

(Article Information Source: Moscow Zoo website; Zoo with a Human Face, to the 150th anniversary of the Moscow Zoo – a documentary by Darya Violina and Sergei Pavlovsky, 2014; Zoo and Aquarium History by Vernon N. Kisling, Jr., 2001; Wikipedia

 >>Article Source: About Zooshttp://aboutzoos.info

Arguably I think that the biggest tragedy of WW2 that affected zoos was the cutting off of cooperative work and breeding programmes between Cold War zoos in the USSR, Eastern Europe and Russia from the Western Europe, USA and  rest of the world zoos from the 1940s through to the late 1980s.

This was well covered in the morning of talks about the development  of regional and national zoo assocaiations at the 2011 Chester Zoo / Bartlett Society / SHNH / WAZA / Linnean Society Zoo History conference.

It is well covered  in the book  77 Years: The History and Evolution of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums 1935-2012 by  Laura Penn, Mark Gusset and Gerald Dick.

Together again at last …

Posted by Mark Norris, World war Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo, 7 November 2017.

Remembering Sergeant John Oliver of Belle Vue Zoo Manchester died WW1 24 October 1917

October 24, 2017

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The damaged Belle Vue memorial names section, thankfully carved in stone as the statue has been stolen. Image: manchester history.net photo

Remembering Sergeant John Elijah Oliver of Belle Vue Zoological Gardens Manchester, who died aged 35 on active service during the Battle of Passchendaele, 24 October 1917.

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

Sergeant John Oliver 18673 served with 19th Platoon, E Company of the 21st Battalion, Manchester Regiment and died  towards the end of the ‘Battle of Passchendaele’ (The Third Battle of Ypres) which ran from July 31st to November 6th 1917.

By October during the last phases of the battle, the battlefield had become a sea of mud. It was in this fighting, finally achieving the objective of capturing the village of Passchendaele itself, that Sergeant John E. Oliver was killed.

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John Oliver has no known grave and is commemorated on The Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing.

Sergeant John Oliver was the husband of Rose Oliver of 36 Darley Street, Gorton, Manchester. He appears to have been a journeyman joiner by trade and was born in Rotherham.

He was one of several zoo staff who died during the Passchendaele fighting in 1917.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/lost-gardeners-and-zoo-staff-during-passchendaele-1917-ww1/

John Oliver and his men of the 21st Manchester Regiment, Remembered 100 years on .

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, 24 October 2017.

Remembering Albert Mottershead died WW1 22 October 1917

October 22, 2017

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Albert Mottershead is one of the many Manchester Regiment men with no known graves remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

33 year old Lance Corporal Albert Mottershead, Service No. 25258, Lewis Gunner in the 23rd Battalion, Manchester Regiment was killed on 22 October 1917 during the Battle of Passchendaele.

He is commemorated amongst the 35,000 names of missing British servicemen with no known grave on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

A Market Gardener like his father (also called Albert), Albert is the (half) brother of George Mottershead who set up Chester Zoo. At the time that Albert (‘Bert’) was killed,  George was badly injured and nearly paralysed in late 1916 on the Somme.

There is more about the Mottershead family here and about another brother Stanley Saul Mottershead who was killed in late 1916 https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/stanley-saul-mottershead-killed-4-december-1916/

Bert, Stanley and George

George Cogswell has researched the Sale War Memorial and Trafford War Dead including the Mottershead brothers.

http://www.traffordwardead.co.uk/index.php?sold_id=s%3A8%3A%22412%2Csale%22%3B&letter=&place=sale&war=I&soldier=Mottershead

Part of this story was told in the recent BBC series Our Zoo:

http://www.chesterzoo.org/global/about-us/our-zoo-bbc-drama/george-mottershead

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/our-zoo-chester-zoo-and-the-drama-of-zoo-history/

The Mottershead family had its influence on Newquay Zoo where I work. Newquay Zoo was designed by Curator Peter Lowe, one of George’s experienced senior keepers, with input and advice from George Mottershead in the late 1960s.

How lucky we and Chester Zoo are  that George Mottershead was not a name on a WW1 memorial as his brothers Stanley and Bert sadly were.

The Mottershead family and the men of the Manchester Regiment,  remembered 100 years on.

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

Remembering William Perkins ZSL London Zoo keeper died WW1 3rd October 1917

October 3, 2017

 

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03.10.1917 William Perkins Royal Garrison Artillery ZSL Keeper is his inscription on the WW1 bronze plaque on London Zoo’s staff War Memorial.

William Perkins served as 115806, Bombardier, 233rd Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery from 28 August 1916 until his death on 3rd October 1917. He arrived in France and Flanders along with the rest of his 233rd Siege Battery,  Royal Garrison Artillery, BEF / British Army on 22 December 1916.

William Perkins was born in 1878 in Lifton in Devon on the Cornwall / Devon border  to a gardener and labourer father Thomas and Cornish mother Emma Jane.

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Listed as a keeper on his wedding certificate, he married Lucy Elizabeth MacGregor in London in 23 August 1914 after the war broke out and they lived in Eton Street, NW London (near other London Zoo keepers).

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William Perkins is buried here in Belgian Battery Corner Cemetery, Belgium (Image: CWGC)

Perkins is buried in an individual plot in Belgian Battery Corner Cemetery, Belgium.

His headstone inscription (chosen by his wife or family)  reads “Lord teach me from my heart to say thy will be done”.

His CWGC cemetery record mentions that he was killed aged 39 in an enemy air raid on 3rd October 1917.

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Part of William Perkins’ WW1 Service records recording his attesting (enlistment) on 11 December 1915, call up in August 1916 and death on 3 October 1917.

William  Perkins was promoted from Gunner (artillery equivalent of a private) to Bombardier, the equivalent of an army corporal, on 16 September 1917 shortly before his death.

What was a Siege Battery?

William Perkins served with the 233rd Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery.

Siege Batteries RGA were equipped with heavy howitzers, sending large calibre high explosive shells in high trajectory, plunging fire.The usual armaments were 6 inch, 8 inch and 9.2 inch howitzers, although some had huge railway- or road-mounted 12 inch howitzers.

As British artillery tactics developed, the Siege Batteries were most often employed in destroying or neutralising the enemy artillery, as well as putting destructive fire down on strongpoints, dumps, store, roads and railways behind enemy lines (source: Long Long Trail)

http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-royal-artillery-in-the-first-world-war/the-siege-batteries-of-the-royal-garrison-artillery/

Several zoo staff served with artillery units, possibly because of their familiarity with large animals like the many heavy horses required to move and supply the guns, as shown here:

http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/definitions-of-units/what-was-a-siege-battery-of-the-royal-garrison-artillery/

Belgian Battery Corner Cemetery where William Perkins is buried is an appropriately named cemetery for an artillery soldier. It  occupies a site at a road junction where three batteries of Belgian artillery were positioned in 1915.

The cemetery was begun by the 8th Division in June 1917 after the Battle of Messines and it was used until October 1918, largely for burials from a dressing station in a cottage near by. Almost half of the graves are of casualties who like William Perkins belonged, or were attached, to artillery units. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

William’s Army Service Records WW1

We are lucky that William’s service papers have survived to give us some details of his Army Service. Many such records were destroyed during the Blitz in WW2.

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Amongst the more touching records in his service records is a list of his possessions after he was killed in an enemy air raid on 3rd October 1917. These would usually be returned to his wife Lucy or his family.

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This letter from his wife Lucy requests the return of his possessions, a further army form in his papers directs that this is done.

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His wife Lucy is eventually granted an army pension of 15 shillings a week. The couple had no children.

I have seen in the ZSL Library and Archive many of the ZSL staff record index cards for many of the staff listed in the war memorial listing when they joined, rates of pay and which animal section they worked on. I will add any details for William Perkins when I next find these notes!

To find out more about how zoo and botanic gardens staff fared in The Battle of Passchendaele 1917:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/lost-gardeners-and-zoo-staff-during-passchendaele-1917-ww1/

To find out more about ZSL London Zoo staff in WW1:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/remembering-lost-wartime-staff-of-zsl-london-zoo-in-ww1/

London Zoo keeper William Perkins, died 3rd October 1917, remembered 100 years on.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, 3 October 2017.

Remembering Royal Navy Stoker Thomas Tumbs of Belle Vue Zoo died WW1 2nd October 1917

October 2, 2017

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Thomas Tumbs’ name on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. Image Source: Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo.

Remembering Thomas J. Tumbs of Belle Vue Zoo Manchester who died serving in the Royal Navy during WW1 as a Stoker on 2nd October 2017.

Stoker First Class T J Tumbs, AB (Able Seaman) Service Number K/29448
Tumbs died aged 40 whilst serving on HMS Drake on 2 October, 1917  on convoy duty off the coast of Ireland, sunk by torpedo from German U-boat submarine U79.

Stoker First Class Tumbs was aged 40 and one of 19 sailors killed aboard the cruiser HMS Drake when it was torpedoed by German U Boat U79 on 2 October 1917.

 

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HMS Drake 1901 (Wikipedia source)

Attacked while escorting an incoming Atlantic Convoy, HMS Drake limped into Church Bay off the coast of Northern Ireland where it sank and still provides a wreck popular with divers.

HMS Drake was the lead ship of her class of armoured cruisers built for the Royal Navy around 1900.  Assigned to the 6th Cruiser Squadron of the 2nd Fleet, she  became the squadron’s flagship when the fleet was incorporated into the Grand Fleet upon the outbreak of the First World War.
HMS Drake remained with the Grand Fleet until refitted in late 1915, when she was transferred to the North America and West Indies Station for convoy escort duties. In 1916 she participated in the unsuccessful search for the German commerce raider SMS Möwe.

HMS Drake was torpedoed by the German submarine U-79, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto Rohrbeck  on 2 October 1917 after her Convoy HH24 had dispersed for its several destinations. The ship was about five miles (8.0 km) off Rathlin Island at the tip of Northern Ireland when she was hit.

The torpedo struck the No. 2 Boiler Room and caused two of her engine rooms and the boiler room to flood, killing 18 crewmen including Thomas Tumbs. 

 

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From the Wessex archaeology report pdf

 

This knocked out her steam-powered steering. Her captain decided to steam for Church Bay on Rathlin Island … Drake’s crew was taken off before she capsized later that afternoon

As mentioned, Thomas Tumbs has no headstone or burial, his gravesite is the wreck of HMS Drake and the ocean.

HMS Drake today

The wreck of HMS Drake in shallow water was partly salvaged in 1920. A fishing trawler collided with the remainder of the wreck in 1962 and sank the next day. Ammunition and ordnance was salvaged during the 1970s and the wrecks were demolished with depth charges to reduce the chance of any other ships coming to grief on the wrecks. In 1978, the remaining fuel oil was salvaged to reduce pollution from leaking oil.

Since June 2017 the wreck of HMS Drake has been a scheduled historic monument. Diving is still permitted.

http://www.wessexarch.co.uk/files/splash-import/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/hms-drake-undesignated-site-assessment-final-version-with-figs.pdf

According to Captain Radcliffe’s confidential report on the loss of HMS Drake to the Admiralty, the Drake was torpedoed: ‘…abreast No. 2 Boiler Room the starboard side, the boiler room was immediately flooded, killing everyone there except one man who was blown on to the upper deck and landed there unhurt, and another who climbed up through the Stokehold hatch.’

The last extract to be cited here is interesting in that it states that the 18 dead were left on board. During the research for this report no reference was found relating to the removal of the dead, and without further research it is unsure whether their remains are still inside the wreck. Captain Radcliffe states that: ‘Nobody except the dead remained on board the Drake, when I left her for HMS Delphinium, the mess decks, Boiler Rooms, Engine Room had all been searched and reported clear…” (Wessex Archaeological Report)

Thomas Tumbs remembered on war memorials

The CWGC website has a listing for Thomas Tumbs and the Plymouth Naval Memorial 

https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/3044422/tumbs,-thomas-james/

As he has no known grave, being lost at sea, his name is remembered on Panel 22 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial, which I visited in 2015 on a suitably wet and blustery day.

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

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

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Fellow Belle Vue Zoo Manchester sailor Matthew Walton’s war at sea in the Coronel and the Falklands are mentioned as the battle honours on this section of the Plymouth Naval Memorial, where T J Tumbs is also remembered (Image: Mark Norris)

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

Thomas J.  Tumbs is also remembered on land at the Belle Vue Zoo Manchester zoological gardens staff WW1 memorial at Gorton Cemetery, Manchester.

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Thomas J Tumbs is remembered ( 6th name on left column of names) on the damaged Belle Vue memorial names section, thankfully carved in stone as the statue has been stolen. Image: manchester history.net photo

Thomas was the son of the late Charles and Mary Tumbs (nee Collis), of 1 Newton Street Gorton, Manchester. Tumbs married in 1905  Evie Lilla Tumbs (nee Harvey) , formerly of 32 Gloucester Street, Gorton.

Thomas was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Like his father he is listed as working for a Locomotive Engineers ”, specifically, an  Electricity Labourer in the  Locomotive Engine industry. Sounds like a heavy manual job, a Stoker by another name! On 1901 he was a carter at a brickworks. No doubt his role at Belle Vue Zoo was equally labourious.

Thomas had a sister Sarah A Fryer, 33 Middlewood Street Gorton, Manchester (source: Royal Navy War Graves Roll 1914-19)

Thomas’ parents are buried in Gorton Park Cemetery where the Belle Vue Zoo staff war memorial is located.

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens, 2 October 2017.

Journal articles about World War Zoo Gardens

October 2, 2017

 

Some lovely online journal links to the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo 

 

BGEN web article https://bgen.org.uk/resources/free/using-the-garden-ghosts-of-your-wartime-or-historic-past/

 

BGCI Roots journal https://www.bgci.org/files/Worldwide/Education/Roots_PDFs/Roots%207.1.pdf  

 

ABWAK Keepers journal March 2014 https://abwak.org/uploads/PDF%20documents/RATEL%20PDFs/RATEL_March_2014.pdf 

 

IZE journal no. 50 2014 http://izea.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/1.-FULL-IZE-Journal-2014-FINAL-.pdf 

 

World War Zoo Gardens Blog https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/   

 

You’re already here! Published since 2009, including centenary posts on the centenary anniversary of each zoo staff or zoo gardener, botanic gardener, gardener, naturalist and associated trades that we are aware of as having been killed in WW1 or WW2.

 

Twitter https://twitter.com/worldwarzoo1939

 

 

The original Dig For Victory Teachers Pack from the Royal Parks / Imperial War Musuem 2008 allotment project

 

http://www.carrickfergusinbloom.org/DFVTeachersPack.pdf

 

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Monday 2nd October 2017

 

 

 

Remembering William Lorimer Joyce of Kew Gardens died 2 October 1917 WW1

October 2, 2017

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William Lorimer Joyce, Kew trained gardener, died on 2nd October 1917 in a Turkish prisoner of war camp, whilst serving with the South Wales Borderers.
Private William Lorimer Joyce, 26741, 4th Battalion, South Wales Borderers, died on 2nd October 1917, aged 32.

He has no known grave and is listed on Panel 16 and 62 of the Basra Memorial, in modern day Iraq. The memorial lists more than 40,500 members of the Commonwealth forces who died in the operations in Mesopotamia from the Autumn of 1914 to the end of August 1921 and whose graves are not known. Another Kew casualty, W. Humphris, not listed on the war mmemorial is recorded on the Basra Memorial (see end of post).

Born on 22 May 1885, he is listed as the son of William and Jane Joyce, of “Llanfrynach”, Holmes Rd., Hereford (Brecon). He enlisted in Wales on his return from Canada where he worked after training at Kew from March 1908 to Spring 1910. Joyce died as a Turkish Prisoner of War at Seideghan in Turkey after being captured during the fighting in Mesopotamia on April 30, 1917.

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

Since putting this blogpost together in 2013/4, more material has appeared from William Lorimer Joyce’s family including a photograph in uniform.

https://vimeo.com/134967290

Interview with his great neice Barbara Scott

http://ww1historymakers.co.uk/barbara-scott-interview/

http://ww1historymakers.co.uk/barbara-scott-gallery

 

William is remembered on the Kew Gardens staff war memorial.

William Lorimer Joyce, of Kew Gardens remembered 2nd October 1917/2017.

 

National Poetry Day – Gardeners and Men! Kew Gardens WW1

September 28, 2017

To celebrate National Poetry Day 28 September 2017, a wartime poem from RBG Kew Gardens in  WW1 –

“For King and Country fought and died — Gardeners and Men !”

GARDENERS OF EMPIRE.

Tillers of the soil they were — just gardeners then,

In faith the day’s work doing as the day’s work came,

Peaceful art in peace pursuing — not seeking fame —

When through the Empire rang the Empire’s call for men!

Gardeners they were, finding in fragile flowers delight,

Lore in frail leaves, and charm even in wayside weeds.

Who, in their wildest dreams, ne’er rose to do brave deeds,

Defending righteous cause against relentless Might!

 

The wide world gave her flowers for them — the mountains high,

The valleys low, and classic hills all fringed with snow

Where fires by sunset kindled light the alpen-glow.

O ! Fate implacable ! — to see those hills and die !

 

The war god rose refreshed — Gardeners and Soldiers then!

Who, that slumbering Peace might wake, dared, with manhood’s zeal,

To make Life’s sacrifice to Love’s supreme appeal.

For King and Country fought and died — Gardeners and Men !

 

written by H. H. T

Probably Harry H. Thompson, editor of the journal,   The Gardener,  who left Kew in 1899.

Reprinted from the Kew Guild Journal, 1915. http://www.kewguild.org.uk/media/pdfs/v3s23p265-39.pdf

Read more about the poem, women gardeners at Kew – Gardeners and Women! and my favourite WW1 poet Ivor Gurney below:

I read Gardeners and Men out at a graden history in London in 2014, probably for the first time in a century or at least decades:

 

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/for-king-and-country-fought-and-died-gardeners-and-men/

 

Read more about Kew Gardens in WW1

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

Lost gardeners and zoo staff of WW1 in Passchendaele 1917

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/lost-gardeners-and-zoo-staff-during-passchendaele-1917-ww1/

Happy National Poetry Day!

How will you celebrate it?

 

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, 28 September 2017

 

Remembering Major S.M. Toppin FLS died 24 September 1917 WW1

September 24, 2017

 

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S.M. Toppin lies buried in this cemetery, an atmospheric photo showing only a few of the 9901 WW1 graves at Lijssenthoek Cemetery, Belgium. (Image http://www.cwgc.org)

24 September 1917 – Major Sidney Miles Toppin MC, FLS
Botanist and plant collector Major Sidney Miles Toppin was killed aged 39 near Ypres on 24 September 1917 as part of the Battle of Passchendaele. He  left a widow Viva and infant daughter.

 

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Major Toppin’s headstone ” Faithful unto Death”,  Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery (Image: Lives of The First World War / TWGPP)

Major S.M. Toppin is buried in grave XXIV. G. 6, Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinge, Flanders, Belgium, a cemetery linked to Casualty Clearing Stations close to the front but out of the range of German Artillery.

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Major S. M. Toppin MC (IWM collection HU119197) 

Born on 12 June 1875 (or 1878) in Clonmel in Ireland, he was the younger son of Major General J.M. Toppin, Royal Irish Regiment. After education at Clifton College and Gonville and Caius College Cambridge where he studied for a medical degree, he was offered a Commission in the Royal Artillery from 1900.

He served in India (Chitral), along with mountain batteries in Afghanistan, Burma and Egypt. This gave him ample opportunity to collect plants and send them back to the herbarium at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.
He served in WW1 with the 151st Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery.

On a visit home in 1914, he married Viva before serving in Ireland and France during the early weeks of the war. “A guard of honour of Garrison Artillery gunners formed an arch with their bayonets …”  His brother Harry S Toppin, also FLS and plant collector, was already mobilised and unable to attend.

He was mentioned in dispatches and awarded the MC Military Cross at Loos in 1915.

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Report on Toppin’s wedding August 1914 (source: Lives of the First World War website) Wedding 20 Aug 1914, clipping from the Isle of Wight County Press, 22 August 1914

He is listed on the CWGC website as the son of Major-General James Morris Toppin and Mrs. J. Toppin, of Blacklands  Park, Wilts; he was the husband of Viva Toppin, of Rose Bank, Sandown, Isle of Wight.

He and his brother are also remembered on the war memorial at All Saints  Branksome Park, Bournemouth where they once lived.

Captain Harry Stanley Toppin

Sidney’s brother Harry Stanley Toppin (IWM HU119196) 

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Harry Stanley Toppin (IWM Source)


More about his links with Kew Gardens, herbarium specimens and plant hunting sent back to Kew and his brother killed in 1914 

Sidney’s herbarium specimens including Impatiens were bequeathed to Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. The listing for Sidney Miles Toppin (1878-1917) on the Irish botanist section of R. Lloyd Praeger, W.Tempest, Dundalgan Press, Dundalk, 1949 available online

“S. M. Toppin … collected plants in Chitral and Burma and a paper of his on “Balsams of Chitral” was published in the Kew Bulletin, 1920.

Dunn named Impatiens Toppinii after him”

(Sources: Britten & Boulger, Biog ed. 2, 302).

This Impatiens Toppinii appears now to be a disputed name.

There are several scanned examples online at the JStor Global plants section website of these herbarium sheets and accompanying letters from his mother Janie Toppin to contacts at Kew on behalf of both H.S. Toppin (who collected specimens in Peru) and S.M. Toppin who collected mostly in Myanmar (Burma). These specimens that Toppin collected can be seen at

http://plants.jstor.org/stable/10.5555/al.ap.visual.kldc12382

More about the lost Fellows of the Linnaean Society in WW1
https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/lost-fellows-the-linnean-society-roll-of-honour-1914-1918/

More about Lost gardeners and naturalists in Passchendaele WW1

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/lost-gardeners-and-zoo-staff-during-passchendaele-1917-ww1/

Sidney Toppin FLS and family, remembered 100 years on, 24 September 1917.

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project,  24 September 2017


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