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

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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.

The ‘First Blitz’ on London from an unpublished WW1 diary

January 11, 2015

Cropped detail of a private back garden photograph of an airship or possible Zeppelin, location and date unknown. (Image source: copyright World War Zoo Gardens collection)

Cropped detail of a private back garden photograph of a British Zero airship , location and date c. 1917 /unknown. (Image source: copyright World War Zoo Gardens collection)

July 1917 entry, Edith Spencer's diary. Source: Mark Norris, World war Zoo Gardens collection

July 1917 entry, Edith Spencer’s diary. Source: Mark Norris, World war Zoo Gardens collection

Air Raid Precautions were not just part of wartime life at London Zoo in WW2 and the 1940s. Amongst one of the  prescient safety actions at London Zoo in World War 1 was to build reinforced enclosure fronts for some of the dangerous animals such as reptiles, to protect the animals and staff from flying glass and the public from escaped animals.

The shape of things to come? A private back garden photograph of an airship or possible Zeppelin, location and date unknown. (Image source: copyright World War Zoo Gardens collection)

The shape of things to come? A private back garden photograph of a British airship , location and date unknown c. 1917. (Image source: copyright World War Zoo Gardens collection)

Researching what we can learn from how wartime zoos survived for the World War Zoo Gardens project, it is curious to see how people prepared for this new threat, beginning with the first aeroplane raids on Dover around Christmas 1914 mentioned in our previous December 2014 blogpost The first Zeppelin raid on Britain took place on 19 January 1915. London was reached and bombed at night by Zeppelins on 31 May 1915.

These were noticeable responses to a new threat from the skies,  German zeppelin airships and later, Gotha and Giant bombers. London Zoo and Regent’s Park were in the flight path of several raids but thankfully spared air raid damage in WW1, although Regent’s Park was bombed on several occasions. The London Zoo was spattered with spent shrapnel from the “Archies” (Anti-aircraft guns) on Primrose Hill  and prepared against possible animal escape with firearms trained staff of “a special emergency staff of picked men was always on call. Heavy shutters were fitted to the glass fronts of the poisonous snakes’ cages” (Source: The Zoo Story, L.R.Brightwell, 1952). A long-term outcome of the WW1 air raid preparation was the provision of a First Aid post for visitors continuing after the war (Source: The Zoo, J. Barrington-Johnson, 2005).

In some of the London Zoo histories such as by L.R.Brightwell, the “barking of the Archies” (anti-aircraft guns) on Primrose Hill nearby was an interesting note. London was slow at first to realise and respond to the threat. In Ian Castle’s books on these first London air raids in the Osprey History series, the maps show zeppelin and bomber routes heading over Regent’s Park with one or two bombs in the Park. By day and by night, a Zeppelin or large bomber aircraft must have been a strange and unnerving sight for visitors, staff and zoo animals.

Animals here at Newquay Zoo which have aerial predators such as meerkats, monkeys and lemurs quite frequently respond to aerial objects. Most notably in the past skies above Newquay  we have seen ranging from the Eclipse in 1999, candle party balloons, hot air balloons, party fire balloons, hang gliders, air ambulance helicopters, the Red Arrows, the Battle of Britain flight to the more natural occasional Sparrowhawk or Buzzard. Being near a former RAF base and Newquay Airport, although supposedly a no-fly zone for aircraft, the animals do see  some unusual aerial activity over the zoo.

Having been around on watch at Newquay Zoo on Firework Night in the past with nervous new arrivals, I wonder what the London Zoo animals would have made of Zeppelins, anti-aircraft guns or searchlights. Even the odd daytime firework or past lifeboat maroon sounded for emergency or Armistice Sunday in Newquay elicited a very noisy or nervous reaction from many animals from peacocks, macaws,  monkeys  and lemurs.

Cropped detail of a private back garden photograph of an airship or possible Zeppelin, location and date unknown. (Image source: copyright World War Zoo Gardens collection)

Cropped detail of a private back garden photograph of a British airship , location and date unknown c. 1917. (Image source: copyright World War Zoo Gardens collection)

There is lots of fantastic detail on Ian Castle’s excellent website on WW1 air raids. Ian is the author of two Osprey books London 1914-17: The Zeppelin Menace and London 1917-1918: The Bomber Blitz amongst several other airship related books.

Ian Castle identified the photo in January 2015  as “a British SSZ (Submarine Scout Zero) airship.” As Ian goes on to explain ” We had nothing to compare with the Zeppelins, but built numbers of small non-rigid airships to patrol the maritime approaches to Britain, looking for German U-boats trying to threaten the all-important convoys. The Zero was 143ft 5ins long, compared with a Zeppelin which measured over 600 feet. The first Zeros flew in the summer of 1917 and a total of 77 were built, right up to the end of the war.”

Airships like these patrolled the coast looking for U-Boats, which threatened Merchant shipping, fishing boats and Royal Navy vessels supplying and supporting Britain’s war effort. By 1917 bad harvests and U-Boats threatened Britain’s civilian food supply, leading to rationing and an early form of ‘Dig for Victory’, as mentioned elsewhere on our blog. The remains of heavy concrete mooring blocks from British  airship sheds can be seen on the Lizard in Cornwall,  an hour away from Newquay Zoo where our wartime garden project is based. There is more about these in  Ian Castle’s book  or  Pete London’s books about Cornwall in The Great War (Truran, 2014) and  U-boat Hunters: Cornwall’s Air War, 1916-19 (Truran, 1999).                             

A photograph from Ian Castle's collection of SSZ 37, the type of Zero airship shown in our postcard photograph. Source: Ian Castle

A photograph from Ian Castle’s collection of SSZ 37, the type of Zero airship shown in our postcard photograph.
Source: Ian Castle

The ZSL Archive artefact of the month recently was the 1914 WW1 ZSL report. Looking slowly day by day through the daily occurrence books of London Zoo from August 1914 in the amazing  ZSL library and archive recently, I didn’t reach 1917 or 1918, something to do on my next visit. They would certainly have been amongst the talk of many of the staff who lived in the Primrose Hill, Regent’s Park  and  Camden area. Edith Spencer’s Diaries – 1917  A glimpse of everyday life amongst the London  air raids can be found in the unpublished civilian diaries of Edith Spencer (born 1889, St. Helen’s, Lancs). These form part of my wartime diary collection for the World War Zoo Gardens project.

Please credit Mark Norris / World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo if you reproduce any sections of Edith Spencer’s diaries or contact us via this blog site comments.

When the diaries recently went on show in my village as part of a WW1 centenary display, several elderly ladies spoke vividly of their mother’s stories of hiding from the Zeppelins in London.

March 1917 entry, Edith Spencer's diary. Source: Mark Norris, World war Zoo Gardens collection

March 1917 entry, Edith Spencer’s diary. Source: Mark Norris, World war Zoo Gardens collection

With a brother away at the Western Front, Edith was the unmarried youngest daughter of  William W. Spencer, a deceased Wesleyan Methodist Minister. Several of her brothers became Methodist ministers and missionaries. It seems from Edith’s diaries that paid work was probably new, as she had no paid career listed in the 1911 census. Her mother Isabella (nee Reid) had died the year before on the Isle of Wight, where there was a strong family connection. This meant Edith was now  working in London as a clerk, working at the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society offices at 24 Bishopsgate in London. This building has now been replaced by the Pinnacle skyscraper.

Her employment there may have been part of freeing up men for the war effort. There is more about this organisation on the website Wesleyan Methodism archives . Edith’s unpublished diaries for 1917 to 1920 have some surprisingly understated entries (a lot of the entries are work related). Maybe the raids were becoming a commonplace feature of London life by then. Date evidence suggests that these are aeroplane raids, rather than the last of the Zeppelin attacks.

As Ian Castle suggested after reading her diary extracts, Edith Spencer’s low key reaction was surprising but not unusual:

“I am always fascinated when you read diaries such us this as they are so ‘relaxed’. These early bombing raids on London and other cities were so new – like something from science fiction to the average civilian, yet their diary entries are so ‘matter of fact’!”

Friday 19 January 1917: terrific explosion at Silvertown.

This explosion at a muitions factory at first was thought to be the result of air raids and was widely reported at the time. Her next entry seems to refer possibly to the Geological or  Geographical Society offices as a lecture venue. She also goes to many other talks of an evening, on art and other things, but mostly faith related.

Friday 9 February 1917: Lecture on ‘Aircraft’ at B.G.S.

Eighteen Gotha  large bombers attacked London on 13 June in broad daylight at the height of 12,000 feet, the first daylight raid on London. Despite the efforts of 90 British home defence aircraft scrambled to intercept them, 100 bombs were dropped on London by the 14 aircraft that got through.  Several notable buildings were hit ranging from the Royal Hospital Chelsea  and Poplar County Council School where 18 children were killed and others injured. 162 people were killed and 432 injured in this first daylight raid by aeroplanes on London. No Gotha was brought down and the air  defences of London were found wanting. Source for the additional details of these raids throughout this blogpost are the books First Blitz by Neil Hanson (Corgi Books) and London 1917-18 The Bomber Blitz by Ian Castle (Osprey), as well as his excellent website. Edith Spencer records this raid which saw bombs fall all around her place of work  in Bishopsgate:

Weds 13 June 1917: 10.30 PM [Prayer Meeting]  11.30 Air Raid, piece of bomb on roof. Thurs 14 June 1917: Warning of raid, 3 – 4 in basement.

March 1917 entry, Edith Spencer's diary. Source: Mark Norris, World war Zoo Gardens collection

March 1917 entry, Edith Spencer’s diary. Source: Mark Norris, World war Zoo Gardens collection

The 14 June entry appears only to have been a warning, rather than a raid. The next daylight raid came on 7 July 1917.

July 1917 entry, Edith Spencer's diary. Source: Mark Norris, World war Zoo Gardens collection

July 1917 entry, Edith Spencer’s diary. Source: Mark Norris, World war Zoo Gardens collection

Saturday 7 July 1917: Big German air raid on London . Stayed in Committee Room. Leadenhall Street hit badly …

The ” Archies” or AA guns  were readier this time but more of the 24 German Gothas were successfully engaged by Sopwith Pups and other planes of No. 37 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps. 21 Gothas reached London around 10.30 a.m.  and again many of the 72  bombs on the City  hit the area near Edith Spencer in Bishopsgate. 54 were killed and 190 were injured. Leadenhall Street, Fenchurch Street and Billingsagte Fish Market were hit in this raid, according to Ian Castle, Leadenhall being mentioned by Edith Spencer.

Tuesday 17 July 1917: Emergency Committee met. Tuesday 21 August 1917: Mr. Goudie called meeting re. shelter in Air Raids, decided to go to our own strong room.

August’s poor wet and windy weather deferred many other raids and some of these August daylight raids only reached the coast.

August 1917 entry, Edith Spencer's diary. Source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens collection

August 1917 entry, Edith Spencer’s diary. Source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens collection

Wednesday 22 August 1917: Rumour of Air Raid, only reached Margate. Spent an hour in the Strong Room.

With more well organised air defence by the RFC, the German Gotha raids switched to night raids, as recorded by Edith Spencer:

Monday 3 September 1917: Air raids at night – didn’t hear anything.

16 were killed and 56 were injured by around 50 bombs from the 5 Gothas that made it through. One reason that she might not “hear anything” much is that on many night she was at home in Watford, though sometimes stayed up in London. Edith’s home address was the now vanished (1869 – 1966) Wesleyan Manse, 1 Derby Road, Watford, Herts. The shrapnel from this first night-time bombing raid can still be seen on Sphinx and Cleopatra’s Needle on the Embankment today.

There were other Gotha raids on London 24 and 29 September 1917, more in October and a planned firestorm of incendiaries on London in December 1917 but these have no record in Edith’s diary; these sections are mostly blank of any entry. 1918 entries Edith Spencer’s unpublished diary These most probably relate to air raids by Giant and Gotha aeroplane bombers as the last Zeppelin raids on London were on 19/20 October 1917. Britain’s air defences were becoming too organised for the lumbering Zeppelins; “the day of the airship is past for attacks on London” the Kaiser declared after the 23/24th May 1917 raids (Castle, London 1914-17: The Zeppelin Menace, p.85 ). Only four Zeppelin raids were mounted in 1918 against Britain on the North and Midlands ending on 5 August 1918; several Zeppelins were also destroyed by fire at their home base of Ahlhorn on 5 January 1918. From now on, aeroplanes were the emerging new threat.

Monday 28 January 1918: Raid, lights down 8.10 onwards. Tuesday 29 January 1918: Raid, warning 10pm.

January 1918 entry, Edith Spencer's diary. Source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens collection

January 1918 entry, Edith Spencer’s diary. Source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens collection

The 28th January 1918 raid saw 65 killed and 159 injured from 44 bombs, including 38 killed and 45  men, women and children injured in the basement shelter of Odham’s printing works at Longacre in London. This was the sort of basement shelter that Edith Spencer and work colleagues used at Bishopsgate. A night time raid warning maroon was sounded for the first time shortly after 8pm. Sadly panic from these unfamiliar explosions led to a crush in Shoreditch heading towards  one air raid shelter at Bishopsagte Goods Yard, leaving 14 killed and 12 injured. Thankfully only 3 of the 13 Gothas and 1 of the 2 new Giant bombers made it as far as London. Several attacked coastal targets and 5 were lost to landing accidents or one shot down over Essex.

It is interesting that she refers to  ‘lights down’ suggesting a form of blackout in practice, either routinely or in response to air raid warning. This precedes the chaos of life in the blackout in WW2 As well as brothers who were Methodist ministers, Edith had family fighting in the war.

Sunday 10 February 1918: letter from Frank reporting next move to France on 26th [February]

F.W. Spencer her younger brother (born in 1891 at St Helen’s, Lancs.) survived his service with the 58th Brigade, Royal Garrison Artillery as a Lieutenant  and later as Acting Captain, Royal Field Artillery which he joined on 11 March 1916. Raids on London continued as weather permitted  into 1918:

16 February 1918 entry, Edith Spencer's diary. Source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens collection

16 February 1918 entry, Edith Spencer’s diary. Source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens collection

Saturday 16 February 1918: Raid warning 10.5 to 12.5 only, very distant firing heard. [this .5 might be 50 minutes or half past].

feb 18 2

17 and 18 February 1918 entry, Edith Spencer’s diary. Source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens collection

Sunday 17 February: Raid Monday 18 February: Holly and  I cleaned silver. Raid, firing nearer. Hilda, Holly and I made row in kitchen.

The sound of the anti aircraft guns is a vivid note in her record of this raid. This was a raid by only two German ‘Giants’ that made it to London where Woolwich was hit and the Royal Hospital Chelsea, killing around 7 people. On the next day 17th  London was hit again, by the R.25 a Giant, the only available German plane, but 20 were killed and 22 injured including servicemen home on leave and several in a shelter at St. Pancras station.

7 March 1918: Air Raid at 11.20. In bed.

It looks like Edith was often back in Watford each night, as she missed injury in the raid by 3 Giants which left 23 killed, 39 injured in the St. John’s Wood and Clapham Common area. A single 1000 kilogram bomb at Maida Vale was responsible for 12 of those killed and 33 injured. One of those killed was Lena Ford who wrote the words for Ivor Novello’s wartime hit song “Keep the Home Fires Burning”.

Whit Sunday Bank Holiday May 19 1918   Air Raid 11.30 to 1.15

This was the largest and last air raid of the war on London, according to Castle. It was a Bank Holiday weekend of notably fine weather. Edith Spencer on the Monday had a “beautiful walk round Plum Lane … Weather glorious, the fields all gold and green …” 18 Gothas and 1 Giant bomber reached London for the Whitsun raid of 1918, thankfully under half those that set out. 48 were killed, 172 were injured by the raid. The evening raid was the first countered by the newly amalgamated Royal Air Force which was created from the RFC and Royal Naval Air Service units on 1 April 1918. Several Gothas were brought down by the RAF and anti-aircraft fire over London and the Coast. After the War Edith Spencer continued to work for the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society, working on her Pitman Shorthand and recording family, religious and missionary activities returning to normal.  Our diaries finish in 1920 by which she was experiencing increasing health problems.

11 November 1918 entry, Edith Spencer's diary. Source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens collection

11 November 1918 entry, Edith Spencer’s diary. Source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens collection

In her armistice day entry, I think Mary is Edith’s  older sister Isabella Mary Spencer, who seems to have been involved in nursing after a career as a teacher and Methodist missionary. The reference to ‘hospital isolation to help with pneumonia’ suggest the Spanish flu epidemic that killed so many civilians and servicemen who survived  the war. Edith is off work for several weeks dealing with Mary, when she herself comes down with flu from working in the hospital. This flu  probably accounted for the post-war deaths of  several zoo and Kew gardens staff after WW1 as set out in our WW1 casualty biography sections. Lessons learned for another war? You can look at the equivalent raid entry for each date on Ian Castle’s website www.iancastlezeppelin.co.uk as these years are added to this evolving website or in his book the London 1917-18 The Bomber Blitz.

WW1 air defence technology that survived into WW2.

WW1 air defence technology that survived into WW2.

Ian Castle’s website shows more details of the Zeppelins, German and British  planes involved as well as the increasingly organised air raid defences. These would be tested again, resembling some of the WW1 devices like sound locators, searchlights,  aircraft batteries, balloon screens  and plotting rooms (all shown on propaganda / information cigarette cards of  the late 1930s, see above)  but with the  significant improvement of RADAR in the Second World War. Zoos themselves were staffed by WW1 veterans who had served in the forces or worked at the zoo through WW1. This would give them some insight into how to prepare for the threats that air raids and gas raids might pose as WW2 loomed. My research area of zoos, botanic gardens and aquariums has uncovered many stories across Europe  of preparing for and surviving disastrous events like air raids in the Second World War.  Swords into  ploughshares … Researching what happened to wartime zoos, aquariums and  botanic gardens one sometimes comes across odd facts. Former airfields and failing  estates make  suitable large spaces for wildlife parks. Newquay’s coastal sister zoo Living Coasts in Brixham  (opened on the Marine Spa /Beacon Quay site in 2003)  was briefly part in 1918 of a naval seaplane station; its war surplus hangers eventually became aviaries in the fledgling Paignton Zoo in the 1920s. This must be some kind of ‘swords into ploughshares’ or its zoo equivalent, for a very different kind of flight! Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo. Postscript Edith Spencer’s diaries are written in the  Boots Home Diary and Ladies’ Note Book for 1917 to 1920.

Fighting German Imports, a page from Boots Home Diary 1918.

Fighting German Imports, a page from Boots Home Diary 1918.

Amongst the handy medical and legal information, one interesting page is about Boot’s the Chemist’s  role in the War. Collecting and growing plants for the Vegetable Drugs Committee in WW1 and WW2 is another story for a future blog post.

WW2 at Newquay Zoo and other Primary Workshops ‘Inspire’d by the new curriculum.

January 5, 2015

Breathing New Life into Old Bones and Fossils – The new primary curriculum and the Cornish Inspire Curriculum

inspire yr 6 ww2 doc 

An interesting  development we have seen this year is the new 2013/4  primary curriculum, and specifically the Inspire Curriculum packages being pioneered in Cornwall by Cornwall Learning:  http://theinspirecurriculum.co.uk/

As these four to six week cross-curricular topic based units of the Inspire Curriculum were only launched in September 2014, we had an unseasonably busy start to the Autumn term with lots of unexpected new requests for visits to the zoo or outreach talks to schools, not next term or Summer but this week or at the very latest next week please!

This flurry of activity was coupled with requests to support topics like teeth, food  and skeletons for newly christened workshops like “Why are humans animals too?” (Year 3, Unit 1) and Year 4 Unit 1 “Where Does my Food Go?”  Out of the resources cupboard and back into our everyday workshop box have come  carnivore, herbivore and omnivore skulls or odd objects like a lion-chewed mangled  plastic enrichment ball to illustrate different teeth points. For some of our live encounter animals like African Land Snails  a cheese grater or sandpaper is the best way to show what their microscopically tiny radula teeth are like!

Over the next few months as new topics are being first delivered in class, we will update our curriculum workshops and look for new curriculum opportunities in addition to what we already offer.

Although the full  curriculum topic packages  for schools have to be purchased from Cornwall Learning,  there is a glimpse of available curriculum map summaries in published materials online on Cornish school websites. Published  to inform parents of the new curriculum, they reveal some interesting possibilities to engage schools with Newquay Zoo’s education and conservation mission.

World War Zoo Garden, Summer 2011: World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

World War Zoo Garden, Summer 2011: World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

World War Zoo Gardens and the new WW2 curriculum links

Whilst popular topics from the old primary curriculum like World War Two evacuation seem at first sight to have disappeared, on closer examination they have morphed into new titles  like Year 6  Unit 5   “The Battle of Britain – Bombs,   Battles and Bravery 1940”. Evacuation crops up in open History questions like “What was it like to be a child during WW2?”

Throughout 2015 we will use this topic and Inspire curriculum map to refocus our existing wartime history talks, still focussed around life in a wartime zoo. You can see our workshop write up for our current wartime zoo workshops.

Below we have put a few interesting zoo links to the new Inspire Curriculum WW2 unit , to which we will add more in future blog posts.

inspire yr 6 ww2 doc

The WW2 curriculum map has some interesting questions to engage learners to read, write and research in different genres – fictional diaries, stories or biographies.  For English links,  there is  for Text Evacuee diaries based around Children’s book Goodnight Mr Tom, or writing war stories with the theme “The Night the Bomb Fell” as well as Biographies of War Heroes. Lots of possible zoo and botanic garden links there, including the short biographies of WW2 wartime careers of Kew staff and London Zoo staff.  

I have heard some fabulous sing-alongs, poster displays and seen some great murals when visiting schools on offsites with animals.  For Music and Media there is the chance to “listen to and sing popular WW2 tunes”, as well as “preparing and broadcasting their own WW2 radio programmes with songs, message and news items”. Hopefully there’ll be some handy gardening advice and kitchen front recipe tips on the radio (see previous blog posts).  It sounds a bit like creating the Kernow Pods wartime garden podcast on our website.

For Art and Design there is a chance to look at examples  and design your own WW2 propaganda poster, as WW2 evacuee Benenden School girls did for a 1941 competition for Newquay War Weapons Week (see poster in the background of our workshop display). I look forward on school visits to seeing many “Large scale murals of London during the Blitz using silhouettes” as the Inspire curriculum WW2 unit suggests, hopefully with London Zoo’s escaped Blitz  zebra somewhere around (famously painted by war artist Carel Weight). And why the London Blitz , not Plymouth or Exeter or many other blitzed towns?

Putting our workshop materials out, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

Centre: The original WW2  Newquay War Weapons Week poster designed by evacuee Benenden girls. Putting our workshop materials out, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo

 

Another History topic question in the Inspire WW2 Unit is “Why was the Battle of Britain important and how did the use of RADAR help in its victory?” There are many interesting future blog stories to post about around the development of radar, codebreaking and the wartime scientific work of botanists or zoologists like Solly Zuckerman who designed and tested air raid helmets under explosive test conditions on himself and a few unwilling volunteer zoo monkeys.

For Maths  – “Exploring Coding and the Enigma Coding Machine” in the Inspire Curriculum opens up some interesting topics. Senior  zoo staff in WW1 and WW2 such as ZSL’s Peter Chalmers Mitchell, Julian Huxley and Aquarium Curator E.G.Boulenger were involved in wartime intelligence, often at the vaguely named ‘War Office’ and in Boulenger’s case as a  possible codebreaker (often this is not explicitly stated but hinted). Possibly their knowledge of Latin and German as keepers and classifiers of animals, friendly with German zoo directors and scientists, would have been useful.

Woburn Abbey housed a “Wrennery” in its attic, accommodating WRNS women linked to the Wireless Intercept stations as part of the Bletchley Park network. Kew Gardens had some equally ‘secret’ staff  missions such as William W.B. Turrill writing documents on the vegetation of various wartime areas, whilst Herbert Whitley’s Paignton Zoo’s bird collection  housed a secret carrier pigeon loft as part of the National Pigeon Service and Royal Corps of Signals. Other zoos such as Blackpool, Port Lympne, Marwell and Knowsley had interesting wartime pasts (airfields, tank training, crash sites)  as declining  estate gardens before conversion post-war to zoos and safari parks.

WAAF servicewomen and an RAF sergeant at an unidentified  Chain Home Station like RAF Drytree, declassified photo 14 August 1945 (from an original in the World War Zoo gardens archive)

WAAF or WRNS servicewomen and an RAF sergeant at an unidentified Chain Home Station –  declassified photo 14 August 1945 (from an original in the World War Zoo gardens archive)

Another Science question in the  Inspire curriculum WW2 unit “How was light important during WW2? (the Blackout, searchlights etc)” and “How does light reach our eyes?” links well with our nocturnal animal / in the dark talks. Animals at Newquay Zoo have some super senses ranging from echo-locating bats at nighttime over the zoo lake to vibrissae (otter whiskers), super-sensing snakes which listen to the ground without ears or ‘ground radar’ cockroaches who listen through their ‘knee ears’. Even the humble carrot reputedly eaten to improve the night sight of fighter pilots like ‘Cats Eyes’ Cunningham was used as cover story  for the secret development of RADAR. Strange sound locators (below) were widely publicised as cover for the success of this secret invention, such as  this image from our collection:

soundlocator C card

Planthunters and gardens

There are also gardening and plant links that open up interesting possibilities for connecting to our World War Zoo Gardens wartime allotment such as  Year 2 Unit 6 – “Sowing and Growing” whilst  planthunters such as George Forrest make a surprising appearance in Year 1 Unit 6 “The Potting Shed – Buried Treasure”. An amazing adventurous  character, George Forrest, as you can see from the RBGE magazine, a real life Indiana Jones like many planthunters!  Time to think about plant trails and workshops for 2015 or 2016, maybe?

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

Cornwall has a rich heritage of plants received from famous planthunters. Some were Victorian figures like William and Thomas Lobb. There were many explorers from the poles to planthunting who  were actively exploring  into wartime such as Reginald Farrar, Frank Kingdon-Ward and George Forrest. Their wartime careers in WW1 and WW2 is something I’m researching for a future blog post. Their amazing adventures in tropical forest and mountain valleys were being reported back through garden journals  magazines alongside news of WW1 which saw many gardeners enlist as we have covered in other blog posts.

elderly plant hunter and wartime secret agent Frank Kingdon Ward in battledress 1940s (taken from his last posthumous book 1960  volume in the Newquay Zoo wartime life collection).

Elderly plant hunter and wartime secret agent Frank Kingdon Ward in battledress 1940s (taken from his last posthumous book 1960 volume in the Newquay Zoo wartime life collection)

Some of the wartime exploits of ageing plant hunter Frank Kingdon-Ward (1885-1958) included teaching jungle survival, surveying secret escape routes for pilots in Japanese held territory and searching for missing planes through Asian jungles (whilst collecting plants en route). A secret silk escape map of SE Asia in our collection illustrates this story well. 

Evolution, Dinosaurs  and Fossils

There are also other welcome new  titles such as  “A Voyage of Discovery”  (Year 6 Unit 5) bringing Darwin’s life, voyages and discoveries back into the classroom and also a chance to look at fossils and dinosaurs in Year 3 – “Shake, Rock and Roll”. Our Darwin 200 bicentenary resources from 2009 including our Darwin stamp blog with RZSS Edinburgh Zoo have another life with this chance to discuss evolution and extinction, highly relevant to the modern zoo conservation mission of any of our Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust sites at Paignton Zoo, Newquay Zoo or Living Coasts.

Modern Foreign Languages are embedded in topic maps throughout, so a chance to freshen up our basic Spanish and French offerings about animal names, habitats,  travel and conservation projects. Lots of possible links here – Maybe a ‘crash course’ in French for lost secret agents or downed airmen to survive in occupied France to complement the WW2 unit? Maybe some simple Spanish as  Charles Darwin had to learn to find his way around South America on his Beagle journey?

Other old favourite topics, snappily retitled include these which complement our workshops:

Classification (Year 1 Unit 8 – “Animal Allsorts”)

Habitats (Year 4 Unit 9 – “A Place for Everything”)

Rainforests (Year 4 Unit 7 – “Amazing Amazon”)

Life Cycles (Year 5 Unit 5 – “Round and Round”)  

There are others  well as several focussing on human and animal senses:

(Year 1 Unit 7 – “Brilliant Bodies”)

Sound and sense (Year 4 Unit 6 – “Sounding Off”)

Other slots include current affairs (Year 6 unit 2  – “What’s Happening Now?”) and an interesting ‘The Apprentice’ style  Young Enterprise unit Year 6 Unit 9 “You’re Hired” (a possible link to business studies?)

We also like the links to journeys, navigation, maps, travel  and explorers across many Primary years (such as Year 5 Unit 3 – “Poles Apart”)  whilst “Dragons – Fact and Fiction” in Year 4 Unit 4 might bring some interesting reptile requests!  

Spitfires, Stukas, George and the Dragon: Newquay War Weapons Week poster design from Carmen Blacker and Joan D Pring at Benenden Girls School, evacuated to Newquay in the 1940s. Copyright: World War Zoo project, Newquay Zoo

Spitfires, Stukas, George and the Dragon: Newquay War Weapons Week poster design from Carmen Blacker and Joan D Pring at Benenden Girls School, evacuated to Newquay in the 1940s. Copyright: World War Zoo project, Newquay Zoo

Not all Cornish schools have adopted this Inspire Curriculum package yet; some I know intend to use it to develop a Cornish or more regional focus to some aspects of the curriculum, using the local area and history. This was pioneered through the Sense of Place initiative.  

Inspire, Sense of Place and the new primary curriculum  are all good opportunities to spot what old, new or unusual topics we might be asked to support the delivery of during an outreach animal encounter or  school visit to the zoo.

Watch this space! The zoo education team can be contacted on 01637-873342 or via the zoo website.

Happy New Year  from all the Education team!

Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, and Education Manager  Newquay Zoo .

 

 

 

 

 


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