Remembering William Dexter, ZSL London Zoo Keeper died Somme 23 October 1916

October 23, 2016

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William Dexter, ZSL London Zoo keeper killed in WW1 (Photo: Courtesy of Nova Jones, digital clean up Adrian Taylor ZSL)

Remembering today 100 years on ZSL Keeper William Dexter who died on 23rd October 1916 during the Somme battles.

You can read more about him at:

One of the things I remember most poignantly about Dexter is that he was finally identified by his number or initials in “a piece of boot” (according to his pension and service records) ‘19841 R.B.’ (for Rifle Brigade)

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Burial details of how William Dexter was identified. Source: CWGC

Remembered also by his granddaughter Nova Jones whom I met at London Zoo’s war memorial whilst researching there:

nova jones ZSL war mem

Nova Jones, Dexter’s granddaughter, inspects his name on the new panels at the ZSL London Zoo staff war memorial. (Image: Mark Norris)

The old brass plaques are so well polished they were replaced in 2014 at the start of the WW1 centenary:

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Names of the fallen ZSL staff from the First World War, ZSL war memorial, London Zoo, 2010 (panels now replaced by new ones in 2014)

Remembered by his family and his workplace 100 years on.


Forgotten Wrecks of WW1 exhibition at Living Coasts until 16 November 2016

October 20, 2016


Living Coasts is currently home until 16 November 2016 to a fascinating exhibition Forgotten Wrecks of WW1

The Forgotten Wrecks exhibition looks to raise the profile of under-represented aspects of the First World War.  Over 700 wartime wrecks are known to lie off the south coast of England.

These include largely forgotten ships and crafts of all shapes and sizes. Catch the exhibition at Living Coasts before it departs on 16th November 2016.


Wrecks of course make fascinating artificial reef habitats for marine wildlife.

We must never forget though that many of these wrecks are also war graves.

This is something that struck me during my research into wartime zoo staff and also my Cornish coastal village war memorial when visiting the Tower Hill Memorial for Merchant Navy crews and Plymouth Naval War Memorial, both monuments  to those with no known graves except the sea.


A few panels of the names of thousands of missing Royal Navy sailors on the Plymouth Naval Memorial (Image: Mark Norris)

The families of Torquay and Brixham along with Cornwall and many other coastal communities would have seriously disrupted by the submarine warfare affecting the Royal Navy, Merchant Navy shipping and fishing fleets.

Living Coasts also overlooks the site of not only a D-Day ‘hard’ embarkation point but also a short-lived WW1  former RAF / RNAS flying boat station.

The hangers of this floatplane station were apparently sold off as war surplus after the First World War  to the canny Herbert Whitley to become bird aviaries at his fledgling Paignton Zoo!


Find out more about visiting this Forgotten Wrecks exhibition at Living Coasts:

I must make time to get up to Torquay and see this Forgotten Wrecks exhibition before it finishes on 16 November 2016  at the always fascinating Living Coasts!

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

The Somme, the Ennor family, Living Memory and our local CWGC headstones in Newquay

October 19, 2016

imageLiving Memory is a project with CWGC to mark the 141 days of the Somme campaign and encourage people across communities and schools to connect with local CWGC burials and cemeteries in their areas.

In 2016 the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) in partnership with Big Ideas Company are asking the public in the British Isles to re-connect with the war dead buried in their own communities. CWGC has 200 large sites in the UK, almost all in big city cemeteries and linked to the hospitals: the majority of these men either died of their wounds in hospital or (in 1918-19) died in the influenza epidemic. In total CWGC graves in the UK are located in over 12,000 locations. They must not be forgotten.

As part of the WW1 Centenary partnership, the World War Zoo Gardens project (Newquay Zoo) has been looking at how the First World War impacted on zoos and botanic gardens, following on from looking at the impact of the Second World War on the food problems, staffing and other challenges of surviving wartime.

In my local work town of Newquay where our wartime garden project is based as part of Newquay Zoo, there are several cemeteries with a scatter of distinctive CWGC headstones. Many of them are WW2 air crew from local airfields.      Newquay Fairpark Cemetery WW2 casualties Newquay Crantock Street or New Cemetery WW1 casualties,%20URBAN%20DISTRICT Newquay registered / related WW2 civilian deaths  Newquay St. Columb Minor Cemetery – mostly WW2 casualties  Newquay St Columb Major Cemetery – WW1 and WW2 casulaties containing the (Somme related?) casualty James Mangan.


Amongst these cemeteries are   several interesting clusters of WW1 graves which tell an interesting story about how the soldiers and civilians of Britain were fed and supplied  in the First World War.

At Newquay New Cemetery the WW1 graves cover several local servicemen who died of wounds at home during or after the war, as well as some of the crew of SS War Grange, a Merchant Navy ship torpedoed by a German U-boat off the Newquay coast in May 1918.



SS War Grange torpedoed off Newquay 1918


I was surprised to learn that Rationing began in WW1 as did an early form of “Dig for Victory.” Both had been introduced to deal with the U Boat sinking of merchant shipping and the effects on the British food and war materials supply. A similar Royal Navy blockade was beginning to cripple the food supply and raw materials for war production of Germany and her Allies.

I will cover more about the mixed range of ages, nationalities and backgrounds of the SS War Grange (1918) and SS Falaba (1915) casualties including a stewardess  Louisa Tearle SS Falaba 1915 and a donkeyman Abdul Mahjid from the SS War Grange, in a separate blogpost.

The Tearle website (above) shows the Newquay New Cemetery and her distinctive slate grey headstone, different from the white portalnd stone used by CWGC elsewhere.


Living Memory and the 141 days of the Somme

Buried in the Newquay (Crantock Street) New Cemetery alongside these sailors  is a local Somme casualty, one of two Ennor  brothers from Newquay who died in the First World War.

Private Reginald Charles Ennor, DCLI / 7th London Regiment

Reginald Charles Ennor of Newquay, who died in hospital on 10 October 1916, was buried at home, unlike many of the Somme casualties.

Reginald served with the 7th City of London Battalion Regiment as Service No:6468. but was formerly enlisted as 24601, 9 th D.C.L.I. Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry  (the  local regiment).

Reginald’s regiment the 7th Battalion The London Regiment (nicknamed the ‘Shiny Seventh’ ) landed in France in March 1915 as part of the 4th London Brigade, 2nd London Division. They first saw action at Festubert in May 1915, and took part in major battles at Loos in September 1915, Vimy in May 1916 and High Wood in September 1916.

By the time of this Somme attack on the Butte de Warlencourt in October 1916, Reginald Ennor would be dying of wounds at home in Britain.

The 47th Division’s attack at High Wood, 15 September 1916
In late July 1916 the 1/7th London Battalion marched south to begin training to enter the ongoing Somme offensive. The battalion practised on positions marked out by flags, and adopted identification stripes on their arms: A Company blue, B Co green, C Co red and D Co yellow. On 15 September, 47th Division attacked High Wood to cover the left flank of the tank-led attack of the adjacent divisions on Flers.

The first objective for 140 Bde was a line clear of High Wood (the Switch Line), the second was the Starfish Line on the forward slope, and then the strong Flers Line. The 1/7th and 1/15th were to open the attack, after which the 1/8th would pass through to capture the Starfish Line and finally the 1/6th would pass through and continue to the Flers Line.

The 1/7th advanced rapidly behind a creeping barrage and took over 100 prisoners, but suffered severe casualties in taking the Switch Line and consolidating just in front of it. The battalion was relieved on the evening of 17 September and moved forward to relieve the 1/8th in the Starfish Line, where they were counter-attacked and bombarded for two days. (Wikipedia entry)

By the time the 7th Londons left the line on 20 September, the ‘Shiny Seventh’ were caked in mud and had suffered over 300 casualties including Reginald Ennor on or around the 18th September. The regiment was awarded the battle honour Flers-Courcelette.


High Wood Battle map (Wikipedia source)

Reginald Ennor was 27, an apprentice to a builder in 1911 and the son of architect John Ennor Jnr and Maria Ennor of 61 Lower Rd., Newquay. He died of wounds in the Military Hospital, Leeds on 10 October 2016.

His medal record roll suggests his service in France was from 16 June to 18 September 1916 including the High Wood attack as part of the Somme battles.  He died of wounds in a Leeds hospital back in Britain on 10 October 2016, hence his burial in the Uk, in  his home town amongst friends and family.

UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War SDGW, 1914-1919 lists Reginald as:

Reginald Charles Ennor
Birth Place: Newquay
Residence: Newquay
Death Date: 10 Oct 1916
Enlistment Place: Newquay
Rank: Private
Regiment: London Regiment
Battalion: 7th (City of London) Battalion
Regimental Number: 6468
Type of Casualty: Died of wounds
Comments: Formerly 24601, 9th D.C.L.I.


Sapper Joseph Hooper Ennor of the Royal Engineers

His brother, Sapper Joseph Hooper Ennor of the Royal Engineers also died on 12 Febraury 1920, having received a silver wound badge (Silver Badge Number: B 146218) from 1917 to 1919 and is buried nearby. His Discharge Unit is listed as the  Royal Engineers I.W & D and Regimental Number as  WR347183, Rank: Sapper, the equivalent to an Army Private.

In 1911 Joseph was listed as  “Clerk To surveyor Urban Council.” This same Newquay Urban District Council helped survey and build Newquay Zoo almost 60 years later.


Joseph Hooper Ennor on

The Ennor Family and Newquay’s History

The Ennor family helped to build Newquay as we  see it today.

The Ennor Family Roger Jenkin Newquay’s Founding Families article in Newquay Voice online 3 March 2004.

‘Mr J. Ennor Junior ‘. On the appropriate page his address is ‘Quay Road’. Architect and surveyor. He was John Ennor the Third, for the First – his grandfather – had been drowned when supervising the foundations of the South Quay for Squire Richard Lomax in 1831. His son – the next but one entry – ‘Mr J. Ennor Senior’, being John Ennor the second 1828 – 1912 – was the most prominent and prolific of his family being largely responsible for the building of old Newquay.

So many were his interests that one cannot do them full justice here. He was responsible for renewing the leases of two of the old fish cellars; he was the owner of no less than 18 local vessels; between 1877 and December 1890 he built 90 houses in the town; he had the first steam yacht in the bay; he was an original member of the Local Board and he erected the railway station buildings which were finished in 1877 and demolished circa 1990. A grandson, Hubert, built Ennors Road in the 1920s.

In a separate Roger Jenkin article it mentioned “On February 10, 1888, John Ennor completed the row of terraced houses, which stand to this day namely Trevose Place. The Rose fish cellars themselves were sited where the back gardens of those houses are.”

Both Ennor brothers are listed on Newquay’s large memorial overlooking the sea.


The brothers Ennor on the WW1 list amongst many familiar Newquay names above Newquay’s lost WW2 fire crew from the 1941 Plymouth Blitz (Old, Vineer, Whiting) Source:

The 1911 England Census gives clues to the whole Ennor  family and the two brothers, just before the First World War:

Reginald Ennor

Address: 2 Harbour Terrace, Newquay
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Apprentice To Builder
Registration district: St Columb

Household Members:
John Ennor Junr 56
Maria Ennor 55
George Hubert Ennor 27
Joseph Hooper Ennor  22
Reginald Charles Ennor 20
Florie Caroline Ennor 16
Elsie Ennor 14
Mabel Louise Ennor 12
Jane Hugo 39 (servant?)

Beyond Living Memory

Even once the Living Memory project is over, we should remember these people.

So if you are in Newquay on holiday or living locally, strolling around, why not pop into one of these local cemeteries especially around Remembrance time and pay your respects to these men and women? You could also do so closer to home, if you check out the CWGC website for your nearest site.

I know when I get a spare moment I will pop up and visit Newquay New Cemetery or Crantock Street Cemetery  in remembrance.

Remembering Reginald Ennor and the other casualties of the 141 days of the Somme buried with their CWGC headstones in cemeteries across the UK.


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




Doctor Carrot and WW2 secrets

October 18, 2016


Secret carrots – part of our wartime zoo schools workshop trail.


Read more about the exciting wartime history of carrots on the Carrot Museum website (I don’t get to type that sentence very often!)

Another of our blogposts on the interesting story about how diets and rationing were linked to WW2 through the pioneering work of nutritionist Elsie Widdowson:

Sadly I believe that the Tomato Museum on Guernsey (mentioned in the BBC TV 1990s The Wartime Kitchen Garden series)  is no more.

It’s amazing what  you find when you’re researching animal nutrition …

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo, 18 October 2016

Remembering John Divers and Herbert Woolley of Kew Gardens staff died Somme 9 October 1916

October 9, 2016

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James Wearn and Kew Gardens colleagues in 2016 mark the area where Kew’s John Divers died, Somme 1916.


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Read more about the Kew Staff on their WW1 war memorial at:

Remembered today 100 years on, two Kew Gardens and Kew Guild staff :

John Divers, 9 October 1916

Rifleman John Divers, service number 7056, 1st / 9th Battalion, London Regiment (Queen Victoria Rifles) and also County of London Cyclists, died on 9th October 1916 when his patrol into No Man’s Land towards the German trenches was wiped out. For a time he was “missing, believed killed” and an officer wrote to his father that they had not been “able to thoroughly search the ground” for his body.

As a result Divers has no known grave and is one of two Kew Gardens casualties (with H.M. Woolley) listed amongst the missing of the Somme Battles on the Thiepval Memorial at Panel Reference Pier and Face 9 C. John Divers is listed amongst over 72,000 men from the UK and South Africa who died in the Somme area before March 1918 and who have no known grave. An excellent Thiepval database exists to put faces to names and add to the publicly available knowledge about these 72,000 men.

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Divers and Woolley  are two Kew Gardens  staff with no known grave  remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme  (Image: CWGC website)

Herbert Woolley, 9 October 1916

36. Herbert Martin Woolley, 9 October 1916
Listed on the Kew memorial as Rifleman / Corporal Herbert Martin Woolley, “Essex Regiment”  is most likely to be Rifleman 3844, 1st / 5th Battalion, London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade), died 9 October 1916. Herbert is commemorated on Panel Reference Pier and Face 9 D, Thiepval Memorial, along with fellow Kewite John Divers.

Born 27 September 1883, Herbert was the son of G.H. Woolley, Vicar of Old Riffhams, Danbury, Essex. In 1908 after working in several nurseries and Kew 1906-08 he left to work managing a rubber estate in North Borneo. He returned from Borneo to join the Essex Regiment but ditched his commission and training as an officer to become a corporal in the London Rifle Brigade to see action more quickly. His brother suggest he was also promoted to Sergeant.  Herbert was killed shortly after the attack on Combles in 1916.

Herbert or “Bertie” Woolley came from a high-achieving and distinguished family of 12 children including his brother Lieutenant Colonel Sir Charles Woolley (1880 – 1960), “Woolley of Ur”, a famous archaeologist who knew Lawrence of Arabia. His brother Major George Harold Woolley VC OBE MC (1892 – 1968) was the first Territorial to win the Victoria Cross. In G.H. Woolley’s  autobigraphy, “Sometime a Soldier“, Bertie’s unusual decision to become a private soldier and change regiments to get to the front  quicker is described:

 “While I was on sick leave my third brother, Bertie, returned from British North Borneo. He had been trained at Kew Gardens and in Germany, and then was employed on rubber plantations in Borneo. When in England he had joined the old Militia, so I had no difficulty in helping him to get a commission in the Essex Regiment. He soon tired of England, so transferred as a private to the London Rifle Brigade; he did well with them in France and was quickly made a sergeant, then offered a commission. He was killed with the L.R.B. on the Somme in 1916.

About the same time Leonard, who was doing intelligence work in Egypt, was blown up in a yacht while placing agents on the north Syrian coast. He was rescued, but as a Turkish prisoner, and spent two years of bitter captivity at Kedos and Kastamuni.

Also in 1915 Kathleen, my fourth sister, made her way across Russia to take up a teaching appointment in a school in Tokyo. After leaving Somerville College, Oxford, she had been trained for this work by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Rachel, my fifth sister, was also now teaching in England. She had taken a degree at St. Andrew’s University and then went for teacher-training to St. Hilda’s at Oxford. Later she went to a school in Jamaica, and was subsequently head mistress of a diocesan school in India. My other two sisters, Edith and Marjory, were at home looking after my father at Old Riffhams, as well as coping with five or more officers of the Gloucester Regiment (T.A.), who were billeted in the house. A company of their men were in the barn. Most of the Gloucester Brigade were in huts on Danbury Common. Later in the war Edith married Harry Laxton, one of the officers who had been billeted in our house, and Marjory went to live in New Zealand.”

G.H. Woolley, Sometimes A Soldier. London: Ernest Benn, Ltd., 1963, pp. 38-39


WW1 Header section, Kew Gardens staff war memorial Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (Image source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

John Divers and Herbert Woolley, remembered 100 years on.


Herbert Woolley of  Kew Botanic Gardens Remembered on the WW1 section Kew Gardens staff memorial (Image Source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

Posted / scheduled by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo / World War Zoo Gardens project, 9 October 2016.

Remembering G.P. Patterson, ZSL London Zoo staff died Somme 5th October 1916

October 5, 2016


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Autumn colours behind the ZSL war memorial, London Zoo, November 2010 (Photo: Kate Oliver, ZSL Education)

Remembering G.P. Patterson of ZSL London Zoo staff who died 100 years ago today on The Somme on 5th October 1916.

His name is remembered on the ZSL London Zoo staff war memorial as

05.10.1916 Gerald P Patterson 19th County of London Regt ZSL Helper

The 19 County of London Regiment may be an error or his first regiment. A ‘Helper’ was a younger Keeper working his way up the ranks of London Zoo staff.

This is likely to be 43689 Private Gerald Phillips Patterson of the 8th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment was killed on 5th October 1916 during the Somme fighting.

He is buried in an individual grave XI. C. 4. in Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval, Somme, France. There is no family inscription on his headstone, pictured on the TWGPP website.

The life of his battalion during the Somme battles is well set out in the Somme school visit site

It is likely that Patterson went into action with the Norfolks on the 1st of July 1916, the first day of the Somme as part of the 18th (Eastern) Division as part of K2, Kitchener’s 2nd Army Group of New Army volunteers.

Patterson was most likely killed during the attack and capture of the Schwaben Redoubt on the 5th October 1916. The next day his battalion went back for rest out of the line.

Somme poppies, Thiepval area, 1992

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

Many of Patterson’s 8th Norfolk battalion who were killed and whose bodies or graves were not found are remembered on the nearby Thiepval Memorial on the Somme, alongside other ZSL staff like Albert Dermott.

Read more about him and the other ZSL London Zoo staff on their WW1 memorial at our blogpost:

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Names of the fallen ZSL staff from the First World War, ZSL war memorial, London Zoo, 2010. This well polished metal plate was replaced by a newer more  legible one  in 2014, the start of the WW1 centenary. 

G.P. Patterson, remembered.

Posted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo / World War Zoo Gardens project, 5 October 2016.

Remembering Kew’s Sydney Cobbold died Somme 3rd October 1916

October 3, 2016

Sydney Cobbold (Kew Guild photo)

Sydney Cobbold of the 8th Battalion, Rifle Brigade died 3rd October 1916, Somme area (Kew Guild photo)

Remembering along with  Kew Gardens staff, the Cobbold family and The Rifle Brigade  /  Rifles, the 100th anniversary of the death on 3rd October 2016 on the Somme of  Sergeant Sydney George Cobbold, 8th Battalion Rifle Brigade. He was a  Kewite on the Gardens staff of Kew Gardens from 1906 to 1908.

His CWGC  entry lists his headstone inscription from his father Maurice as “His Country Called / He Answered” and a TWGPP photo exists of his headstone. Sidney / Sydney was the son of Maurice and Anna Cobbold, of Woolpit, Suffolk where he was born.

He is buried at Grave Reference II. B. 7, Le Fermont Military Cemetery, Rivière, a front line cemetery of 80 burials begun by the 55th (West Lancashire) Division in March 1916 and closed in March 1917.

Looking at the Graves Registration GRU documents, it appears that on the same day that Sgt Cobbold was killed, 4 other 8th Rifle Brigade were killed and buried in the same plot 2 Row B of this front line cemetery alongside him – Rifleman L.J. Farr, W.G. Kittle, Benjamin Gordon (Jewish star in place of a cross) and fellow sergeant J.R. Aspden, Military Medal. Cobbold lies among his comrades and his men.

Read more about him and the other Kew WW1 casualties on their staff war memorial:

It was partly  thanks to Sarah, one of his Cobbold relatives, that I first became aware of the Kew Gardens staff war memorial.

James Wearn at Kew has written an article on Sydney Cobbold with help form Sarah and myself for the Rifle Brigade regimental magazine.

So he is not forgotten by his regiment, his family or his workplace.


Sergeant Cobbold and Rifles comrades lie buried in the small Le Fermont Cemetery, Somme. (Image: CWGC)

Remembering the Somme Battle of Thiepval 1916

September 26, 2016


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Routledge is one of several British zoo staff with no known grave are remembered amongst thousands on the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme (Image: CWGC website)

Remembering today the thousands who died on each side of the Somme Battle of Thiepval  including 100 years ago today on 26 September 1916:

Wilfred Omer Cooper, writer and naturalist,  FLS Fellow of the Linnean Society, died Somme 26 September 2016

Alfred Routledge, Belle Vue Zoo Manchester staff, died 26 September 2016  September 1916

1. Wilfrid Omer Cooper
Born 1895, he was killed in 26 September 1916. He had been involved with the Bournemouth Natural Science Society, studying isopods.

Elected to the Linnean Society only in Spring 1915, Cooper  was still a private G/40113 in the 12 Battalion Regiment, Middlesex Regiment when he died aged 21. He has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing of the Somme battles.

He is listed on the CWGC website as the son of the late John Omer Cooper (died 1912) and Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Thompson Cooper, 6 Queensland Road, Boscombe, Bournemouth.

On the listing for Soldiers Died in The Great War (SDGW) he is listed as born at Boscombe, Bournemouth, Hants and resident at Bournemouth. He enlisted at High Beech, Loughton and was originally listed as formerly B/23290 Royal Fusiliers. He is the author of several papers and books including The Fishing Village and other writings (Literary and Scientific) posthumously published in Bournemouth by H.G.Commin 1917, the author one Wilfrid Omer-Cooper.

Read more about Cooper and the Linnean Society losses in WW1 here:


Taken from the ‘Bournemouth School and WW1’ website



2. Alfred Routledge, Belle Vue Zoo Manchester staff, died 26 September 2016

He died serving with the 11th Battalion Manchester Regiment on The Somme, aged 23 on 26 September 1916. He was killed in an attack on Mouquet Farm which was part of the final and successful British attempt to capture the village of Thiepval.

The village occupied high ground in the centre of the battlefield and had been a British objective on the first day of The Battle of The Somme on 1 July 1916.

Alfred Routledge is one of the many “Missing of the Somme”  listed on the Thiepval memorial, having no known grave. Routledge was  killed in the  final days of taking Thiepval village, one of the original objectives of the 1st July 1916, the first disastrous day of the Battle of The Somme two months earlier.

CWGC lists him as the son of the late Alfred and Emily Barton Routledge of 504 Gorton Lane, Gorton. Married. Routledge and fellow Belle Vue Zoo staff Sidney Turner and Ralph Stamp are remembered on the St. James Parish Church war memorial at:

Read more about Routledge and the Manchester men of Belle Vue Zoo in WW1:

Late September  and early October 1916 was a bad few weeks for British zoo and botanic gardens staff. No doubt the zoo and gardens community was equally affected by the losses in Germany.

Kew Gardens staff

The follwing Kew Gardens men will also lose their lives in the closing months of the 141 days of the Somme fighting:

Sergeant Sydney George Cobbold, S/12906, 8th Battalion, Rifle Brigade died on the 3rd October 1916, aged 28. He has a known grave in a small Somme cemetery.

Sydney Cobbold (Kew Guild photo)

Sydney Cobbold of the 8th Battalion, Rifle Brigade died 3rd October 1916, Somme area (Kew Guild photo)

Rifleman John Divers, service number 7056, 1st / 9th Battalion, London Regiment (Queen Victoria Rifles) and also County of London Cyclists, died on 9th October 1916.

kew divers

June 2016: Kew staff commemorate  John Divers near where he was killed on the Somme  in 1916.  


Rifleman / Corporal Herbert Martin Woolley, “Essex Regiment”  is most likely to be Rifleman 3844, 1st / 5th Battalion, London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade), died 9 October 1916.

Herbert is commemorated on Panel Reference Pier and Face 9 D, Thiepval Memorial, along with fellow Kewite John Divers.

I will blog post 100 years on the anniversary of each of their deaths. In the meantime, read more about them at:

London Zoo

ZSL London Zoo lost the following young keeping staff (‘Helpers’)  in the latter part of the Somme battles in September and October 1916.

15.9.1916        Arthur G. Whybrow      2547, 19 Bn. County of London Regt.  ZSL Helper.

05.10.1916      Gerald P Patterson       19th County of London Regt.     ZSL Helper

and an older Keeper whose grand-daughter I met whilst researching at London Zoo:

23.10.1916      William Dexter  Kings Royal Rifles, Rifleman    ZSL Keeper 

I will blog post 100 years on the anniversary of each of their deaths. In the meantime, read more about them at:

A lucky wounded survivor  who went on to found an amazing zoo …

George Mottershead (of the BBC ‘Our Zoo’ fame) of the Manchester Regiment will be severely injured on the 15th October 1916, surviving a spinal wound that nearly killed him and left him paralysed for several years bfeore he struggled to walk again and create Chester Zoo in the 1930s. He would lose several brothers or family members in WW1.

Remember all these men and their families  100 years on.

Scheduled blogpost for 26 September 2016 by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo / World War Zoo Gardens project.

San Diego Zoo 1944 postcard

September 26, 2016

san diego 1944 PC front

Message on the back reads:

san diego 1944  pC back

I hope Lieutenant H.J. Eiland (?) survived his war service. A great address to post a card to “John Burks, c/o Voice of Victory, Wade City, Florida”

Close up of the 19 November 1944 Postcard shows a little wartime life at San Diego Zoo – GIs / US  servicemen in uniform peaked caps (tinted green) and a sailor in bottom left hand corner, hopefully with his gal.

san diego 1944 PC front closeup

An amphitheatre like this still exists at San Diego Zoo in 2002.

In my Post 9-11 visit in 2002, they played a patriotic anthem, naming all the states in the Union just before the animal ambassador show started. People were invited to cheer or join in when their state was mentioned. Service  veterans or Service families were also mentioned and applauded whilst the Stars and Stripes flag was displayed very prominently everywhere.

I can’t quite imagine this in Britain, starting a zoo talk or animal encounter with a cheery proud song listing all the shires, even post BREXIT …

Interesting postcard, proof of the entertaining, patriotic  and morale boosting role  of the zoo in wartime.

Posted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo


Elsie Widdowson and WW2 rationing

August 18, 2016


World War Zoo Gardens sign, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK

It’s August. The schools are on 2016 holiday break and Newquay Zoo is lovely and busy with families.

I am also lovely and busy, preparing, repairing and refreshing schools and college workshop materials for September.

For the new City and Guilds 2016 syllabus  on animal managment delivered at  Newquay Zoo and Cornwall College Newquay,  I have been preparing new sessions for my new 16-19 year old students on animal feeding and nutrition.

One of the challenging new elements is a bit of biochemistry (and it’s a long time since I did my O levels!)

In the course of finding simple enough ways for me to understand and explain the new nutrition bits such as the  chemical structure of amino acids, protein bonds and suchlike,  I came across this great BBC clip on Elsie Widdowson from CBBC’s Absolute Genius team Dick and Dom:

Dr. Elsie  Who?

I feel I should know the name, as I have been looking at wartime gardening and rationing since 2009 as part of the World War Zoo gardens project workshops for schools.



Reading the story brought back very vague memories of this story being noted in passing in histories of food in wartime, rationing and gardening.

So who was Elsie Widdowson?

A trip to the kitchens at King’s College Hospital, London, brought her into contact with Professor Robert McCance, who was carrying out research into the best diets for people with diabetes. The two bonded and started on a research partnership that was to span 60 years.

They studied the effect poor nutrition has in adulthood and their book The Chemical Composition of Foods, published in 1940, became the “bible” on which modern nutritional thinking is founded.

Soon after the war started, she and Prof McCance lived for weeks in the Lake District eating the diet which they thought the British should consume during World War II to maintain basic health.They also cycled round Cambridge to study the importance of energy expenditure on diet. (

There’s a new volume for the World War Zoo gardening bookshelf – The Chemical Composition of Foods, published in 1940 – and the 7th edition (2014 version) is still in print on Amazon from the Food Standards agency today.

World War Zoo Children evacuation suitcase & garden items Oct 09 018

Delabole Co-op and Camelford stores in Cornwall for meat, registered with Haddy’s for other rationed items, (is Haddy’s still going?) this well used (light brown adult RB1) Ration Book from Cornwall is part of our wartime life collection (copyright: World war Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo).

Widdowson and McCance headed the first mandated addition of vitamins and mineral to food. Their work began in the early 1940s, when calcium was added to bread.  They were also responsible for formulating the wartime rationing of Britain during World War II. (Elsie Widdowson’s Wikipedia entry)

Elsie Widdowson, wartime rationing star and Mother of the modern loaf as this BBC report named her – that’s one to chew on when you’re eating your lunchtime sarnies!

Elsie Widdowson and her scientific partner, Robert McCance, oversaw the first compulsory addition of a substance to food in the early 1940s, when calcium was introduced to bread. They were also responsible for formulating war-time rationing – some experts say that under their diet of mainly bread, vegetables and potatoes, that was when Britain was at its healthiest.(

A biography  of sorts exists – McCance and Widdowson: A Scientific Partnership of 60 Years, 1933-93  A Commemorative Volume about Robert McCance CBE, FRS and Elsie May Widdowson CBE, FRS   published / edited by  Margaret Ashwell in 1993.

Interesting medical history blog entry by Laura Dawes about early  wartime food security concerns in Britain with a brilliant wartime photograph of McCance and Widdowson:

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