Kew Gardens lost 14 staff on active service in WW2 including a postwar casualty Allan Beard who died around 6 August 1946, 70 years ago today.
The 14th and last name on the Kew Gardens staff war memorial is Allan Beard, who served as a despatch rider with the Middlesex Regiment and died aged 31 a “tragic death” just after the war, possibly from injury related to war service.
His obituary http://www.kewguild.org.uk/articles/1855/ appeared in the 1946 Kew Guild Journal.
Beard had been a gardener on the Parks Staff at Stamford Park, Ashton Under Lyne until he joined up in 1939. http://www.tameside.gov.uk/parks/stamford/history
Along with several garden colleagues, he had joined Hyde Company, Territorial Army section of the 6th Cheshire Regiment in early 1939; this would see him very quickly called into service three days before war broke out. By October 1939, he was serving with the Middlesex Regiment and fought through the campaigns of 1940 in Northern France and Belgium, eventually being evacuated from Dunkirk.
Back in Britain, instead of promotion Allan Beard chose to train as a despatch rider partly from a love of motorbikes.
Sadly he was the victim of a wartime traffic accident (not surprising with blackout etc), being struck by an army lorry in Canterbury in 1943.
By June 1944 he had been discharged from the army on medical grounds and returned to his previous garden job. Stamford Park by then had lost its railings in wartime, collected as salvage metal for the war effort, but had been maintained as a public park, popular like Kew Gardens with people encouraged in wartime to “holiday at home”.
Allan Beard entered Kew in August 1946 under a Government assisted training scheme. His obituary is reported in the 1946 Kew Guild Journal but not listed on the CWGC website as his death occurred as a civilian after military service. It may have been linked to his earlier accident.
To read more about Kew Gardens in WW2:
Allan Beard of Kew Gardens, remembered 70 years on.
Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo.