Lost gardeners and zoo staff during Passchendaele 1917 WW1

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Tyne Cot Cemetery –  long walls of names of the missing from the 1917  Battle of Passchendaele including Sergeant John Oliver of Belle Vue Zoo Gardens,  Manchester.  Image: CWGC 

The Third Battle of Ypres or The Battle of Passchendaele ran from  31 July 1917 through to its muddy winter end on the 10th November 1917. It was a battle notorious for the rain, mud, flooded trenches, high death toll and limited achievement at the expense of hundreds of thousands of casualties on both sides.

During the battle period, a number of British zoo and botanic gardens staff were killed. No doubt others were wounded.

Lost Zoo Keepers and Zoo Gardeners Of Passchendaele 1917

ZSL War Memorial 003small

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

London Zoo ZSL

The story of the lost London Zoo staff named on the London Zoo staff war memorial is told in more detail at our blogpost:

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

London Zoo lost two staff, a zoo gardener and a zoo keeper during the Battle Of Passchendaele period in 1917.

23rd September 1917  Albert Staniford  ZSL London Zoo Gardener
Served as 174234 216 Siege Battery, Royal Field / Garrison Artillery RGA

Buried in an Individual grave, II. M. 3. Maroc British cemetery, Grenay, France. Period of Third Battle of Ypres / Passchendaele, July to November 1917.
http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/523608/STANIFORD,%20A

ZSL gardener Albert Staniford was born in 1893 in the Regent’s Park area, the son of Annie and Alfred, who was also a gardener. His medal record card states that he served in both the Royal Field Artillery as 17692 and 216 Siege Battery,Royal Garrison Artillery as 174234 Gunner Staniford. He embarked for France on 31 August 1915, entitling him to a 1915 star, alongside the Victory and British War Medals.

Albert Staniford served in France for two years before his death in September 1917, dying only three months after his marriage in London on June 6 1917 to Esther Amelia Barrs (b. 1896). The CWGC listing has no family inscription on the headstone.

maroc

French and German burials lie amidst the British graves, Maroc Cemetery, Grenay, France. ZSL London Zoo Gardener Albert Staniford is buried in this cemetery. Image: cwgc.org.uk

3rd October 1917  William Perkins ZSL London Zoo Keeper

Buried Belgian Battery Corner Cemetery, Belgium

Served as 115806, Bombardier, 233rd Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery.

Born in 1878 in Lifton in Devon to a gardener / labourer father Thomas and Cornish mother Emma Jane. Listed as a (zoo) keeper on his wedding certificate, William married Lucy Elizabeth MacGregor in London in 23 August 1914 and lived in Eton Street, NW London (near many other keepers and zoo staff).

belgian battery corner cem

ZSL Keeper William Perkins is buried in Belgian Battery Corner Cemetery , Ypres, Belgium. Image: cwgc.org website

Perkins is buried in an individual plot, I. O. 6. Belgian Battery Corner Cemetery, Belgium. This appropriately named cemetery for an artillery soldier occupies a site at a road junction where three batteries of Belgian artillery were positioned in 1915. The cemetery was begun by the 8th Division in June 1917 after the Battle of Messines and it was used until October 1918, largely for burials from a dressing station in a cottage near by. Almost half of the graves are of casualties who belonged, or were attached, to artillery units.

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/92994/PERKINS,%20WILLIAM

warmem3 Belle Vue names

Sergeant J E Oliver’s name can just about be read on the Belle Vue Zoo’s now vandalised war memorial – luckily the names, although hard to read, are inscribed in stone as the brass statue has been stolen. Image: manchesterhistory.net

Belle Vue Zoo Gardens, Manchester

24 October 1917 – Sergeant John E. Oliver, 21st Battalion, Manchester Regiment

No known grave, listed Tyne Cot memorial. Married.
By October during the last phases of the battle, the battlefield had become a sea of mud. It was in this fighting, finally achieving the objective of capturing the village of Passchendaele itself, that Sergeant Oliver was killed.
John Oliver has no known grave and is commemorated amongst thousands of names on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing.

Sergeant John Oliver was the husband of Rose Oliver of 36 Darley Street, Gorton. He appears to have been a journeyman joiner by trade, working at Belle Vue Zoological Gardens Manchester.

warmem2 Belle Vue today

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

Riseley FLS plaque

Riseley’s metal plaque in Latin and photo from the Proceedings of the Linnean Society.

Naturalists, Botanists, Linnean Society

1st August 1917 – Edwin Ephraim Riseley, FLS / Librarian to the Linnean Society and ZSL London Zoo

An interesting Latin metal plaque commemorating Riseley can be found at the Linnean Society headquarters,  London.
Riseley enlisted in the 9th Battalion Rifle Brigade on 8th December 1916 and embarked for France on 15 June 1917. Rifleman S/21693, 3rd Battalion, Rifle Brigade was killed by a shell explosion aged 27 on 1st August 1917. He is remembered on panel 46-48 & 50 of the Ypres Menin Gate memorial arches, amongst many other names with no known grave on this memorial to the missing of the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917.

cwgc menin

Zoo and Linnaean Society  librarian E.E.  Riseley is remembered amongst the missing amongst thousands of names on The Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate). Image: CWGC website

The CWGC records note him as the only son of Ephraim Riseley (1862-1944, a gentleman’s servant) and Elizabeth Riseley of 20 Burnfoot Avenue, Fulham, London. He was also mourned by two sisters, Mary and May,  according to Edwin’s surviving WW1 service records. On the back of a list of other dangerously ill hospital casualties telegraphed to relatives is scrawled a list of his possessions, amongst them an English dictionary, notebook, photos, wallet and coins. Hopefully these were returned as requested to his family.

More about Riseley and Toppin, lost fellows or staff of the Linnaean Society killed during the period of Passchendaele,  can be found at:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/lost-fellows-the-linnean-society-roll-of-honour-1914-1918/

Lijssenthoek cwgc

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

24 September 1917 – Major Sidney Miles Toppin MC, FLS 
He was killed aged 39 near Ypres on 24 September 1917, leaving a widow and infant daughter. Major S.M. Toppin is buried in grave XXIV. G. 6, Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinge, Flanders, Belgium (a cemetery linked to Casualty Clearing Stations close to the front but out of the range of German Artillery).

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

He served in WW1 with the 151st Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. On a visit home in 1914, he married Viva before serving in Ireland and France during the early days of the war. He was mentioned in dispatches and awarded the MC Military Cross at Loos in 1915.
More about his links with Kew Gardens, herbarium specimens and plant hunting sent back to Kew and his brother killed in 1914

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/lost-fellows-the-linnean-society-roll-of-honour-1914-1918/

RBG KEW arethusa-temple Kew website copyright

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

Lost Gardeners of Kew Gardens

3rd August 1917 – Private James Garnett, service number 11380, 2nd Battalion, the Wiltshire Regiment, aged 28.

He has no known grave and is listed on Panel 53 of the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate), one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient.

Garnett is listed as one of “six Members of the labouring staff killed in action” in the Kew Guild Journal 1919 Roll of Honour. He is listed as the son of Mrs. Fanny Garnett, of 6, Manor Grove, Richmond, Surrey.
https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

A Kew Gardens “Tankie” was killed at Cambrai, just after Passchendaele ended
20 November 1917 – Sergeant George Douglas, Scottish Horse / Royal Tank Corps 
Serjeant or Sergeant George Douglas, Tank Corps is remembered at Cambrai Memorial, Louverval in France, a memorial to the missing or those with no known graves from the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917. He died on 20 November 1917, aged 40.

He served as Serjeant, 93045 with E Battalion, Royal Tank Corps having originally been with the 2/3 or 23rd Scottish Horse. Other websites such as the Tankmen of Cambrai website have him listed as a Corporal, with much more fascinating information about the early Tank Corps crew and this battle. He lost several brothers in WW1` … Read more about him at
https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

Reading these names and a little about these men, their families and where they worked means they are not forgotten 100 years on from their deaths during the Battle of Passchendaele period of 1917 . 

To read more about the Battle of Passchendaele and its commemoration

https://passchendaele100.org/get-involved/research-your-history/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Passchendaele

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens memorial project, 30 July 2017.

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