Archive for the ‘Falmouth’ Category

Remembering D-Day 6th June 1944

June 6, 2016

TRebah and LC USA links 006

29th Lets Go! Over Here, then off to D-Day beaches 1944: wreath at Trebah Gardens war memorial, Cornwall

6th June 1944 was an important date in World War Two, the Normandy Landings and especially poignant in our three zoos’ local areas of Cornwall, Devon and the South West Coast.

Thousands of American, British and Allied Servicemen left our local basecamps, airfields and coastal areas where they had trained for the shores of Normandy, many of them never to return.

Since 2009 we have posted several blogposts on D-Day and our sister zoo,  Paignton Zoo . Thousands of young Americans were camped over the Clennon Gorge part of Paignton Zoo ready for embarkation onto landing craft  next to our other sister zoo, Living Coasts.


TRebah and LC USA links 014

D Day Embarkation Hard next to our sister zoo Living Coasts, Torquay.  

Hundreds of American servicemen perished off the coast of Slapton Sands, a battle training area, where our founder Herbert Whitley had purchased the now peaceful Slapton Ley as a field reserve.

dday 6 extiger crop

Operation Tiger dated entries , 1944 diary WWZG collection Image: Mark Norris, WWZG.

Recently I spotted several other local D-Day links in Weymouth on my zoo travels:

DDay weymouth photo


Weymouth DDay statuethhhDDay weymouth insriptionweymouth DDay wreathsth weymouth DDay inscription


Weymouth D-Day plaque of thanks from US troops.

As well as the Weymouth memorial, I noticed a new D-Day plaque in 2014 at Lyme Regis whilst fossil hunting there. We use the ammonites and other Jurassic Coast  fossils in dinosaur and extinction workshops at Newquay Zoo.

Falmouth about 25 miles from Newquay Zoo also has a D-Day memorial shelter as  thanks from US troops stationed across Cornwall


Falmouth D-Day memorial shelter, near Gyllyngvase Beach / Pendennis Castle. 2016.



Compass plaque, Falmouth D-day memorial shelter.




D-Day remembered 6th June 1944 / 2016 across our three zoo sites and  the Southwest.

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, 6th June 2016.


Of zoo gardens and zombies: why Brad Pitt will (not) be appearing in our World War Z – oo garden at Newquay Zoo

August 21, 2011

Of zoo gardens and zombies: why Brad Pitt will (gnot) be appearing in our World War Z-oo  garden  at Newquay Zoo (but only as a gnome, gnot as a zombie slayer)

Don’t be confused. World War Zoo has  a big budget rival and star cast who have been filming in Cornwall and elsewhere in the last few weeks.

World War Z is a blockbuster zombie movie  with Brad Pitt set in an apocalypic future.

World War Zoo gardens is a small budget recreation of a typical wartime Dig For Victory zoo keepers allotment set in the 1940s with a well travelled star cast of … gnomes and vegetables.  

You could argue that both look at dealing with the threats of an uncertain future …. and the garden looks at sustainable options such as local food.

You could argue that getting the ‘look’ right is important in period gardens and zombie  movies – right old posters, right old tools etc.

As for zombies … this is probably my fellow keepers and zoo staff who have led very early morning zoo tours at 5 am and 7am for ‘wild breakfasts’ . We feel quite half dead if not undead by the end of the day … great fun but thankfully that was the last one this year. Until we do halloween tours (see our Newquay Zoo events page). But for now – Zzzzzz….

As for catching a glimpse of ‘Brad’ at the zoo, one of our jolly bearded gnomes now has  g-name! You can see Brad’s jolly beard on the BBC Radio Cornwall footage below.

For lots of jolly garden tips, check out the August job lists: and

After writing our wartime zoo gardens book, we could write ‘Zombie Gardening’ … you heard it here first. I can see it now on the bookshelves. it makes creepy scarecrows look almost tame.

Happy Birthday World War Zoo! Wartime gardens project at Newquay Zoo turns 1 years old.

August 30, 2010

Happy birthday to our wartime vegetables!

Happy birthday to our wartime vegetables …

 Appropriately for our first birthday week (the garden was officially launched to the public a year ago 2009 on the August Bank holiday), we have just topped our previous busiest day back in early Spring  at 65 readers in a single day. This soon adds up to over 6770 readers so far in our first year, 63 posts and lots of lovely comments. We’ve put the gardens project and blog in for a national BIAZA zoo education award which we hear the result of in November 2010, fingers crossed.  

I was talking last week about the wartime garden project and our progress with a planned book and wartime diary extracts from our archive with local Cornish author and maritime historian Elvin Carter. Elvin kindly popped back with a copy of his latest book for me to read, The Last Voyage of the Olivebank, being the 1939 grain race tall ship diaries of Len Townend (published by Blue Elvan books, UK ISBN 9780955995019). Elvin pointed out an unusual little epilogue at the back of this new companion volume to his 2008 book about the grain race sailor diaries of Geoffrey Sykes Robertshaw  (Before The Mast, ISBN 0955995002). The grain races of 1938-39 are also famously described in Eric Newby’s book,  The Last Grain Race. There’s more about each book at  

Len Townend wrote as his final words (he died in 1998, aged 81):

“When the coal and oil supplies become exhausted (as in time they surely must) and if once again the great windships sail the seas (as they may) and if there is such a thing as reincarnation (and I am selfish enough to hope that there is) , then it would be my hope that I may reappear and for a time at least tramp around a capstan or take in a Royal on some black foul night with my old shipmates of yesteryear.”

"Let your shopping help our shipping" was one propaganda message about saving food - grow your own is another, promoted by a typical piece of advertising from a wartime gardening magazine (from the World War Zoo gardening collection / archive at Newquay Zoo).

The tragic events which befell the Olivebank in the early weeks of the war and the rest of Len Townend’s wartime Merchant Navy career illustrate how dependent Britain was on shipping and how vital the National Growmore Campaign or Grow Your Own movement was to become. 70 years ago this month, the latest version of “Dig For Victory” was launched as the Battle of Britain raged in the skies overhead. There is more about this topic in previous posts and at the excellent Ministry of Food exhibition at the Imperial War Museum London (until Jan 2011) – see links and blogroll for details.

People have been potting up seeds in newspaper pots at the zoo this week, just as before on our wartime garden weekends in May. Our wartime zoo trail is busy with zoo visitors as part of our  plant hunters  themed week at Newquay Zoo

The garden is looking a little sparse as the broad beans are now saved for seed or happily peeled and eaten in their pods by monkeys. 

Seed saving of beautiful flower heads of leeks, alive with bees and butterflies. World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

A new batch of seedlings are in the ground for the autumn.     

You can read about the last year’s events on the past 63 posts available in our archive post section.

Happy Birthday, World War Zoo!

%d bloggers like this: