Archive for the ‘garden heritage’ Category

National Allotments Week August 2017

August 21, 2017

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A little corner patch of our wartime zoo keeper’s allotment, Newquay Zoo, August 2017 

National Allotments Week 2017 has just come to an end  (14 to 20 August 2017) – some great historic images on this history of allotments website:

https://www.learningwithexperts.com/gardening/blog/the-history-of-allotments

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World War Zoo Gardens hits its 8th Blogaversary 2017

August 14, 2017

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WordPress my trusty blog host have left me a happy blogaversary message that this weekend was the 8th anniversary of signing up to WordPress.com and starting our World War Zoo  Gardens blog at Newquay Zoo in August 2009.

https://www.newquayzoo.org.uk/

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My garden’s eighth blogaversary surprise present, a yellow poppy poking out amongst sneaky ferns (I love ferns!) that thrive in the shade below  beautiful Globe Artichokes – great enrichment for our macaque monkeys. August 2017 

 

Our wartime zoo garden left me a surprise this weekend, a bright yellow poppy! Nothing traditional like a red one …

Over 270 posts later, near 100,000 views and around 40,000 visitors so far, this is not a bad little blog footprint for a very tiny patch of dug up lawn in eight years.

Looking back at the first entries in August 2009 is really interesting as we hurriedly prepared for our wartime zoo garden launch weekend in August 2009.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/world-war-zoo-project-%e2%80%93-newquay-zoo%e2%80%99s-wartime-garden-2009/

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The reproduction wartime garden signs are little rusty now and difficult to replace but the wartime zoo garden is still going strong August 2017

 

This launch weekend in 2009 was well timed to link with the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two in late August / early September 1939, remembered here  https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/09/03/70-years-today-on-from-the-outbreak-of-war/

Some early thoughts on how European zoos survived wartime

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/long-ago-and-far-away-%e2%80%a6/

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The blitzed remains of Berlin Zoo’s elephant house and its surviving elephant during the bombing raids of 1943/44 (Original photo in our archive collection).

 

 

Familar pest control problems August 2009 that have not changed

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/disaster-strikes/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/08/23/slaughter-by-torchlight-but-not-in-the-blackout/

Personal memories and family stories August 2009

A family story in August 2009 from my late mother about scrumping for apples in Vera Lynn’s Garden. Vera Lynn is still with us, her centenary this year, my wartime evacuee mother sadly not.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/scrumping-apples-in-vera-lynns-garden/

Some early research on how London Zoo survived wartime

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/zoology-gave-way-to-first-aid-and-fire-fighting-courses-%e2%80%a6/

“But with the beginning of 1939 reality was brought home at last. Beneath its canopy of blimps [anti-aircraft or barrage balloons] London set about evacuation, the building of underground retreats, the distribution of gas masks.

Zoology gave way to first-aid and fire-fighting courses…

When on September 3rd the long expected blow fell, an emergency committee was set up. With a big cash balance in hand the [Zoological Society of London] was confident that it could “see it through” …

In deference to public hysteria the poisonous snakes were decapitated … The panda, elephants and African Rhinoceros were evacuated to Whipsnade …

In company with all other places of entertainment etc. where crowds might gather to the risk of public safety, the zoo closed its gates …”

The Zoo Story,  L.R. Brightwell, 1950s, p. 225-6.

Breaking ground and digging  up the lion house lawn  August 2009

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/digging-up-the-lawns-at-newquay-zoo/

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Richard (our then zoo gardener) or his legs “Digging for Victory”,  removing the first turf for our wartime zoo garden August 2009.

Double Trench-digging for beginners August 2009

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/double-trench-digging-for-beginners-or-how-to-dig-a-trench-for-vegetables-the-1940s-way/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/sweat-toil-yes-but-thankfully-no-tears-or-blood-yet/

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Our World War Zoo Garden after eight years 2009-2017 (August 2017)

 

An early link to our sister Zoo at Paignton Zoo and their strange wartime experiences, stories that we have followed up over the years. https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/please-do-not-eat-the-peacocks-when-visiting-the-zoo/

https://www.paigntonzoo.org.uk

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/more-strange-wartime-zoo-stories-sent-to-us/

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Fine Abbott Thayer disruptive colouration camouflage on a Newquay Zoo peacock, 2017 – this didn’t stop hungry American GIs eating their ancestors at Paignton Zoo just before D-Day 1944. http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/4/hiddentalents.php

 

 

The outline of plans for our wartime zoo garden launch weekend at the end of August 2009 remind me how busy we were preparing everything in time:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/08/23/wartime-zoo-garden-launch-next-weekend-bank-holiday-30th-and-31st-august-2009/

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Winter garden work – in the library or armchair, planning your coming year’s crop plans and trying new plants using handy wartime advice even in cartoon / strip form from the papers. Items from part of the Newquay Zoo wartime life collection, garden launch weekend, August 2009

The wartime garden launch weekend in August 2009 went well and also saw Vera Lynn back in the album charts!https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/08/30/first-day-of-our-wartime-zoo-gardens-display/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/successful-second-day-of-our-wartime-zoo-life-exhibition-and-vera-lynn-back-in-the-charts/

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Beautiful Rhubard Chard, great favourite of our monkeys, growing August 2017

 

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More edible leaves and colourful, tasty flowers of our Nasturtiums – a treat for some of our animals and visitors, August 2017

 

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/last-strawberries-of-a-slug-summer/

This 25th August 2009 blog entry had the hopeful postscript about a new US president:

“One day hopefully all zoos will have their own Victory Gardens. They have one I hear at The White House now to mark Barack Obama’s arrival. I think we have a long way to go in the zoo before we get to self sufficiency, but from small acorns …”

Then to finish our look back at August 2009 with one of the fantastic images we uncovered of life at London Zoo in September 1939

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2009/09/03/shelter-from-the-storm-ahead-wartime-zoos-3-september-1939/

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Taking shelter at London Zoo in September 1939, a sandbagged tunnel under the road (Zoo and Animal magazine, November 1939)

If you go to the Archive dropdown menu to the right, you can sample some of the last eight years of delights from our 1940s allotment gardening, wartime zoo and wartime gardening research from WW1 to WW2 and beyond.

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Not forgetting that this colurful and scented garden is a practical and peaceful memorial to the many zoo and botanic gardens staff affected by war since 1914, many of whose stories we have uncovered since 2009. (photo August 2017)  

 

What next for the World War Zoo Gardens and its blog?

Since 2009 many school garden and wartime garden projects, thrift and recession allotments and their blogs have come and gone, gardens and blogs both being  ephemeral things.

Education changes, which led to a new primary  National Curriculum in 2013/14 in England and Wales, have sadly seen, at one low point, no WW2 content in the primary history curriculum. This uncertainty  has greatly affected  uptake of wartime zoo workshops for schools. https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/world-war-zoo-gardens-workshops-for-schools-at-newquay-zoo/

Thankfully primary schools can still, with a little creative curriculum imagination,  study WW2 as one of the “turning points in British History since 1066″ and we are rewriting our workshops to reflect this.

Workshop talks in action

Mark Norris delivering one of our World War Zoo Gardens workshop days in ARP uniform, 2014. Volunteer Ken our ‘Home Guard’ is shyly sitting out of the photo!

It has been a great eight years so far since 2009, working with and meeting a wide range of people, amongst the highlights of  which I think of talking to pupils in our wartime zoo school workshops, attending re-enactors weekends, meeting former landgirls and evacuees,  linking with staff at Kew Gardens, Chester  and London Zoo and chats with thousands of zoo visitors over the allotment garden fence.

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Primate Keeper Nicole harvesting flowering chives as enrichment for monkeys, 2012. She  returned in August 2017 from the Dutch zoo where she now works to see how Newquay Zoo and its gardens are doing  (Image: Mark Norris)

 

The wartime zoo garden has been a great practical resource for our Newquay Zoo keepers since 2009. It has provided scented herbs, edible flowers and leaves and many fine fresh vegetables to feed and enrich the lives and enclosures of many of our most endangered zoo animals. None of the animals were that fussed about our 1940s potato varieties though.

Eight years of blogposts, articles, talks and conference papers has led to lots of interesting links with other zoos, botanic gardens and historians. http://www.bgci.org/resources/article/0729/

We have even won a national zoo award from BIAZA for “best use of planting in a zoo landscape feature / design” in November 2011.

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Newquay Zoo’s wartime gardener and blogger Mark Norris with wartime issue spade and  BIAZA award for best plants in a landscape feature and design, November 2011.

Hopefully our garden project will still be here in two year’s time for our World War Zoo Gardens Tenth Anniversary in 2019.

May 2019 is also Newquay Zoo’s own 50th Birthday, which will keep us busy  https://newquayzoohistory.wordpress.com/

2019 will also see the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of WW2, many of its participants rapidly passing away and also the wrapping up of the WW1 centenary 1914-1919.

Plenty to blog about, plenty of new stories to uncover.

Thanks to all the Newquay Zoo staff and many many others who have been involved so far with our World War Zoo Gardens project since 2009.

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Hundreds of thousands of zoo visitors  have stopped to read this attractive World War Zoo Gardens sign at Newquay Zoo since we put it up in 2011.

 

This post (No. 275)  sums up perfectly what  World War Zoo Gardens is about, being  a little bit of looking back to the past, an update on the present and a glimpse towards the future.

Happy Blogaversary!

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, 8th Blogaversary weekend of the 12th / 13th August 2017.

James Garnett of Kew Gardens Menin Gate memorial photo Passchendaele WW1 1917

August 10, 2017

 

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James Garnett of Kew Gardens, remembered amongst Wiltshire regiment casaulties in 1917 high on the wall Panel 53 at the Menin Gate memorial to the missing of Ypres and Passchendaele. Photo by Bob Richards, July / August 2017 . 

 

This photograph of the memorial inscription of the name of Private James Garnett, Kew Gardens staff  name was taken almost 100 years to the day of his death by my fellow WW1 researcher Bob Richards on his recent trip to Ypres for the Passchendaele centenary.

Many thanks Bob. We will feature more of his photos of the memorails to lost zoo and gardens staff at Passchendaele over the next few weeks.

James Garnett, garden staff of Kew Gardens and his WW1  story is told on our blog here

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/remembering-james-garnett-of-kew-gardens-died-ww1-passchendaele-3rd-august-1917/

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, August 2017.

 

War Graves and Girl Gardeners WW1

July 27, 2017

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Amongst my collection of WW1 ephemera is this interesting illustration of ‘girl gardeners’ or, more correctly, members of the Queen Mary’s Auxiliary Army Corps (Q.M.A.A.C.) tending war graves and planting flowers, part of the progress  towards the beautifully planted war cemetery gardens maintained by the CWGC .

I was reminded of this print whilst reading about Nick Stone’s The Returned project http://thereturned.co.uk/

I have written about this for  my local Cornish village war memorial blog https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/tending-war-graves-in-foreign-fields/

This print or illustration  is made whilst  the Commonwealth War Graves Commission CWGC began the long slow and ongoing job of erecting and maintaining  their  distinctive white headstones there to replace the temporary wooden crosses and metal name strips erected by the Graves  Registration Units (GRUs).

As it is cut out from a magazine, possibly to have been framed, it has no date, but a little detective work (below) suggest it is from April 1918 onwards, possibly 1918-1921 or later. Olive Edis’ photographs in the IWM Collection of such scenes appear to be c. 1918 / 1919.

Queen Mary’s Auxiliary Army Corps 1918-20

The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was formed following Lieutenant General H M Lawson’s report of 16 January 1917 which recommended employing women in the army in France. Mrs Chalmers Watson became Chief Controller of the new organisation and recruiting began in March 1917, although the Army Council Instruction no 1069 of 1917 which formally established the WAAC was not issued until 7 July 1917.

Although it was a uniformed service, there were no military ranks in the WAAC; instead of officers and other ranks, it was made up of ‘officials’ and ‘members’. Officials were divided into ‘controllers’ and ‘administrators’, members were ‘subordinate officials’, ‘forewomen’ and ‘workers’. The WAAC was organised in four sections: Cookery, Mechanical, Clerical and Miscellaneous; nursing services were discharged by the separate Voluntary Aid Detachments, although eventually an auxiliary corps of the Royal Army Medical Corps was set up to provide medical services for the WAAC.

In appreciation of its good services, it was announced on 9 April 1918 that the WAAC was to be re-named ‘Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps’ (QMAAC), with Her Majesty as Commander-in-Chief of the Corps. At its height in November 1918, the strength of the QMAAC was more than 40,000 women, although nearly 10,000 women employed on Royal Flying Corps air stations had transferred to the Women’s Royal Air Force on its formation in April 1918. Approximately, a total of 57,000 women served with the WAAC and QMAAC during the First World War. Demobilisation commenced following the Armistice in November 1918 and on 1 May 1920 the QMAAC ceased to exist, although a small unit remained with the Graves Registrations Commission at St Pol until September 1921.    (text from the National Archives file WO 398 website descriptor C15099)

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C15099

The print represents a somewhat floral and sanitised image of a First World War Cemetery, but similar frequently reproduced photographic images exist  in the Imperial War Museum  photographic archives such as images Q 8467 and 8468 WAACs (Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps) at Abbeville, February 1918 http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205214342

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James Wearn, Andrew Budden and Kew colleagues on the Somme mark the area where Kew Gardens WW1 casualty John Divers (pictured) was killed (Image: RBG Kew)

 

CWGC and Kew Gardens Somme 100 talks July 1916

Surprisingly a year has flown past since I attended the Somme 100 talks at Kew Gardens in July 2016

I thought of this floral war graves  print of the “girl gardeners” whilst listening to my research colleague Dr James Wearn at Kew Gardens last year talk about his recent Somme trip. James had been on a combined expedition between CWGC and Kew Gardens staff to take a fresh look at the Flora of The Somme Battlefields 100 years on. They also went to mark where some of their Kew staff like John Divers and Sydney Cobbold were killed and are commemorated.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

Kew’s longstanding relationship with the CWGC began in February 1916, before the Battle of the Somme had even begun. Thus, Kew’s wartime legacy is tied closely with that of the birth of the Commission. This places it in a unique position to tell the story of the First World War in a new light, focusing on the relationship between people, plants, conflict landscapes and remembrance.

Kew’s wartime Assistant Director, Arthur Hill (later ‘Sir Arthur’ in recognition of his internationally significant work) was given the honorary title of Botanical Advisor to the Commission and the temporary rank of Captain. In March 1916 he headed for France to complete the first of several trips to advise the Commission on planting within war graves cemeteries. Just as the Commission has provided respectful remembrance of lost soldiers, Sir Arthur and Kew helped pioneer the creation of the natural tranquillity which surrounds them.

Taking inspiration from Sir Arthur’s travels on the Somme and his two little-known, poignant accounts – The Flora of the Somme Battlefield (1917) and Our Soldiers’ Graves (1919) – in June [2016], three of Kew’s current staff (led by Dr James Wearn) [met] the CWGC’s Director of Horticulture (David Richardson) and members of the French CWGC team on the Somme.

Kew’s aim is to re-trace Sir Arthur’s footsteps in an emotive journey through the physical space and the psychology of plants and war. The visit will also be moving a tribute to the men of Kew who lost their lives on the battlefields in 1916. (6th July 2016 talk pre -event information)

http://www.kew.org/discover/blogs/kew-science/plants-and-conflict-landscapes-%E2%80%93-somme-and-beyond

Equally interesting was listening to David Richardson, Director of Horticulture of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission talking about their immense and ongoing job in perpetuity  of maintaining the horticultural side of these war graves.

Keeping grassy lawns  and English cottage garden planting from the Edwardian era of Mrs Jekyll going in desert or arid areas in the Middle East is one challenge. Sustainable water use aside, there are also other emerging threats such as vandalism of  cemetery crosses, cemeteries in war zones  or current no-go areas and also  dealing with the effects of climate change such as floods  in Madras in India and sea level rise storm surges in Sierra Leone, Africa.

http://www.cwgc.org/about-us/what-we-do/horticulture.aspx

These areas of sustainable water usage, conflict zones and climate change are very familiar from our zoo animal conservation role in zoos and our overseas projects.

David Richardson claims that the CWGC is probably the largest amenity horticulture organisation in the world, employing over 850 to 900 gardeners worldwide. It is also now taking onboard being a conservation or heritage organisation of hundreds of historic monuments by top architects such as Lutyens and his Thiepval Memorial as it approaches 100 years old.

http://www.cwgc.org/about-us/most-popular-questions/fast-facts.aspx

I was surprised to learn that of the 23,000 cemeteries and burial plots in over 150 countries worldwide,  over half are to be found in the United Kingdom. In 2016, I  visited local WW1 CWGC headstones in a local Newquay cemetery near Newquay Zoo to pay our respects  as part of  the Living Memory project to mark the 141 days of the Somme  http://www.cwgc.org/about-us/cwgc-projects/living-memory.aspx

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/the-somme-the-ennor-family-living-memory-and-our-local-cwgc-headstones-in-newquay/

Somme100

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Kew Joddrell Laboratory / Lecture Theatre, 2016

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A relaxing place to sit and wait of an evening  for the 6th July talk, 2016 Kew Gardens

One clue for the researchers, on the back of the Q.M.A.A.C “girl gardeners” magazine illustration are featured these senior and well-decorated men :

cwgc qmaac back

Possible clue to the WW1  1918-21 date of the print , being the reverse page of the Queen Mary’s Auxiliary Army Corps  illustration, undated – what links all these officers?

A quick coffee break check suggests that these are the memorial portraits of well-decorated senior men, many of whom had died throughout mid to late 1917:

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/73256/LEIGHTON,%20JOHN%20BURGH%20TALBOT

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/508940/KERRISON,%20ROGER%20ORME

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/99349/MAXWELL,%20FRANCIS%20AYLMER

This suggests a magazine date at the earliest of April 1918 onwards, when the QMAAC received its royal name change from the WAAC.

Blogposted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, 27 July 2017

Remembering Herbert Southgate of Kew Gardens died WW1 Gaza 19 April 1917

April 19, 2017

 

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

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Fellow Norfolk regiment soldiers Foyster and Snelling who died on the same day lie buried near Herbert Southgate, Gaza Cemetery. Source: CWGC

Serjeant Herbert William Leonard Southgate, 240701, ‘A’ Company, 1st/ 5th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment, died on 19 April 1917, aged 28.

He is buried at Grave Reference XXX. F. I, Gaza War Cemetery, Israel / Palestine area. http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/651381/SOUTHGATE,%20HERBERT%20WILLIAM%20LEONARD
Previous to training and working at Kew Gardens in 1910-12 and 1913, he had worked at Raynham Hall Norfolk and Westonbirt, Gloucestershire. http://www.holfordtrust.com And http://www.hha.org.uk/Property/2673/Westonbirt-House–and–Gardens

He was noted as an orchid specialist. He also worked on The Gardener’s Magazine for a brief time.

He most likely died during the Second Battle Of Gaza (17-19 April, 1917) fighting against the Turks and was posted missing until his body was found seven months later and buried by British troops. Gaza was finally recaptured in November 1917. Herbert served with his younger brother, one of many Soi.

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Herbert Southgate is surrounded by fellow 1/5th Norfolks, killed on the same day in Gaza. Source; CWGC

 

Born on 19 September 1888, he is listed as the son of Herbert William and Hannah Southgate, of East Raynham, Fakenham, Norfolk (hence enlisting in a Norfolk Regiment).

The inscription on his headstone from his family reads “Thanks be to God who giveth us victory through Jesus Christ”.

Herbert Southgate, remembered at Kew Gardens and through the work of CWGC a 100 years after his death. 

southgate gaza cemetery CWGC

Herbert Southgate is buried in Gaza Cemetry. Source: CWGC

Read more about the staff of Kew Gardens who served in WW1:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

1/4 and 1/5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment

http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/norfolk-regiment/

1/4th Battalion
August 1914 : in Norwich. Part of Norfolk and Suffolk Brigade, East Anglian Division.
May 1915 : the formation was retitled as 163rd Brigade, 54th (East Anglian) Division.
29 July 1915 : embarked at Liverpool and moved to Gallipoli via Mudros. Landed at Suvla Bay on 10 August 1915.
19 December 1915 : evacuated from Gallipoli and arrived at Alexandria. Served in Egypt and Palestine thereafter.

1/5th Battalion – which Southgate served in.
August 1914 : in East Dereham. Part of Norfolk and Suffolk Brigade, East Anglian Division. Record same as 1/4th Battalion.

So Kew’s Sergeant  Herbert Southgate may have served at Gallipoli also.

You can also read more about the Battle for Gaza where Southgate and many other Norfolk soldiers lost their lives on this interesting website:

http://greatwarliveslost.com/2017/04/18/thursday-19-april-1917-we-lost-2083/

I was surprised to discover the similarities with the Western Front – gas and tanks:

In keeping with the “Western Front” flavor of the battle, the British introduce poison gas and tanks to the eastern battlefield for the first time. Two thousand gas shells and six tanks are available. While the tanks are certain to be deployed, doubts remain about whether to use gas due to operational concerns.

It is estimated that the Turkish forces occupying the Gaza-Beersheba defenses number between 20,000 and 25,000. As the infantry attack is about to commence, the guns concentrate on the Ali Muntar strong point, south east of Gaza. This includes the firing of gas shells for the first time.

One result of the prolonged bombardment is to provide the Turks with ample warning that a major attack is imminent, giving them plenty of time to finalize their defenses.      (Great War Lives Lost website entry for 19 April 2017)

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

Homeland, Britain March 1917

March 22, 2017

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Percy Izzard, Homeland: A Book of Country Days (1918)

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As a follow up to yesterday’s post on Homeland, Percy Izzard’s book of nature writing on the British countryside during the First World War, here are several more daily entries. A book well worth tracking down second-hand.

 

Some deal with the changing agricultural landscape, such as noticing (March 28th 1917) that “It is interesting to see how quickly the birds have become accustomed  to the motor plough. The strange form and immense noise of the machine …” 

 

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March 25th (1917) “And although the flowers were few when you think what this day has seen in other years, never did they open to a world readier to welcome them”

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welcome to a world weary not only of the long winter, but also the war?

 

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British farming and the countryside was facing difficulties by 1917 from poor harvests and the call up of male farm workers. Add to this the demands of feeding several armies overseas. From early  in the year, the unrestricted submarine warfare of the German U boat blockade of Britain increased the sinking of merchant shipping bound for  Britain with imported food from around the Empire and world.

These were pre-war cheap and plentiful food imports that we had come to rely on, much to the detriment of pre-war British farming.

Both rationing (1918) and a form of WW2 style Dig For Victory in 1917 were eventually organised  in Britain in WW1.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/dig-for-victory-1917-world-war-1-style-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-and-the-fortunate-herbert-cowley-1885-1967/

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/country-life-1986-article-on-ww1-wartime-gardening/

We will feature more from Homeland by Percy Izzard in late March / early April 2017, when the quiet world of nature in Britain that he works hard to convey  can be read 100 years on as (directly ? deliberately?) at odds  with events overseas, the Battle of Arras (9 April to 16 May 1917) in France.

This  battle would involve many of Izzard’s audience of  “soldier lads” who read his daily nature column in the Daily Mail in the trenches. Forming a valuable bit of escapism, these short daily columns would be adapted and edited to become his book Homeland: A Year Of Country Days in mid 1918.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Arras_(1917)

The Battle of Arras would see the deaths on active service of several of the zoo staff, botanic gardens staff and  naturalists that we have been researching through the World War  Zoo Gardens project.

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

 

The Verdun Oak at Kew Gardens

December 20, 2016

19th December 2016 saw the unveiling ceremony of a commemorative bench  commissioned by Kew Gardens to mark the centenary of the end of the “Battle of Verdun”.

The bench has been crafted by Gaze Burvill with timber from a specimen of Quercus petraea which was struck and felled during “St Jude’s storm” in 2013.

http://www.kew.org/about/press-media/press-releases/kew-gardens-unveil-verdun-bench-mark-100th-anniversary-battle

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The new Kew Gardens Verdun Oak bench, 19 December 2016 (Image: RBG Kew) 

 

This tree was planted at Kew in 1919, from an acorn picked up after the Battle of Verdun,  in remembrance of Kew staff who died during the Great War,  and all soldiers from the different nationalities who fought in this dreadful battle and “the Great War”.

http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/whats-on/

The Ceremony took  place on the 19th December 2016  by the Palm House pond near the Cumberland Mound.

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Where the Kew Verdun Oak stood for almost a century … RIP 2013 (photo; Mark Norris)

Just before I saw the absence of the Verdun Oak at Kew Gardens I had read this article by blogger Lucy at http://www.familyaffairsandothermatters.com/verdun-oak-kew-gardens-an-armistice-day-story/

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Verdun Oak 2013 photo from Lucy’s Blog at http://www.familyaffairs and othermatters.com

Sadly, although invited, I could not attend the Ceremony but I will look out for this bench on my next visit to Kew Gardens.

 

Blog posted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo / World War Zoo Gardens Project, December 2016.

 

 

Remembering Charles Anderson of Kew Gardens Albert Medal winner

November 28, 2016

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Anderson and Fussell are buried alongside each other  in the third row right, just out of the edge of this photo of St Venanlt Communal Cemetery, France (Image source: CWGC)

Remembering Charles Henry Anderson, Kew Gardener, and Bertram Fussell, 14 London Regiment, who both died on 28/ 29 November 1916  due to an accident with a hand grenade.
2326 Lance (Sergeant or) Corporal Charles Henry Anderson died on 29 November 1916 aged 26, serving in France with the  1st/14th Bn. London Regiment (London Scottish). He was awarded the Albert Medal for his actions on 29 November 1916, saving the lives of several of his comrades.

His medal record card states that in addition to the standard Victory and British war medals, he was also awarded the Albert Medal (citation below, also available on CWGC website ).

Citation
An extract from “The London Gazette,” No. 30156, dated 29th June, 1917, records the following:-“The King has been graciously pleased to award the Decoration of the Albert Medal of the First Class in recognition of the gallantry of Lce. Cpl. Charles Henry Anderson, late of the 1st/14th Bn. of the London Regt., who lost his life in France in November last in saving the lives of others.

On the 28th Nov., 1916, Lce. Cpl. Anderson was in a hut in France with eleven other men when, accidentally, the safety pin was withdrawn from a bomb. In the semi-darkness he shouted a warning to the men, rushed to the door, and endeavoured to open it so as to throw the bomb into a field. Failing to do this, when he judged that the five seconds during which the fuse was timed to burn had elapsed, he held the bomb as close to his body as possible with both hands in order to screen the other men in the hut. Anderson himself and one other man were mortally wounded by the explosion, and five men were injured. The remaining five escaped unhurt. Anderson sacrificed his life to save his comrades.”

Anderson is buried alongside Fussell at Grave Reference II. K. 3, St. Venant Communal Cemetery in France, just to the side of the cross of sacrifice, amongst 253 WW1 Commonwealth soldier burials. The cemetery is associated with the Casualty Clearing Stations where Anderson and Fussell died.

Anderson’s headstone is shown at: https://www.twgpp.org/photograph/view/3980361

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/287702/ANDERSON,%20CHARLES%20HENRY

C F Ball Kew Ww1

Anderson’s name on the Kew Gardens staff war memorial.

In the Kew Guild Journal staff records Anderson is listed around 1914/15 as a ‘Present Kewite’ (still employed actually at Kew when war broke out) and employed as a ‘Gardener’. You can read more about him and his story at:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

Charles Anderson’s “heroic” death, an alternative view:

Interestingly earlier this year (2016) James Wearn at Kew and I were contacted by Mike Thompson, who had a different interpretation of the grenade accident incident:

In Mike Thompson’s words, “Charles Henry Anderson was a fool and a show-off, who got himself killed through his own stupidity and cost the life of another man, as well as five others wounded.”

“He was in an army hut behind the line, kitted up for a trench raid and each man had been issued with two No.5 Mills Bombs.  All except Anderson carried them in their gas satchels. He was showing off how he had cut slits in the inside lining of his leather jerkin, to get bombs out more quickly. He was demonstrating this when the pin came out of one of the grenades. He ran to the door but the bomb exploded. The Court of Enquiry concluded that the bomb was not a faulty short fuse but recommended that improvements be made to the actual pin.”

“The Corps Commander, Lt-Gen Sir Richard Haking recommended him for the Albert Medal“.

To Mike Thompson this appears “By modern standards, an absolutely bizarre decision.”

The Court of Enquiry report is in the WW1 service file for the other man killed Bertram Fussell, which can be found on Ancestry. Anderson and Fussell are buried side by side.”

In this alternative interpretation, the Albert Medal recommendation appears today to Mike Thompson  “an absolutely bizarre decision”.

I have since read the Court of Enquiry notes and witness statements on Fussell’s service record (available on Ancestry).

In modern times / standards,  the medal might appear to be a wartime attempt to hide the awkwardness or embarrassment to his family or regiment and maintain morale and good press for the war effort.

Although the Court of Enquiry held that Anderson was to blame, his self-sacrificing efforts to save his fellow soldiers from the blast by shielding them from the explosion was noted.

Changes to the demonstration, issue and carrying of  Mills grenades were recommended in his battalion after this accident, as well as criticism of the ‘malleable’ yellow metal of the grenade pins.

Whether this was accident, mistake or both, both Anderson and Fussell are buried alongside each other.

Fussell’s death is recorded as Bomb Wound (accident) on 28.11.16 from which he died in 32 Casualty Clearing station at 9pm on 29 / 30 November 1916, after the Court of Enquiry had taken place. Only Anderson had died by the time the Court of Enquiry notes were typed up.

Bertram Fussell was a former  clerk of the Port Of London Authority who attested as a pre-war Territorial in 1912, living with his brother at 81 Dover Road, South Wanstead. Born in West Ham in January 1894, he enlisted in London on 5 August 1914, transferred regiments to serve with friends and finally embarked for France on 14 July 1916. He was injured by a shell wound on his right shoulder on 6 September 1916 and only returned to his battalion a week before his accidental death.

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/287725/FUSSELL,%20B

Headstone photo at https://www.twgpp.org/photograph/view/3980449

Bertram Fussell and Charles Henry Anderson, remembered.

Blog posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project

Country Life 1986 article on WW1 Wartime Gardening

August 10, 2016

country life 1

Not my usual read but these two pages are  an interesting article from a thirty year old copy of Country Life  (Jan 23, 1986) that was passed to me because of my interest in WW1 and wartime gardening.

country life 2

This is an interesting article by Audrey Le Lievre , especially for me having been involved with Kew Gardens wartime stories and also researched their staff war memorial stories. Audrey Le Lievre as a garden writer is a new name to me but wrote Miss Willmott of Warley Place: Her Life and Her Gardens (Faber, 1980).

Lots of interesting links and names for garden historians to follow up here (the Worcester Fruit and Vegetable Society?) through the online scans of garden journals. The photographs have come from the Lindley Library.

I came across  information about WW1 food shortages, rationing and dig for victory style campaigns of WW1, focussed around researching former Kewite and  garden writer Herbert Cowley. Invalided soldier gardener Cowley worked as an editor and garden writer, as garden photographer and friend of Gertrude Jekyll and at one point for Country Life.

Full circle back to Country Life there…

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More on WW1 Gardening here:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/remembering-ww1-in-zoos-and-gardens/

and also an article I wrote for a local village in Cornwall about WW1 life and food: https://devoranwarmemorial.wordpress.com/2014/06/28/life-in-wartime-devoran-in-world-war-1/

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WW1 Ration books (Author’s collection)

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering William Gordon Dickson and Isaac Bayley Balfour, RBGE, Gallipoli 1915.

June 28, 2015

William Gordon Dickson, a Gardens Labourer at the  Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE)  in 1914, enlisted as a Private 5th Royal Scots and was killed in action at Gallipoli 28 June 1915.

Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery, Gallipoli (Image: CWGC)

Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery, Gallipoli (Image: CWGC)

The same day, ‘ Bay’ Balfour, the son of Isaac Bayley Balfour, RBGE’s Regius Keeper throughout the war, was also killed as part of the same Battle of Gully Ravine in Gallipoli on 28th June 1915. He was serving as a Lieutenant with the  1st King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB) and is buried in Twelve Tree Copse cemetery.

Helles Memorial to the missing of the Gallipoli campaign, Dardanelles, Turkey.  (Image: CWGC website)

Helles Memorial to the missing of the Gallipoli campaign, Dardanelles, Turkey.
(Image: CWGC website)

Private William Gordon Dickson, No. 2170 died aged 44 at Gallipoli on 28 June 1915 whilst serving with the 5th Battalion Royal Scots 5th Bn. (Queen’s Edinburgh Rifles), a regiment in which many of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh staff served and several were also killed at Gallipoli.

See: Leonie Paterson’s excellent botanics stories blog for Dickson’s story:  http://stories.rbge.org.uk/archives/16027

and for ‘Bay’ Balfour: http://stories.rbge.org.uk/archives/16015

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/04/25/remembering-the-lost-gardeners-of-gallipoli-2015/

Unlike Balfour, Dickson has no known grave and is remembered on Panel 27 of the  Helles Memorial to the Missing of the Gallipoli Campaign.

CWGC lists him as the “Husband of Margaret Dickson, of 85, Hanover St., Edinburgh.” Dickson was born and enlisted in Edinburgh on 4th September 1914. He began work at the Botanics only on 3 August 1914. The following day, Britain’s ultimatum to Germany ran out and it became involved in the First World War.

Dickson is also remembered on the staff memorial at the ‘Botanics’ in Edinburgh, erected in memory of the RBGE men and Isaac Bayley Balfour who died c. 1922 http://warmemscot.s4.bizhat.com/warmemscot-ftopic4114.html

Two very different men, one young, one old, one an officer, another a gardens labourer, strangely linked in memorial by a workplace and a grieving Balfour family.

Both remembered.


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