Archive for the ‘Kew Gardens’ Category

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

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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

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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https://ww1richmond.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/plant-collections-of-rifleman-john-divers/

Read more about the Kew Staff on their WW1 war memorial at: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

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

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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.

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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 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:

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

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.

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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:

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

http://thebournemouthian.co.uk/2016/07/01/bournemouth-school-and-the-battle-of-the-somme/

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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:  http://gortonphilipsparkcemetrywargrave.weebly.com/st-james-church-gorton.html

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

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/remembering-the-lost-ww1-staff-of-belle-vue-zoo-manchester/

http://gortonphilipsparkcemetrywargrave.weebly.com/belle-vue-war-memorial.html

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.

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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:

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

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:

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

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.

Remembering Allan Beard of Kew WW2 died 1946

August 6, 2016

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.

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Kew Gardens WW2 staff War memorial part 3  (photo:  Mark Norris)  

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:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-world-war-two/

Allan Beard of Kew Gardens, remembered 70 years on.

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

Kew and CWGC team up for a unique look at the Somme

June 1, 2016

In a distinctive and poignant tribute to the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew has teamed up with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission CWGC  to look at the Somme from a very different perspective.

Read more here on the www.1914.org website:

http://www.1914.org/news/kew-and-the-cwgc-team-up-for-a-unique-look-at-the-somme

I look forward to attending the 6th  July event and hearing all about it!

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Somme 100 at Kew

Remembering Jutland casualty John Knowles Jackson of Kew Gardens

May 31, 2016

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John Knowles Jackson on the Kew Gardens Staff War Memorial  (photo: Mark Norris)

 

 

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Jackson’s grave is to the right of this CWGC photo of Farsund Cemetery graves. One of the seven unknown sailors has a headstone to the left. (Source: CWGC)

 

Ordinary Seaman John Knowles Jackson, formerly on the staff at Kew Gardens, J/47092, HMS Fortune, Royal Navy, died on 1st June 1916, aged 22.

He is one of nine naval or Royal Marine burials (four named) from the 1916 Battle Of Jutland buried at Farsund Cemetery, Norway.

http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/54250/FARSUND%20CEMETERY

He is listed as the son of (W or) Thomas and Ann Jane Jackson, 25 Westby Street, Lytham. He was born at Lytham, Lancashire on December 4, 1893.

 

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Jackson arrived at Kew Gardens to work in the Temperate House at Kew Gardens in August 1914 from Lytham Hall, Lancashire.

He left to join the Navy in March 1915. He served on several ships – HMS Diadem, HMS Argonaut and HMS Hecla – before joining the destroyer HMS Fortune, which was sunk in the Battle of Jutland.

HMS Fortune https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Fortune_(1913)

Jackson’s name is amongst the lost crew list of HMS Fortune on this website:

http://www.northeastmedals.co.uk/britishguide/jutland/hms_fortune_casualty_list_1916.htm

 

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Jackson’s grave is third from the left in this photo. (source: CWGC)

Jackson was Kew’s only Royal Naval casualty. He was buried a month later on the island Of Farsund in Norway. His CWGC headstone is in local grey stone. The unidentified sailors are marked simply “Known unto God”.

The story of the Kew Gardeners remembered on their staff war memorial in WW1 is told here: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/such-is-the-price-of-empire-the-lost-gardeners-of-kew-in-the-first-world-war/

Remember John Knowles Jackson of Kew Gardens and Lytham.

Remember these unknown sailors, the navy crews of Jutland and their families 100 years on, 31st May and 1st June 1916 / 2016.

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Commemorating The Great War in Ireland’s Zoos and Gardens

May 22, 2016

Remembering Major Reginald Thomas Ball-Acton, killed in action in Ypres on May 22 1916.

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Charles Annesley Ball-Acton (from Kilmacurragh website)

With the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914, Charles Annesley Ball-Acton, heir to the Kilmacurragh estate in Ireland and many of his gardens staff  headed for the battlefields of France and Flanders.

On September 25th 1915, Charles Acton, while trying to assist a fellow soldier, was mortally wounded by an explosion at Loos. He was only 39.

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Reginald Thomas Ball-Acton (from the Kilmacurragh website)

Kilmacurragh estate house and gardens in Ireland then passed to Charles’ only surviving brother, Major Reginald Thomas Ball-Acton, who was father of the late Charles Acton (a well known music critic for the Irish Times).

On May 22nd 1916, just eight months after his brother’s death at Loos, Reginald Ball Acton was killed in action in Ypres.

Few others of the Kilmacurragh gardeners came home from the war.

In eight years from 1908 to 1916,  Kilmacurragh had three consecutive owners inflicting death duties amounting to 120% of the value of the estate. This placed enormous financial pressures on the family and, after two centuries, the Actons left Kilmacurragh House.

Kilmacurragh can be described as the Irish ‘Heligan’ gardens.

Before the war eleven men and two boys maintained the grounds.  Following the deaths of Charles and Reginald, the gardens were maintained single-handedly by the old Head Gardener. Kilmacurragh for me neatly symbolises the steady decline of the old Irish estates from death duties and also from the unrest of the Irish Civil War.

Last month we posted a blogpost about horticulturalist Allan Livingstone Ramsay, one of the first British officers to due during the Easter Rising in April 1916.

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/alan-livingstone-ramsay-died-easter-rising-24-april-1916/

“Problematic”, that’s what I’d been told, “not something that could be so easily done in Ireland.” I’d been talking about commemorating The First World War and our World War Zoo Gardens project that  uses history to engage visitors  with plants at the Botanic Gardens Education Conference at Paignton Zoo in November 2014.

So what else happened in Ireland to zoo and botanic gardens staff during the First World War?

RZSI Dublin Zoo and the Great War

Seven L. Doyles are listed amongst the Commonwealth dead of the First World War.

Thankfully the Dublin Zoo staff member L. Doyle who joined up in 1914 is not (as far as records show) amongst these Canadians and Dublin Fusiliers of the same name. His employers, The Council of The Royal Zoological Society of Ireland RZSI / Dublin Zoo, generously kept his job open and paid his wife his wages in his absence. A patriotic gesture, and after all, it was popularly believed and expected that it would be a short war, all over by Christmas.

By Christmas 1914 with its famous football matches and spontaneous truce between the trenches, the RZSI Council which ran Dublin Zoo already had sorry cause to write with condolences and note in October 1914 the death in action of Lieutenant Victor Lentaigne, the 21 year old nephew of a long standing member of the Dublin Zoo Council, Joseph Nugent Lentaigne.

Victor Lentaigne

Lieutenant Victor Aloysius Lentaigne, 2nd Battalion, Connaught Rangers died on 14 September 1914 and has no known grave. From this early death date, he was probably involved in the Battle of the Aisne, as the fast flowing war of movement of the early months of the war rapidly stagnated and became entrenched. Lentaigne is commemorated amongst the 3739 names on the La Ferte-sous-Jouarre memorial to the missing British Expeditionary Force soldiers of the first three months of the war.

Reading through the rich detail in Catherine de Courcy’s excellent and well-illustrated history of Dublin Zoo, it is possible to see the deflected effect of war on Dublin Zoo.

Whilst they would have no staff war memorial like London Zoo or Belle Vue Zoo Manchester, there would be losses amongst the professional families, the wealthy patrons, the great and the good of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy who established and supported Dublin Zoo from its early  19th Century beginnings.

The great changes of the war years and immediate aftermath would see Dublin Zoo and its Council survive civil war, a war of independence and the establishment of an Irish Republic.

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

Frank Brendan  O’ Carroll, Gallipoli 1915 

The wealthy citizens and Dublin Zoo council members living in Merrion Square in Dublin had their own family losses, many of them amongst the young officer class.

One such was the son of Joseph O’Carroll MD FRCPI of 43 Merrion Square, Dublin. Second Lieutenant Frank Brendan O’Carroll, 6th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers died on 10 August 1915, aged 20 as part of the Gallipoli and Dardanelles campaign. He is remembered on panel 190-196 of the Helles memorial to the missing, Turkey.
The circumstances of O’Carroll’s death are recorded in the 6th Battalion war diary: http://www.dublin-fusiliers.com/battaliions/6-batt/war-diaries/1915-08/1915-08-trans-htm

7 August 1915  Suvla Bay. Made landing at C Beach on Anafarta Bay at 18.00. Battalion in reserve under Brig General Hill. Took up position at Entrance to Salt Lake. 6th and 7th Dublins attached to 31st Brigade.
8 August Suvla Bay. Battalion on water and ammunition fatigue for the Brigade

9 August 1915  Suvla Bay. Battalion attached to 33 Brigade (General Maxwell), Moved from beach about 02.30 to Hill 50. A Coy detached to support the right flank of the Brigade. Battalion ordered to support firing line near Ali Bay Chesme point 105-H-8.

Officers killed Lt Doyle, wounded believed killed 2nd Lt Stanton, 2nd Lt Mc Garry. Wounded and missing Major Jennings. Wounded Capt Luke, Capt Carrol, Lt Martin, 2nd Lt Carter, 2nd Lt Mortimer, 2nd Lt O’Carroll. Missing Lt Clery. Killed wounded and missing Other Ranks 259

The Europeana website has a poignant letter from father Joseph as he worries over four sons including another fighting in Gallipolli. http://www.europeana1914-1918.eu/en/contributions/3619

O’Carroll is pictured on www.irishmedals.org/gpage56.html

Mrs Barrington the manager of Dublin Zoo’s Houston House lost her husband in 19151916. There are several Barringtons listed as casualties in this period.

William Thornley Stoker Woods

In November 1916, the RZSI Council sent condolences to its Vice-President, later President, Robert H Woods,  a neighbour of O’ Carroll,  of 39 Merrion Square, Dublin whose son had died in action in France. Second Lieutenant William Thornley Stoker Woods, 62nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, died aged 20 on 27 October 1916. He is buried in grave IIE8 in the Guards Cemetery, Lesbouefs, Somme, France.

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Arras Flying Services Memorial (Source: CWGC)

Thomas Pim

RZSI Council member Cecil Pim’s son Thomas died on 28 August 1918, serving as a Lieutenant in 13th Squadron, Royal Air Force (and previously the Royal Field Artillery). He is remembered on the Arras Flying Services Memorial to 1000 missing aircrew with no known grave on the Western Front.

Kilmacurragh Gardens the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland

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These Ginkgo trees at Kilmacurragh are a strange war memorial (Kilmacurragh website) 

The Acton family, their Gardeners and estate  have a strange war memorial – a bed of interwoven Ginkgo trees and a spread of red rhododendron petals each year, like blood red poppies. Their story is well told on the Kilmacurragh website. http://www.botanicgardens.ie/kilmac/kilmhist.htm

There are other reminders of this wartime period at Kilmacurragh.

In the walled garden grow a line of mature maidenhair trees, Ginkgo biloba, planted just over a metre apart. Tradition has it that this was a nursery bed and since the garden staff believed that the war would last only a few weeks, the young trees were left in-situ with the belief that they would be placed in their permanent positions when staff returned that autumn. No one came home from those bloody battlefields and the maidenhair trees still grow in their nursery positions.

Glasnevin, Gallipoli  and Charles Ball

C.F.Ball the assistant editor of Irish Gardening and senior staff at Glasnevin has an unusual memorial – an Escallonia C.F.Ball widely used in hedging. His story is told in the Kew WW1 section. He was killed at Gallipoli.

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

Fota and Charlie Beswick

The story of Kew trained Irish son of the Head Gardener of Fota is also told in the Kew WW1 section, where he is remembered on the Kew staff war memorial. He was killed in 1917.

http://fotahouse.com/collections/charles-beswicks-school-atlas/

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

Somme 100 at Kew

March 16, 2016

Somme 100 at Kew

Kew’s upcoming First World War Centenary event ‘Somme 100 at Kew’ takes place on Wednesday 6 July 2016, 18:00-20:30.

The evening will include a drinks reception followed by a welcome address by Kew’s Director, Richard Deverell, and two fascinating talks in the Jodrell Lecture Theatre, with a Q&A session afterwards. Among the invited guests will hopefully be two living relatives of Kew staff who were on the Somme in 1916.

In a unique and poignant tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, Kew has joined forces with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to present this exclusive evening event.

Kew’s longstanding relationship with the Commission places us 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.

Please see this link for more details: http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/whats-on/somme-100-kew

Our previous blogposts on Kew’s lost WW1 gardeners:

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

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/-war/

 

 


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