Archive for the ‘Kew Gardens’ Category

Remembering Charles Beswick of Kew Gardens and Fota died WW1 22 April 1917

April 22, 2017

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Charlie Beswick’s name on the Kew Gardens staff war memorial WW1

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

John Charles Beswick, 22 or 28 April 1917.
2nd Lt. John Charles Beswick, 11th battalion, Royal Lancaster Regiment (Kings Own) died 22 April 1917. He is buried in plot VII.A.2 at Cambrai East Military Cemetery, Northern France.

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/550735/BESWICK,%20JOHN%20CHARLES

Cambrai was in German hands for much of the war and Plot VII contains the graves of Commonwealth prisoners, relecting the fact that Beswick died as a prisoner of war. His Kew Guild Journal 1918 obituary lists his death of wounds in a German Field Hospital at Cambrai on April 28, 1917. Not far away, fellow Kewite George Douglas of the early  Tank crews is remembered on another Cambrai memorial to those with no known grave.

Born on 5 October 1888, Beswick was on the Kew staff in 1913, having entered Kew as a sub-foreman in the Temperate House, Kew, September 1912. He enlisted in 1915, joining the Royal Army Medical Corps, then transferring to the Artists Rifles with whom he embarked for France. He was given his officer commission into the Royal Lancaster Regiment.

John-Charles-Beswick-last-known-pic-circa-1917-France074

He was previously at Fota Island, Queenstown in Ireland, where his father William Beswick was Head Gardener to Lord Barrymore.  The old Fota House of the Smith-Barry family has recently been renovated by the Irish Heritage Trust and is open to the public (www.fotahouse.com). A book on Fota’s restored gardens and their history has recently been published.

According to an article in The Irish Examiner paper website: http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/features/profiles/the-secret-gardens-195831.html

“[Charlie Beswick] studied botany in Kew Gardens in London before enlisting with the King’s Own Lancashire Regiment, his two older brothers, William Jr and Arthur, already in service.

Among the letters home from the front is the last one Charlie sent as he was about to lead his platoon into action. ‘With God’s help [I] shall return safely,’ he wrote, in a more hurried version of the script of his childhood schoolbooks. ‘… if not, I shall do my duty to the best of my ability.’

Trying to drag a wounded comrade to safety, he was shot and died in a German field hospital in 1917.”

Irish-Examiner-1-June-2012

The Imperial War Museum holds some of his WW1 papers http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1030010733

Charlie Beswick, remembered 100 years on at Kew Gardens and Fota House and Gardens.

Blog post by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project,  Newquay Zoo.

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. 

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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

Remembering Frederick Honey of Kew Gardens died WW1 17 April 1917

April 17, 2017

 

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Second panel, Kew Gardens War Memorial D – M C.L. Digoy to P.T. Martin Image: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens Project

Sergeant Frederick Honey, G/20245, 8th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment or the Buffs (East Kent) Regiment, ‘died of wounds’ 17 April 1917, aged 28.

He is buried at Grave Reference I. K. 16, Chocques Military Cemetery. This was located next to No.1 Casualty Clearing Station for casualties from the Bethune area.

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Chocques Military Cemetery (Image source: CWGC)

He is listed as the son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Honey, of 64, Alexandra Rd., Richmond; husband of Ellen May Honey, of 17, Darell Rd., Richmond, Surrey.

His CWGC entry mentions no inscription chosen by family on his headstone, which is pictured on the TWGPP website.

He is mentioned in a list of “Gangers, labourers and boys” in Kew’s 1914 staff list and as one of “six Members of the labouring staff killed in action” in the Kew Guild Journal 1919 Roll of Honour.

8th Battalion East Surrey Regiment WW1

The 8th (Service) Battalion landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer as part of the 55th Brigade in the 18th (Eastern) Division in July 1915 also for service on the Western Front.

The battalion fought at the Battle of Loos and the Battle of the Somme.

One particular incident will always be remembered. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, B Company of the 8th Battalion went into the attack dribbling two footballs which the Company Commander, Captain Wilfred Nevill, had bought for his platoons to kick across No Man’s Land.

Captain Nevill and many of his men were killed during the advance, but the 8th Surreys were one of the few battalions to reach and hold their objective on this day. The ‘Football Attack’ caught the imagination of the country, and illustrations of it are shown in the Regimental Museum, which also contains one of the footballs used. On that day, the 8th Battalion won two DSOs, two MCs, two DCMs and nine MMs, but 446 officers and men were killed or wounded.

Frederick Honey, remembered 100 years later, 17 April 1917 / 2017.

On Ancestry U.K. one family tree entry for Frederick Alfred Honey lists him on the 1911 census as a Gardener’s Labourer (Board Of Agriculture). There is also a photograph of him with his brother Christopher Thomas Honey, Royal Garrison Artillery, who died of wounds in France on 12 June 1917. 

A double loss for this family.

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

Remembering Munro Briggs Scott of Kew Gardens Herbarium killed 12 April 2017 WW1

April 13, 2017

Munro Briggs Scott of Kew Gardens Herbarium Staff was killed in action  in the Battle for Arras on 12 April 1917.

Munro Briggs Scott, 12 April 1917
2nd Lt. Munro Briggs Scott, 12th Battalion, Royal Scots, died 12 April 1917. Scott is commemorated on Panel Reference Bay 1 and 2 of the Arras Memorial.

 

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Scott’s name is one of the first panels on The Arras Memorial at the back here. (Image Source: CWGC)

 

M.B. Scott was  killed in the major Battle of Arras offensive planned for April-May 1917. The Arras Memorial commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and August 1918 and have no known grave.

http://blog.cwgc.org/arras

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Munro Briggs Scott of  Kew Botanic Gardens Remembered on the WW1 section Kew Gardens staff memorial (Image Source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

Born in 1889 at East Wemyss, Fife, Scotland, Munro Briggs Scott was on the Herbarium staff at Kew around the outbreak of war.

He joined Kew ‘s local regiment, the East Surrey regiment in February 1916, then the Suffolk Regiment before joining the 13th Royal Scots, later attached to the 12th Battalion Royal Scots as an officer.

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Serving first as a Private 18094 in the East Surreys, then Lance Corporal 25909 in the Suffolk Regiment, Munro Briggs Scott was finally gazetted to become an officer on 22 November 1916.

Married in late 1916, he was posted to France on January 9, 1917 and killed by a high explosive HE shell three months later on 12 April 1917 at the Battle of Arras.

The University of Edinburgh alumni site has him listed as:

Buckhaven School. Student of Arts and Science, 1907-14; M.A. 1910; B.Sc. Botanical Expert at Kew Gardens. Royal Scots, Lieut. France. Killed at Arras on 12th April 1917. PI. LXXIII.

http://collections.ed.ac.uk/alumni/record/94755

 

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AN OFFICER’S DEATH.—News has been received with feelings of the deepest regret of the death in action of Lieutenant Munro Briggs Scott, of the Royal Scots, who was married in November last to Miss Flora M. Forbes, M.A., daughter Mr John Forbes.

Lieutenant Scott had been wounded and while being attended to by the RAMC was shot dead – presumably by a sniper. Lieutenant Scott, who was a BSc of Edinburgh University and belonged to East Wemyss, had a brilliant scholastic career and thereafter received an important appointment as a botanical expert  at Kew Gardens which he held prior to enlistment.

Printed in the 25 April 1917 edition of  Perthshire Advertiser , Scotland

A slightly different story is told here, relating to how he was wounded, printed in 28 April 1917 – Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian – Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland:
east wemyss officer mbscott

You can read more about Kew Gardeners lost in WW1 on our blogpost here:

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

Munro Briggs Scott remembered 100 years on.

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

Remembering F.T. Pursell Kew Gardens WW1 died 4 April 1917

April 4, 2017

Frederick Thomas Pursell or Purssell, died 4 April 1917
Gunner / Sergeant Frederick T Purssell or Pursell, 51510, Royal Field Artillery, 70th Bty. 34th Army Brigade, died 4 April 1917 in Ypres.

He is buried at Grave Reference IX. F. 16, Vlamerthinge New Military Cemetery, Belgium. Just outside the normal range of German shell fire, the village was used both by artillery units (such as Pursell belonged to) and field ambulances. There is no family inscription on his headstone, pictured on the TWGPP website.
Listed as one of “six Members of the labouring staff killed in action” in the Kew Guild Journal 1919 Roll of Honour. In the 1911 census Purssell is listed as a Stable Hand (Student Part Time) at the “Royal Gardens Kew”. He was born in Surrey around 1894 to a father Roger Purssell who was a bricklayer, living at Pond Cottage in Kew.

CWGC Graves registration documents reveal that he was killed or died on the same day as 3 others of his 34 Army Brigade Royal Field Artillery colleagues, Wainwright, West and Cronin lie buried alongside him.

Remembered on the Kew Gardens staff war memorial – read more at:

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

Happy 100th birthday Dame Vera Lynn

March 20, 2017

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One of my treasured books that I tracked down, because it had been signed by Vera Lynn!

Happy Birthday Dame Vera Lynn, 100 years old today 20 March 2017, from all at the World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

I watched an excellent new BBC documentary at the weekend shown to mark Dame Vera Lynn’s 100th Birthday on 20 March 2017. Many famous people and Burma veterans talked about their personal connection with Vera Lynn and her music in person or through her radio broadcasts.

I was very happy to see a brief momentary glimpse in Vera’s post-war home movies of her family garden and orchard.

Dame Vera Lynn has long been a treasured part of my family memories, growing up with wartime evacuee parents who played many of the old wartime songs.

Little did I realise until I started the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo back in 2008/9 that my late Mum would reveal a strange wartime connection to Vera Lynn, that she had had as a tiny and unhappy evacuee in Ditchling, Sussex where Dame Vera Lynn lived:

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

I was very proud to show Mum a copy of the book when this experience of Mum’s  was briefly written up in Duff Hart-Davis’ Our Land At War.

Last year my brothers scattered Mum’s ashes from Ditchling Beacon out over the Sussex countryside where Mum  had lived as an evacuee and had been an unwilling look out for an evacuee scrumping gang in Vera Lynn’s orchard.

Coming from similar parts of London and not that far apart in age, Mum and Vera Lynn also had a few spoken phrases in common, that watching Vera Lynn interviewed reminds me of my late Mum.

Whilst I never planted an apple tree in the World War Zoo Gardens wartime allotment, we now have two container planted English apple trees in my home garden, one named Vera and the other named after my Mum.

This Vera Lynn story is a family one  with photos that I tell school children who are visiting Newquay Zoo for our Wartime Zoo / Life schools workshop.

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Part of our August 2009 wartime garden launch exhibition display – sheet music and “Sincerely Yours” BBC  original press 1940s photos of Vera Lynn.

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An excellent book written by Vera Lynn, well worth tracking down (1990)

Whilst we tend to think of Dame Vera singing to servicemen, she also had an important role through her radio broadcasts in the lives of wartime women, at home and in the services. She wrote a fabulous book about it, Unsung Heroines, cleverly titled, alongside her own autobiography Some Sunny Day.

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Dame Vera Lynn pictured centre with Dutch resistance heroines Joke Folmer GM and Nel Lind, Utrecht, July 1990.

 

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Lovely pic of Dame Vera Lynn Burma 44 surrounded by nurses, the unsung heroines of the Forgotten Army.

Vera Lynn, The Forgotten Army and the Burma Star

Dame Vera Lynn is much praised for her front line ENSA concerts to the Forgotten Army in Burma, where many of the proud Burma Star veterans had served that I was privileged to meet at Newquay Zoo one day.

Sadly my wartime zoo researches also reveal that some of the London Zoo and Kew and Melbourne Botanic Gardens staff serving in the Far East never survived, dying in the Burma and Singapore jungles or in the infamous Far East Prisoner of War camps:

https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/remembering-zookeeper-and-gardener-far-east-pows-70-years-on-2015/

I believe that my navy grandfather helped transport many of these skeletal POW survivors  home on his aircraft carrier. My Mum did not see him for most of / during the War due to her evacuation and his naval service.

Dame Vera will be much in the thoughts today  of many of the Burma Star veterans like those interviewed for the BBC programme at the weekend.

 

Happy 100th Birthday Dame Vera Lynn! May you have good health and many more birthdays!

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

and a link to Dame Vera’s special charity https://dvlcc.org.uk/

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Remembering A E Baggs Kew Gardens died WW1 1st March 1917

March 1, 2017

Arthur Edwin Baggs, Kew Gardens  staff, died 1st March 1917
Private Arthur Edwin Baggs, service number 129662, 72nd Battalion Canadian Infantry (Canadian Seaforth Highlanders), died on active service in France on 1st March 1917, aged 28.

 

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Vimy Memorial (Image: CWGC website)

He is recorded on the Vimy Memorial to the 60,000 Canadians who died in the First World War.

http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/first-world-war/vimy-ridge/100-anniversary

Baggs  appears to be one of 11,000 Canadians from WW1 have no known grave.

Many of them died in the fight for Vimy Ridge during the Battle of Arras the month after Baggs died.

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The day Baggs died – 72 Seaforth Highlanders of Canada War diary 1  March 1917

http://www.canadaatwar.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=2768 

It appears that Baggs’ Battalion conducted a trench raid on 1st March 1917, the day Baggs died.

Arthur was the son of Edwin and Louisa Mary Baggs, of 3605, Knight Road, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

He entered Kew in 1909. Listed as an Old Kewite on active service, Baggs returned to Canada when he left Kew in April 1911.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/72nd_Battalion_(Seaforth_Highlanders_of_Canada),_CEF

Remembering Arthur Baggs and the Kew Gardens staff who died in WW1 and the many Canadian troops remembered on the Vimy Memorial.

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

 

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

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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.


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